Beth Meadows


"Knoxville Girl" Interview for Blank Newspaper

"17th Street Studios", "Knoxville", "Nostalgia", "art business", "blog", "family", "inspiration", "knox heritage", "mountains", "music", "web", "women", "writing"B2 Comments

I was interviewed recently by Jennie Everett Caissie for Blank Newspaper. You can view the story here on their website or read it below. Such an honor to be considered a Knoxville Girl!

Knoxville Girl: Beth Meadows
Salvaging Knoxville’s Art Scene 

KG: So, Knoxville Girl, are you originally from Knoxville?

Beth: No. I am from Memphis and I came to Knoxville in 2002 to study art at UT. When I graduated in May of 2007 most people I knew were moving but I decided to stay because I love the mountains and I had really started enjoying Knoxville. I remember the first time I went to First Friday. I was in college and I borrowed a bike and rode from campus to downtown and it was an exhilarating experience. I decided to do it every month. I felt like the Knoxville arts scene was really just starting to get going and I really wanted to be a part of it.

KG: A lot of kids like to draw and paint when they are young but lose that creative spark as they get older. What made you decide to study art in college?

Beth: When I was young I drew all of the time. I didn’t really know what it meant to be a professional artist but I knew I wanted to go to art school. But I did try to change my major several times in college because it scared me too much. I think mentally I wasn’t prepared to make the kind of work I really wanted to make. I just felt I wasn’t ready yet, if that makes sense. It takes a lot to be confident in your work.

KG: What is the oldest piece of your art your parents have on display at their house?

Beth: My parents are really sweet and they bought a lot of my artwork when I was in college. I am sure they have boxes and boxes of my art from over the years. My parents do have a painting hanging up that I made in high school. My dad took a photograph of a mountain landscape that I painted.

KG: You are quite an active blogger, from writing for The Sunsphere is Not a Wigshop to your own blog WithBearHands. How did you get involved as a blogger?

Beth: I was invited to be a writer for the Sunsphere is not a Wigshop blog not too long after I graduated. It was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. I wasn’t a big blog reader, but I loved writing and I eventually started writing way more than the other writers. There were seven other writers but I felt like I was the most active. We even won Best of Knoxville for two years. Our perspective for that blog was to pretend that we were tourists in Knoxville and that made me love Knoxville even more because I could look at it from the standpoint of what is new here, what have I not seen, and what can I go find out and share with other people. Then I started my own blog, WithBearHands, which now is a blog mostly about what I am creating right now. I really want to use my blog to promote art in Knoxville.

KG: A lot of artists have poor web presence but yours is pretty impressive. Do you have any formal training in web design?

Beth: I have a great friend named Luke who built my website in college. He is a genius. He taught me how to update it myself using code and really set me up for success. I also learned a lot from just being on etsy. The reason I started my own blog was that people on etsy have their blog and then move to Facebook. Anyone can do etsy and blogs but it just takes time.

KG: You also helped to start in the 17th Street Studios at Redeemer Church. Tell us about that.

Beth: I go to church at Redeemer Church in Fort Sanders and they weren’t using the second story of this wing of the church. Pastor Eddie Young, who does a lot with young people, said he didn’t know what to do with the space and I suggested artist studios. So in May 2010 I wrote a proposal with two other people and we submitted to the church and now we have about 13 artists working up there. It is really cool. Each artist has their own studio and there are common spaces too. Artists just apply to me, then there is an interview process, and it’s only $40 to $50 a month. But there is not any heat or air or running water on the floor. It’s kind of basic, but it is a great space to work.

KG: I started Knoxville Girl to introduce the un-sung heroes who do so much to make this community great. Do you ever do any volunteer work or donate your talents, art or time?

Beth: Recently I started in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and I just got matched so in a couple of months I will have my new Little Sister who is in sixth grade. I wanted to do it because I needed a challenge and this will definitely be a challenge! In college I did a lot of volunteer work but I mostly jumped from organization to organization. I even organized a play group at KARM. But my favorite experience was after I studied abroad I came back and decided to give rides to international students. It had been so awesome when people gave us rides over there. So I decided to do it at UT. My friend said it’d be creepy but I made flyers and put them up all over campus and I said if you are an international student I will give you a ride anywhere, just call me. I tried to organize other drivers but it ended up just being me. So I would take students to get their driver’s license or to the store and they started inviting me to parties and giving me gifts from their countries. And I still keep in touch with some of them from China and Macedonia and Romania… all over the world. I’ve never seen more appreciative people.

After college I started working for Knox Heritage as a volunteer. I was living in Maplehurst at the time and the buildings were falling apart and it just led me to Knox Heritage. They eventually hired me as their administrative assistant and then they hired me full-time to work in their salvage program, which was a dream come true because I love working with my hands and working with materials. I realized that so much of that needed to be recycled because people may not necessarily see the value in them so I started making artwork using materials from the salvage. I curate the “Salvage Show” for Knox Heritage, which has happened twice now. About 20 Knoxville artists make furniture and art out of the salvaged and donated materials and proceeds are shared by the artist and Knox Heritage.

KG: Knoxville has so much going on all of the time. What are some of your favorite things to do in Knoxville?

Beth: I’ve really started doing a lot of new things lately. The other night I went with a couple of friends to the Bearden Beer Market and we did their 5K where you run with a group of people then you drink beer afterwards. It was hard but I would love to keep doing it. I also have a friend who coordinates square dances at The Laurel Theater and it is so much fun. Of course I also still do First Fridays but right now I am in my studio a lot. Plus I love music but as an artist I am on a very limited budget so I love that Knoxville has so many amazing free art and cultural things to do. Basically, if it is free and cultural, I am there. Especially if there is beer! But really, anymore, I am up for whatever.

KG: This ought to be fun. Tell a little-known fact about you.

Beth: A little known fact about me is that I had open heart surgery in high school. But on a lighter note, I like some of Michael Bolton songs. The video for “Said I loved you... but I lied” has fire, flames and stallions, and a lady on the beach. I do like some cheesy music like that. That should be embarrassing enough.

KG: What would you like to see happen in Knoxville over the next five years?

Beth: I think the Knoxville art scene is on a good path, but we have not arrived. It needs a lot of work and the only way that will happen is if good artists can find the means to stay and work here. I stayed in Knoxville to help with that any way I can. I want to see higher standards of art and venues that display art in Knoxville and want to see more people in Knoxville buy artwork.

KG: Where can readers learn more about your art and upcoming projects?

Beth: I have a booth at the new Nostalgia on McCalla and I will have a show at Bliss Home in July, but mostly I am in my studio doing a lot of custom work so I don’t have a lot of shows planned right now. I also have a picture hanging in Bistro at the Bijou or you can also go visit Chyna Brackeen or Peggy Hambright. They have some of my art. But the very best way to visit my Facebook or blog WithBearHands or visit

KG: There are so many inspirational women in this town making a difference and changing peoples’ lives for the better. Who would you say is your “Knoxville Girl”?

Beth: Peg Hambright who owns Magpies Bakery. She is a baker and artist but she is an awesome business woman too. She does so well in communicating her product, her color-schemes, her designs, and how they sell themselves; she just does such a great job. She really inspires me.

Someone loves me, blogospherically

"blog", "design", "giveaway", "mason jars", "painting", "web"BComment
This morning, I got some love from the writer and DIY extraordinaire behind Button Bird Designs, Angela Statzer. She saw my mason jar paintings at Bliss Home this month and asked to feature me on her blog.

As you have probably gathered, I said yes.

She also asked me if I'd be willing to give away one of my mason jar paintings. 

To that, I also said yes. (Sometimes I'm that easy, what can I say.)

So if you'd like the chance to receive the mason jar painting shown below for free, there are two things you must do:

1) email me at and ask me to put you on my email update list, and

2) read the post about me by Angela and leave a comment telling why you love mason jars. I'll pick my favorite response Wednesday and that person will be the lucky recipient.

As always, if you like what I do and want to support, I have mason jar paintings for sale on Etsy and at Bliss Home in downtown Knoxville.

And, thanks again, Angela. If you come back through Knoxville, let me know so we can work on being friends in real life.

Upcoming Shows

"blog", "cute", "exhibit", "exhibition announcement", "juicy"BComment
I now have an Upcoming Events page. You can reach it by clicking on the Upcoming Events  link right under the banner at the top of this page. Now you never have to wonder when and where my artwork will be displayed. (You can thank me later)

I'm thinking in a couple of months I may get around to making an About page, too, so that's something you can look forward to as well- right in time for Christmas!

Lastly, because I had a nightmare about Juicy being in danger last night, here are a few cute pictures of her, where she is not in danger.

Sad truth: An artist must be a business person

"art business", "blog", "design sponge"B5 Comments
Today I read this post about being a shy business woman on Design Sponge. This article should have begun with "Dear Beth Meadows,"


I'm in the midst of trying to pursue painting. As a career? I don't know. All I know is that I love to paint, and I will do what it takes to keep painting.

I realize in order to make this happen I have to kick up my business know-how several notches. The problem is, I am in no way inclined to be a business woman, and if I have deceived anyone into thinking I'm good at it, know that it came with much struggle.

Most artists are solely made to make work, not to be business people, but the world demands us to get out there and promote ourselves. I hate it, most artists do, but we realize we have to go out on a limb if we want to keep making work.

So many artists, however, can't promote themselves without being pretentious, arrogant, or annoying. I sat through many artist lectures at the University of Tennessee which proved this to be true.

This leads me to ask myself: How do I promote myself without being annoying to myself and others? How do I promote myself without sounding arrogant? When I post anything about art on Facebook, how many people does it annoy? Can I still be introverted and awkward? What is the likelihood of someone becoming my benefactor/ agent?

I'll share the answers as I learn them.

Why the internet makes my life lame

"blog", "deep thoughts"BComment
I don't have the internet at my apartment anymore. My neighbor let me borrow it all year, and he moved, so no more streaming television, no more wasting time on Facebook, and less ability to blog. I consider all these good things.

My home has been tidier and I've taken care of little projects that have been looming over my head for months. Confession: My bathroom lighting is really poor. Why? There is a fixture that I've never put a light bulb in. Last night I finally put one in. It took me eleven months. I don't know if, for a fact, this was taken care of because I now don't have the internet, but I'm going to connect the two. (By the way, when I say internet, I mostly mean Facebook)

It's really not that I'm lazy, but I will be the first to admit I am easily distracted. One of the things that distracts me the most is any type of screen- TVs, computers. I wrote about this before, that I don't have cable, etc. because I am cheap, but there's another reason. It's too easy for me to spend all my time in front of a TV or computer, and when it comes to doing a load of laundry that's been sitting there for weeks or watching the Modern Family, Modern Family will win every time. As a result, I will laugh for 30 minutes watching TV, but the pile of laundry will eat away at my soul day after day. It's not worth it.

For me, the internet is wonderful and alluring but so dangerous at the same time. It is to me what liquor is to an alcoholic, and in all its goodness, it has added much pathetic-ness to my life.

Would you like a glimpse into my pathetic-ness? Well, sometimes when I am out with people, having a good time, and the night is coming to an end, I have this little tugging desire to go home and check Facebook. Lame!

I don't have to explain why this is bothersome, but what is worse is that more times than not, all I end up doing is scrolling through pictures of people that make me feel unnecessary emotions- loneliness, dissatisfaction, jealousy...

I am reminded that underneath everyone's (/ my own) photos, status updates, and witty banter, there is a real, awkward, struggling, wonderful person underneath, and I'm too lazy and intimidated to call them.

The moral of this story is, I think I'll keep my apartment internet free, at least for now. A cleaner home, one where I take care of things, is more important than being "connected" all of the time. I'd like to be more present with people and quit wondering how many notifications I've racked up while I've been away from my computer. Again, lame!

Besides, I have internet at work and in my studio so I can get all of my stalking done during those hours anyway.

"So what does this mean for your blog?!" you worriedly ask.  It means I may not post every week. It also means the first draft of these expanded thoughts will most likely be hand written, then typed into Text Edit, and then copied and pasted here, which is cool because it will be closer to how I first began writing and just might make my writing better. But don't hold your breath.

To the one member of the WBH Dream Team

"art", "blog", "drawing", "giveaway", "painting"B8 Comments
This blog has had one public follower (or what I like to call, a member of the With Bear Hands Dream Team) since almost the beginning, and her name is Alice Mayo.

Alice, because of your public affection for me/this blog. I would like to give you something. What do you want? A mason jar?:

a drawing of you and your pretty red hair, done in a similar manner as this?:

 (note: I'll probably end up drawing you anyway, even if you don't ask me to)

I want to say thank you, so show me how.

As for the rest of you nice people lurking in the shadows, may this be incentive to check back here in the future. I'm up to my ears in artwork, and I may just use this blog as a means to play out a fleeting moment of generosity.