Art tour artist draws inspiration from Southern upbringing

The Cooper-Young Art Tour returns this July 3rd, filling the establishments of the neighborhood with free art festivities from 6-9 p.m.

Among this month’s featured artists will be Jimpsie Ayres, whose works will be displayed at Ray Rico Freelance, 2294 Young Ave. A resident of Midtown, Ayres grew up in the rural South where her playmates “were the trees and birds, animals, and whatever we could make ourselves.”

This love of nature translated into her other passion, drawing.

“We spent most of our time outside and in the woods, so it has been a natural progression for me to be interested in landscape painting,” says Ayres, who has won numerous honors and whose works are featured in numerous collections around town. “I love organic plant forms contrasted against the planar shapes of the earth, the ever-changing sky and water. To be outside, a silent onlooker as sunrise becomes morning and then afternoon, is when I am happiest. To record my observations and feelings on canvas feels like a secret privilege.”:

How did you first become an artist?

Actually, I’ve always known I was an artist. As a very young girl I was wildly in love with horses (a relationship which continued until I was about 14), and I realized, as an adult that I first knew I was an artist because drawing and painting horses was the only way I could express that strong emotion. Words just weren’t an effective tool for me.

What is your favorite piece you’ve ever worked on?

As a mid-career artist, I have made so many pieces of art that I’d be hard-pressed to identify one piece as my favorite. I will say, however, that my 2010 show was really fun to develop. That body of work dealt with the idea of flight, freedom, and unrealized potential. I used children “in flight” (I photographed a lot of them jumping off the diving board into a swimming pool) as the main visual vocabulary for that show, and just thinking about that soaring, free feeling was so uplifting and inspiring while I was in the act of painting and drawing the work! I also loved expressing myself through the human figure … always a challenge to remain universal and not to become too specific, as well as to execute technically beautiful and believable figures that communicate adequately.

What are you working on right now (or in the recent past) that you’re excited about?

As a result of my plein air work (that is, painting outside, on location) in the past five years or so, I am involved  in a group show [with artists Jeanne Seagle and Carol Sams] this fall that will be about our work painting at a horse farm near Memphis. I am excited — and, really, I laugh to myself about this all the time lately — to be coming “full circle,” that is, painting and drawing horses once again. I think the show will be so interesting, having three artists with differing perspectives painting the same subject … and, of course, Carol and Jeanne are great artists and great friends, so that will also make it a fun experience. The show will be held at the Buckman Performing Arts Center at St. Mary’s School, and will run from September 25th to October 30th 2015.

What attracted you to the Cooper-Young Art Tour? How did you get involved?

I love Cooper-Young! I think we Midtowners have a certain pride of place about our neighborhood. Our preponderance of artists living and working here, the fact that we have some of the most talented chefs and great restaurants in Memphis right under our noses, and, really the best thing, the people. I feel lucky to live in such a thriving artistic community.

I became involved with the Cooper-Young Art Tour through Jay Etkin, who represents me. Jay is such a positive force for the arts in Memphis in general, and in Cooper-Young specifically. We can all count ourselves as fortunate that Jay has returned to Memphis in recent years. — Kristen Schebler

July 3rd Art Tour Lineup

Join us for the Cooper Young Art Tour held every first Friday of the month starting at 6:00 p.m. Jay Etkin, owner of Jay Etkin Gallery, creates special art exhibitions at Pop-Up Galleries at numerous business locations throughout our unique hip neighborhood Participating artists/businesses were art can be seen:

Phillip Ashley Chocolates, 798 South Cooper Street: Rachel Ford

Tart Bakery, 820 South Cooper Street: Alex Warble, painting installation

Me & Mrs. Jones, 889 South Cooper Street: Jennifer Turnage

Cowork Memphis, 902 South Cooper Street: Jeanne Reynolds

Celtic Crossing, 903 South Cooper Street: Live music

CY Glassworks & Gifts, 906 South Cooper Street: Glass blowing demos and photographs

Burke’s Book Store, 936 South Cooper Street: Chantel Barber

Jay Etkin Gallery, 942 S. Cooper St.: Cheryl Pesce jewelry, Nathan Yoakum, Bobby Spillman

Peridot, 944 South Cooper Street; TBA

Strano!, 948 South Cooper Street: Pamela Hassler

Goner Records, 2152 Young Avenue: Live music

Greencork, 2156 Young Ave.: Kevin Bowers, Julie Blackwell Trotter, Stacy Harris, Bianca Vaughn

Canale Antiques, 2158 Young Avenue: TBA

Bar DKDC, 964 S. Cooper St.: Wayne Edge, Brantley Elzey, Travis Carrier, Dr. Bob, and more

Young Avenue Deli, 2119 Young Avenue: Live music and art

Java Cabana Coffeehouse, 2170 Young Ave.: Jill Healy, Sheri Bancroft, Brendan Healy, and more

Ray Rico Freelance, 2294 Young Avenue: Jimpsie Ayres

CYCA Offices, 2298 Young Avenue: Carol Sams

Imagine Vegan Cafe, 2299 Young Avenue: Group show of small works

For more information about the monthly Art Tours, contact Jay Etkin at 901-550-0064 or go to Events on for a full listing of events offered each month.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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