How do you help local business owners do what they do best?
The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on Glass Farm businesses and artists. And while the world slowly gets back to normal, residents and leaders saw an opportunity to jumpstart engagement and bring business (and foot traffic) back to the area.
Fund a series of arts initiatives by, for, and right on Glass Street. Imagined by entrepreneurs and brought to life with local artists, these projects need to highlight what makes Glass Street a destination like none other.
Glass House Collective believes in the power of arts and culture to strengthen the social and economic development of our neighborhood. Our Art Means Business grant program supports businesses along our commercial corridor by funding arts based programming and installations. By connecting business and the arts, the goal is to drive foot traffic to businesses in the neighborhood and simultaneously create paid gigs for local creatives.
In June of 2021, we announced four winners for the Art Means Business grants. These business owners will have six months to complete their projects, which include arts events, installations, and even a bit of holiday spirit.
- Connect business owners with creatives to develop projects that connect neighbors and bring foot traffic to the area
- Create paid work for local artists
“African American Art Cultural Influence in the Hair and Music Industry”
Project by Tina Jones, Ashanti Hair Design
Tina Jones has been running a successful business in Glass Farm for over three decades. Not only is Ashanti Hair Design one of the longest standing businesses in the area, but Tina also owns two properties on Glass Street. As a mover and shaker on Glass, Tina wanted to turn her grant into an event that honors her art and her community.
Tina’s project featured three parts: first, live demonstrations of African American hair design and techniques, outside Ashanti on Glass Street. “African American hair designs are a form of art and expression that have created world wide attention because of their uniqueness — and sometimes legal problems in the workplace because of their rejection and lack of acceptance by predominantly white establishments,” says Tina. She hopes that her live demonstrations, as well as informational pamphlets, will help remove that stigma and celebrate African American hair design as an art form.
Second, Tina brought local artists to her event to perform music introduced into the mainstream by African American musicians, from Jazz and R&B to Soul and Hip Hop. These performances focused on showing how African American expression has impacted the music industry across genres. And finally, Tina commissioned a live mural painting of an African Queen during her event.
“Funding my business with a grant of this magnitude will bring joy and hope to our business district,” says Tina. “We need excitement, festivities and activities on Glass Street to restore and rejuvenate the spirit of the existing business owners, and the people who live and support our business.”
“Bethlehem on Glass Street”
Project by Tina Stewart, First Step Christian Daycare
Tina Stewart owns First Step Christian Daycare and has a great idea to not only engage the kids she works with, but also local artists, singers, and residents. After successfully creating a walk-through and drive-through Nativity in 2020 with her daughters, she used grant funding to extend this holiday tradition in 2021.
“The Nativity scene will draw more people into the East Chattanooga Community during the Christmas season and will increase revenue for the business owners on Glass Street.”
Tina added new scenes to the popular Nativity, working in partnership with local churches, Chattanooga Choral Society, and neighborhood residents and businesses. The Nativity project engages local artists in painting backdrops; local kids created ornaments and act as characters. Tina also built a stage for singers to perform and generate extra holiday income.
“Fresh Produce, Fresh Mural”
Project by Christina Mack, Save A Lot
Christina Mack manages the newly renovated Save A Lot. As part of her project, Christina supported helped connect the dots between local kids, fresh produce and the arts.
We connected Miss Mack with the outreach programs Young Ladies of Power and Archway Kids to host a day of taste-testing and fun. To prepare, we chatted with muralist Golden to create coloring pages that the kids could work on and talk about, all with the goal of giving Golden a bit of inspiration for his upcoming mural. The pages featured beautiful fruits and vegetables that the kids could color — but how about taste?
Piggybacking off of a fall-break visit to Booker T. Washington State Park, we brought Asia Wiggins from I Am Fitness and her epic juicing powers to the kids for an afternoon of taste-testing fresh juices. From celery and beets to ginger and apple, the kids had a chance to learn about each piece of produce and taste the juice for themselves. At the end of the day, they were each given a jar to create their own custom juice, putting together the ingredients they’d tried.
And of course, there was coloring. As the kids learned about each fruit and vegetable, they added new layers of color and fun to their coloring pages, which our GHC team scanned and shared with Golden. These sheets, along with quotes, poems and stories from the kids, became the basis for his mural.
In early November 2021, Golden turned all these inputs from the community into a big, bold, beautiful mural along the Save-A-Lot — conveniently just six feet away from the door to the market’s produce section. The mural brings color to the block, but it also shows our kids that their input matters.
“Color of Diversity”
Project by Joe Lautigar, H&R Block
Joe Lautigar is a veteran business owner who now runs three H&R Block locations, including one in Glass Farm. Joe’s project set dollars aside to create new murals in the area, as well as pay artists to maintain or refresh existing ones.
“The area has had a lot of positive announcements recently,” says Joe. “A new grocery store, businesses coming soon to the area, and we have seen small businesses start to return or show an interest in the area. This project will continue the work that we have all put into that community.”
Joe loves the Scooby Doo mural on his building that was installed by local artist Seven in 2013, but the mural is chipping and needs a refresh. Seven created a new mural in that space and the Glass House Collective Advisory Council worked with Joe and another local muralist to create mural on his vacant storefront facing Glass Street.