Arts Galleries

Paintings and Pottery Featured in Syncopated Harmony at Kokol Gallery in Spruce Pine

John Hartom, artist

At Toe River Arts’ (TRA’s) Kokol Gallery, in Spruce Pine, view the work of two artists—John Hartom and Jenny Lou Sherburne—in Syncopated Harmony: A Conversation in Color and Pattern beginning Saturday, June 22, and running through July 27. Both artists are known for bold, dramatic colors and patterns in their work—Hartom in mixed-media paintings and Sherburne in pottery. An opening reception, with the artists in attendance, will be held Friday, June 28, from 5–7 p.m.

Grand Lady. Jenny Lou Sherburne, artist

“The exhibition includes work of each artist displayed as in a one-person show, with plenty of space around individual pieces,” says Kathryn Andree, TRA’s exhibitions manager. “In some cases, each artist will create a cluster of similar objects adding sculptural interest. At other times, the work of both will be installed together to take visual advantage of the connection of color and pattern. Each piece in this exhibition demonstrates a sophistication gained only with many years of concentrated effort. It is the combination of these two energies that will make the exhibition a joy.”

Hartom worked as a high school art educator for nearly 30 years. For the last ten years of that time, he would ask his students to create journals covered with their own paintings. “As I demonstrated the process, I was producing my own paintings and journals to share,” he says. “I have continued to paint and make journals since that time. About five years ago, I began to concentrate on the paintings as finished without thinking about cutting them up for journal covers.” He explored mediums, incorporating water- and oil-based pastels, colored pencils, Prismacolor Art Stix and collage.

Realizing that his paintings would display well with Sherburne’s vibrant pottery, Hartom approached her about the possibility of exhibiting their work together. “The exhibition title,” he notes, “Syncopated Harmony: A Conversation in Color and Pattern, reflects the fact that our work, while each very different, speaks in the same language and creates a display of delight in the use of our materials.”

Sherburne has created pottery for 40 years, since falling in love with the process while an apprentice in the Berea College ceramics program. She went on to earn her MFA from Louisiana State University and has always worked as a studio potter, exhibiting her work in galleries across the country. For the last 19 years she has been a member of TRA.

“This exhibition has been an amazing opportunity to stretch my wings, in a way,” she says. “While trying to fill the large space, I have taken a break from my typical production. I have been making some larger pieces as well as work that is more sculptural and not geared towards daily use. The whole process has been super fun and, often, challenging!”

The Toe River Arts Kokol Gallery is located at 269 Oak Avenue, Spruce Pine. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Learn more at, and

Leave a Comment