By Cher Cornett
The Tiny Street Art Throwdown brought art into the streets of Johnson City last month — literally. Artists from around the region descended on Downtown Johnson City during the Little Chicago Downtown Festival to participate in the event, sponsored by Create Appalachia.
They created small temporary works that transformed mundane posts, pipes, mailboxes and grates into magical little pieces that entertained and engaged observant festivalgoers. Their work added another level of fun and delight to the very successful Little Chicago Festival.
It was all in good fun, but there was also a serious competition. Christina Majic took first place with “Suspicious Characters.” Second place went to Julie Woodburn for “Fly,” and Eddie Barger earned third place for “Puddle.”
Judges Hal Hunter and James Livingston chose the winning works based on original concept and how well they incorporated the art into the element they were painting. The People’s Choice Award allowed the general public to use pocket change to indicate their favorite piece. The winner was the youngest participant, 13-year-old Isaac Wade.
Sixteen artists participated in the Throwdown, but not all of them were from Johnson City. Competitors also came from Bristol, Kingsport, Greeneville and Asheville, N.C. Several did more than one piece.
Tania McCamy, an ETSU graduate in Art and Design, has moved to Western North Carolina, but couldn’t resist this opportunity to “flex her art muscle,” as she put it. She created an interactive piece that really engaged the folks who stopped to move the multi-colored blocks around in their spaces.
McCamy is a production artist working for a nationally-known Asheville-based sculptor and is also heavily involved in the local textile community there. “I really support towns that revitalize themselves through the arts,” she explained before adding, “Johnson City is going to be an interesting example.
Though most of the tiny street art has now been removed, the winning entry, “Suspicious Characters” is still in place. Melvin Broyles, the owner of Mel’s Stamps & Coins, wanted to keep Majic’s art on his building.
Create Appalachia is working with the Downtown Merchants Association to make sure that the Tiny Street Art Throwdown becomes a regular part of the Little Chicago Festival experience. Learn more about what Create Appalachia is doing to promote art and arts-based economic development in our region, including their upcoming professional development workshop series for artists, at createappalachia.org.