Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 3, 2014

Pleasant Hill’s modern-day ‘Renaissance Man’

By Jean Clark
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Tom Eckert is a modern “Renaissance Man.” Growing up in Dayton, OH, music and art were significant elements in the development of his life. He spent many afternoons roaming the halls of the Dayton Art Institute. When he traveled in the U.S. or abroad, he frequented museums. Eckert graduated from Heidelberg College and pursued a ministerial degree at Eden Theological Seminary. One of the pleasures of his youth was charter membership in the Dayton Rotary Boys Choir. In college he sang in the Heidelberg Concert Choir and in the '70s and '80s sang in the Thoroughbred Barbershop Chorus in Louisville, KY.

Eckert’s commitment to the parish ministry called him to serve churches in the Midwest as an ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) pastor. He also served on the corporate board of the United Church Board for World Ministries, representing it and the UCC at the 20th anniversary of the United Church of North India in 1991. He retired in 1996 and with his wife, Sharron, moved to Pleasant Hill attracted by the Uplands Village connection with the United Church of Christ. He continued his ministry by serving as an interim pastor at the Fairfield Glade Community Church and the United Church of Cookeville.

The late Guy Slover lived in Uplands Village continuing watercolor painting until the age of 92. He had been a New Jersey and New York radio announcer, director, actor and later testing consultant with the New York City Department of Labor. When he retired to Cape Cod, he studied watercolor painting and had at least five one-man shows to his credit receiving numerous awards for his paintings. After moving to Uplands Village in 1988, Slover gave private lessons and judged shows at Fairfield Glade and Tansi.

Eckert studied under Guy Slover for two-hours a week for 13 months to learn the fragile art of water color painting. Since then Eckert has become renowned in his own right, participating in 29 shows, winning awards in several of them. Locally, his work has been on display at the Art Circle Library, the Palace Theatre, Cumberland County Fair, Fairfield Glade, Crossville City Hall and Pleasant Hill. Eckert has shown in art exhibits throughout Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.

Although watercolor remains his first love, he has been experimenting with acrylics, pencil and mixed media. The Pleasant Hill exhibit of his work was an eclectic mix of techniques, media and subject matter. Most of his work focuses on landscapes, objects, old buildings and people. Eckert takes a multitude of photographs, using them to capture a particular nuance in his creative work. He spends four to five days in his studio on Meadows Rd. in Pleasant Hill, often working on more than one painting at a time.

His art may be viewed in the permanent displays of the Art Circle Library and the Knoxville Station Transit Center, and has been displayed at the Cumberland County Fair, the Nashville Metropolitan Airport, the Plateau Creative Art Center, CACE workshops, Shanks Art Center, Sutton Hardware Store Gallery in Granville and Linda’s Coffee Shop in Pleasant Hill. This latest exhibit in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House in Uplands Village ended in February.

Eckert was received into the Tennessee Watercolor Society twice and is currently an associate member. His goal is to be accepted a third time and thus become a signature member of the Watercolor Society. The original of his favorite painting, “Granddad’s Horseshoes,” is now owned by and on display at the Art Circle Library in Crossville. Eckert loves to share his work and welcomes calls to 267-5600 or email tomeckert@frontiernet.net requesting a visit.

“Painting provides an unlimited opportunity to express myself, experiment in a variety of ways, discover and enjoy new friendships and provides a residue of memories that will occupy my thinking for a long time to come,” he explained.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

• Wednesday and Friday — Free tax preparation in Pleasant Hill Community House. Call 277-3096 for an appointment.

• Thursday, March 6 — Public meeting at noon to discuss the future of the Pleasant Hill Post Office in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House.

• Friday, March 7 — Piney Falls, Grandview Hike. Meet 10 a.m. in parking lot of Pleasant Hill Community Church, corner of Church and Main Streets. Call 277-3518, ext. 103.