Monday, April 30, 2012

Trying to press on: Yee-Haw's last day

I've never been the type of person that wants to meet a band or musician after a show. I find it awkward, no, impossible, trying to verbalize my inexpressible feelings about something that has stirred my soul.

I've found myself waiting outside a tour bus parked in an alley, however, to appease giddy friends with albums in tow. When it's my turn to shake the artist's hand, my default phrase is something like, "Thank you for what you do," and then I'm out of there. No gushing, no awkward lingering. It's not my style.


This morning, I biked downtown to run a work errand and saw the doors of Yee-Haw open, clothing racks lining the entrance. I locked up my bike and walked inside.

Kevin Bradley was off to the right, sporting his plaid pant uniform, sifting through prints, and filling a long list of online orders. He looked up at me and said, "Hello, honey," and gave me hug. "How are you?"

"It's a sad day," I said.

His response: "It's beyond that."

I picked through the prints, finding ones I've always wanted but have never gotten around to buying- the lady that's an ice-cream cone, a Farmer's Market strawberry card, mini cards reading "Te Quiero." I also picked up a journal and a postcard that says "Knoxville Girl," because I had to. I lusted after the larger, more expensive prints, wishing I could indulge.

A few other customers came through while I was there- an older couple shuffling through the endless array of prints and a woman in a dress suit who walked in knowing exactly what she wanted- a tote bag with a pink ice-cream cone printed on it.

When I had made my choices, I walked up to the counter to a voiceless Julie Belcher (she lost it yesterday) who hand-wrote my receipt and whispered my total. She smiled as she bagged up my items.

While I stood there, I wondered if I should say something encouraging or complimentary.

I've really appreciated your work.
You're going to be missed. 
Y'all... y'all are awesome.

What came out instead was, "I wanted more than this, but I'm on my bike. How long will y'all be selling online?"

"Til midnight," she whispered.  (Kevin will be at the shop until at least 7 this evening, too.)

As she handed me my bag of goodies, I thanked her and walked out the door, signifying the death of my longest Knoxville business crush.


Going against my normal protocol, I'll linger here a little longer to give a few thoughts about the closing of Yee-Haw.

My personal praises for Yee-Haw are mostly in regard to how they have ridden the impossible line of making good art that sells in Knoxville. They have transformed a creative passion into a viable business, basing it in Knoxville but extending their talents internationally. When the art-scene looks bleak (because it does more often than not when you are a working artist here), I'm reminded of their presence and it puts me at ease. They have been a role-model by consistently inspiring me to stay and encourage the contemporary art scene here. They've inspired me to work harder.

And while I think Knoxville needs Yee-Haw, I know I can't force it to stay. I can, however, be thankful for what they have done for Knoxville and the art scene here. I am and will continue to be long after their doors have closed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beginning of the End

In May I move on to the next section of my life. The past five years have been fantastic. I have experienced so much personal growth in Knoxville. I have made friends that I will have for the rest of my life and have gotten to enjoy how great this city is. I leave this place, in many ways, different from when I came. The city has changed so much over the last few years. Looking back on my journey through school, or even just at my introduction/bio post for the wigshop I can see more clearly how the little quirks make Knoxville (at least the areas that I lived/enjoyed/listened) great. Originally I looked and saw tall(ish) buildings and assumed that something cool happened "down there". I was delighted to find the Pilot Light and Old City Java quickly in my first year here and have since spent countless hours in both fantastic establishments.

Recently I decided to read Suttree by Cormac McCarthy. It wasn't that I was unwilling to read it, I just wanted to save it for something special. That something special has become the end of my sojourn in Knoxville. I leave very soon and having taken an entire class on the works of James Agee it had to be Suttree and it could only end this way. Most of the places that have been formative for me in Knoxville have been places that I can read, talk to friends, or just relax. I decided that I wanted to read the book in a few of my favorite Knoxville spots and that my reading would be a good way to say farewell. Intermittently over the next few weeks (graduation for me is on May 11 and I plan on biking to campus in my robes and finishing it before I walk across the stage and move away) I will be posting my favorite places. Nothing overwhelming, just places that are important to me and why.
The first place is Old City Java. Old City Java has been my second home. B wrote a love letter in an earlier post. Now it is my turn. As a college student is apt to do, I moved a whole lot in the last five years. I never had an office (except for my favorite graduate carrell in Hodges Library, and that was frequently taken) so when I need(ed) to work Old City Java was the place. It was where I went to actually get work done and drink really great coffee while doing it. Meg and Shaun bought Old City Java a few years ago and brought about really great changes. The building is brighter and more welcoming. The alley (pictured above) has been a nice, recent development. They started serving Counter Culture Coffee which can be read about here. They also happen to be fantastic people who are passionate about coffee. They go on trips to learn about coffee. They are proud coffee nerds. It is refreshing to see people that are really passionate about something. Note: Being disaffected or too cool is lame. I love it there because you can tell that they are passionate about what they do. If you have never been, please go and check it out. It is far and away the best coffee shop in town. Enjoy the day, maybe go grab some coffee at Old City Java (109 S. Central Ave. Knoxville, TN 37902) and soak in the recent bout of great weather we have been having.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Salvage Show

Tonight is The Salvage Show, a one night exhibition put on by Knox Heritage. It will feature works that incorporate historic building materials from The KH Salvage Room created by local artists and designers. It's from 6-9pm tonight on the second floor of 36 Market Square- the empty four story building that sits across from Blue Coast Burrito. The owner's of the building, Ken and Brenda Mills, have graciously opened up their building for this event.

flyer by Per-Ole Lind

All proceeds benefit Knox Heritage, and depending on the artist's preference, the artist as well.

It is First Friday, so come out and support local artists at the Salvage Show and all over downtown tonight. It's supposed to be nice out, so that's extra incentive.

The artists of the 2012 Salvage Show are:

Ryan  Burgess
Laurence Eaton
Michelle Garlington
Ethiel Garlington
Christina Geros
Krista Graves
Briena Harmening
Christopher King
Forrest Kirkpatrick
Per-Ole Lind
Dale Mackey
Sara Martin
Beth Meadows
John Phillips
Brian Pittman
Shawn Poynter
Gregory Spaw
Jessie Van der Laan
Brian Wagner

Here's a sneak peak of some of the items you'll see there:

Table by Brian Wagner

Necklace by Jessie Van der Laan

Table by Per-Ole Lind

Writing Lamp by Shawn Poynter

Bow and Arrow Mobile by Dale Mackey