Art DeTour Finale: Bill Cook, Jr., and Suzanne Jack

We wrapped up our Dogwood Arts DeTour — “an intimate look into local artists’ working studios,” according to the brochure — with sculptor Bill Cook, Jr., and artist Suzanne Jack.

I guess I’ve driven down Westland Drive a thousand times and never, ever noticed the white structure that houses Bill Cook’s collection of marble, limestone, and alabaster — huge rough chunks of nature’s stone that Bill turns into elegant, simplistic sculture.

He shared with us a few of his pieces mounted on plain black bases allowing the focus to be solely on the sculpture. Bill names pieces creatively. Like Mahi Mahi Magic for this sea creature-like form curved gracefully.

Complex pieces, of course, take time, and Bill said he had to work more carefully on this one.  While sculpting, he noticed a vein of color emerging on this lady’s face. There was nothing to do but sculpt away more “flesh” to expose only pure white. Bill was in the process of sinking her eyes a little farther back, too. I never knew you could “move” a face!

His twelve-year-old daughter Lauren has taken to the craft, but she hasn’t told her art teacher at Farragut Middle School. 

I told her that her little emerging bear could surely earn her some points with her class and teacher at “Show and Tell,” especially since she can proudly say she studies with a real live artist — her dad!

Bill tells his children, Make haste slowly. It’s an old saying,  he said, that means take the craft seriously . . . work the stone patiently to completion.

He evidently practices what he preaches.  This Mobius form of Sylacauga, Alabama, marble was not only elegant to behold . . . it was smooth to the touch — the result of slow and careful sculpting by one who knows his craft.

We loved taking a closer look at Bill’s workshop where stacks of raw materials nudge up against shelves of works in progress.  As you would expect, we had to dust off our clothes before getting in the car! But who cares?  How often do you get to see a sculptor in action?

It was also with much pleasure that we stopped by the home of Suzanne Jack.  While I was Assistant Principal of Halls High, Suzanne was the art teacher who lent her creative touch to more than just classroom teaching. 

Her oil paintings have evolved from my first remembrances of her forest and stream scenes like A Walk in the Woods. She updates what seems to be an ordinary scene with touches of purple. By highlighting standard colors like moss green and bark with an edgier purple tone, she brings a more modern look to this forest pathway.

Some of her newest paintings are set with sunnier, perkier, robust shades of reds and yellow gold. Suzanne says times are good for her right now, and it’s not unusual for an artist to let feelings come through in the art. I think she’s in her golden period!

She had art propped up everywhere — in the kitchen, laundry room, hallway, and living room!  Here’s one that is almost Dr. Seussian — lighthearted, whimsical, clearly colorful . . .

These larger-than-life tulips greeted me a while back at a First Friday event at the Art Market Gallery. It truly was love at first sight for this piece titled Awakening: elegant shading, strength of color, and interesting composition — a favorite, for sure!

Portraits, too, get special attention from Suzanne.  This thoughtful one of her daughter Rebecca drew us closer to look at the detail and the way light bounces off her hair.

And this one — the face of innocence — shows us Suzanne‘s versatility in composition and range of color.

Suzanne’s website carries this quote which speaks to her character as well as her art: A joyful heart flows from a spirit nourished by understanding one’s emotions, character and passions.

Thanks, Dogwood Arts Festival, for creating an event that allows us to visit artists in their world.  And thanks to all of the artists who opened your homes and shared your techniques for those of us who appreciate what you bring to our world!

Stone Sculpture by Bill Cook, Jr.

9821 Westland Drive

Knoxville, TN 37922


Suzanne Jack Studio

1308 Farrington Drive

Knoxville, TN 37923


About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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