For a peek at the show - a portion is in the front windows & on view 24/7.
Come inside to see more. All is for sale but looking is free.
The KNOX COUNTY WARRIORS of the GRIDIRON painting show will be up through December 31, 2015 at PIONEER HOUSE in downtown, Knoxville, TN
My name's Will Johnson. I was born in Kennett, Missouri and now live in Austin, Texas. I started making art about seven years ago with some spare acrylic paints and scraps of MDF board. It was a way to decorate the walls of the spartan apartment I'd moved into at the time, and a way to pay tribute to some of the sports heroes I've loved. I've worked jobs on a farm, in maintenance and janitorial work, in comic book distribution, in a record store, in restaurants, teaching kids, delivering cars, renting out tuxedos, transporting equipment, making sandwiches, and cleaning up radioactive and mercury-contaminated waste. Since 2002 I've been lucky to call music and art my main jobs.
In October of 1978, my dad (a UT alum) took me to my first Tennessee Volunteers football game at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis; a frustrating loss to Mississippi State. I got sick on the way home. I thought it was the Wendy's, but years later I considered the plausible scenario that it might have been my first true taste of internalized, spectator heartbreak. The mood was somber, and the car savage and foul, all the way home. At any rate, Memphis was the closest town of any significant culture for those of us from across the river, so I made it there a good bit as a kid. In the coming years my dad continued to turn me on to the magnitude of Tennessee football, kindly taking me back to the Liberty Bowl when the Vols would come west for the occasional home-away-from-home game. Thanks to him I got to see Reggie White, Willie Gault, and Bill Bates play at the height of their college careers. While most of the other kids in our neighborhood wore Staubach, Swann, or Bradshaw jerseys in our pickup, full tackle games, I was the kid in the orange #6 Jimmy Streater jersey and homemade Power-T helmet, both gifts from my dad. I wore that jersey so thin that he had to get me another one a couple years later. Even as life took me southwest, I've been proud to follow along and watch the Vols from afar. Through good years and bad, it's given my dad and I even more conversation to chew on, and I've long been grateful for that.
I get to travel a lot, but I've never gotten to spend much time in Knoxville until this weekend. After 44 years of life, I'll finally make it to Neyland for a game. It's been both educational and nostalgic to assemble this show. It's also a good excuse to finally take a road trip with my dad. There are some legends missing here and there, and I accepted that possibility from the start. There are so many, and I suppose that's a good problem for a football program to have. I didn't sweat a strict to-do list, but instead went with whatever player happened to inspire or intrigue me at the time the paints were out. It's been a history lesson, a chance to pay tribute to some of my favorite Vols football players, and easily one of my favorite shows to build.
Thanks to my friends Bill Bayne and Julie Belcher for encouraging and enabling this show.
This one's dedicated to my dad.
Come by & meet the artist, Will Johnson, Friday November 13, 6-9pm when the show opens, beer donated by Suttree's High Gravity Tavern. Thanks Y'all.