Richard Hood – featured artist

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Live life long enough and the truth of that old saw may smack you about the head more than once.  But what’s also often the case that truth and reality don’t need much embellishment to cross from the mundane to the glorious; in fact, sometimes, all it takes is a change in the point of view.

Human perception is an easily exhausted tool.  Consider nasal fatigue whereby even the most exotic aromas will fade into the unexceptional after only few minutes of constant exposure.  Likewise, cloud crowned mountain majesties become just another feature of the landscape after only days of being in regular sight.

We get used to the magic around us.  And sometimes, we want to improve it, to refigure the enchantment.  How we do that is part of what gets artist Richard Hood fired up.

Hood, photographer, scholar, writer, and musician, isn’t exactly on a mission to reintroduce the magic of the everyday into our lives.  At least, he hasn’t proclaimed any such crusade, but his photography and, arguably, other aspects of his work manage to hint at a passion that’s rooted in the authentic, things free of too much interference but full of the natural wonder about us.

Hood’s photographic style is natural and deliberate.  He eschews that idea of taking hundreds of photos in hopes of capturing the right image. Most days, he says, “I just take 6 or seven pictures.”  He also abjures the tendency to manipulate images.  In fact, Hood’s ethos is rooted in in a kind of authenticism that not only honors the place, time, and context of his work but also seeks to keep focus on the true, perhaps unaltered nature of his subject.

“We’re in this postmodern world where the truth has gone to hell.  It’s lies in the name of establishing some reality that people are going to abide by – just like photography in which people are suffusing photos with color and now that’s becoming a standard.  Nothing makes me crazier than these photos that look like they’re from another planet because they load them up with colors that have never existed on Earth.”

It may be easy to equate Hood’s passion for the authentic with Luddism, but that would be a mistake.  It’s not technology that concerns him – it’s more akin to a disdain for over-manipulation of a subject.  “These are definitive acts that you’re doing: photography, writing, playing.  But if they’re not true to the place or the times, what’s the point?”

If you search YouTube hard enough, you can find footage of Hood playing a fretless banjo which he plays in a 2 finger style.  He owns other instruments and, as far as I can tell, has nothing against the typical fretted banjo.  But his passion for music is also rooted in a quest for the authentic.  When he talks about Bluegrass, he refers more than once to the tension between tradition and improvisation: “There’s a passionate insistence on getting it right and yet the music is improvisational so to do it the right way, you have to do it wrong.”

For Hood, it doesn’t come down to what’s right or wrong or whether or not progress is bad.  For him the “inventiveness as to be true to what’s in the music itself.  In interviews when he was asked how he knew what to play, Bill Monroe said, ’You play what’s in the tune.’”

In his photography Hood seeks to echo that sentiment with images that are often magical without much manipulation.  But you can see for yourself.  “East Tennessee Images by Richard Hood: Limited Edition Photographs” will be on view at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head on Market Square from June 3rd thru July 7th.  The exhibit will then display at the West Knoxville Tomato Head from July 9th thru August 5th.

David Luttrell – Featured Artist

You’ve likely seen more of David Luttrell’s work than you realize.  For years David was one of the staff photographers for Knoxville’s late and lamented weekly alternative Metro Pulse and its successor the Knoxville Mercury.  He’s shot lots of commercial work and was a photographer for TVA in the 80’s.  So he’s seen a lot, and, if you’ve been around Knoxville for a while, you’ve probably seen some of what he’s seen, too.

This month you can see a choice selection of Luttrell’s work, old and new, hanging on Tomato Head walls; and while it’s a fascinating set of images, portraits and inventive collage-like work, the collection itself is a portrait of creativity and perspective that tells a fascinating story of the artist himself.

There’s a photo of our founder, Mahasti, that Luttrell took for the cover of “Yummm” a regular restaurant guide published by the Metro Pulse.  “A lot of these go back, but they range from stuff that I shot in the 70s and 80s and there are some from Big Ears when I was shooting for the Mercury.”

Luttrell’s portraiture always seems particularly thoughtful- the subjects are engaged, often intensely, with their own work or thoughts; some even seem surprised that he’s there, almost like they’ve just noticed the quiet guy in the corner who finally speaks up.

But David isn’t a particularly quiet guy – he laughs freely, he’s conversant and he’s interested.  Often at a shoot it seems he’s there not merely to capture but to participate.  Perhaps it’s that quality, seasoned with his intense curiosity that adds allure to his work.

There’s a portrait of Ashley Capps that David took with a 5×7 Viewfinder.  The camera itself is the very image of old-fashioned – think a large wooden tripod and a cloth draped over the photographers head.  And yet he says, “I will admit that I was very reluctant to even come to this conclusion but my favorite camera now is the one that also makes phone calls.”

The advantage, he explains, is that the phone is famously omnipresent: “There are billions and billions of images being produced by people all over the world.  A lot of them aren’t particularly good, but a lot of people get some wonderful things just because they were there with a camera.”

For David, that ease yields some powerful results because his curiosity leads him to look at lots of things.  There’s a fascinating photo of Eddie’s Auto Shop.  The establishment, made a little famous by way of Johnny Knoxville’s attentions, is closed but, David says, “When Eddie died they just locked the doors.  I pulled in there one day, and walked up and peered in through the door.  It was like a neutron bomb had gone off – everything was still in place but there were no people.  I put my i-phone right up against the window and took this pic.  It’s crazy. “

It’s a beautiful shot, and all the more alluring because of its simplicity.

There are also some beautifully complex images in David’s exhibit including some, he admits, “that I’ve taken without even using a camera.”  These pieces, created by way of a scanner, are thoughtful and some are haunting especially one called “Cat Bird”.  It’s a composition that the artist assembled and captured on a flatbed scanner using a bird that his cat brought into the house and a collection of old letter stamps that David’s wife owned.

“It’s interesting because different scanners, do different things, but some have depth of field without having an aperture.”  But all of them require David to create backwards as the final layer of the composition on the scanner is the furthest away from the lens in the resulting image.

David’s journey through technology is a story many of us share in different ways, but what makes his journey and this exhibit fascinating is the way that he’s embraced change in the world and his field and continued to express himself beautifully.

“As you get older things change.  The internet and things have changed the way things work.  It is what it is.  You can turn into a crotchety old man and go ‘harrumph, harrumph,’ or you can decide to roll with this and see where it takes you.  That’s what I’ve decided to do.”

David Luttrell’s work will be on view at the Downtown Tomato Head Restaurant on Market Square from May 6th thru June 2nd.  He will then be on view at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from June 4th thru July 8th.

Brian Murray – Featured Artist

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.”

Choreographer Martha Graham wrote those words to dancer Agnes de Mille, and they seem as fine a mission statement for dance and all the arts as any a poet might compose.  Artists find in the world a beauty or perspective that is free of the gravity of utility, or the mundane, or any of the forces that can blind us to what is around us.  How many times do any of us look beyond the designation signifying function of a sign on the street to recognize the potential attraction of the object itself – its design or placement or interaction with the forms about it?

Artists help us see things.  Sometimes, they show us new forms, sometimes they draw our eye to things we’ve looked at a thousand times but that we’ve never truly seen.  This, at least from an outside perspective, might be the theme of photographer Brain Murray’s exhibit now showing at Tomato Head, Market Square.

As a long-time resident of Knoxville, Murray understands that the city has a lot of interesting things to see.  His interest in photographing them came by way of his interaction with Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorenson in the early days of their store, Bliss, when they asked him to sell some of his work in the store.  They also encouraged Murray to take photographs of local scenes, Knoxville stuff that would appeal to both visitors and residents alike.  He says that the suggestion was a good fit for him because “I don’t really include people in my pictures so scenic landscapes and architecture are perfect.  All you need is good lighting.  There’s no bad hair day for those.”

It also worked because Murray most understands that even objects that seem most mundane in the world can have an appeal, maybe not beauty exactly, but something that catches his eye.  In some ways he opines that this is what drew him into photography.  “My sister painted, my dad painted, and my mom wrote poetry, I felt like I should have an artistic outlet, too.  But I can’t draw.  I mean, I can see the things but I can’t get them on paper.  Still, I noticed things that other people didn’t see, and so when I was 15 or 16 my parents got me my first camera.  I could capture things that were already there, but in my own way.  And it was fun. “

Of course, that’s something that many people feel, whether they know it or not.  Murray figures that there are countless photos of the Sunsphere.  It’s always the same structure, but light, and clouds, and perspective imbue each image with a unique nuance.  And those subtleties are what keep Murray engaged with subjects, sometimes over and over again: “It’s what draws my eye.  It’s the lighting.  I’ve taken so many pictures of the same thing but then you see it in a different light and it changes. “

“Another part of it is that I like the drawing aspect…  I like linear things, which is why I do a lot of architecture, landscapes.  I like a lot of lines, textures and patterns, so sometimes I’ll focus on that and not even think about what it is.  I mean the Tennessee Theatre marquis is cool, but when the light hits it just right it’s all about the lines of the bricks and the interplay of the curvature of the sign with its linear elements.”

Murray’s particular vision will be on view at our downtown location until March 3rd and the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from March 5th thru April 8th.  It’s an exhibit that brings together images of recognizable Knoxville and parts that you may not have noticed, but all of them come through Murray’s unique expression.  They are all images that really caught his eye, he says, “things that I couldn’t take my eye off of.  They’re not the typical landscape, I mean it could be a drain in the snow that I just couldn’t stop looking at it.”

Bearden Middle School – Featured Artist

Arts matter.

At various times in our national history, we get caught up in a great debate about the value of arts in our communities and in our schools, and although, generally speaking, we don’t like to debate, on this point, well, we ain’t shy.  From our earliest days the Tomato Head has been full of the arts of all sorts – and these days we keep our walls alive with the extraordinary work of visual artists because we know that arts matter.

The arts build confidence, and they’re among the most potent crucibles for creative thinking, problem solving, and resourceful approaches to living in the modern era.  And in a growing community like Knoxville, the arts are the nectar and ambrosia of progress and beauty.  They are an essential component of the drive to create that increasingly defines this wonderful place we call home.

That’s part of the reason that we invited the students of Bearden Middle School (BMS) to adorn our walls with their work.  As for the other part, that’s about talent and vision, and you’ll understand it when you see this exhibit’s vast array of color, composition, and joy.

Under the direction of teachers Mike Weininger and Jessie Winston, students from BMS’ half year and full year programs were invited to create a small, abstract work for community display.  It wasn’t an assignment – it was an invitation outside of their class room requirements.  Weininger, said, “I didn’t want them to be motivated by grades for this project. So, if they didn’t complete it, it didn’t affect their grades.  Some of them are under so much pressure at the end of the semester with tests and everything, and I told them ‘if you can’t complete it then that’s fine, don’t worry about it.  Of course, your work won’t be in the show.’”

So, you see, these are works of passion. All 100 of them.

Weininger and Winston don’t take much credit for what their students produce, but clearly the environment that they and BMS have built gives their students an inviting place to let imagination thrive.   That includes having both a semester and a yearlong option for art class.

Weininger is quick to point out that he doesn’t feel that BMS’s art program is in any danger of going away.  In fact, he has nothing but good things to say about the encouragement and support he feels not only from the school, but from the entire community, too.   Still, he and Winston work hard to keep their student’s work visible to make sure that their colleagues and community see the value of the programming – both semester and year-long because, Weinger thinks, “for many of my students, this class can be the one class, the one connection that keeps them going.”

The works themselves are a varied lot, but color and vision flourish through the exhibit.  Weininger and Winston asked the students to label their works by hand.  Often in these works, the handwriting, which clearly belongs to young fingers, is an odd but thrilling juxtaposition to the maturity of the composition.

And, of course all the participants hope that viewers won’t say, “Cool! A kid did that”.  They’d much rather hear, “Wow.  Nice painting.”

As for us, we just hope to keep seeing more of it.

The exhibit of abstract and mixed media pieces will be on view at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head on Market Square from January 7th thru February 3rd, 2019.  The exhibit will then hang at the West Knoxville Tomato Head from February 5th thru March 4th, 2019.

Gay Bryant – Featured Artist


Aristotle spent a lot of time thinking about the human drive to control circumstances that interfere with a happy, safe, and productive life.  As silly as it might sound, the philosopher was describing the same basic urge that impels us to insulate our houses and to buy insurance – we like to have a buffer between us and misfortune.  Of course, at some level and in some circumstances, control is impossible. Often the only seeming answer is acceptance which means letting go of control and hoping for the best.  Relationships can be like that.  Watercolors can be the same.

In fact, if you talk to as many artists as we do, you’ll find that many of them believe that their work guides them (not the other way around) and that the best thing they can do is to just get out of the way.  Artist Gay Bryant feels that way, at least some of the time: “Mostly I work in watercolor. And the key is letting go, to let the paint do its thing.”

And while it may appall some ancient Greeks and more than a few control freaks among us, her ability to trust in fate or good luck or providence (or whatever you want to call it) leads Bryant to more than a few beautiful places.  Her nature paintings are evocative without being dogmatic; the gentle patterns recall a presence, a sense of being there, but they’re not so specific that you can’t imagine being there yourself. In fact, you may feel compelled to visit Alum Creek or Icewater Spring at dawn to experience Bryant’s subjects with your own eyes.

Bryant hardly cedes all artistic control to her materials like a mystic or medium looking for meaning in automatic writing: “The paint sometimes tells me what colors to bring out or what shapes to develop.  But, if you look at some of my botanicals, they are very tight, very photo-realistic.  You can do that with watercolor, but my favorite thing about it is that there can be so much serendipity.  Letting it do what it’s going to do is one of my favorite approaches.”

While painting is decidedly her first love, as a life-long learner, the artist’s work and interests continue to evolve: “Mostly I’ve painted but later in life I got interested in print making though it feels almost like the antithesis of painting because you have to simplify things, and cut it down to bare bones in terms of color and shapes.  But it’s nice to go back and forth.  I teach both over at the John C. Campbell Folk School [in Brasstown, North Carolina].”

Bryant has been a teacher for much of her life, though at first her subject was business, not art. She recalls that, “Painting has been one of those things I’ve always done.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making art.  But my mother was determined that my sister and I were going do something so that we didn’t have rely on a man to pay our way through life. And art wasn’t on that list, so I became a teacher.”

Even through a successful career as an educator (including time at Pellissippi State), Bryant remained an active artist.  “Even when I was in college as a business education major, I had to continue with art just to stay sane.”  Today Bryant’s life is full of her work.  In addition to teaching at the Folk School, she also conducts workshops at the Swag in Waynesville.

And in all of this activity, Bryant is led more by her passion than by an urge to please.  She grins a little when she says, “If it sells that’s okay, if it doesn’t that’s okay, too.”

Perhaps that perspective comes of an acceptance learned from her experience with watercolors: life happens, let it be.  Or perhaps, it’s simply that the best defense against life’s uncertainties is finding love in what you do and maintaining your life’s passion come what may.

Gay Bryant’s work is on exhibit at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head from October 7th thru November 4th and at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from November 5th thru December 3rd.




Julie Armbruster – Featured Artist August-September 2018


It won’t take you long to realize that Julie Armbruster isn’t just a striking visual artist – she’s a powerful story teller, too.

Armbruster’s exhibit, “Opposite Day” opened this month in our Downtown location, and it’s a wild ride of color, character, and composition that grabs the eye and then runs into the imagination.  The work bursts with color and life and is inhabited by a cast of characters that are simultaneously alluring and suspect.  Almost every one of these figures seems to live in a world of swirling activity where life and experience happen to them in ways they seem to comprehend or at the very least struggle to understand.  You can see it in their eyes.

At first, it’s easy to ascribe all the activity behind the eyes to one’s own imagination, but Armbruster knows it’s true. She also knows what’s happening: “I can totally tell what they are thinking.  Many times, they are experiencing a shift in consciousness.  It hits them like a ton of bricks and they are letting it set in.”

These are characters with lives of their own.  Even though the artist creates them, they appear, develop and evolve at their own pace, often over the course of several paintings. Armbruster says, “They are recurring and reveal more of their story as they appear to me. The panels are not always sequential, so sometimes I need to invent paintings to fill in the blanks. “

Although Armbruster says she doesn’t think of herself as a writer, when she speaks of her work she often drifts into a writer’s vocabulary as she mentions narrative elements, character development, even plot.  In fact, she might be able tell you the plot of any given piece of work if she were willing, but, like many good writers, her work invites “the viewer to investigate the details and symbols and decide what it all means.”

And there’s plenty to investigate.

Armbruster works from a very special, imaginative point of view because, she says, that “my largest influence right now is my 4-year old daughter, Olive.  Her brain flexibility and continuous growth is mind-boggling.”  If you’ve ever let a four-year-old tell you a story, you’ll understand how richly varied, textured, and even surreal unencumbered imagination can be.  It’s precisely that quality that gives Armbruster’s work its allure.

Yet, despite the vibrant colors and strokes of comic shaping in her work, Armbruster doesn’t present a naïve world – many of the works have a sense of something that’s not quite threatening but not all peaches and cream, either.  And that feeling makes one wonder if her characters, behind all the color and activity, are all happy people.  Armbruster, naturally, won’t quite say, but she does think, “happiness is something to work towards.  There are very few great things that are given freely.  My work is a combination of the vibrant and upbeat colors with a steady and cautious interior. “

“Opposite Day” will hang downtown through September 2nd and at the Gallery location from September 3 through October 1.

This show marks the fourth of Julie’s Tomato Head installations and the first in over four years. In honor of that, Tomato Head will host a closing artist reception on Sunday September 30th, 5:00 – 8:00 pm at the Gallery location, 7240 Kingston Pike, Suite 172.

Ocean Starr Cline – featured artist

Equilibrium Be

Stained Glass Bluebirde

I Dreamed of Cardinals 2e


The first thing to know about Ocean Starr Cline is that that is her given name.  The second important thing to know is that, despite the invariable interest that her name excites, she’s not much concerned with what others think.  In fact, it’s an essential part of how she lives:

“My parents had me in San Francisco, named me, and immediately moved me to Clay County, Alabama where everybody was Jeremy, Jason, Sarah and Amanda.  I fit in like a purple giraffe on the farm. I complained bitterly about my name for years and years and I was going to change it when I got old enough, but, by that point, I had gotten used to it – because there’s always somebody who’s going to stare or has a comment. It really fortified me to be able to put any kind of art on the wall.  Some people are going to like it some people are not.  And I just don’t care.”

Transformed Mane

But Cline’s life and art is very much about caring for other people though not in an intrusive or interfering way.  After a few moments of talking to her, you get the feeling that she truly believes that the universe is conspiring in her favor and ours, too.  All we have to do is listen.

“My whole process is about sitting down and letting what needs to come through come through without the clogs like ‘oh if I paint a bat somebody’s going to buy a bat.’  You can’t think about the money.  You can know that people like bats and if you’re moved to do one, you do one.  But people come to me all the time, and they’ll say, ‘this painting reminds of my Uncle who just passed and makes me close to him.’”

Cline’s paintings evince a sense of that magic – although she often works in a similar palate, her paintings each carry a unique voice, you might even detect an aura.  Her approach to art leaves her open to whatever magic or inspiration comes to her in the moment.  It isn’t labored, she says, “it’s always there [on the canvas].  I go, sit down, squirt some paint, and I just go.  It’s not work.  People walk, people breath, I paint.  It’s part of the creature I am.”

And yet, Cline says, she has to “let go of the conceit that I’m painting for myself.  I do not want to keep them. I want these paintings to go and help somebody, make somebody happy, be enjoyed by other people who are not me. They have to go somewhere – you’ve got to have flow.”

That naturalness requires mindfulness, so Cline is particular about when she prefers to work: “Early morning is the best – staying

Wild Gardene

away from too much news and chatter.”  And it helps her “let go of the anxiety that a painting would not be good.  I’m just going to put this idea down.  I’m not going to fuss about perfection.  I’m going to get to where it feels right.”

It’s often said that letting go is the hardest part of any labor of love, but even a quick glance at Cline’s work will demonstrate why it’s also the most important.

Starr Cline’s exhibit will be on view at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head on Market Square from June 4th through July 1st.  Her exhibit will move to the West Knoxville Tomato Head from July 3rd through August 6th.

Jim Joyce – Featured Artist

Jim Joyce takes a lot of pictures.  He captures images of landscapes, flowers, big cats, all sorts of images from the great outdoors, but one subject that doesn’t catch his eye is people.  At least not anymore.

Our featured artist in our Market Square location, Joyce spent a lot of his adult life trying to capture perfect moments of people interacting for PR shots and the like.  But the challenges of blinking eyes, crooked smiles, funny faces, and even hair mussing gusts, finally got to him: “I got over the people pictures and so the only ones I take now are of my 7-year-old granddaughter.”

Although he didn’t include his family shots, Joyce did manage to bring a wide variety that includes dogwoods, tigers, flowers and more.  For this exhibit Joyce selected some of his favorites from a large collection that now takes up considerable space in his home.  He’s learned how to maximize every square inch of space from closest shelves to the space beneath beds in order to house his growing collection.

Joyce takes his camera along wherever he goes because, he says, “one morning I was walking my dog and there was a bald eagle right in the tree right above me.  I didn’t have my camera on me so I took a picture with my cell phone.  Of course, it was a minute detail on my camera screen, and it was a minute detail on my camera screen when I got back home to edit.  I blew it up so I could show people.  It was bigger than a speck, but you still couldn’t tell what it was. And I don’t think anybody believed me.  Since then I take my camera with me everywhere.”

Joyce’s eye for the unexpected often gives his photography a fresh kind of realism, but the exhibit has more than a few shots that will make you stop for a second glance to check just what you saw.  The striking color of a bird’s nest or the tendrils of a fern have an extra, alluring dimension, and the photo of a dance studio seems somehow slightly surreal.  The dance studio shot is actually a photo of mural that he caught in some particularly serendipitous light, but even so, it captures the spirit of Joyce’s work – an eye for on the spot composition and a little bit of luck.

Jim Joyce’s photography will be on view at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head on Market Square from May 7th thru June 3rd, 2018.  Mr. Joyce will then display his work at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from June 4th thru July 2nd, 2018.


Ric Brooks – Featured Artist

Lloyd Swanton during the Necks performance

Laurie Anderson with Kronos Quartet

Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond





Love is in the air.  And it’s on our walls.

It’s hanging there, mostly in bold colors, as a clear statement that photographer Ric Brooks loves music makers almost as much as he loves their music.

For years, Brooks has been the official unofficial photographer of Big Ears.  And it’s a role he loves.

He’s a straightforward guy, I suspect he wouldn’t tell you any lies.  So when he repeats that he isn’t a professional photographer, you believe that he believes it.  Yet when you look at his work, you’ll recognize that he is a passionate shutterbug – which, in many ways, is exactly what you want for a festival that touches the very heart of passion.

Artist Ric Brooks

His collection of work now hanging on our Market Square walls spans 2009 – 2017 and is mostly comprised of artists in action shots.  Each one is a studied photo in its way.  Brooks says, “I’m in the audience, listening, and I see a photograph that I want to take. Say, I see this look on the artist’s face, and I know I want to photograph it. I’ll have to take 3 or 4 just to get that expression.  Lots of musicians will do certain things, make a move or something to get that high note; you know it – it’s what people call the guitar face.  But you can see that happening in the song so you know it’s going to come back on the chorus or somewhere. I’m waiting for it. I know what photo I want.”

Some of the shots have a curious intimacy to them.  There’s a striking moment when it would seem that he made eye contact with Laurie Anderson but, “of course she couldn’t see me. That’s chance.  She can’t see me out in the audience.  I don’t like to get up close.”

Brooks opines that it might be that, like Schrodinger’s cat, the artist, even in performance, changes when observed so closely by the eternal possibilities represented by a lens: “Surely as an artist you have to feel the presence of the photographer, and wonder ‘is it looking good, is that the correct side?’ “

The exhibit represents just a fraction of his search for the images he likes and an extensive association with musicians.

Brooks and Big Ears founder Ashley Capps have a long and continuous friendship that dates back to Kindergarten.  When Capps started doing concerts at the Laurel Theatre way back when, Brooks was there with a camera and, sometimes, catering too.  When Capps opened Ella Guru’s, Brooks was there, managing, taking tickets, and meeting, hearing and watching.

Despite his wariness at labeling himself, Brooks is certainly conscious of his work as an art form – whether he admits it or not.   Each photograph is a full image; one that extends all the way to the edge and border of the photograph, which are beautifully coupled by a stamp bearing his signature.  Brooks carved the soapstone stamp himself, an inspiration drawn from his time in Japan, where he taught English for 4 years when just out of college.  The stamp means “Little River, “ he says. “It’s my name.”

This distinctive element binds the subject, the art and the artist.  And one might opine that this considered and loving combination represents a sense of a work’s entirety and rests at the heart of what makes Ric Brooks’ Big Ears photography so alluring.  “I’m not assignment,” he says, which means he’s not visiting 3 or 4 concerts a night collecting images that he needs to post before a deadline: “I like to photograph a whole concert.”

His approach is a long form that yields a lot of treasure that we’re happy to share.

“Big Ears Big Eyes – Big Ears photos from 2009-2017”, an exhibit of photographs by Ric Brooks will be on view at the downtown Tomato Head on Market Square from March 5th thru April 1st.  The exhibit will then be on view at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from April 3rd thru May 7th.

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design