Camera Lenses and Paintbrushes: 2 Local Artists of Note

That lovely scenic view from your Smoky mountain cabin can be taken home with you, through the eyes of two talented local artists. Both Ken Jenkins and Robert Tino have devoted their careers to education and preservation, charity and faith, beyond just producing wares for sale as their livelihood. 


Ken Jenkins is a nationally known and widely published wildlife photographer. In addition, he writes and speaks publicly on natural history topics and faith. His work can be found in hundreds of publications like National Geographic, Southern Living, and Audubon.

Ken’s work over a 30-year span captures amazing imagery that elevates photography to pure, lovely art. Don’t miss his galleries, Beneath the Smoke and Heaven’s Eyes, which are located at 467 Parkway in Gatlinburg, at the Highway 321 junction. Many beautiful images are reasonably priced. Photos of all sizes, sold unframed, or matted and framed ready to display. Books of nature, fine gifts, along with items for camping, hiking, and photography are all available for purchase.
Ken is also founder of Wilderness Wildlife Week (WWW), a Winterfest educational event that occurs annually in January. 2015 marks its 25th year, and the events take place mostly at Leconte Center in Pigeon Forge. WWW has a huge following with over 20,000 attendees. The week features workshops, expert seminars, hikes and field trips, and all sorts of classes for both young and old, open to anyone wanting to attend. It is a great place to learn about so many topics: please plan to visit and be both entertained and educated by this event. I summarized the 2014 WWW earlier this year, which can give you a flavor for what is to come in 2015 (see blog archive for Jan 15, 2014).
Robert Tino has been painting since he was a student in the 1980’s, and has a broad and devoted following of collectors for his creations of Smoky mountain landscapes. Local mountain scenery, animals, floral depictions, holiday images, and other striking subjects are featured. His use of color is much appreciated for its depth and variation that beautifully captures the nuances of our countryside. Never ordinary, each piece deserves study for its detail and long-term enjoyment of ownership. Various editions and collections are available for purchase, in many configurations. Professional matting and framing services are also provided at this local art gallery.
Even the Tino gallery itself is a showplace. The antebellum farm homestead is listed on the Tennessee Register of Historic Places, and has been in the Denton family for generations (Robert’s wife is Mary John Denton Tino). Thousands of art lovers have enjoyed this charming place to visit. A full complement of artwork, along with fine gifts and regional pottery are offered for purchase. Robert says he tries to preserve the region’s heritage as a storyteller through his watercolors and oils.
In addition, celebrate our local heritage every October as the Tino gallery hosts the Smoky Mountain Homecoming, now in its 22nd year. A family event with a large, happy following, we locals also enjoy this fun heritage celebration every year. Bluegrass music, storytelling, crafts, food, games, antiques, farm skill demonstrations, wagon rides, and more are a part of the festivities, along with Robert’s new art releases available for viewing, signing, and purchase. Check the blog archive for Sept 25, 2013 for a more detailed summary.
There are many area artists worthy of your attention. Start with these two fine gentlemen to increase your art appreciation. Come stay with us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals soon!




The Glory of the Arts: Create, Appreciate, and Take them Home with You!

“If art has a purpose, it is to interpret life; reproduce it in fresh visions.” Catherine Dinken Bowen

If your creative energy is spent shaping crafts of any kind, you can indulge your passion with likeminded folk while on vacation in your Pigeon Forge cabin. Sevier County is blessed with many talented artists, both homegrown and transplanted from all over the globe. Here’s a summary of some locations of interest where imagination can be found.




Want to improve your own creative skills? Try a new medium and enhance your personal artistry? Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is located in downtown Gatlinburg, and hosts visiting artists throughout the year at various functions. Five artist galleries and the artist-in-residence studios are open to viewing by the public. Evening presentation events and the library and resource center are also accessible. Visit the campus store for uncommon pieces and other items of interest. Arrowmont’s website is full of great information, so plan ahead and take a class!



If you would rather see others in action with plenty of opportunity for purchasing unique items, visit the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Trail, located off Highway 321 on Glades Road, 3 miles outside of Gatlinburg. This 8-mile loop is the largest group of independent artisans in North America, over 120 studios using all forms of media. I have blogged about this great destination in the past (see archives June 6, 2013); it is definitely worth the trip and is a great way to shop locally.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair brings the craftsmen to the public twice annually in the summer and fall. This year’s dates are July 18-27, 2014, and October 9-26, 2014. If you are visiting during these dates, take advantage of this trade show-style event with both local and visiting artisans from all over the country. Don’t miss these hugely popular events, located at the downtown Gatlinburg Convention Center.
In Pigeon Forge, Dollywood’s Craftsmans Valley is actually a great location for daily artist demonstrations. See traditional crafts like wood carving, glass painting, candle making, and even more. Hot skills from master crafters like glass blowing and blacksmithing are also fascinating to watch, if you can pull the kids away from that next rollercoaster ride for a few moments.
In addition, the fall Harvest Celebration adds dozens of Celebration Crafters in booths throughout the park displaying a wide variety of skilled crafts. It’s actually my favorite time to visit Dollywood: beautiful natural countryside in all its autumn splendor, with hand-crafted beauty also on display.
For the kids, and also the kid in you, why not paint your own souvenir from your vacation? Visit the Ceramic Art Studio in Sevierville, located at 728 Parkway. Absolutely everyone can be an artist here. Choose your own piece from a broad selection of ceramic wares. All materials to paint and finish it are provided, along with basic instruction to get you started. The pieces are glazed and fired onsite, and can be picked up or shipped to your home address–no breakage worries! Group activities are also available. Consider a girls night out, a team building corporate activity, or a kid’s party. Independently owned by friendly folk, they will gladly work with you to even bring a class to your group event location. For more information, check out this link:
So think about some art exploration while visiting this area of Tennessee. With a little planning, you can create your own one-of-a-kind piece, and maybe discover a talent you didn’t know that you had. Take home an elegant memento of your visit. Even get a jump on Christmas shopping with “can’t find it elsewhere” selections. Just another reason to love to return again to the Smokies: there’s nowhere else quite like it. Reserve your stay with us today at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, and get your creative juices flowing soon!

Silly, Sweet and Slightly Naughty: Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre 38th Season



Don’t like country music? Light-hearted British humor more your style? Looking for the unusual? Here’s a list: improv, vaudeville, Monty Python-esque, sing-along, slapstick. Most of all, do you like to laugh? You have found the right place in Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre.

 The venue’s founding owners, Don and Pat MacPherson, met as performers in Las Vegas in the 1960’s, and later married. Their extensive arts background resumes (like London’s Royal Ballet and Boston Conservatory of Music), lent professional underpinnings that have supported the long run of successful shows that have made the theatre a Gatlinburg institution. This family-owned stage show now includes the next generation of family performers. The audience also includes second generation members, as fans return each season, and now bring their own children to enjoy the productions.
Since 1977, this Gatlinburg home has premiered over 30 original musical comedies. Each year two original title shows are offered. This season presents:
“The Son of the Musketeers”, a 3-part musical with a comedic play, sing-along and musical revue and “Malarky”, a vaudeville-style musical revue with songs, sketches, and audience participation.
The historic theatre is small and intimate (under 200 seats), and the company bills its style as “1890’s music hall”. This is not a place where you can go incognito: there’s always a risk of being called out if you are not participating when required. My personal tip: Show No Fear, or you will be found. They can smell it.
On the flip side, should you really desire to be selected for onstage, choose an aisle seat or the first few rows of seats (ask when making reservations). Be aware that any laughter at your expense is light-hearted fun, not insulting barbs.
Even after all these years, the Paper Dance can still make me snort laughing. So, after enjoying the scenic views from the deck of your Gatlinburg rental cabin, choose to be a part of the comic mayhem scene occurring nightly at Sweet Fanny Adams. Enjoy!

Smoky Mountains Mother’s Day: 5-Part Wish List from a Local Moms’ Survey

Are you going to be in our area for Mother’s Day? If so, Mom is probably already pleased that you’ll be enjoying a relaxing time together in a secluded Gatlinburg cabin, with or without children. I surveyed some local moms regarding what they would appreciate for their special day. Here’s the wish list that I gathered: 5 ideas that you can use verbatim, or just use the concept for your own mom-pleasing plan.




1. Do nothing but soak in the view. Just leave Mom for peace and quiet in the hot tub on the deck, while Dad and the kids go out to play. Sink a chair in the cool water of the river at Metcalf Bottoms. Read a book in a deck rocking chair while listening to birdsong.

2. Go shopping, and then shop some more.  Plant Mom in the middle of well over 100 stores in one location at Tanger Outlets Five Oaks Center in Sevierville, and finish the trip with Starbucks coffee or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Explore the Village Shops, a collection of 27 interesting retail shops in a lovely setting. The Village is located in downtown Gatlinburg at 634 Parkway, but has a European small town flair that feels a world away.



3. Try a “wild side” adventure. Ziplining! Check out Smoky Mountain Ziplines for an adrenaline rush above the treetops. What about a helicopter ride? Scenic Helicopter Tours offers trips at all price points. Satisfy her need for speed at the Xtreme Racing Center, the fastest gokarts in Pigeon Forge, by a mile.



4. Enjoy a special meal together. Choose from a multitude of breakfast options (pancakes, waffles, French toast, crepes) at the Pancake Pantry (adjacent to the Village Shops, by the way). For a more intimate environment, savor a cheesy dinner meal at the Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant.

5. Just ask! Let Mom choose what she wants to do to spend family time together. Usually she sacrifices her own preferences for the needs and desires of others. 
In whatever form, the options to treat Mom are numerous. I’m sure you’ll make a great choice. Most of all, Mom treasures the love and appreciation of those who matter most to her.

Have a blessed Mother’s Day from all of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals.