Colleen Williams

waterbearer-iiSeveral years ago, I began collecting vintage produce label art; the colors, patterns and designs used to identify product and brand would keep me visually interested for more time than was necessary, as each label was a beautiful balance between image and text. My partner, Nestor Valdes, was equally inspired by these small works of art and at my suggestion began to paint canvases and floor cloths with his own compositions as a way to connect with a simpler time.

Having relocated to Chattanooga within the year, my initial idea for a show theme had something to do with the river and its associations, since it was the main reason we chose this city over all others. However, it quickly became apparent that these re-imagined label art paintings were making us happy in the studio. With all of the uncertainty going on with the world at large, we believe viewing original art which harkens back to a bygone era of a less complicated America may provide a brief respite,

web-set-of-minis“I Am Not A Label” may be interpreted literally, as the work in the exhibit neither identifies a current product item nor brand even though compositional elements are mimicked. The title also has additional meanings which are close to my heart. Often, ceramic work is reduced to its function, whether it be bowl, cup, vase, etc. It is my hope that these labels are of secondary importance. Lastly, wherever the art-making journey takes us, both Nestor and I have experienced very circuitous paths as artists (Nestor, from ballet and Colleen, from architecture) which defy any label.

Kory Russell

I was never one for art growing up.  I wasn’t the kid that sits around and sketches during school.  I never tried to stand out from others by developing my own sense of high fashion, though I did some serious pleading for some British Knights when I was 12 (and my loving mom bought them-I’m sure against her better wisdom.)  

I took a passing interest in art only if I could get something for it in return; that is to say if chocolate was involved.  I won some chocolate when I drew a rabbit for Christmas in 2nd grade.  I won some more chocolate for drawing a flower in 3rd grade. My brother and I won some chocolate (and maybe a football) when we created a kite in a local art competition.

I entered art school at the University of Georgia because I was tired of studying chemistry, math, and geology, and knew I could at least draw a rabbit and a flower fairly well.

When I left art school, I left art behind, unless it could again get me something in return. I credit art for helping me land my beautiful wife.  I designed and cast her ring.  

I began to finally enjoy art about a year ago in 2015. I still don’t understand much of the art that is in the world, but I can get possessed and entranced by my own.  I can’t sleep most nights because my mind is creating new images, projects and means of creating.

I am still developing my style, but a consistent focus of mine is on expression and intent; coming from a state of mind that seeks to understand my subject matter, place, or time.  I enjoy creating moods that leave the viewer slightly uneasy; i.e., vibrant colors with fearful energy through brushstrokes, dark solemn colors with graphic cartoon-like characteristics in the lines.  I feel that this unease (though ensuring only the slightest unease is extremely important) encourages the viewer to take time with a painting, create their own story, and make the painting their own.

Rick Rushing

Rick Rushing is the band leader, vocalist, and guitarist of a trio Blues band called Rick Rushing & the Blues Strangers based out of Chattanooga. “The Blues is where everything comes from, it is raw and revives the soul, true emotion and musical creativity.” Rushing explains his style to be todays Blues, Jazz, Rock and Rhythm.

Rushing moved to Chattanooga about 15 years ago from Cincinnati Ohio, and has been playing guitar about the same amount of time. After playing in Chattanooga State and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Jazz Bands, he decided to start his own. “It was my good friend and one of the best teachers in Chattanooga who taught me how to play,” he says. “He taught me how to play music, and encouraged me to play my own songs, which is something he wanted me to learn on my own.”

In 2014, Rushing graduated from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Class, which is offered annually by ArtsBuild and designed for those who share a passion for advancing the arts in our community. It was here where he learned about Chattanooga Workspace.

13880356_1044934198894188_5152584988049148557_nAt Workspace, Rushing uses his studio as his own personal practice place, as well as a place to teach others. He was also the president of the board of directors for 3 years at Folk School of Chattanooga, which is a non-profit music and educational organization seeking to cultivate a thriving community of musicians and music supporters.

Rushing comes from a musical background. He is related to the legendary Jimmy Rushing, the vocalist for the Count Basie Big Band. When asked if he always knew if music would become his career, Rick Rushing replied, “I knew music would have a huge impact on my life. It’s a unique profession and everyone who pursues it has a different purpose and journey. My purpose is to play music because it’s something I love to do.”

With 22 original songs on iTunes and amazon, music enjoyers can see Rick Rushing & the Blues Strangers every Thursday at Blue Water Grill. The band has also had shows at some of the following locations and events: Mainx24, Track 29, Revelry Room, Puckett’s, Night Fall, River Front Nights, and Riverbend. They have also traveled to North Carolina, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Nashville. They will be performing in Maryville, TN on December 2nd, 2016.11425154_827108470676763_482111391892541065_n

Tiana Saul

Tiana Saul remembers being gifted with a jewelry set at six years old. The set included precious beads and nice stones. At the age of ten she learned from her parents how to wire wrap, and she has been making jewelry ever since. sayuridesigns1

Saul, originally from California, has collected small vintage novelties pretty much her whole life. Drawing from classic styles and vintage aesthetics, she designs and creates one of a kind accessories for men and women. Her business, Sayuri Designs, has been going strong for the past eight years.

What brought Saul to Chattanooga, a little over a year ago, was the promise of change and a more readily available use of the resources around her. “Chattanooga and surrounding areas are full of Antique shops and precious novelties that have been collected for generations,” she says. “I utilize antique, reclaimed,and deadstock materials as much as possible, so that each piece is handmade and one of a kind.”306f

Heavily influenced by the materials themselves, Saul is always excited to explore how her art and style can develop and expand. Every piece tells a story; the tarnished metal, a missing rhinestone, or a corner chip are all a part of its unique history. By incorporating these pieces into her own work, she gives them new life – extending their histories by including them in our own.

Saul has been apart of Chattanooga Workspace for about a year. This is her first time having a devoted workspace for her business and she looks forward to seeing where it takes her.sayuridesigns3

Apart from Workspace, she also participates in Chattanooga Market each weekend, where individuals come to see her unique pieces. “I try to fill my booth as much as possible so that there is something for everyone. Each piece of jewelry looks different and there is a style for everyone.”

You can also see Saul’s jewelry on her etsy account sayuridesigns and her Facebook tiana.sayuri.designs.

Kevin Bate

Kevin Bate moved to Chattanooga in 1994. He had flirted with a career in art a few times (bought it drinks, took it out on Valentine’s Day, etc.) but was never quite able to commit to it.

In 2011, all of that changed. Married with a newborn, Kevin decided (for some crazy reason) that this was the perfect time to attempt another launch of his art career. One afternoon while his infant son was sleeping, Kevin snuck out to the shed to look for art supplies. What he found instead was plywood, house paint and one inch brushes.

Understandably, his first paintings were quite large. This is probably why he jumped so quickly to murals. Since then, his works have appeared everywhere from Highland Park, MLK Blvd, the North Shore and venues such as Track 29.

Kevin has just completed The Fallen Five Mural, a memorial to the victims of the July 16, 2015 shootings in Chattanooga. It is part of The McCallie Walls Project, a neighborhood beautification and paying-artists-a-living-wage-for-their-work project that he curates. Lately, he has sent fan mail to Chuck Close and received props on Instagram from reluctant Chattanooga native, Usher.