Category Archives: Mentions & Coverage

Olga de Klein Uses the Art of Yarn Bombing to Create Connections

Can yarn bombing build community? Chattanooga-based artist Olga de Klein uses the art of yarn bombing to create connections between people and place. “Trolley” is a 30-foot wide, 15-foot tall mixed-media mural made of yarn and paint on plywood.  Sections of yarn knit by residents and supporters of Glass Street visually represent how individuals, when stitched together, can become something greater than before.

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The mural also celebrates the historic East Chattanooga Belt Line Trolley which connected the Glass Farm District to the businesses and attractions downtown in the early 1900s. The trolley is not only a point of connection for places – it connects people. De Klein’s mural is designed to do the same – inviting people to interact with the installation and ultimately one another.

The temporary installation is located at 2442 Glass Street.

Outcomes:
14 volunteers engaged in the project
17,151 yards of yarn were used, which translates into about 9.7 miles
1 image of this mural reached more than 2,500 on facebook
More than 100 first-time visitors attracted to Glass Street

This story was originally published on glasshousecollective.org.

Moment: Artist at work doing oil paintings of Wally’s Restaurant

From an article by Tim Barber for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Outbound traffic on McCallie Avenue begins to build to rush-hour levels on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-December as local artist Hollie Berry applies the first strokes of color to her latest oil painting.

Dressed in full winter outerwear with fingerless gloves, Berry glances at the fading image of a setting sun through gray skies, feels the chilling wind and considers packing up her brushes and moving from the sidewalk across from Wally’s Restaurant.

City buses and delivery vans pass by just feet away as Berry steadies her flimsy wooden easel in 46-degree temperatures.

“There used to be a really cool retro sign for Wally’s,” she said, comparing photos on her cellphone. “It’s not up anymore, but it’s in the old pictures.”

The spot she chose on the sidewalk is the exact angle depicted in the 1950s photograph she is painting, Berry said.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

“I’m doing a couple of paintings,” said Berry. “One of their restaurant the way it looked in the 1950s, all in sepia tone; then another one the way the restaurant looks now, in all color.”

When completed, both paintings will hang side by side in the Highland Park community restaurant, she added.

Berry, a two-year Chattanooga resident, began painting at age 8. Now, the graduate from the University of Texas at Austin has gone full time in the business and has a studio in the Chattanooga WorkSpace downtown.

“I’m going to make myself stay out here for about 30 more minutes,” she said as the afternoon shade crept across the sidewalk. “I was going to stay longer, but it got cold too fast. If I get a sunny day, I’ll spend a full day on it.”

Contact staff photographer Tim Barber at tbarber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6640.

Bright Darkness: Artist Ploufe likes to ‘play’ with duality

From an article by Lynda Edwards for Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Walk into Renel Ploufe’s studio and your glance sweeps across a multitude of detailed, lovely cityscapes. But there’s one vertigo-drenched painting that grabs and won’t let go.

It looks like the last glimpse a New Yorker might have of his city as he plunges from the top of the Empire State Building into the Manhattan night. The darkness is splintered by golden skyscraper windows. A wild mishmash of brightly lit streets and red warning lights swirl across two panels.

“I call that painting ‘Darkness’ because, although I love cities, every city has dark places, alleys, the neighborhoods where people go in the day but won’t walk into at night,” says Ploufe. “In that painting, the darkness is taking over but you can still see the beauty.

Renel Plourfe's painting "Destination" hangs in her studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace.
Renel Plourfe’s painting “Destination” hangs in her studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace.
“Yes, it does look like a last moment. But I like to play with that duality. Nothing is ever just one thing. Sometimes putting a dark topic in bright colors can make a visitor see something or think about something he would otherwise be afraid to look at too closely.”

Ploufe, 39, is a magician with paint, an artist who can paint grim and scary subjects in exquisite pastels and gorgeous neon and candy colors. She is one of those artists who can earn a living from her art full-time and have time to play with her twin preschool daughters.

“Renel recently donated two paintings to a local homeless shelter because she wanted residents to have something soothing and calming to contemplate,” says WorkSpace manager Kathy Lennon, as she displays the two donations — calming, restful seascapes. “Her paintings have many different moods.”

A French-Canadian by birth, Ploufe counts Montreal as well as New York and Chattanooga as her influences. Her husband’s work as a computer engineer brought the couple to Chattanooga, where she fell in love with the artists’ colony that inhabits WorkSpace, a former nursing home on Sixth Street that was converted into studios and meeting places.

Ploufe also uses different styles — Cubism, abstract expressionism, Impressionism — and one of her paintings, “Fenetre” (“Window”), could be a female version of Munch’s “The Scream.” In it, a pretty blond woman sits in front of the huge window mentioned in the title but the sunlight and glass seem to have exploded and begun to melt. The colors are so happy, the painting could be decorative, even though the subject might be a science-fiction plot gone very wrong.

Renel Plourfe's painting "Fenetre" hangs in her studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace.
Renel Plourfe’s painting “Fenetre” hangs in her studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace.

Ploufe’s own favorites are her paintings using metallic shades, so expertly done that the oil and acrylic paints look like shards of steel, copper and iron.

“I especially love using copper hues and tones because copper hides a secret life; it has the bright shiny color we know when it is new then, as it ages, it picks up deep green tones and dark, rich hues,” Ploufe says.

“Copper is the second chance we get in life. We make crazy mistakes when we are young or we don’t know how to protect ourselves in life. In my paintings, rich-colored copper is the life we make after we gain wisdom and experience. That second life can be an unforgettable creation.”

Contact Lynda Edwards at 423-757-6391 or ledwards@timesfreepress.com.