Coffee County and its neighbor Cannon County are home to hundreds of artists, craftsmen, and performers whose visual and performing arts inspire and entertain southern Middle Tennessee. Next time you are looking to buy a local piece of art, browse a unique gallery, see a show featuring local performers or create a piece of art yourself, visit one of these art centers, studios or stores in the area to see the true colors and sounds of Coffee and Cannon counties.
Appalachian Center for Craft | 1560 Craft Center Dr., Smithville
Monday—Saturday from 10am-5pm
Sunday from 12-5pm
Located on a picturesque, wooded campus overlooking Center Hill Lake, the Appalachian Center for Craft is the Smithville campus of Tennessee Tech University’s School of Art, Craft, and Design. With 87,000 square feet of facilities, the center offers workshops, annual events, exhibitions, a premier fine craft sales gallery and a café for visitors, faculty and students. For almost 40 years the center has been providing a place for students to learn art forms such as woodworking, glassblowing, ceramics, fiber, blacksmithing and jewelry making, therefore providing access to “the highest quality craft education, professional artists, and career opportunities.”
Each year the center hosts two free open houses with craft demonstrations and kid-friendly activities: a Celebration of Craft on the first Saturday of April, and The Holiday Celebration in November. Additionally, each fall the Bacchanal fundraiser is held, with fine food, wine and beer tastings that fund scholarships for BFA students. The Appalachian Center for Craft also offers campus tours by appointment and weekend and week-long craft workshops led by nationally recognized instructors. The center features a vibrant annual exhibition schedule as well. The center is open every day of the week for visitors to see fine craft by resident artists, workshop instructors, faculty, and current and former students. After visiting the Appalachian Center for Craft, take a short hike on the on-campus hiking trails, or grab lunch at the Blue Water Grille on the Hill.
To learn more about and register for the center’s craft workshops, click here.
Arts Center of Cannon County | 1424 John Bragg Hwy., Woodbury
The award-winning Arts Center of Cannon County is a non-profit, 18,000-square-foot facility with numerous opportunities for visitors to view, create and engage in both the visual and performing arts, with the goal of “building community across counties and building family relationships and affordable entertainment.” Created in 1980, the arts center draws on the “blue-collar roots of its community” and places emphasis on “self-sufficiency, fiscal responsibility and social entrepreneurship.” Each year the arts center hosts six full-length community productions in its 223-seat theatre and 12 nights of concert featuring area and touring bands. Additionally, the arts center operates art exhibitions in its Cannon Hall and a craft and gift shop that provides retail space for over 40 middle Tennessee artists. The arts center also hosts 6 solo or joint art shows annually in its gallery and retail and workshop space in its commercial kitchen. Because of the arts center’s diversity, visitors can grab a glass of fresh kombucha, browse an art gallery and see a show— all in one evening! Finally, the arts center is home to annual summer theatre camps for kids, private voice and keyboard lessons, a weekly farmer’s market and the yearly White Oak Crafts Fair.
Information about the Arts Center of Cannon County’s events and registration for the center’s workshops can be found on their website.
Black Iris Arts Community | 103 W. Main St., Manchester
Tuesday—Friday from 11am-6pm
Saturday from 10am-3pm
Located on the square in Manchester next to West Main Brick Oven, Black Iris Arts is a gift shop featuring the work of local artists, both young and old, who specialize in a variety of mediums, including paint, metal, leather, wood and glass. Visitors can peruse the wide selection of hand-crafted jewelry, furniture, artwork, home décor and in-house glasswork for sale in the shop.
Black Iris Arts is also available for private parties and hosts weekly art classes. The classes, which are held on Friday evenings, focus on both painting and glasswork. The store also offers more personal, one-on-one art classes and 6-week classes for stained glass and mosaic projects. Many of the classes can only accommodate four to six people, making them perfect for a small office or family event, or a fun afternoon with close friends.
For those wishing to take a class at Black Iris, call 931-952-2873 for details.
Foothills Crafts & Gift Shop | 418 Woodbury Hwy., Manchester
Monday—Saturday from 9am-5pm
Sunday from 1-5pm
Open for more than 35 years, the Foothills Crafts & Gift Shop is a cooperative operated by the non-profit Coffee County Crafts Association with about 75 members, all of whom are local artists who consign their creations to the store. The arts and crafts available in the store are always changing as artists come and go, allowing customers to browse a wide variety of woodwork, metal work, stained glass, photography, clothing, quilts, paintings and jewelry. The local art can best be seen through Foothills’ back wall— an impressive display of watercolor and oil paintings from area artists. Foothills also sells jams, jellies and butters from Sparta, Tennessee and an assortment of candles, handmade soaps, lotions and spice mixes from Manchester.
The store offers occasional craft classes and hosts an annual Christmas Arts and Crafts Festival on the second Friday and Saturday of November at the Manchester Coffee County Conference Center.
Manchester Arts Center | 128 E. Main St., Manchester
The Manchester Arts Center is a performing arts center located in downtown Manchester that aims to “foster, promote, and encourage the development of the arts in Manchester and the surrounding areas.” The center is home to the Millennium Repertory Company, a local non-profit theatrical organization that produces numerous plays and musicals each year and sponsors a home school theatre enrichment program and actors guilds for children and teenagers. The arts center also houses a local art collection and plans to feature regular art exhibits.
To make a donation or purchase tickets or season passes to the Millennium Repertory Company’s shows, visit the website or call 931-570-4489.
Merchants at Coker’s | 401 Wilson Ave., Tullahoma
Monday—Friday from 10am-5pm
Saturday from 10am-4pm
Located in a restored, art deco Coca-Cola bottling plant in Tullahoma, the Merchants at Coker’s is a boutique offering home décor, clothing, jewelry, gifts and local art through numerous vendors. Among the local items are local photography, small batch soaps and salves from Jackson, Tennessee, and custom wood signs, furniture and décor from a local, third-generation builder. The Merchants at Coker’s also sells beautiful clay pottery from Turtleware Pottery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and contemporary folk art from Becky Shelton at the “Dislocated Artist.” After shopping at the Merchants, you can take a break for lunch at the at the newly opened Cokers Cafe.
The Painted House | 204 E. Lincoln St., Tullahoma
Owned by Annie Rone, a mother, former teacher and self-taught artist who began teaching art classes on her personal front porch ten years ago, the Painted House in Tullahoma is an art studio that holds weekly art classes for children and adults alike. Rone lives life with the motto “perfect is boring” and strives to guide her students in creating everlasting pieces of art to take home and cherish forever. Alongside her friendly assistants, Rone provides her students with a nonjudgmental, welcoming atmosphere where they can create original art, with guidance from the Painted House artists. “I give them [students] a lot of credit. I want them to be able to go home and draw a dog,” Rone said, “It’s not just ‘fill in the lines.’ I feel like it’s a place kids can feel free. I always let them go their own way.” At the end of a class, Rone wants parents to understand exactly how “wonderful” it is when a child creates a painting to bring home.
The Painted House primarily holds classes for canvas paintings, with some special classes and projects in the summer. Two classes for children are held every Wednesday, and an adult “sip and stroke” class and preschool class are held once a month.
South Jackson Civic Center | 404 S. Jackson St., Tullahoma
Located in a grand brick building in Jackson Square Park that was formerly Tullahoma’s first public school building in the original town square, South Jackson is a civic center that has hosted over 2,700 events since it was formed in a grass-roots effort to save the 131-year-old building in 1977. With 37 seasons of performing arts under its belt, the civic center is known for its yearly concerts, local theatre productions, youth drama camps and community events, including a yearly ice cream social, Jazz on Jackson, and South Jackson Goes Country, an annual comedic show attended by many Tullahoma residents. South Jackson’s shows feature some of the finest local talent, including child and teenage performers in two shows each year. The center’s mission is to “preserve the South Jackson school building for perpetual use as a performing arts center for the regional community and to present, promote, and foster cultural, educational, historical, and civic activities.” South Jackson also houses the Mitchell Museum, a showcase of local and county history, and what is believed to be the oldest building in Tullahoma on its grounds.
To purchase tickets for shows at South Jackson, visit the website or call 931-455-5321. The civic center is also available to rent for meetings, parties and receptions.
Tullahoma Fine Arts Center | 401 S. Jackson St., Tullahoma
Wednesday—Friday from 1-5pm
Saturday from 10am-2pm
Occupying the historic Baillet House, the restored home of the Baillet sisters, who were artists, hat makers and dressmakers who settled in Tullahoma in 1868, the non-profit Tullahoma Fine Arts Center is a gift shop, art gallery, art studio and museum that strives to “enrich the quality of life” of artists, locals and visitors through “outreach, education and access to creative resources.” The lower level of the Baillet House is the arts center’s gift shop that features the work of local artists, who receive 80% of the sales of their art; the other 20% is redirected to the community. Walking upstairs, visitors can look around the impressive gallery of watercolors, acrylic paintings, glasswork, metalwork, ceramics and pottery. The gallery hosts about 10 shows a year and includes art from dozens of locals, including college students and “blooming retirees.” The opening night of each show costs $5 to attend, with free food and drink provided while visitors browse the gallery. After the opening night, you have the opportunity to see the art for free for about three weeks. Elsewhere in the arts center are studios for rent, classroom spaces and a museum with Tullahoma artifacts and original artwork from the Baillet sisters. The arts center’s main focus is to create “one community” of artists in the area to support and help one another, so the center is always looking for volunteers to help around the house. After visiting the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center, take a short drive to the Celtic Cup Coffee House (106 N. Anderson St., Tullahoma) for lunch and a latte. The coffee house often features the work of local artists.
Visitors can sign up for art classes at the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center by calling 931-455-1234. The Tullahoma Fine Arts Center is available for rent for receptions, showers and corporate meetings, with a more intimate parlor, dining room, patio and wrap-around porch for guests.
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