Market for the soul

Southland Books to offer monthly Art Mart to feed the creative soul

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By Lynn Stout
Blount Today

For folks who crave home-grown fruits and vegetables, the Farmer’s Market is the place to be. But if it’s the soul that must be fed, Art Mart will satisfy with plenty of local flavor.

The owners of Southland Books, Catherine Fry, Valerie Spence and Lisa Misosky, are taking their mission to support local artists a step further by presenting their first Art Mart on July 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 801 East Broadway store.

While a wide variety of art forms will be represented, one thing will remain the same. Every artist and musician invited to attend lives in the area. Spence said they want to keep the community focus and let the local artists display their works where people know them and know their names. "It’s for the people who live here, and it’s for their community," she said.

Some of the local artists displaying and offering their art for sale include Nat and Me with Ethiopian baskets, potters Leeanne Moe of Studio 212 and Jill Bright, a fine arts major at the University of Tennessee, Sarah Bush with wool textiles, Ken Marine of 8 Shooters Studio with photography, Rhonda Moody with charcoal drawings, Liz Smith’s photography and Kip Tweedie, a furniture and cabinet maker.

Musical talent will also be on display. Several bands will provide live entertainment, with Pistol Creek Catch of the Day as the featured band.

The music begins at 2 p.m. Special refreshments will be available and Detour Coffee will be open for fruit smoothies and hot and cold coffee drinks.

The plan is for Art Mart to become a regular event during the spring, summer and fall months.

The women say their desire to support local artists is a personal conviction.

"It’s important for people to have a creative outlet, especially when they are just starting out and don’t have resources established. I think of Catherine," Spence said.

Catherine Frye teaches stained glass classes for everyone from beginner to advanced on most days of the week at Southland Books. Despite being an artist at heart, she said she can’t seem to get away from teaching and helping others find their creativity.

Art Mart grew despite the organizers’ busy schedule. In addition to maintaining a huge used book inventory, the Detour Coffee shop, stained glass classes and an evening of poetry each Monday night, Southland Books will also host open mike night beginning June 28 and continuing every other Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Edward Harper and the rest of Pistol Creek Catch of the Day are the emcees.

The bustling store also hosts a monthly art show the first Saturday of each month. The art goes on display Friday evening and is followed by a reception for the month’s artist complete with live music. The art works stay on display the entire month, with the works also being offered for sale during the month.

Misosky wants the public to think beyond only paintings when they hear about works of art at the bookstore. Southland Books has a stable of artists and displays a wide variety of crafts, including handmade soap, pottery, candles, jewelry, hand-crafted journals and cards, in addition to paintings and sketches.

"Our local artists aren’t always professional artists and usually can’t afford to take the financial plunge into festivals and studios. Southland Books and the Art Mart is a way for them to produce their art work and show musical talents without breaking their bank," said Frye.

"Art Mart is what we want to be: A coalition of businesses that are a destination for open creativity, whether it is art, music, reading, literature or a place for discussion," said Spence.

"We want to be an outlet to support local artists as the community grows," added Frye.

Applications are available at the store for artists and musicians who’d like to be considered for future Art Marts or for display at Southland Books.

For more information about open mike night, an evening of poetry, the monthly art show or stained glass classes, call 865-984-4847 or visit

Art Mart is sponsored by Southland Books, Southern Studios, Detour Coffee, Technology Solutions of Tennessee, and Blount Today.

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