One of a Kind Gallery
Bristol, Tenn. • 423-652-2648
When One of a Kind opened nearly two years ago, it was the only art gallery in downtown Bristol.
The owner, Mimi Kind, is an artist and former art teacher at Tennessee High School. In 2003 she was named Secondary Art Educator of the Year, and in 2004 she received one of three National Awards of Excellence from the Council for Art Education. At One of a Kind, she teaches classes in drawing, watercolor, pastel, and batik.
Ed Lockett teaches classes in pottery and painting at One of a Kind. He taught art at Bristol Tennessee High School and Vance Middle School before retiring in 2008. He was named Tennessee Art Educator of the Year in 2007. He is a member of Tennessee Arts and Crafts Association and has taught classes at Arrowmont School of Art in Gatlinburg for more than 20 years.
Kind says, "Opening an art gallery that offers classes and art supplies has been a dream of mine for many years. As an art teacher, I saw a real need for these things in Bristol. I thought it was very sad that my students had to leave town to purchase art supplies. I also had students who would have benefitted from specialized classes. Unfortunately, at that time, Bristol had no visible art gallery for artists to sell their work, much less a place where people could simply view and appreciate the work of local artists. I discussed this with Ed, and the plan for One of a Kind Gallery was hatched. We both retired from Tennessee High in May of 2008, and we opened the gallery doors on November 24 that same year."
For the first time, Kind became a combination of business owner, artist and teacher. She recalls, "I knew absolutely nothing about business when we started this journey. If I had any business sense at all, I probably would have never had the nerve to do this in the first place. We were even told by advisors that art businesses had a 100% failure rate in Bristol. Being the stubborn type, that bit of advice was like waving a red cape in front of an angry bull; and I forged ahead with lots of support from Ed and my family."
Together, they created a gallery that showcases fine, quality artwork in a friendly, warm atmosphere. Kind says, "Viewing art is an emotional experience. I have been places where people are almost intimidated to go into a gallery, but I knew that fine art and warm feelings could co-exist. People comment to us often about the warmth of our gallery; and that, to me, is the greatest compliment we could receive."
She adds, "Art is something that should be accessible to everyone, so we are not targeting any one specific demographic. If someone wants to look at or purchase art, we have an interesting and ever-changing variety at various price points. We also carry quality art supplies for artists and budding artists."
Now, nearly two years later, Kind exclaims, "We're still open! In this economy, that IS success. The real success story, though, means having happy students and clients. I just love to see happy people!"
-- blowfish emporium