Local’s Gallery features variety of mediums and ideas

Thomas Spake’s hand-blown orbs. Photos by Rob Mohr (C’21).

By Rob Mohr
Staff Writer

Opened in 2005 by John and Melissa Goodson, Locals is located between Regions bank and the Blue Chair Cafe and Tavern. The gallery is open to the public from noon until 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment. This autumn,  Locals fall gallery features a diverse collection of artists and craftspeople from around the region, working in a variety of mediums.

One of the gallery’s most striking works is courtesy of Chattanooga painter, Nadine Koski. Her painting of a zebra greets visitors as soon as they walk in the door. Using a process known as encaustic painting, Koski uses a combination of wax, colored pigments, and a heat torch to create her work. The process is difficult, but as Koski puts it, “I enjoy using materials that provide a little science with the process and a little mystery in the results.”

Another notable artist in this season’s gallery is Tess Erlenborn (C’14). Based in Nashville, Erlenborn’s paintings, which has earned her feature artist honors for this season, pull inspiration from organic patterns found in nature. 

Nadine Koski’s painted Zebra.

According to her website, Erlenborn’s work uses acrylic and oil paints and “…explores dualities. It restructures familiar, natural objects into a composition of disparate parts. It combines intricate details found in natural textures, fluidity, and chaos. Stillness and movement, color and contrast, human and nature, and structure and looseness are all prevalent dualities…” in her work. 

Ceramics from the Chattanooga based duo of Bean and Bailey are also on display. The mugs, vases and other containers, made through slip casting, “…address the needs for containing, serving, consuming, displaying, growing, and showing,” according to their website. The duo’s work spawned a collaboration with popular clothing brand Anthropologie last year, but as curator Ashley Charlton said, “We found them first.”

Connie Ulrich’s jewelry, including her work with Tahitian black pearls appears in the gallery this season. Hailing from Huntsville, Alabama, Ulrich’s hand crafted pieces display “…her deep connection with the natural beauty of her Tennessee mountain farm and her childhood playground along the shores of Lake Michigan,” as stated in Ulrich’s website. 

Fresh off a collaboration with Brooklyn-based furniture powerhouse West Elm, Nashville’s Melodie Grace’s porcelain pottery is featured this fall. Describing her inspiration, Melodie says, “I love the juxtaposition of clean lines and crisp details, with raw, rustic unpredictable process.”

Thomas Spake, who operates out of his Jasper, Tennessee studio, has his hand blown vases and decorations on display this season. His work has also been featured in the Tennessee Aquarium’s recently discontinued Jellies: Living Art exhibit. His vases on display at Locals are sandblasted, which gives them their unique “matte” finish. 

Spake’s work at Local’s Gallery.

In terms of inspiration, Spake says, “Texture, color, pattern, light, and motion are all key design elements that run freely through all of the work produced, these ideas are at the core of creative process. The earth, air, and sea are the inspiration behind the work, from the sandy ocean floor, to the arid deserts of the American southwest, from the peaks of the Rockies to the distant horizon.”

Charlton thinks students will be “pleasantly surprised” by the work on display at Locals this fall. In celebration of Tennessee Craft Week, all pieces by Tennessee artists are an additional 10 percent off until Saturday, October 12.