In-Town Gallery celebrates Jane Yelliott, a special artist
Dec 24, 2013 | 1417 views | 0 0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jane Yelliott
Jane Yelliott
The oldest member of In-Town Gallery, Jane Yelliott, 87, joined the gallery in 1984, and has been a very special presence there for almost 30 years. Diagnosed with stage four cancer of the liver, she is now in the care of Hospice and her family at her home. Beloved by all who knew her, admired for her pioneer spirit and versatile ability in many media, she leaves an empty place that no one can adequately fill.

Yelliott has left her mark on Chattanooga in many outstanding ways. A plaque on the Walnut Street Bridge honors her for “Enriching Chattanooga with Her Art.” The red brick bench on Market Street near the Tennessee Aquarium, with the ceramic scene of cats watching the fish, called “Cat-Fish Fantasy” is her work as the winner of the Masonry Contest in 1998. The shallow pool floor of the aquarium is populated with colorful turtles on black tiles designed by this multitalented artist. A host of Chattanooga residents commissioned her to create portraits of family members and pets, in pastel, oil, or watercolor. She especially loved drawing children.

Beyond Tennessee, Yelliott’s artwork was installed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. — a life-sized cow painted on a plywood panel for a National Zoo project, “The Think Tank.”

In 2004, she was commissioned to design a series of tile murals for the new Culinary School building at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C. This led to her creation of a colorful series of “Cookopelli” figures — a take-off on the Southwest Indian Kokopelli. Instead of holding musical instruments, hers held platters of food, lobsters, crabs and so forth and wore a chef’s toque.

Most important is the person Yelliott, who is loved by everyone she has met. “Mother” to all the artists who ever belonged to In-Town Gallery, she knew where everything should be and what was needed to run the day-to-day operation smoothly. Her Irish good humor and clever wit charmed us all. Diminutive in stature, she had a warm, compelling presence and was an expert at tying raffia bows. As a member of the jury committee she was discerning in her observance of new prospects and wise in their evaluation, based on her own vast experience and hands-on knowledge of most artists’ media.

— Helen Burton