As a licensed cosmetologist with an affinity for art, Oak Ridge North resident Kellie Nedd opened South Woodlands Art Gallery and Salon Beaux Cheveux simultaneously in October.
S.W.A.G. hosts works from six artists, including three local artists as well as mixed media artist Victoria Kovalenchikova from The Netherlands.
“I’ve been an artist my whole life, and I wanted to do something for the community,” Nedd said. “I wanted local artists to be able to put their art [here]. It was perfect when we decided to open the salon.”
Nedd used to primarily paint watercolor pieces and gradually began working with mixed media on canvasses. Her art is also featured in the gallery.
She is already working to expand the shared salon and gallery space by adding a second floor. The building is designed to house several studios for stylists, and artwork is featured in the hallways and inside studios for clients and customers to peruse.
When shows are hosted at S.W.A.G., the front desk area is converted into a bar and refreshments area, and the door to each stylist’s salon room is closed to create the art gallery atmosphere, Nedd said.
“During work hours, anybody can come and look throughout the day, but when we do have shows, we close everything off,” she said. “This is a really cool entertaining place.”
S.W.A.G.’s first show, during the gallery’s grand opening, boasted over 75 guests, Nedd said.
“We’re getting more and more [artist] submissions every month,” Nedd said. “It’s exciting because we’re wanting to expand and keep growing because there’s nothing like it here in this area.”
The gallery has seen a lot of traffic due to word-of-mouth from hair salon clients, Nedd said. Submissions from artists are viewed once a month, and Nedd tries to ensure paintings are purchased within about six weeks.
“We haven’t done any advertising yet other than Facebook and Instagram and word-of-mouth through our clients,” Nedd said. “We have a lot of people come in through here because of the clients. Each chair brings about 15 people in a day, [and] we have 15 chairs.”
Kovalenchikova, S.W.A.G.’s featured artist, has three series of paintings featured in the gallery, Nedd said.
When Nedd opened the gallery, she had work from four artists—not including Kovalenchikova—to show on the walls throughout the studio. Other than a gallery in New York City, S.W.A.G is the only other art gallery in the U.S. featuring Kovalenchikova’s mixed media art.
In addition to paintings, S.W.A.G. offers services for custom luminaries and onyx rocks, Nedd said. In the lobby, a 700-pound custom-made onyx rock is mounted on the wall, and outside the doors stands a multicolored luminary.
Although S.W.A.G. and Salon Beaux Cheveux are separate businesses housed in the same building, Nedd said they both maintain a steady flow because when clients come in to get their hair done, they can also view art and vice versa.
“I want to continue growing, of course,” Nedd said. “I want to be able to have shows once a month.”
Nedd expects the upstairs addition to be complete by July, and there are already five salon rooms leased, she said. As the addition is complete, more artists will be featured as well.
Some artists represented at S.W.A.G. offer custom commissioned work to customers, Nedd said. As the business grows, she said hopes to continue spreading the word about the featured art.
“Nobody knows about it, so once we get the word out that this is what we do, we’re excited about it,” Nedd said.