Gretchen Adreon – Featured Artist

“What does it mean?”

I haven’t taken a poll, but it might be interesting to ask how often an artist working in the Abstract hears that particular question.  It might be more enlightening to ask if that question becomes challenging to hear over time – not because it’s necessarily a bad question, but because most people ask the wrong person.

It’s not a question for the artist: It’s a question for you.

Gretchen Adreon’s exhibit at our Market Square restaurant is an opportunity for you to pose that question to yourself over and over again.  And that’s just how Adreon likes it.  When a work is complete, she says, her hope is to “leave an open space and the viewer will be able to add their own feelings and connect with the piece to complete the process.”

And of course, that means that there are many answers to the question of what’s all about.  “From the very beginning I have had

Ghost of a Chance

people telling me their feelings and impressions of my work. I LOVE that – that’s when the whole process comes full circle to me. When someone is engaged in the work, I feel I have succeeded. Sometimes one viewer sees what another cannot see at all but sees or, even better, feels something totally different. “

Adreon comes of an intensely creative background.   She describes her father, a sign muralist who climbed some of the tallest buildings in Chicago to paint sign fronts as  ”the most fearlessly creative artist I’ve known. He used our house as his canvas in almost every room to paint, sometimes we would go to school in the morning with one thing on the wall in a given room and come home to something totally different.”

This literal immersion in creativity led Adreon to her own artistic expression at an early age – one that, over time, she thought might lead her into her father’s medium, graphic art.  But an encounter with a passionate artist and teacher changed her perspective and fueled her passion: Artist Anton Weiss, “…changed my thinking completely on what my own art might look like. He was such a force to his students, had actually studied with Hans Hofmann, and for the first time ever I began feeling freedom and passion at what I was doing.”

Adreon’s art begins as an emotional expression that, through any number of implements and materials -from trowels to sandpaper, and more- remains an open and emotional experience to share with the people who see it.  Although this may leave the definition of her imagery in the eyes of others, Adreon is more than comfortable with that process: “My emotions went to abstractions rather than concrete imagery. I have never regretted taking that direction, however many, many people see images, figures and, yes, landscapes as well.”


Looking at Adreon’s paintings is an adventure in perspective: at one glance, one feels present in an infinite horizon, but a moment later, the waters rise, the wind blows, and the sand shifts.  But each moment is your own and that’s beautifully liberating in a world where facts and figures can overcrowd the brain.  The paintings have a sense of depth but, even more, they are full of possibility.  Adreon’s work is an invitation to think and to feel and to express that all for yourself.

As for what it all means?  Well… why don’t you tell me.

Gretchen Adreon will be on view at the Market Square Tomato Head from December 4th through January 7th, 2018.  She will then exhibit with the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from January 9th through February 5th, 2018.