21 Artists Unveil Collaborative Art at Chattanooga Chamber

By Amanda Ellis, Keeli Crewe and Sybil Topel

What happens when you give 21 artists 21 nearly blank canvas squares and inspire them to create? “Controlled-Chaos-Controlled,” a stunning new collaborative work. Artists unveiled the work of art at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce during Chattanooga’s Artist Appreciation Week 2016.

Middle Tennessee-based artist W. Michael Bush created the Controlled-Chaos-Controlled concept, comprised by individual mixed-media original artworks by different artists pieced together much like quilt pieces, but on canvas and with no two alike. Bush developed the canvas layout for his final design based on our city’s most iconic images – our river and four bridges downtown, which are, as Bush says “central to the city’s lifeblood.”

Bush collaborated with gallery director and Chamber member Keeli Crewe at Area 61 Gallery to recruit local artists for the project. During the initial “Controlled” phase, Bush — the “Controller,” loosely painted guiding lines on a 7-by-3 foot panel to define the final concept. He then duplicated it on another canvas, cut it into 1-foot panels and distributed them to 21 local artists to launch the “Chaos” phase.

No artist knew what the end design would look like as they created their individual panels. Bush encouraged each to create freely – as long as they incorporated and preserved the lines, which Bush used when he reassembled the work during the “Controlled” phase.

At the unveiling, Bush talked with Nooga.com reporter Sean Phipps, saying, “I think it's a stunning piece. It's very much a Chattanooga concept and image. It contains work from 21 of the most professional, most talented and creative people who are part of this city." (Nooga.com)

The artwork remains on display in the Chattanooga Chamber’s main conference room until early 2017, when it auctions to benefit the Wayne-O-Rama project.

AAW 2016 is Sept. 10-16, sponsored by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s office and Friends of Local Artists and Galleries (FLAG), a local artists’ association. 

See more of W. Michael Bush’s work here