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Friday, January 3, 2014

First Friday: Architecture, Fashion and Textiles

I had the pleasure of visiting Beth Meadows in her 17th Street Studio in Knoxville recently and am exited to share her work this month. Beth's architectural work draws me in every time I look at it. I like it more each time I see it. Especially the first piece in this post above. Generally, my favorite color palettes are warm and subdued but Beth's combinations are so fun. And I love how she incorporates gold in some of her pieces. As I have said before, I love gold in my house and it is pretty trendy right now too so why wouldn't you want some of Beth's art in your home? Her pieces are sweet little escapes from reality for me. I want to be in that bright kitchen with the gas cook top and vintage refrigerator. I want to cook there. I want to recline on that white sofa in front of that fireplace with ceilings that go on for days. I want to be as posh and stylish as the lady in the floral topcoat. Beth, make me into your subjects!

As you read on and fall in love with Beth's work be sure to find her online via Facebook or Twitter (even Instagram!) so you can keep up and learn about exhibits and shows like her Jan. 3-Feb. 1 group show at The Emporium Center on Gay Street in Knoxville. She will be exhibiting some work along with other 17th Street Studio Artists and Mighty Mud Clay and Vacuum Shop Studios. If you won't be in town during these dates visit Rala, The Knoxville Visitor Center and Nostalgia on McCalla to see more of her work.

PP: What motivated or inspired you to pursue a BFA? 

I knew for a long time that I wanted to study art in college. I chose to pursue a BFA because it enabled me to focus on Drawing while taking other studio classes I enjoyed, such as printmaking and ceramics. It also pushed me to take classes I wouldn't have necessarily chosen, such as welding and photography.

PP: Is there one particular medium or art form that you really love? 

I love to draw, and I love different materials for different reasons. I use paint pens on acetate for their fluidity. I paint with acrylic because they dry quickly and I can dilute them with water- again, making them more fluid. And I use graphite because it's like taking a breath of fresh air. That last part might sound cheesy, but it's true.

PP: What inspires the art you create now? 

Right now, my biggest influences are architecture and fashion. Good design and craftsmanship greatly motivate me.

PP: Does your work with Knox Heritage and the antique items you see regularly play into your pieces? 

It does. One, in that many of the materials become the thing on which I draw or paint (i.e. wood, slate, or windows) and two, because, I appreciate the way things were once made. When I look at how an old window is put together, for example, I am really inspired by that incredible craftsmanship.

PP: I notice an architectural theme in your drawings. What draws your attention to that subject? 

I have always been attracted to architecture and have worked several years for Knox Heritage as a result. I have a great appreciation for the craft and attention to detail in historic buildings, and yet it's not just about the buildings. I also tend to become friends with architects and architecture students. Their personalities intrigue me, as they live particular lives, surrounding themselves with very specific things. It's the same as me, but much more refined. 

PP: Do you find the tapestries used in your framed art on thrifting excursions? Is there a relationship between the tapestry and the drawing you place over them?

I do find a lot of the fabric and lace at thrift stores. When I bought a sewing machine in college, I also received a lot of donated fabric from women cleaning out their sewing rooms. I never learned how to sew but wanted to use the fabric anyway. Some of the more shimmery and metallic fabrics I buy new. 

When I use the fabric against a drawing, I make the drawing first, pick the frame, and then figure out what fabric fits the best. 

PP: I love the black and gold items you had on exhibit at Style of Civilization. They seem very different than your other work...are those new pieces? Where did your inspiration come from for those? 

Those pieces are about a year old. I found the gold material at a fabric store and had to buy it. I made the pieces inspired by fashion (Gold is way in!) and designs I kept seeing on Etsy (Triangles! So hip!)

PP: I know you are a big part of the 17th Street does being a part of that community impact your world as an artist? 

Being an artist means being alone a lot. 17th Street Studios was created so that artists could be near other artists throughout their creative process. While I become better and better at being alone, being around other artists helps me remember to think about where I fit in the world as an artist. I tend to forget to take note of what others are creating, so for me, it's good when an artist comes to me and says, "Hey, the work you're making reminds of this or that." I take a lot away from looking at others' artwork and am reminded to carve out a unique style while still having a conversation with other art being made today. 

PP: Paper or Pearl?

Pearl, because they are shiny and hard, and I always want to rub them on my teeth to make sure they are real. If they're smooth, they're fake, right? I actually can never remember, but that never stops me.

Beth in her studio with a piece in progress.
Beth moved from her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to Knoxville, TN where she graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BFA in Studio Art in 2007. She has lived and worked in ever Knoxville since then and currently manages The Salvage Room for the non-profit Knox Heritage, receiving and selling historic building materials. She is also the Director, as well as an artist, of 17th Street Studios, a work space for thirteen artists near downtown Knoxville.
Beth has shown her artwork regionally and has recently been voted Runner Up for Best Artist in Metropulse's Best of Knoxville Readers' Poll. When she's not making artwork, she enjoys writing, hiking, swimming, thrift store shopping, traveling, and being with friends.

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