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Meet Cookeville’s most artful entrepreneurs at ART Prowl 2012

Liz Kassera
Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012

Valerie Connelly, ART Prowl artist, smiles among the artwork at ART a la carte Gallery on Cookeville’s WestSide.

COOKEVILLE – For the past 12 years, leading members of the Cookeville arts community have worked to boost its visibility as a way to promote economic development and cultural tourism, which benefits not only artists, but the local retail and service sector reliant on tourist income.

ART Prowl continues to be at the heart of that effort. The free open studio and gallery tour has grown into Cookeville’s premier event for the visual arts, providing visitors with opportunities to meet artists, see demonstrations and purchase homegrown artwork in a wide variety of media. Visitors stroll historic WestSide and downtown Cookeville, enjoying not only top notch art but also energetic, eclectic shopping and dining neighborhoods – true jewels of the Upper Cumberland.

ART Prowl has become the most artful walking tour this side of Nashville, and the diversity of participating artists – in both vocation and avocation – also sets the Prowl apart from other tours.

ART Prowl participants are artists – and they’re also business people.

“We own and operate retail galleries and art studios,” said Prowl director Marilee Hall, herself a well-known clay sculptor. “We participate in art and craft retail shows, and we hold gallery exhibitions. Our work attracts customers; our sales generate tax dollars. We are working, professional artists; we are entrepreneurs. We also provide a cultural dimension to the community that translates into bragging points for quality-of-life benefits. The visual and performing arts lend the community a special status often sought by retirees and businesses looking for an attractive place to relocate.”

Continuing this year is the Community pARTner program, in which Cookeville businesses, restaurants and watering holes offer discounts and specials for visitors of the Prowl. Now in its third year, the cross-promotional effort continues to foster positive relations, bringing business to Prowl participants and area merchants.

“Being a Community pARTner last year was an endlessly great decision,” said Mike Ford, cafe manager of Sweet Sallie’s Bakery and Cafe. “The foot traffic during the Prowl exceeded any expectation we had as a business and the genuine and continued interest in Sweet Sallie’s that stemmed from that exposure and connection in to the community is invaluable.”

Visitors are invited to enjoy “Date Night Friday,” with twinkly lights and refreshments in art studios, and “Family Day Saturday,” featuring children’s activities in select locations, as well a presentation in the Putnam County of “Does this ART Make My House Look PHAT?” - but first and foremost, there will be lots of great art.

ART Prowl is an affiliated activity of the non-profit Art ‘Round Tennessee, and is funded by artists, sponsors and by a grant from The Cookeville Arts Council. For more information, contact Visit for all information. To be a Community partner, email

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