Beth Meadows

"art business"

Summer Lovin'

"Nostalgia", "SALE", "art business"BComment

I've recently added a new feature to my booth at Nostalgia on McCalla that I hope you will like- a SALE crate! I'm pretty excited about it, for you and for me.

My studio has been completely the opposite of a productive place to work for too long. I've moved some things out recently and all ready feel like I can breathe better, and more importantly, have started painting more.

The SALE crate will be updated regularly, so check often. It is mostly original artwork- my summer gift to you!

Come hear me speak tonight at PechaKucha

"art business", "art", "community"BComment
Please come to The Square Room this evening to hear me speak at PechaKucha Night Knoxville Volume 7.

I am the third speaker out of nine, so if you arrive at 7pm, you shouldn't miss my presentation. I will be speaking about the progression of my work since college and what it has been like making the transition from artist to artist and businesswoman.

Hope to see you there!

PechaKucha Night Knoxville
7pm at The Square Room
4 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902

"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.

What does With Bear Hands mean to you?

"Nostalgia", "art business", "being an artist", "community", "fashion", "juicy", "women"BComment

I'm not really asking you this (I'd feel silly doing that), but it is a question I've been asking myself over the past several months, and I'll tell you why.

I'll kill you with my bear hands
acrylic on canvas
To give a little background to those of you who do not know, the name With Bear Hands spawned from a painting I made a few years ago called I'll kill you with my bear hands (above). It's one of my favorite paintings, a good blend of dark humor.

Booth Sign for Dealer at Nostalgia on McCalla
In trying to think of a title for this blog long ago, there was this natural progression of abbreviating that painting's title. So much of what I enjoy doing involves using my hands, my bare hands, to be precise. I decided to use bear instead of bare to add a bizarre element, maybe confusing, hopefully kind of funny. There's really no other explanation than that.

(Well, I also like bears. They're pretty dang cute, and they can also kill you. Sidenote: I saw a black bear for the first time in the Smoky Mountains last year (in the woods and not from my car). We locked eyes, and within a second, he ran the opposite direction. I was in love, mesmerized, happy, scared, exuberant, so glad he ran the other way, bewildered by the fact that he could tear me to pieces, but I scared him more. Amazing...)

Small mason jar paintings on salvaged wood
As time has passed and I gradually refine my business skills, I have wondered whether or not to keep using With Bear Hands as the official name of my business. Is this a good title for all the work I make? Should it only encapsulate part of what I do? All business is, I've come to find out, is a journey of answering a lot of questions.

Commissioned portrait on salvaged window sash

Detail of portrait
I do see a split within my work, specifically drawing a line that separates the work I make that is more accessible to people (i.e. mason jar paintings) and more conceptual fine art (collaborations with Juicy, fabric work, even my narrative paintings).

Available on my etsy shop
But as I keep wandering down this unknown path, there is even more.

Limited Edition prints of original paintings. This is Meet Cute.

In this post, I'm sharing photos of things I have made recently. Several people have asked me to make work for them, which has been really fun as well as educational. It is so rewarding when a person comes to me and says, "I like your work. Will you make me (insert shared idea)?"

I love this aspect of involving people in my studio practice, and so even more, this is what I have realized, not fully, but in part- that With Bear Hands is not only about the mason jars or the fine art I make, it's about all the people involved. Something more: I also want it to be about supporting and promoting other artists' work that I admire, because that seems like an important thing for me to do right now.

Fashion drawing
Paint pen on acetate layered on coffee package
8 x 10"
So I guess a new theme I've picked up is the Art of Sharing. Sharing is caring, y'all, and I hope to do more of it in the future.

While we're on the subject, a great way for me to share with you is to follow me on Facebook. This is my new favorite way to talk about what's going on with With Bear Hands.

Commission piece: Tin ceiling tile shadow box

"Don't stop believing, unless your dream is stupid."

"17th Street Studios", "Nostalgia", "art business", "salvage"BComment

A lot has been going on in the world of With Bear Hands.

Since I quit my desk job, life has been a whirlwind. I've attended a business class, acquired some new commission work, participated in the Dogwood Arts House and Garden Show, been asked to be on a radio show and a part of two other House and Garden Shows, moved my booth at Nostalgia... (phew!)

New booth at Nostalgia on McCalla
I feel like most of my time has been spent driving from one place to the other. Unfortunately, I haven't adjusted to this new non-schedule, and I keep forgetting appointments, so I rush from one place to the other all day long.

It's making me long for a building where everything I do is in one place, The Salvage Room, 17th Street Studios, and my apartment. Then people can just come to me and my center of creativity, hospitality, and recycled building materials.


It's been pretty neat to see how quitting my one stable job has propelled my thoughts forward. The visions in my brain have been running rampant, and all I can do is look forward, not backward or sideways- a first for me. For every one item I check off my to do list, five to ten replace it. There's no time to tarry.

This made it hard to sleep in the beginning. That's getting better, but sometimes I wake up in a mild panic some nights. The whole process has been humbling, sobering. It's made me reconcile my dreams with reality, to think about what is in my means. If my dreams aren't attainable right now, I should adjust them in order to exist in the present.

It's like Kid President says: "Don't stop believing... unless your dream is stupid. Then you should get a better dream... Get a better dream and keep going." Best advice I've heard so far.

Hopefully soon, I will get the hang of it.

A big obstacle right now is making sure I actually create art while I'm in my studio. When I'm there, I can easily be distracted and spend most of my time emailing and strategizing. As this new week begins, I want to focus on that area and give some other things a rest. It's hard to trust that if I take moments out of my day or week to make art that I will survive.

Another thing I've been thinking, in regard to missing appointments, is that it may be time to replace my phone. I know people ran businesses in the past without smart phones, and I wish I could figure out how they did it. The rubber band is slightly unprofessional, but maybe it fits: I fixed this crappy phone With my Bear Hands... and this rubber band. 

Perhaps it's time for this 80-year-old-at-heart 28 year old to bite the bullet and enter the 21st century. 

Do not worry. Fear.

"art business", "fear", "salvage"B1 Comment

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed I haven't been writing as much as listing the work I've been making. While a major role of this blog is to share the work I make, it's also an outlet for my thoughts. Heaven knows I need an outlet for those.

I do think about writing all of the time, the list of subjects is never-ending, but I haven't sat down to do it. I thought today, I'd give it a whirl, to get the ball rolling again.


Last week marked a big milestone for me- I quit my part-time job as an Administrative Assistant, a position I held for four years after a six-month unpaid internship. I'm still Knox Heritage's Architectural Salvage Coordinator, and I'm still making art, so, while I don't have a new job, I'm hoping to expand and grow the two I've had for a few years now.

I know. It's nuts to quit the only job that gives you a steady paycheck in this economical climate. I have strategically decided to ignore everything I've been told about the reality of the world, but I am not blissfully unaware. I made the decision to put on blinders and face (/jump) forward (/off a cliff). It's not so silly if you really think about it!


I know I run the risk of sounding like a baby, but... Being creative can be a painful thing, and being an artist is even worse. Everyday you're filled with new ideas to create but what you are stuck with is ADD, self-doubt, an incessant need for validation, and very few career opportunities. Most creative jobs out there are built on a foundation of a non-artist telling an artist what to do or have nothing to do with the creation of art. (No, thank you.) So I've taken jobs in non-creative fields, only to realize they can't keep me forever. Where once they were engaging and I was content, they and I are no longer, and Art is what I find to be most alluring.


So I am currently self-employed, basing my income on what I sell. It's strange to realize that I really do like sales if it's something I believe in whole-heartedly, like the architectural salvage program or the art I make. I'm not saying it's easy, but when I can find that person out there that wants what I can offer in these areas that I'm passionate about, it's a good feeling. No. Great! Phenomenal! It was enough to make me think, "Maybe I can do this."

I realize I've based my career path on my emotions. I do aspire to be more rational but what I feel compels me to make foolish decisions sometimes. This would not be the first time, and I'm still here.

My hope is that I'll learn what the next step is and have a clearer vision for my life, but I'm worried, not just that I may not be able to make ends meet, but that I won't find a career that suits me, a fear so many of my peers face, not just artists. Why? Because we are self-centered, proud, and had too much handed to us by our hard-working parents? Probably.

Another possible explanation is that reality hasn't equaled the expectations we were told to have. It wasn't until I threw out the life that lived in my imagination that I could embark on a new path that exists in reality (I'm still working on this). I'm optimistic, trying not to worry but to develop a healthy fear about what it really means to be an Artist, one of the scariest jobs out there*.

*more on that later.

A lovely white wall, just for me

"art business", "art", "exhibit", "exhibition announcement"BComment

I am proud to announce that beginning today, I will have artwork up on a wall at the new Nostalgia on McCalla.

After showing all over Knoxville for several years now, shoveling artwork from place to place, setting up booths at markets, etc., I've decided I need a permanent place to showcase some of my work.

I chose Nostalgia for several reasons.

One: I could paint my wall white. Accessible white walls are hard to come by for an artist in Knoxville, at least one that is open to the public on a daily basis. That leads me to

Two: Nostalgia on McCalla is open Monday through Saturday 11am to 6pm and Sunday 12-5pm. It will be great to have a space dedicated to my work, where I can send people each day of the week.

Three: While there is some overhead, a lot of Nostalgia is booth-owner run, so costs are kept to a minimum.

Time will tell if this white wall in particular will be good for my artwork. Also, to be clear, I still intend to have regular shows throughout the year in other locations, featuring my most recent work. My booth at Nostalgia will feature mason jar paintings, salvage artwork, fine art prints, and older original works.

If you are an artist interested in a space at Nostalgia, there are several spaces left near mine. I'd love to have other artists show near me, so act now. They're going fast.

On that note, I'd like to invite you to Nostalgia on McCalla's Grand Opening. It's from 11am to 10pm this Saturday, Jan 19. I will be there from about 7pm to 9pm. Hope to see you there!

Nostalgia on McCalla
1401 McCalla Ave
Knoxville, TN 37915
(right down the street from Barley's in the Old City)