Q&A: Shannon Ernest Farabow, Co-host of the First-Ever Ironwood Art Fair

Shannon Ernest Farabow will co-host (with artist Sarah Brobst) the first-ever Ironwood Art Fair on Friday, March 14, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with bands and belly dancers; and on Saturday, March 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Ironwood Studios (119 Jennings Ave.).

Is this more about cabin fever or supporting starving artists?

This is about both. I volunteer at Ijams Nature Center, where Sarah Brobst works. We were talking about how tired we were of winter and about having cabin fever, and decided to break up the monotony and gloom with a casual art fair. It's an opportunity for local artists to sell their work, get their names out there, and hopefully have some fun. And it gives the public an opportunity to get out enjoy the art as well. Artists pay only $10 for a booth the entire weekend—just to cover electricity, TP, etc. at Ironwood Studios—and they take what they make.

How do you know all these artists?

I know Sarah through Ijams. I met Rachel Travis when I did the Brown Dog fund-raiser out of Nashville several years ago—she was our featured artist. I met Heather Nijoli Robinson when I went to the open house for the Waystation, a rescue kennel she works with. I know one or two of the other artists through Facebook and the rest I don't know. After the fair, I will know a lot more local artists!

One time your husband Preston Farabow described himself as Knoxville's poorest philanthropist; does this fair fit with that?

The art fair absolutely goes along with Preston's P.P. philosophy. It's being held in a working metal/wood shop; we will set up after they close for business that day. It will be a dusty, raw, not-fancy set up for the show—bare bones, but it'll get the job done. Preston is letting us use the building for free, allowing us to keep the booth fee really, really low. Artists, generally, don't have a lot of money, so we sure as heck aren't gonna take any percentage of their sales. Also, it's just going to be really laid back and casual—not stiff—no pretension or airs in this joint! And you don't have to be an established or well-known artist to get a space, all you have to do is contact me.

What kind of food should we expect?

Good Golly Tamale uses organic, non-GMO ingredients. The meat is all local, organic, and grass-fed and their cart will be at the fair both days, serving Thai chicken tamales, Jem Farm pulled-pork tamales, and a vegan blue-corn tamale.

Has it been hard to pull it together?

Not really. Sarah's my co-host and she knows quite a bit about art shows, because she's been in so many. I've never put one on before. I jumped in and I'm winging it—learning as I go. Check with me on Friday the 14th when I'm setting up, and I might be pulling my hair out. I'm just going with it and crossing my fingers.

What's your own latest art project?

It's something called "The Business of Dying"—inspired, for lack of a better word, by watching my mother writhing and screaming in agony as she lay dying, because her insurance wouldn't cover intravenous morphine. Gotta be rich to die with dignity and without pain, I guess. It's a work in progress, and also sort of an exorcism for me. I'm also venturing into mixed media. Barbed wire and old doll parts are some of my favorite materials. Previously I'd only done photography and poetry—was published years ago. I started writing when I was a kid, and started taking pictures in high school because I joined the photo staff—that job came with a laminated hall pass. Woot! I still use a manual SLR and film. I won't have anything in the show though. I'm not ready to show or share anything yet.

What will be the most unusual medium represented?

It's not really an unusual medium, but I think the most unusual art will be from the dogs at the Waystation. They dip their paws in paint and make art on canvases. I love it.

Is it too late for artists to join?

We still have space, just contact me for details at tinyreaper@hotmail.com.

Patrons of legal age are allowed to BYOB and both days of the event are considered kid-friendly.