Sculpture Walk at Founders Park in Downtown Johnson City + Tips for Viewing Public Art

It was the perfect day to explore the sculptures at Founders Park in downtown Johnson City.

Johnson City Public Art Committee hosted a guided tour of the 14 new sculptures on display in Downtown Johnson City on Saturday, September 30. Bill Brown, guest juror, walked us through Founders Park and the surrounding area making stops along the way to discuss the selected artists in this year’s Biennial Sculpture Exhibition. The walk was at a leisurely pace on a gorgeous, fall day with an open dialogue of the selection process.

Grab some friends and enjoy a walk through Founders Park and the downtown area. Be sure to download the Downtown Johnson City app and click “More” to access the “Public Art” guide.

Hey, y’all! It is time to grab a good cup of coffee and sit a spell with me as we chat about the recent sculpture walk I attended at Founders Park. *happy dance* It was a lovely guided tour filled with fans of the growing public art scene in Johnson City. Bill Brown led the group and gave some pretty good tips on viewing outdoor sculpture. Using advice from Bill and my own experience, I have complied ten tips on viewing public art–with an emphasis on outdoor sculpture.

Bill Brown of Anvil Arts Studio, Inc. chatting about the importance of looking all away around a sculpture and seeing it from different viewpoints. How the piece looks from 60 feet away, 20 feet away, and 12 inches away.

tip one: slowly approach the artwork.

Take time to look at it from 60 feet away…20 feet away…12 inches away. How does the piece look differently from a distance versus up close?

This is one piece you need to see in person in order to really appreciate how it acts as a window to downtown Johnson City and its new, but old sign at King Commons.

tip two: look at how the outdoor artwork fits in and accentuates its surroundings.

Does the piece act as a window to something beyond it? How do the colors of the artwork play with the colors of nature that surround it? Does it complement its surroundings well? Does it blend it or stand out?

Fortitude II by artist Mark Krucke of Sarasosta, Florida. Krucke uses natural forms and mathematical formulas in his work. This piece is part of the Fortitude series which uses the Fibonacci spiral to create the stem and overall form of the leaf. To learn more about this artist, click here.

Aquarium by Marvin Tadlock of Bristol, Virginia. This large, steel sculpture presents the viewer with different phases of life, and an opportunity for the viewer to contemplate what is presented before them–from the titled aquarium to the fish that has sprouted a large set of wings.

tip three: observe each layer|element individually.

How does each element contribute to the artwork as a whole? How do the pieces flow together to tell the story of the artwork? Is it easy or difficult to see the different elements and layers? Is there one thing that stands out?

Bill Brown, the guest juror and sculpture-walk guide, asking the audience how “Aquarium” makes them feel and what they see in the piece. For more about this outdoor sculpture, download the Downtown Johnson City app and click on “More” to access the “Public Art” guide.

tip four: get to know the artists before you go.

Check to see if the city you are visiting has a public art guide/app. Visit the artists’ websites for their bios, photos of other works, and their contact info. Don’t be shy. If you have a question about an artwork, email the artist. **Most websites have contact forms. Don’t be afraid to use them!**

Marvin Tadlock explaining the lifecycle of his sculpture to the audience.

Marving Tadlock created “Aquarium” out of mild steel and stainless steel. Here, he is talking about the large fish that is still alive in the titled aquarium and the fish with the wings that appears to be taking flight. How cool it was to have the sculptor there explaining his artwork!

Marvin Tadlock standing with his 12.5-foot tall sculpture “Aquarium”–which represents the hope of a life hereafter.

tip five: walk all the way around.

How does the artwork change as you move around it? Do you have a favorite view of the piece? Why or why not?

“Balancing Time II” by Ed Walker of Seagrove, North Carolina, Fabricated aluminum, 12′ x 4′ x 6′. Walker’s goal is to show the reverence he has for the natural environment, and he hopes those viewing his sculpture will as well. To learn more about Ed Walker and his art, click here.

“Metamorphosis” by Mary Ruden of Seymour, Tennessee was donated for permanent exhibit by Marcia and Lewis Songer. This sculpture symbolizes life cycle, change, release, and rebirth. For more about Mary Ruden, click here.

tip six: look up.

How does the artwork contrast or work with the sky and the clouds? Does it look different on a cloudy day versus a sunny day. If so, how? 

“He Stopped and Turned to the Light” made of locust wood by Charlie Brouwer of Willis, Virginia was donated for permanent exhibit by Wexler. This sculpture reminds us all to take a moment and enjoy the warmth of the sun or a cup of coffee with a friend.

tip seven: compare the texture(s) of the artwork to the natural textures around it.

Are the texture(s) of the sculpture rough, uneven, smooth, fine…? Do those textures blend in or stand out against the sculpture’s surroundings? Is the artwork in the perfect location for its texture(s) or would it look better somewhere else? Explain why.

Next on the tour was “Arbor Spire” by Aaron Hussey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“My sculpture, Arbor Spire, is one of many works continuous in a body of art that I have been investigating for decades. Organic and structural forms reference connections between the built environment and the natural world,” states Hussey.

“Genesis” by Marc Moulton of Statesboro, Georgia and Duke Oursler of Macomb, Illinois is located at the western entrance to Founders Park. It was the first work commissioned by the Public Art Committee.

Up close view of the Founders sculpture

Mother Nature also has an art show happening at Founders Park.

“Hybridized Daylily” made of granite and stainless steel was created by Shawn Morin of Bowling Green, Ohio. “Hybridized Daylily” started out as a granite flower for the artist’s wife, who is an avid gardener and loves the dayliles their son is creating as a part-time daylily hybridizer.

tip eight: compare the scale of the sculpture to its surroundings.

Is it too small, too large, or just right compared to its surroundings? Does the scale of the sculpture and its surroundings feel intimate, dramatic, natural…?

Larry Millard of Athens, Georgia created “Stepped Tower” out of steel, and the hazy, reflective surface gives glimpses of the sculpture’s surroundings. To learn more about the artist’s inspiration behind this piece, download the Downtown Johnson City app. To explore this artist, visit his website here.

tip nine: observe the color(s).

How many colors to you see? Are those colors part of the sculpture, or are those colors coming from its surroundings? Are the colors bold, vibrant, subtle, natural, muted…? How does the color of the outdoor sculpture work with its setting? 

“Divided” by James Westermann is “a great example of a piece that started off entirely different….Often you just have to listen to what the materials are telling you and go along with them.” (From the artist)

painted steel, granite
8′ x 5′ x 3′

Closer view of “Divided” by James Westermann

Great view of “Through Someone Else’s Eyes” and “Balancing Time II” at Founders Park in downtown Johnson City, Tennessee

tip ten: be open-minded.

Remember there is no right or wrong way to observe a work of art. You do not have to know fancy art terms in order to express your opinions or give your interpretations. Do not reject the ideas of others. They are just seeing it differently. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. Art is all about starting an open dialogue and keeping the conversation going by being open-minded!

“Through Someone Else’s Eyes” created by Elisha Gold of Memphis, Tennessee.

This is what I love about public art and this sculpture by Elisha Gold! The rusty old truck, the blue sky with wispy white clouds, and the tree with its slightly changing leaves–all of it working perfectly together.

“High Rise” by Charles Pilkey of Mint Hill, North Carolina is located on Buffalo Street in downtown Johnson City.

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we explored some of the public art in downtown Johnson City. If you are in the area, take a tour of the local art and let me know what you think + share your photos with #exploredowntownjc. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway, make Johnson City your destination.

To learn more about public art in Johnson City and the mission of Johnson City Public Art, visit their website here.






Rock It Like Prince|Overcoming Fashion Fears

Strike a pose and have some fun!

Hey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee (which today just so happens to be National Coffee Day–which I celebrate 365 days a year *wink*). So, grab a good cup of coffee (iced or hot or both), and let’s chat about fashion. Which is totally out of character for the blog. Mainly, because I hate–absolutely hate–my photo being taken. I don’t mind a silly selfie or a group photo where I am hidden in the back. But to be at the center of the photo–the camera staring at me–me trying to figure out what to do with my hands–my face. I absolutely do not smile with my teeth, and I have a really big, round head for someone who is only 5′. Bless! I am breaking out in hives just thinking about it.

My dad (better known as Paw Riley), me, and Abby (my daughter–who got her career started at 16 when she created and launched the Vintage Inspired Passionista blog).

Now, my dislike (hate really is a strong word that we should all remove from our vocabulary) of having my photo taken is genetic. I get it from my dad. He also has the round face and big nose–which we try to hide in photos by being silly. I am thankful my daughter did not get the awkward photo gene. I have also tried really hard to teach her to be confident in who she is and to express herself through fashion. That is easy preaching, but hard living.

Being silly is fun, but it also helps me cope with having my photo taken. I also like props–to hide my imperfections and insecurities.

Deep breath. Where was I? Oh, yes. Fashion and overcoming fashion fears. First of all, what are fashion fears? Anything you are afraid to wear–whether it is a particular color or trend, and it is anything you are self-conscious about wearing out in public. It is the clothes you see in magazines or on Pinterest that you really love, but you would never actually buy because you believe you are too short, too tall, too old, too chubby, too pale, too… to wear. It is the little voices inside your head telling you that if you wear those skinny jeans your muffin top will show or that blouse will announce to the world that your head is big and round. It is the outfit you put on in the dressing room–take off–and swear off food for life.

Fashion fears suck, and those voices inside our heads are mean. Now, it would take me days and days of blogging to explain why I say mean things to myself when I am standing in front of my dressing room mirror. But, today is more about overcoming one fashion fear at a time + about challenging all of you to face one of your fashion fears and to say one nice thing about yourself each morning (no negatives!!!!).

A big thank you to my daughter for taking time out of her crazy busy schedule to patiently take photos of me.

On this Try-Day Friday (which is a lovely idea from Dia & Co.), I am wearing a color I would not normally wear. I avoid this color because I am fair with blondish hair and green eyes. I always feel like it makes me look pink and draws attention to my rosacea. Deep breath. Trying to be positive and have the right attitude because that is what I learned from Dia & Co.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the photos my daughter took of me facing my fashion fear of wearing burgundy (maroon, cordovan, or oxblood).

Simple pencil skirt dressed up with a pop of burgundy + boho accessories (necklace by BluKatDesign and bracelets my daughter made me for Mother’s Day).

To face my fashion fear of wearing burgundy even more, I tossed on a boho top in varying shades of burgundy and deep rust.

Oh, I almost never wear a “round” or crew neckline. Which means, I conquered TWO fashion fears on Try-Day Friday! #winning **p.s. do y’all spy the furbabies?**

I wore this outfit to a meeting I had on Thursday. So, technically, I tried one day early *wink* It was a fun outfit that really got me into the spirit of fall. *fingers crossed for cooler temps*

Just swinging with Mattie and owning who I am–a 40-something artist trying to find her way in this big world.

What I have learned from Prince, my dog Mattie, and Dia & Co.–express yourself, be positive, be bold, and have some fun. *cue Raspberry Beret*

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we chatted about overcoming our fashion fears. Also, thanks for being my therapist today as I muddled through some of my insecurities. I challenge all of you to Try-Day Friday and to #rockit like Prince by sharing your photos to my Facebook page or tag @ChasidyHathorn on Twitter|Instagram + tag @diaandco.

I will revisit this topic and challenge again because I think it is important to face our fears and to not be afraid to admit our insecurities. Together we can make this world a better place–but it starts with being kind to ourselves and forgiving ourselves for not being perfect. *cue Put a Little Love in Your Heart*


No, Mom. I do not want to give sugars.

Abby: Act Natural
Me: **Karate Kid**

Jazz Hands



How to Brighten a Dark Staircase

Mattie would like to welcome all of you to the staircase revamp. She is excited about it being brighter and easier for her mom to clean *wink*

Bringing “light” into my dark and semi-enclosed staircase has been on my project list since the hubby and I bought our house a little over three years ago. Yes, I have a project list that I am still working on from 2014….Most likely it won’t be completed until we decide to move again *wink* Now, this project wasn’t a difficult one. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being easy-peasy and 10 being so-hard-it-makes-you-physically-ill, it’s totally an easy-peasy 1. You might be wondering–if it were so easy-peasy, why did we wait so long to do this paint project? Seriously, I have no idea!

This is the first time I saw the staircase of our current house. I say “current” because the little family and I moved a lot during a relatively short period of time.

Flashback to Fall 2013. The little family and I were house hunting in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The hubby got a new job, and it required us leaving our beloved Birmingham area and moving to the mountains. It was a crazy and stressful time, but we made it through without completing losing our minds and religion. Long story short–I fell in love with an old home (which had recently been renovated) in Johnson City, Tennessee. I had to have it–the porch was perfect, the view from the upstairs was gorgeous, and the neighborhood was friendly and revitalizing. The hubby knew I would have a project list, but we agreed to tackle the list slowly because we were both tired of constant renovations.

The staircase is semi-enclosed and does not have its own light source. The lights in the hallways upstairs and downstairs provide a little light along with all the big windows in the parlor and dining room. Bad news is when the sun goes down, it is a black hole and tripping hazard!

A few weeks ago, the hubby was inspired to paint the stair risers. I use the word “inspired” loosely. Perhaps, he just wanted to cross off an item on the project list or impress the neighbors with his mad painting skills. No matter. The risers are painted, the staircase looks amazing, and the project list is now shorter by one item.

Before I get into Hathorn Hall’s stairway makeover, let us flashback to some past stair projects. It will help explain my love of stairs, and how a little paint can totally change the look of a stairway and entrance.

Upstairs railing of our former home in Trussville. The white contrasted with the stained wood is classic. Both pop against the soft yellow walls of the two-story foyer. It takes a lot of patience to paint spindles, but totally worth the time. If you are not in a hurry to finish (e.g., your mother-in-law isn’t coming to visit next week and/or you’re not hosting a dinner party in a few days), paint a set number of spindles each day. It won’t be nearly as overwhelming + you won’t get tired and grumpy wishing you would have never started!

Basement stairway makeover. For more about this project, click here (which will open up to a Sweet Sorghum Living blog post from the archives), and check out my post about the genesis of the basement revamp and how I thought it would go much faster than it did.

Okay, stairs, steps, staircases, stairways…no matter how you say it, they deserve some love and a little glam to make them feel as special as the rest of the home.

Don’t forget to add a little pizazz and character to the outside steps! The hubby built these planters for the steps leading up to the front porch of our Trussville home.

Now, enough about past projects! Let’s take a look at Hathorn Hall’s staircase + see the hot mess little projects make!

Totally against advice I gave earlier, make sure to pick a time that is really inconvenient–like preparing for a neighborhood yard sale. That way you can really have a hot mess and lose your religion *wink*

First things first. Sand the risers and leave your sander where the furbabies and the wife can trip on it.

Tape off the area around the risers and leave your paint bucket on the stairs, so the furbabies can knock it down the steps into the parlor. *Note: Thankfully, this did not happen to us. **Another Note: Do not leave paint container on stairs.**

View from above. First coat and it is already brighter! **Note: It is a miracle that the furbabies did not get into the paint or knock the bucket down the stairs.**

Pricing items for the yard sale while waiting on the first coat to dry.

We painted the risers in Bright White Gloss. Why? Ziva. Gloss is much easier to clean and really durable. It doesn’t take the best photos, but one wipe with a Mr. Clean sponge, and the furbaby dirt is gone!

This photo was taken late afternoon with no lights turned on–just natural light from nearby rooms. The bright white against the dark stain adds a bit of light to the space making it easier to see going up the stairs.

View up the stairs in late afternoon with only the upstairs hallway light on. The gloss paint reflects the light adding to the brightness.

Almost dark outside. No light on in the hallway and one light on in the parlor. The bright white gloss is shining like a beacon!

Almost dark outside. A few lights on in the surrounding rooms. The crispness of the white really makes the semi-enclosed staircase brighter.

View from upstairs. Love how the white risers stand out against the stained wood!

One more project checked off the list! Time for the next one *big smile*

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we chatted about making over a dark and semi-enclosed staircase + looking back at other stair makeovers. It feels good to do a little revamping–just remember no matter how little or big the project, there will always be a hot mess *wink*

“Solitude Ride” by SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn) For more about my art, please visit my website Chasidy Hathorn.










Strolling on Main in Jonesborough, Tennessee

A few pieces of my art hanging out at Strolling on Main in Jonesborough, Tennessee on Saturday, September 9.

Hey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee and enjoy good conversations about everything from gluten-free goodies to home improvement projects. Today on the blog, we are chatting about art and upcoming posts. I was excited to be one of the local artists at this year’s Strolling on Main in Jonesborough, Tennessee. The weather was gorgeous–sunny with a touch of fall crispness, the art was amazing, the music was awesome, and the over 20 varieties of cheese and cheese-infused bites throughout Downtown Jonesborough were delicious. Oh, and the wine was divine!

My view during Strolling on Main. I just adore this little town so much–from the local coffee shop to the darling shops up and down Main Street–this town is definitely a Hallmark-Christmas-movie town.

One thing I love about Jonesborough–and there are a lot of things I love about Jonesborough, is how it embraces and supports local art and artist. This event gave artists an opportunity to not only show off what they do through demonstrations, but to also sell their creations and to chat about their passion for art. Food, wine, art, and music! Oh, it was splendid!

A big thanks to the Town of Jonesborough for the opportunity to chat about my art–from “Tobacco Barn” which was recently exhibited in Knoxville to my portraits which are inspired by my memories of growing up in a small town in the South. It was a lovely evening, and I cannot wait until next year’s Strolling on Main.

I had the best spot in town *wink*

This event was sponsored by the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association (JAMSA)

Prepping for Strolling on Main. A few quick tips: Always, always “practice” your setup for events. Take photos so you can recreate it once you get to your location. Take extra props, tape (all kinds from clear tape to duct tape), and don’t forget to take business cards and other info about yourself to give to people who stop by your table or booth.

Now, it has been a bit crazy here at Hathorn Hall. But don’t fret. There will be posts coming soon showing all the hot mess and simple home improvement projects. Someone please tell me why the simple projects are always the messiest and longest ones!!! The hubby has been busy in the kitchen cooking gluten-free goodies + the daughter and I have been whipping up easy-peasy gluten-free desserts. For those who may just be joining the SSL blog, my daughter and I have Celiac Disease. It makes grocery shopping and cooking a challenge–and don’t even get me started on how having Celiac affects the social life–because this is the South–and social gatherings are all about food!!

What are the Hathorns up to in the dining room?

Hmmmmm. I wonder what dish the hubby is getting ready to make. Any guesses?

Adding a bit of bright white to the staircase.

An easy-peasy, gluten-free dessert–perfect for a girls-night-in or a dinner party.

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we chatted about art and took a little sneaky peek at upcoming posts. **p.s. Staring at this photo of GF strawberry parfait has me needing a snack!!**

The hubby and I taking a moment to show a little love at Lake Erie in Erie, PA.







Art Is All Around Us + Using Art to Guide Understanding and Unity

Hey, y’all! Guess what time it is? Yep. It is time to grab a good cup of coffee (or tea) and sit a spell with me as we chat about the theme for my fall art classes and how my recent road trip inspired me to change the direction of my lesson plans and projects.

All set up for Open House at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

About a week ago, the little family and I went on a road trip–not the original vacation the hubby had planned–but one we all threw together at the last minute because we were determined to not let anything stop us from venturing out and having fun. See, the last time we went on vacation was 2005-to Disney. That year was the absolute worst. From Hurricane Katrina to my beloved father-in-law passing away, that year was ugly. Nothing like we had planned or expected. Now, we are not going to dwell on the past. We are going to embrace the present and work toward making the future better and brighter. Which brings me to our thrown-together road trip.

**Family selfie fail in Buffalo, New York** My arms were not long enough, and we do not own a selfie stick. Perhaps, I should ask Santa Baby for one.

Originally, we were going to go on a lighthouse tour–focusing on the areas from Baltimore to the Outer Banks. Ferry boat rides. Lighthouses. Beaches. But there was a power outage of sorts that spoiled the majority of our trip, so we decided instead of rerouting that planned trip–we would abandon it all together. It is just the way we are *wink* So, the hubby and I sat down and tossed around some ideas. Here is how we planned our new vacation:  (1) Our daughter will be graduating Spring 2018 from college, and she is interested in applying for jobs in several different cities.  One of those cities is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. All I knew about this city is it is the capital of Pennsylvania. So, I texted Abby and asked her if she would be interested in going to Harrisburg for a couple of days. Explore the city. See where nice apartments are located. Where the news stations are. Visit a few tourist attractions. She said that would be awesome. First stop, check. (2) Where does one go from Harrisburg? Niagara Falls, of course! (3) Why not take a scenic drive from Buffalo to Erie, PA? (4) We are so close to Cleveland–let’s go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! (4) We agree to stop in Maryland on the way to Harrisburg–because why not. (5) We agree to stop at anything else that looks cool or interesting and to stop at the rest areas entering each state. We had no specific plans–but we knew we wanted to spend time together as a family–exploring America the Beautiful.

The first couple of days of our road trip we stayed in downtown Harrisburg. It is a gorgeous city with the most adorable public art. Now, I am not going to spoil all the rubber duck art pieces because I want y’all to plan a trip to this capital city and see for yourself.

The rubber ducks inspired me to change the total direction of my fall art classes. I realized while walking around downtown Harrisburg art is all around us, and I wanted to bring large-scale public art into my classes.

Painted fire hydrant in downtown Harrisburg. Love this so much!!

Downtown Harrisburg is filled with so much delightful art. Take a day or two and explore all of the art the city has to offer. **I am in no way affiliated with the City of Harrisburg or its Department of Tourism. I just love its artsy and welcoming vibe.**

My favorite painted “flower pot” in Harrisburg **I am seeing an art lesson!**

What a great way to brighten up any city or town!

A little starry night action happening on this container in Harrisburg, PA.

One last photo of the painted planters. Y’all will have to take a road trip to see the rest *wink*

Mural in Harrisburg. **At this point in our visit, my mind was racing with ideas for my fall art classes.**

Check out the reflection of the mural in the puddle! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have local artists paint public parking lots!

After a couple of days exploring Harrisburg, the little family and I headed to Niagara Falls via a scenic route where we saw quaint farms, wind farms, and homes decorated with patriotic bunting and American flags. It was a good-for-the-soul drive. Let’s fast forward to the day we spent in Buffalo, New York because I want to continue chatting about public art and how it inspired me to look at art and my art lessons differently.

Photos cannot capture the size nor the details of this public art piece in Buffalo. **If you have not explored Buffalo’s art and architecture, add Buffalo to your bucket list right now!**

Abby standing next to the Nancy Rubins sculpture in Buffalo.

Bright and whimsical art piece in Buffalo

This sculpture in Buffalo inspired an art lesson! My students will be “building” their own mini outdoor art using reclaimed blocks and paint.

Art that makes you happy and reminds you to embrace your inner child!

The solid color really makes the modern lines of this piece pop against the Greek-inspired building in the background. **I can identify with this because I feel like I am constantly out-of-place and standing out!!**

Love the primary colors and block shape. It just makes me smile.

As far as the eye can see. Absolutely amazing sculpture!!

This sculpture is gorgeous. Whimsical. Scary. Entrancing.

I must go back to Buffalo when I have more time because the art is…I have no words!

I was like a kid at a candy store in Buffalo. Just so much amazing art!

“Rusty” treasures have a special place in my art!

Last sculpture I will show y’all because I could go on for days chatting about all of the art in Buffalo…well, there will be a few more photos of murals after this *wink*

This summer road trip will always be special because it is the last one before my baby–my only baby–graduates from college and starts a new adventure. *deep breath–trying not to cry*

Mural in Buffalo on the corner of Perry and Mississippi. Yes, we went to Mississippi Street because we are originally from Mississippi. And look what we found when we got there!

Closer look. Take time and explore the details of this mural in Buffalo.

One last public art piece to show y’all! Honestly, it was a struggle narrowing down which pieces I wanted to put in this blog post. I decided to show my favorites and the ones that inspired my art lesson plans. Don’t y’all wish you lived close by so you could take my classes *wink*

Pour another cup of coffee and enjoy this mural. Take a look at the colors and the overall design. Let me know what you think in the comment section!

Don’t you just love public art! It livens up our cities and towns, adds color and beauty, and shows off the talent this wonderful country has. It is easy to get down these days about America and to complain about what is happening around us.

It is easy to march and riot and burn flags and carry torches and throw around hateful words. It is easy to cower and to be afraid. If you are like me, you may not know how to express how you feel in words or out loud or to express your views publicly–for a million reasons from fear of being hurt|bullied to not knowing how to handle differing opinions (when those opinions and views are coming from people who are much ‘better’ at verbally and physically expressing themselves).

Now, I may not be one to carry a sign in the streets and to go on Facebook rants, but I do believe I can use my creations and art lessons to help this country overcome its current state of animosity and hate + to help remind people how great America is (despite some bad apples and ugly parts of history). Why? Because art is the path to understanding and unity. Now, don’t go getting your panties in a bunch thinking that I am leaving morals and Jesus out of the solution. I am just saying that art is a way to express struggles, successes, fears, and so much more. Art is a way to bring people together–to discuss issues. Art is also a way to showcase what is good in this country.

Art is all around us–waiting to be spotted and discussed. Share your thoughts about “Art is all around us” and your ideas on how we can use art to bring unity.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren{All of us} to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

art inspires us to visit the concept of ‘unity’ and see ourselves as part of a bigger universe.

leni kae















Creating Beauty From Weeds | A Life Lesson On How Giving Up Sometimes Brings You Up

Hey, y’all! Long time no see *smile*

Hey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee and enjoy good conversation about everything from home projects to easy, peasy gluten-free recipes. Just to get this out on the front in–I blog for fun and for self-therapy *wink* I just want to share my projects and life lessons–in hopes of making someone else’s DIY home renovation or day go easier and better! Consider Sweet Sorghum Living your coffee break! So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and sit a spell because today, I am talking about weeds and how easily weeds and life can overwhelm.

Three years ago, my daughter and I created a little backyard patio. We had the best of plans–oh, how we were going to sit out there and relax. *best-laid plans of mice and men*

A little over three years ago, the hubby’s job moved us from our beloved Birmingham area to Northeast Tennessee. It was indeed a cultural shock for me. Not so much in a bad way. But still a shock. See, I love fashion and shopping. I love art and art museums. I love a fabulous girls night out event (champagne and fashion or wine and art).  While living in Birmingham, I enjoyed blogging events with my daughter–from meeting Ty Pennington and Matt Muenster to attending Ken Laurence’s premiere party and going to Birmingham Fashion Week. It was a whirlwind of fun and excitement!

Fashion event at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham.

I met so many people who loved the same things I did–home improvement, fashion, and art. The family and I were always on the go somewhere doing something–mostly involving my daughter’s successful blog or the independent film in which she starred (which her moving away to college was emotionally overwhelming not just for me, but also the hubby–but that is a story for another day *wink*). Getting dressed up and going out was what we did, and we loved it!

Abby and I taking a selfie in the mirror before heading out to a B-Metro event.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not whining or living in the past. My life is good, and God is good. But…starting over in Northeast Tennessee has been a challenge. For three reasons.

One. I am not much of an outdoorsy girl. I love gardening and flowers. I love visiting botanical gardens and zoos. I enjoy a short hike that doesn’t involve the possibility of seeing a bear or a snake. I love looking out of my window and seeing the mountains. I love driving around and seeing the beauty of the outdoors. I enjoy a short bike ride downtown. However, I do not want to sleep in the woods or in a tent or in a cabin without electricity or running water. I do not want to potty in the woods or bury my poo or potty in an adult diaper.

Two. Access to fashion and shopping for fashion is limited. Really limited. I miss having lots of options. I miss dressing up. I miss seeing other people who love dressing up as much I do. I know this sounds petty. I realize there are much, much bigger and way more serious problems in this world. But dressing up and feeling pretty makes me happy. And happy people spread happiness *cue R.E.M. “Shiny Happy People” and take a moment to dance around the room* Now, where were we? Oh, yes! I also believe in expressing oneself through fashion–whether that is pattern mixing or wearing vintage. Fashion speaks.

Three. The acceptance of art and artists is different here. I don’t know how to explain the difference. I just know it is different. It has been a real struggle for me because I love art–all kinds–I love exploring the world of art. I love experimenting with paint and texture. I don’t want to copy. I want to create. How brave those artists were when they showed the world and those nasty critics their interpretations of nature and the human body and spirit–Pointillism, Cubism, Surrealism…the drips and splatters of those action paintings…the drawing with scissors! Oh, my! I could talk about art all day! But lately, I have struggled to pick up the palette knife because I can’t find my place in this area’s art scene, and I wonder if I am wasting my time on this art career dream of mine. Bless! I have contemplated changing my business cards to–Chasidy Hathorn–professional housewife and stay-at-home mom to three precious furbabies. I apologize. That was a bit whiny. *deep breath–cue Simple Minds “Alive and Kicking”*

Where I am going with all of this? Weeds. I am going to talk about weeds and best-laid plans.

This is what giving up looks like.

Flashback. Three years ago, the daughter and I started a backyard project. It was going to be colorful and whimsical. Full of pretty flowers and a cute table with a couple of comfy chairs. Great plan. But then life happened. I got overwhelmed and a little depressed because I was not adjusting well to an area focused on outdoors and craft beer. I kinda gave up. The daughter was super involved in college and still is, the hubby was traveling more with his job and still is, and I was stuck at home–with the reality that I hadn’t applied for a job in well over five years.

Definitely not the plan.

So, life did not turn out the way I expected it to…the plans never materialized. I rolled around in my self-pity bed wearing my ugly self-pity pjs. Sure, I have been busy doing this or that–teaching children’s art–which is totally fun. Volunteering here and there. Making new friends. As I stated earlier, life is good and God is good, but…I have been struggling. I have been hiding the struggle really well (I think). Smiling. Laughing. Going out and being social. But on the inside, I look like my abandoned backyard project. See, my backyard sadness is hidden by a privacy fence–so from the street–no one can see…Just like no one has been able to see how I really feel.

The moment you realize that you have to snap out of it before the flamingos pack up and move away.

Dirt on the door courtesy of Ziva (my Giant Schnauzer) who likes to “knock” to be let in. Bless! This rug must feel really sad….

Broken pot = broken dreams. **This photo was taken during the revamping.**

About a month ago, I tried to gussy up the little porch. Once again, life got a little overwhelming, so the porch and patio project got pushed aside. Good news is I watered that little plant–because deep down I still had hope.

The plan was to create upcycled yard art to go on either side of the walkway–junky, funky flowers. To be totally honest, it is where the furbabies potty when it is raining….Truth.

About a week ago, I let the girls out to potty in the backyard. I was standing on the patio waiting on them to do their biz, when I realized that my life was this abandoned backyard project. So, I did what any good, strong Southern woman would do. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

I got the hubby to create a gate between the new doggy run (potty station) and the backyard (the area with the grass that hadn’t been mistreated by pups and left forsaken by the humans).

Cleaned out all of the weeds and plants, added pine straw, and rearranged the stepping stones.

Ziva and Mattie checking things out + The daughter and hubby taking a quick break. To learn more about the basket-weave fence the hubby built, click here. (That click will take you to the post called Fence Weaving and Painting.)

Mattie prefers to walk on the stepping stones. Ziva loves it all.

There are still some little things left to do like painting the new gate and door, but I am determined to get them all done this week. The good news is the furbabies have their own little backyard spot (which prevents them from terrorizing the newly landscaped green space), and I have a renewed spirit.

“It’s easy to take the time to stop and smell the roses but one must be willing to give of themselves enough to also stop to admire and understand life’s weeds.” ― Colleen Dougherty

“When life is not coming up roses
Look to the weeds
and find the beauty hidden within them.”
― L.F.Young

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I have mentioned my strawberry plants…well, this is my second berry to harvest–the rest the birds have eaten! I don’t think I will be making jam anytime soon *wink*



















Art on the Walls at One Acre Cafe, February 2017

Art on the Walls for February at One Acre Cafe in Johnson City, Tennessee is by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn).

Art on the Walls for February at One Acre Cafe in Johnson City, Tennessee is by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn).

Can y’all believe it is already the middle of February?!? Honestly, where does the time go! Well, I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do have details and photos about Art on the Walls for February at One Acre Cafe in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Art pieces by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn). 40% of the proceeds from the sale of these paintings will be donated to One Acre Cafe and its mission.

Original art pieces by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn). 40% of the proceeds from the sale of these paintings will be donated to One Acre Cafe and its mission. LEFT: 4″x4″ red barns from the Quilt Trail series + 4″x4″ white farmhouse from the Farmhouses series. Arranged on a piece of salvaged barn wood from Washington County, Tennessee. These little paintings can be purchased separately or as a set. RIGHT: “EMPTY CHAIR” inspired by how much I love and miss my Granddaddy Fulcher and created for all of us who have an empty chair that makes us smile and cry–sad tears and happy tears. **Stay tuned for more photos and details about “Empty Chair”**

One Acre Café is located at 603 West Walnut Street in downtown Johnson City, TN. The café was established to further address the escalating issues of hunger and food insecurity in our community. One Acre Cafe utilizes the model provided by the One World Everybody Eats Foundation joining the growing family of more than forty other community cafes across the country. This progressive model is new to the Johnson City area and will be a great addition to the plans for downtown revitalization.

I revealed my latest series "Furbabies" at the "Sit a Spell" exhibition at One Acre Cafe. Meet Matilda, Jazz, Sam, and Cleopatra. More photos and details of these paintings are on my Facebook page. Head on over there, check out all the art, and hit that "Like" button, so you don't miss out on a single thing.

I revealed my latest series “Furbabies” at the “Sit a Spell” exhibition at One Acre Cafe. Meet Matilda, Jazz, Sam, and Cleopatra. More photos and details of these paintings are on my Facebook page. Head on over there, check out all of the art, and hit the “Like” button, so you don’t miss out on a single thing.

One Acre Cafe Mission
… is to nourish the body, replenish the spirit, and grow the community so that all might be fed.

One Acre Cafe Vision
… is to see all of our community members, regardless of their means, dining together and supporting one another in building the strength and health of our community.

"The Smokehouse" by SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn).

“The Smokehouse” by SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn).

“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge the future.” –Mattie Stepanek

“The Smokehouse”–original painting based on my memories of my parents’ smokehouse and farm. So many of my paintings use paint and canvas to tell stories and to evoke pleasant memories of childhood because we are all stories, and the goal is to make them good ones! 

Floral Gala Extravaganza is happening at Art on the Walls for February. Give your someone special flowers that will last a lifetime. **40% of the proceeds from the sale of these paintings will be donated to One Acre Cafe and its mission + vision.

Floral Gala Extravaganza is happening at Art on the Walls for February. Give your someone special flowers that will last a lifetime. **40% of the proceeds from the sale of these paintings will be donated to One Acre Cafe and its mission + vision.

Deep purples, rich teals, sparkly gold, hints of copper...oh, my! "Floral Series #10" will look stunning on your wall.

Deep purples, rich teals, sparkly gold, hints of copper…oh, my! “Floral Series #10” will look stunning on your wall. **40% of the proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to One Acre Cafe.** Original art by SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn)

Everyone needs a "Cheerful Lift." This mixed-media painting was created using a line from a vintage magazine ad, scrapbook paper, washi tape, and acrylics. The bright colors are guaranteed to bring cheer to any room.

Everyone needs a “Cheerful Lift.” This mixed-media painting was created using a line from a vintage magazine ad, scrapbook paper, washi tape, and acrylics. The bright colors are guaranteed to bring cheer to any room. **This mixed-media painting is by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn).

These flowers will never need watering *wink* Acrylic on 6"x6" canvas blocks with palette knife. These florals can be purchased separately are all together on this salvaged barn wood from Washington County, Tennessee.

These flowers will never need watering *wink* Acrylic on 6″x6″ canvas blocks with palette knife. These florals can be purchased separately or all together on this salvaged piece of barn wood from Washington County, Tennessee. **Original art by SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn) + part of the “Floral Gala” on-going series because one can never have too many flowers or too much sparkle.

Is it okay for me to crush on my own art? Because I am totally adoring this vertical arrangement of red barns + one farmhouse!

Is it okay for me to crush on my own art? Because I am totally adoring this vertical arrangement of red barns + one farmhouse! **Art by artist SassyHat (Chasidy Hathorn)**

Another fabulous arrangement of red barns + one white farmhouse. These 4"x4" canvas block paintings can be purchased separately or all together on this salvaged piece of wood from an old barn in Washington County, Tennessee.

Another fabulous arrangement of red barns + one white farmhouse. These 4″x4″ canvas block paintings can be purchased separately or all together on this salvaged piece of wood from an old barn in Washington County, Tennessee.

I'm totally crushing on the red barns in Northeast Tennessee, and my "Quilt Trail" series shows how much I adore their character and stories + "The Smokehouse" is not only filled with strong color, but also strong stories of hard work and value.

I’m totally crushing on the red barns in Northeast Tennessee, and my “Quilt Trail” series shows how much I adore their character and stories + “The Smokehouse” is not only filled with strong color, but also strong stories of hard work and value.

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we took at look at the “Sit a Spell” exhibition, Art on the Walls for February, at One Acre Cafe in Johnson City, Tennessee. I enjoy creating art, but I enjoy it so much more when it can be part of such a wonderful cause and mission. If you are in the Northeast Tennessee area, make plans to have lunch at One Acre Cafe and sit a spell with the art + there are many awesome things to do around here–from biking the Tweetsie Trail to shopping for antiques!

This mixed-media painting as been a work-in-progress. It has undergone many changes since it was first exhibited in October at One Acre Cafe and since I wrote about it on the blog. Click here to see the first draft of this painting + stay tuned to why it has been transformed.

This mixed-media painting has been a work-in-progress. It has undergone many changes since it was first exhibited in October at One Acre Cafe and since I wrote about it on the blog. Click here to see the first draft of this painting + stay tuned to why it has been transformed.