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Local art on display at UT Gardens in Knoxville

The wooden dogwood flowers are part of the annual 'Art in the Gardens' exhibit.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Every summer, UT Gardens in Knoxville takes on the role of an outdoor art gallery. 

Dozens of larger-than-life plywood dogwood flowers that have been designed and decorated by local artists tower above the garden's living plants from June through September. 

"We have artists from 10 years old to 80 years old. Professional as well as amateur.  All of them exhibit such a wonderful level of creativity," said James Newburn, the Interim Director at UT Gardens. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Newburn will unveil this year's exhibit through a video instead of the traditional opening night reception they've held in year's past. 

"We will be posting a video that gives a virtual tour of the entire exhibition," Newburn said.

After hummingbirds and butterflies, Newburn said they selected the dogwood flower as the theme for the exhibition's third year running. 

Artists could decorate their flowers however they saw fit. 

"We have one called 'Social Distancing'  and one called 'Wine By Zoom.' You can imagine what those dogwoods are painted as. So, they're pretty topical, and I think the artists have really enjoyed having this outlet during the pandemic," Newburn said.

Similar to the unveiling video on Friday, the annual auction at the end of the summer will also be held online. 

Newburn said it's one of their largest fundraisers of the year.

You can visit the UT Gardens at 2518 Jacob Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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