JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ron Fondaw held a small, bright yellow painting — a tiny eye at the lower left — in the palm of his hand Wednesday at Fischman Gallery in downtown Johnson City.
“Solar” is among more than 200 5-inch by 5-inch works that will be on display and for sale at $25 each during Aug. 4’s fifth annual 5 X 5 art exhibit and fundraiser for the Johnson City Public Art Committee. The event begins at 5:55 p.m. at the Pavilion at Founders Park.
Fondaw said his purpose for “Solar” was to provide “a gentle reminder about the impact of the sun and its relationship to our planet,” including the effects of its current 11-year solar maximum.
It will be Fondaw’s third year donating a work, while Katie Murphy, a painter and chair of the fundraiser committee, has provided three tiny paintings of her own. She usually works on large canvases.
“Composition and markmaking and everything on a smaller scale is, it is a challenge and it is fun, but it makes it too just an easy thing to bring into your life and your home,” Murphy said while showing one of her works for the show, a tiny primate’s head peeking out of a mass of deep green leaves.
“It’s a great partnership with the community,” Murphy said. “The artists are donating their works and the involvement of the community coming out to see the works and purchase them at a very affordable price.”
Fondaw has been commissioned to display his art in public spaces and even taught a college course on public art. He said 5 by 5 is a great opportunity for citizens.
“This project is a way for them to spend a little bit of money and say, ‘yes, I believe in this enough to put some money where my mouth is or where my eyes are,'” he said.
Murphy said she expects the 200-odd donated works to fly off the tables at 25 dollars each. She said much of the art tends to get selected in the first 30 minutes or so of the event.
“There’s some big name artists in our area and it’s a great opportunity to be able to get some of their work at a lower price,” she said.
The proceeds help fund what has been a steadily growing number of sculptures, murals and banners. Murphy has lived in Johnson City for a decade and said public art has made great strides here.
“I feel the growth and the movement and I feel the support of our city as we’re getting to bring in more art for the public and democratize accessibility to high quality art,” she said.
For those who’d like more than just some tiny art to view, the event includes refreshments and a funk cover band.