Category Archives: Members

Bethany Lauren: Bela Begonias

Bethany is the artist, designer, maker and owner behind Bela Begonias.  She was born into the Appalachian mountainside of eastern Tennessee, and later immersed in the vibrant culture of Asheville, North Carolina before finding her way to Nashville. Her art is an organic reflection of the mountainous landscapes from which she came, heavily influenced by nature, earth tones, the beach and ocean, the southwest and countless other wonders this incredible world creates.  She is a walking wanderlust, having spent years exploring the world at each opportunity given.   Although she studied art, design and fashion in college, the courage to “be an artist” seemed unrealistic upon entering “the real world.”  After a decade of feeling like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole, in 2015, Bethany (with the undying support and true belief in skill from her loving husband) finally took her vision, studies, travels, ethos and experience and cultivated it into a single leap-of-faith that is now Bela Begonias.

The beginning was a humble one.  Tucked into the attic, the only space available in their tiny East Nashville cottage, Bethany set up a makeshift shop and… started MAKING!  She was terrified of failure, of putting her heart and soul out into the world and of the simple fact that there would no longer be a salaried paycheck showing up in the bank account every other Friday.  Some days were highs and some days were lows.  Some days are still highs… creating a new design that is inspired and satisfying… and some days are still lows… a vision not quite developing as intended or how overwhelming it can be to keep a thumb on every aspect of moving a business forward.

Bela Begonias is rounding the one year corner; in looking back on the launch of the website, the acceptance and success at several shows, being carried at three local Nashville stores, the growing support from the public and the continued encouragement from her family and friends… Bela Begonias is reeling and hopeful about what the future can bring!

Purchasing a piece of Bela Begonias jewelry or ceramic art is an investment in quality.  If you know Bethany, at some point or another you’ve likely heard one of her quips… “quality over quantity” or “form must follow function” or maybe “waste not want not.”  Cliche? Maybe… True? Absolutely.  Bela Begonias stands firm on the idea that your jewelry will last for years and your ceramic piece might be passed down to your child.  Quality IS more important than quantity.  Each piece is created with care, precision and a perfectionist’s eye.  The materials used have been tried and tested.

Lastly, Bela Begonias want’s to express a world of gratitude to you, the customer, for seeking unique and artful design. “Thank you for supporting the entire artist community and for passing your experience and BB finds along to your friends and family!”

Take a moment, if you will, and follow Bela Begonias on Instagram @bela_begonias, Facebook and Twitter @belabegonias

 

Cyrethia Stephens- Design 2 Sell

Cyrethia Stephens left the corporate world in 2015 to pursue her passion in decorating and staging homes, and she never looked back. Her unique business, Design 2 Sell, displays her best visionary and creative talents in home décor/staging in and around the Chattanooga Area.

Cyrethia’s love of architecture, interior design and well honed buying skills naturally led her to home décor/staging.

“I love home staging because it allows me to use so many of the skills I’ve learned over the years,” she says. “After holding many high level corporate positions, I am extremely budget and deadline oriented. And of course, my unique sense of design comes through with each staging I do. I love working with people and helping my clients maximize their property’s potential.”

Her goal is to make a property show beautifully when it goes on the market. She wants prospective buyers to walk away from a property that she staged and say, “I could live there!”

Cyrethia Stephens was born and raised in Smithville, Tennessee and received her Bachelors Degree in Management and Organizational Development from Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee. She has lived in Chattanooga since 1986,  a lover of God, avid cycler, kayaker, golfer, gardener and a décor/art aficionado.

Mary J Whitt

Mary J Whitt first discovered her love for glass art more than 20 years ago when a good friend gave her a beautiful fused glass platter as a Christmas present. It inspired her to learn the craft, so she researched the techniques, tools and equipment necessary for glass fusing and began her journey exploring the endless creative possibilities that working with glass offers. Before long, she was selling her work in gift shops, galleries, juried art shows and private shows across the Southeast.

Although Whitt is “self-taught” in the techniques of fused glass, she received formal art training as a fine arts major at the University of Tennessee from 1977-1980. Her early training served as a helpful springboard, enabling her to intuitively create mood and movement through design and color. “Imagine a kaleidoscope of jewel tones dancing across a room as the sun shines through a stained glass window; or the soft, warm glow of a crackling fire; or the wash of fiery reds into pastel pinks at sunset,” she says.

The dynamic play of color and light inspires her work. Whitt’s use of color, texture and form to create mood and movement makes all of her artwork unique.

 

Michelle Fountain: Fountain Studio

Overcome with a strong urge to create, Dalton, GA born artist Michelle Fountain left a corporate job in Nashville, TN, in 1998 to make candles and one-of-a-kind gifts from beads and wire. Her gifts were sold to boutiques, unique shops and spas. It was the kindle to the fire that grew in her to be more creative.

After buying  her first home in Nashville in the year 2001, Fountain began creating unique finishes on the walls. Encouraged by others, she began her training at one of the top decorative finish schools in the country.

After moving back to Chattanooga in 2002 she soon became a leader in faux finishes, adding cabinetry and furniture to her repertoire, including more education and training.  Her business received the Better Business Bureau Torch Ethics award for high work integrity.

From her roots in faux finishing she came to have a great passion for wall art. After much experimentation and classes, she found her voice through” flow” mediums such as alcohol inks, fluid acrylics & epoxy resin. She found freedom in her release of a certain amount of control in her work producing vibrant & organic visions.

She continues her work in the faux field while exploring deeper into her love for art.

Fountain continues to learn new techniques through training and collaborating with other artists. Therefore she is enthusiastic to call Chattanooga Workspace home.

Fountain will also be using her Workspace studio to teach classes to the public.

For more information or to see Fountain’s work please visit her Facebook page facebook.com/fountainstudio and Instagram account instagram.com/simp007.

Jaime Barks

Jaime Barks grew up roaming the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Those countless hours she spent wandering the woods as a child are evident in her work. Jaime has strong naturalistic element in her painting. She shies away from realism in favor of art that focuses on symbolism to convey complex feelings and emotions through imagery of trees, nature and the sea. She loves to capture her daily life through paintings and sketches.

Jaime has her work in private collections through out the southeast . She completed a public art mural in Cleveland, TN in 2014, she teaches watercolor classes for adults, art classes for children and is currently doing an art teaching residency in Hamilton County elementary schools through ArtsBuild. You can find out more about Jaime and her work on her website jaimebarks.com.