Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter hours begin in January. We are open 10-5 weekdays and closed Saturday and Sunday. Our coffee bar, Brew Plum is open 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. weekdays. We'll return to regular hours in March. Happy Winter one and all!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Aside from the pressure to go see every family  member, Thanksgiving is wonderful. No religious belief system to insult. Happy Thanksgiving! Take the pressure off the ones you love.


Brew Plum Coffee Bar

I feel badly that I'm not a real "blogger." Real bloggers post all the time! I can't seem to make myself do that, but when I do it's in batches. So, here we go, 2 in a day.

Inside Nelson Fine Art we also have the Brew Plum Coffee Bar, the only coffee shop on the south side of Johnson City. The coffee bar is open 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Friday and 10-3 Saturday. Free wifi and plenty of good art to be inspired by as you sip the best coffee around. Currently, we brew coffees from Vienna Coffee Company from Maryville, Tn. We've loved Vienna and carried their beans for 5 years, but we'll be changing to Bald Guy Brew of Blowing Rock. We reviewed 5 roasters and decided on BG. I'm stoked. We should have them by the December 6! In time for First Friday!

It's all relative

From 1973 until 1990, I worked for a major retailer, one of the "Big Three" at the time. Walmart's dominance of the retail scene was still a few years off; they were buying up Big K stores. We'd never even heard of Target. As a buyer of men's apparel, we carried a mens oxford cloth dress shirt that sold for $18 and was made in Pennsylvania. That shirt is now $15 and is listed as "imported." The first TV I ever bought was a 19" color model in 1976. It cost me $299, on sale from $369.99. Now for $300 you can buy a 32" 1080p LCD and it's High Definition! Here is my point. Except for glass, all picture framing materials come from forest products- wood. Regardless of where the materials come from the cost goes up every year. 20 years ago, few people questioned the price of framing. Now, everyone does. Everything is relative. My shirt was $18 in 1990 and my framing was $150. Today my shirt is $15 and my framing is probably $250-$300.  In the early 90's there were roughly 24,000 custom picture framing shops. Today, there are about 8,000 (according to one of my framing sales reps). It's not an easy business to be in and there are rarely new ones opening, but for those of us still doing it, it's incredibly gratifying.  It's a business where you make friends of your customers rather than making customers of your friends. What do you think will happen if the local frame shops disappear? There is no Chinese alternative.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sad Day/Happy Day

Sad is the day we lose a pet/happy is the day we are able to save the memory of our furry friend forever. I say this not as much as a pitch for framing as much as to add to the memory and recollection of Boomer. Boomer was my friend, Keith's companion for 15 years. 15 years is (hopefully) such a drop in the bucket of our own lifetime, but start to finish for our pets. They never say, "I wish I could live longer", "not today", "I"ll get around to it." See you later, Boomer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer hours

For the months of July and August, we will be open Monday-Friday from 10-5 and closed on Saturday. Our coffee bar opens at 8:00 a.m. the same days. Join us!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My daughter is a 26 year old doctoral student in CA. A couple of years ago at Fathers Day, she said "I was going to give you a 'Worlds Greatest Dad' t-shirt but I found out they made more than one." A fathers day gift should be unique. Framing makes it personal. A photograph on a piece of paper is a picture of a child. When you frame it it becomes your grand daughter, Avery ( or your daughter, son, wife, grandmother, etc.. you get my point).  We can connect to it if we make that picture special. A tie is a piece of an outfit that Dad has to wear to work. Finding that first tie he wore to his first day of work AND framing it--- THAT is a memory.  In a drawer, a baseball glove takes up space. Framed, it is transformed into that memory of playing catch in the back yard.  Your challenge is to find that object in Dad's top dresser drawer or in the back of his closet and turn it into a memory. Father's Day is June 17th!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Happening

Released today, 4/16/2012:
Nelson Fine Art Center, 324 E. Main St in Downtown Johnson City will host a monthly Happening(poetry read) beginning this Friday April 20, from 7-9 p.m. The format will be BYOP (bring your own poetry), but this week the Gallery will feature the works of regional poet/author, Larry Thacker. He will be reading pieces from his recent book, Voice Hunting.

Voice Hunting, a collection of poems, dives into what being Appalachian in today’s world means. From the obvious to the symbolic in everyday life, Thacker’s poems are a journey of discovering personal voice and meaning in a mountain culture that is quickly being absorbed into the mainstream.

“These poems are my attempt at preserving snapshots of clarity I’ve experienced over the last few years as I’ve tried to understand who I am as an Appalachian in this early 21st century culture. Some serve as prayers of understanding, some express frustration with the challenges of our area, some deal with our unique connection with our natural surroundings, while others try to fill in the blanks of my family history that have been lost with time.”

As a seventh-generation Cumberland Gap-area native, Thacker’s writing over the years – whether through columns, fiction or poetry – has served as a cultural balm of sorts, helping him, and hopefully others, better understand the history of our surrounding Appalachian experience.

“Larry Thacker as poet practices a kind of ‘Appalachian alchemy’ as he searches for the poetic elixir that will turn our eyes and ears from the commonplace to the unexpected. His poems are hymns to birth and death, psalms for the seasons…What a magical power he brings to these debut poems,” said poet Marianne Worthington, author of Larger Bodies Than Mine.

For more information, please call Nelson Fine Art at 423-926-2931 or visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What we do- the middle years

Sometime during the early 70's the original owner sold/turned over Lady Bug Gallery to someone else who kept the custom picture framing business going until selling it to Frank and Martha Lee in 1978. Frank and Martha were local folks who knew a lot of old Johnson City people and built Lady Bug Gallery into a very respectable business. Frank was a woodworker/cabinet maker and took pride in craftsmanship. If it wasn't for Frank and Martha, Lady Bug and now Nelson Fine Art would not be what it is today. I am forever grateful. During their tenure, the Lees moved LBG from the downtown business district to a small store front on Watauga Ave. a couple of blocks from the Firehouse Restaurant (locals will know where that is) across State of Franklin Rd. I miss that $275/month rent!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What we do- An Inauspicious Beginning

To understand what we do at Nelson Fine Art, I'll give you the background. First of all, Nelson Fine Art began as Lady Bug Gallery. I was playing golf in the early 90's with Ted Mars (Morris?)who once owned Regal Art and Framing which became Essyx Gallery. He told me he went into the framing business with a woman in 1970 or 71. Within a year he realized she was using company money to buy office equipment and taking it home. So he promptly fired her. In 1972, she used that equipment to open a custom picture framing business on East Main Street in Johnson City, TN and named it Lady Bug Gallery.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Call of the day:

We often get calls from folks who have valid questions and often have not thought out the details. Today we had one such call.

Caller: Do you have the ______ print?
Me: Yes we do.
Caller: How much is it?
Me: It's $25.
Caller: Is that framed?
Me: Uh.... no.

This call pointed out the lack of knowledge regarding the value/cost of framing. People just don't know how much framing costs. And without that knowledge, pricing can be an obstacle especially if you have a preconceived notion on price based upon some comparison. For instance, many people think the price of framing should have some relationship to the price of the painting/poster/print/photo/tapestry/violin/crosstitch/Granny's tiara/keys to your first car/etc. (Do you see where I'm going here?) My examples have ranged from $2-$100,000,000. So, the value of the art has no relationship to the cost of framing other than the more expensive the art, the less painful the cost of framing becomes. So, my other point is, be prepared for the price of CUSTOM framing to be more than you thought. Wow, I hope I didn't scare anyone off. (See other posts about competitors weekly HALF PRICE coupons before you go running off to the big box framers.)