Homecoming reception unveils Joan Derryberry sketches

Visitors to Tennessee Tech University’s Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Nov. 1, will have a one-day only opportunity to see an exhibit of sketches by former university first lady Joan Derryberry.

A retrospective of her paintings is on display through Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the art gallery named for Derryberry in the Roaden University Center, and her drawings will be unveiled at a special reception to be held there from noon to 2 p.m. on Homecoming Day. The reception will be co-hosted by Derryberry’s son Dr. Walter Derryberry and her friend Sally Crain-Jager, emeritus professor of art at TTU.

“Many of those sketches include her handwritten notations and reveal her keen observations and plans for the paintings which were in progress at the time. A number of these sketches relate directly to the paintings on display,” said Derryberry.

A limited-edition series of note cards and envelopes featuring four drawings by the artist will also be on sale, and proceeds will benefit the gallery. A box of 12 contains three prints of each of the four drawings and costs $15.

“The drawings that were selected for the note cards were created during the 1970s while Mrs. Derryberry was on vacation in Captiva, Florida,” Crain-Jager said. “They reveal her remarkable ability to capture what she saw in fresh, spontaneous sketches. This is a special opportunity for Mrs. Derryberry’s many friends who remember her so fondly, as well as returning alumni, the community and art collectors to purchase these sets.”

In addition to being a nationally known artist, Derryberry was an accomplished concert pianist who composed the Tech Hymn. The wife of former TTU President Everett Derryberry, she held degrees from Britain’s Royal College and Royal Academy and a certificate from the British Society of Art Masters.

Her outstanding artistic achievements include a commissioned painting displayed in Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Centennial Medical Center and the Tennessee Room of the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Md. Her award-winning paintings have been exhibited across the state and represent many public and private collections throughout the region.

Derryberry completed more than 1,500 oil paintings — a remarkable achievement since she began to devote time to painting only after her retirement in 1961, Derryberry said.

The Joan Derryberry Art Gallery was named in her honor in 1996, and Derryberry died in 1997. This is the first posthumous retrospective exhibit of her work.

Michael Birdwell, professor of history at TTU and member of the University Art Committee, is serving as curator for the exhibit. Jennifer Wolfe is the director of the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery.

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