‘SOUVENIRS’ exhibit adds ‘inspiration’ to In-Town Gallery in April
by Special to the Banner
Mar 24, 2013 | 844 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In-Town Gallery exhibit
The magnificent peaks of Mount Everest were captured by photographer Spears McAllester on an 18-day search for the most dramatic mountains of the world.
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Whether ascending to extreme heights in search of the perfect photograph, or lounging on a beach collecting seashells, two Chattanooga artists explored these geographic opposites as more than just tourists.

The ‘souvenirs’ they came back with are more than memories. What they experienced became inspiration for their individual artistic pursuits.

Spears McAllester went to Nepal to photograph the magnificent peaks of legendary mountains. Barbara Murnan gathered treasures from the sea to incorporate into her copper and silver jewelry. Their newest works will be introduced at the opening reception for “SOUVENIRS. More than Memories … Inspiration” from 5 to 8 p.m. on First Friday (April 5) at In-Town Gallery.

McAllester trained for several months to prepare for the challenging trek in search of the most dramatic mountains in the world. Two days after arriving in Kathmandu, the trek began with a ‘thrilling’ flight into the Lukla airport followed by 18 days of exploration. Ten of those days on the trail were at elevations of 14,000 feet up to 18,195 feet. Highlights of this experience included photographing Ama Dablan, described as “The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World” and “The Matterhorn on Steroids,” Mount Everest, and an unexpected sunset scene from the village of Thame.

Spending a lifetime with camera in hand, McAllester only recently turned this casual hobby into a serious pursuit, resulting in professional images that astound the viewer. His exquisite snow scenes which capture nature’s magic may look like classic black-and-white photographs, but actually are full-color images exactly as captured by his Nikon D7000 digital camera. His keen observations also result in close-ups of detailed abstract patterns found in the natural world.

Honing his skills with workshops in the Canadian Rockies and Yosemite, Calif., increased his desire to witness the majesty of mountains on the other side of the world. The resulting trip to Nepal filled his camera lens with rare images of Cholatse, Pumo Ri, Mount Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Thamserku. Unfamiliar names to most, McAllester became closely acquainted with them. This exhibit introduces his collection of breath-taking scenery in those high elevations.

Murnan loves to travel and discover new persons, places and experiences. Her recent trip to Hawaii included a favorite recreation — beachcombing. The beautiful seashells she gathered became more than just souvenirs, memories of those idyllic days. They inspired her to create her tropical spring collection of jewelry. Other natural treasures in the form of seed pods became ingredients in her new designs with twisted copper and silver wire and intriguing shapes. Metalsmithing has become her passion.

“I’ve always loved unusual, striking jewelry. It should be an extension of your inner being, the final stroke of creativity on the palette — which is you,” Murnan explains. Her new pieces will definitely be much in demand to make a fashion statement.

In-Town Gallery, founded in 1974, is one of the oldest cooperative galleries in the nation. It presents the original work of more than 30 regional studio artists. At 26A Frazier Ave., between the Market Street and Walnut Street bridges, it is adjacent to Coolidge park on the North Shore.

The gallery is open every day year-round except major holidays. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday; and until 8 p.m. on most First Fridays. Call 267-9214, or visit www.intowngallery.com.