What makes Lookout Mountain home

It’s summer on Lookout Mountain, which means it’s time to #LookOUTDOORS! Spend the night in our new tree house hotel, bike one of our many trails or soar above the brow with Lookout Mountain’s hang gliding school.

If the heat’s too much for you, why not explore Lookout Mountain Underground or take a break for ice cream at one of these cool spots. Tell us your favorite summer spot on our Facebook page (#lookoutdoors).

Lookout Mountain Goes to the (Fonty) Dogs

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It started as a church softball league…but a Fonty Dog gathering is anything but reverent. In fact most memories from their summer league (and subsequent after-parties) aren’t fit to print. “Some of the guys might not be too happy if I shared,” laughs Tim Moore, who’s organizing the reunion this weekend. “Let’s just say when some of the Fonty Dogs went to the Frosty Mug before the game that greatly affected our win/loss record.” It was a different time when the team formed in 1970. Muscle cars were all the rage, the legal drinking age was 18, and softball was KING. In fact Moore later wrote a story about Chattanooga softball for The Washington Post Sunday Magazine when working as a journalist in D.C. While maybe not the most serious in the league, one of the Fonty Dogs did go on to play semi-professional baseball. But mostly the games were an excuse to socialize. Every Tuesday and Thursday night, large crowds would gather under the lights at the Lookout Mountain Town Commons. Parents and friends would sit on the wall to cheer. (The most devoted female fans were Fonty Dogettes.) Afterwards, they would hop in their Mustangs and Firebirds and race down the mountain to their next “game” at the Frosty Mug. The team brought together guys from different high schools, forming friendships that have spanned the decades.

“It’s been a lifetime of memories with a group of really great guys,” says Moore.

This weekend they return to their old stompin’ grounds for a Fonty Dog reunion. Team members from across the country are coming (only about half of the 30-person team still live on Lookout). While called a reunion, the festivities are open to everyone. There’s always room on the bench for like-minded individuals, but they do ask you to register for a “wet nose” count.

“If you like to have fun, you’re invited,” laughs Moore.

There will be softball, restaurant meet-ups for nearly every meal, golf and the main event – FontyStock. Held this Sunday at the Commons, FontyStock will have inflatables for the pups, live music from the Missionary Blues Band, food from Café on the Corner and plenty of “Frosty Mugs.”

The ‘70’s hit band, The Lovin’ Spoonful are on reserve, but so far they’re about 175 tickets shy of meeting their attendance requirement.

“Even the Fonty Dogs have limits,” jokes Mooore. “We have to sell 400 tickets to have the Lovin’ Spoonful. At this moment it looks like the Dogs are going to lose another one.”

Weather is also a factor, but the team remains optimistic that the only thing pouring Sunday will be the beer. As long as the sun is out, so are the bell bottoms and muscle cars. As for the band, get your ticket today…because this former church softball league is hoping for a miracle.

See weekend lineup, make reservations and buy tickets here

Boosterthon Enters Second Week at LMS

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If you’ve been seeing droves of young kids running around with crazy hair or mismatched clothes, it’s not a new fashion trend. It’s just Boosterthon time at Lookout Mountain School!

It’s not so much a fundraiser as a full-on event,” says PTA Boosterthon Chair Heather Biebel. “This is the second year I’ve chaired Boosterthon and I’m continually amazed at how excited and involved the kids are. It’s a great start to the school year.

The annual fundraiser lasts almost two weeks, and daily events keep the energy going. This week included a school-wide pep rally plus “Wacky Tacky,” “Crazy Hair” and “LMS Spirit” dress up days. But the real fun will come next week with daily Carpool Pep Rallies and the main event – the Boosterthon Fun Run. That’s when every student will gather on the LMS field to run up to 35 laps for their school. Each child will feel like a star athlete, kicking it off by running through an inflatable arch to the sound of music and cheers by parents and siblings. They’ve been “training” since the event began last Tuesday. This year’s Boosterthon theme is “Big World Recess,” utilizing kid athletes around the world to teach character traits such as “Live with curiosity,” “Score with Practice” and “Win with teamwork.” Each day students watch videos of kids playing basketball in Brooklyn, diving in Australia, playing soccer in Brazil and more. Clearly, Boosterthon isn’t your run-of-the-mill school fundraisers. Not only are kids taught the importance of philanthropy, but character traits are reinforced in the classroom all year. It not only strengthens the school, but also the student body. Boosterthon Fun Run is managed by a national organization out of Atlanta. While onsite reps keep things running smoothly, parent and kid involvement make it successful. This year funds will go toward technology, but teachers also keep 10 percent of what their class raises to purchase supplies throughout the year. Even if you don’t have a favorite LMS athlete, you can still get involved. Next week there will large collection barrels in front of the school for the “Spirit Shoe Drop Off,” which provides shoes to less fortunate athletes around the world. Drop off your used athletic shoes (tennis, running, cleats) anytime next week, and help keep recess alive around the world.

Music on the Mountain Returns this Weekend

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Saturday, August 29 6:30 p.m. Lookout Mountain Golf Club Tickets $55 per person, benefitting Fairyland Elementary School

Lookout Mountain prides itself on having not one, but two exceptional public elementary schools. But they wouldn’t be ranked top in their states if it weren’t for the incredible support from the Lookout Mountain community.

Fairyland Elementary School parent Sarah Lehn has experienced this generosity firsthand. For the past two years she’s helped with Music on the Mountain, which she’ll chair this year along with co-chair Brennan Griffin.

What really impacted me last year was the number of people who attended with no current connection to Fairyland School,” she says. “Folks from the Tennessee side as well as people who had a child at Fairyland 10, 20, 30 years ago all showed up to support our school. That means so much to me as a parent.

This year a woman who now lives in Charleston, S.C., mailed in a donation. Even though her daughter graduated 30 years ago, she told Lehn she’ll forever support Fairyland School because it was such a wonderful experience for her family.

With more than 30% of children on free and reduced lunch, the award-winning school can’t rely entirely on parents to help fund educational opportunities such art curriculum, a fine arts program, science and technology.

We rely heavily on the generosity of our community to help us achieve excellence in the entire educational experience, both in and out of the classroom,” explains past PTO president Caroline Williams.

Of course, this spirit of giving isn’t completely selfless – buying a ticket means you also get to go to one heck of a party. Just like last year, the event promises fantastic food, live music and a very entertaining live auction hosted by Henry Glascock.

Anytime you can raise money for your child’s school while having a great time with friends and connecting with neighbors, it’s a win-win in my book,” says Lehn.

The event is a completely local affair with music, food and dessert provided by Lookout Mountain residents. Thorpe McKenzie will be supplying this year’s entertainment with his modern blues band, WTM Blues. The menu features Chef Margaret Johnson’s famous fried chicken and tomato pie followed by dessert from high school entrepreneurs Cookie Cow ice cream sandwiches and Mallie’s Sweet Treats.

Williams is heading up the silent and live auction this year, along with Justin Workman and last year’s auction chair Jennifer Deal. This fundraising dream team has secured plenty of coveted items for the live auction including a lab puppy, football tickets to AL/LSU, and a security clearance level tour of the Pentagon. Bidding is already open for the silent auction, which features everything from summer camps to spa treatments. Last year’s “Amazing Race” party, sponsored by Justin and Michelle Workman, is back by popular demand as well as the Father-Son Campout at Wingfield Farm.

Don’t miss your chance to help out and have fun. Buy tickets and pre-bid for silent auction items at motm.fairylandschool.org (Walk-ups are also welcome.)

Time to "Bagsy" Some New Kid's Clothes

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Back-to-School is like the Mom’s New Year. It’s a time when we purge our pool bags and prepare for the onslaught of homework and handouts. It’s also time for one of Mom’s most dreaded tasks – cleaning out closets.

But thanks to three Lookout Mountain moms, that menial task could mean big bucks for the new school year. Earlier this summer Lauren Templeton, Jenny Stickley and Katie Payne launched Bagsy, an online consignment shop focused on high-end children’s clothing.

It makes cleaning out closets effortless,” explains Stickley. “Just fill one of our consignment bags and take it to the post office – we handle postage and everything else.

That means they press, photograph and post your items to their website, while you sit back and wait for the cash (50 percent of the sales price). Items not sold after 90 days are donated to Bagsy’s charitable partner, the Northside Neighborhood House, but return service is available for a small fee.

Scoring “new to you” school clothes is even easier. Bagsy’s highly interactive site features over 1,200 items for both boys and girls, size newborn to 10. There’s a strict brand list (Shrimp and Grits, Alice Kathleen, Lilly Pulitzer just to name a few) and items must be in like-new condition or new with tags.

The average savings is 50-60 percent off retail, stretching the back-to-school shopping budget exponentially. The best part, of course, is the 24/7 availability that only online can offer.

We’ve been surprised; a lot of our larger orders have come through between midnight and 1 a.m.,” laughs Payne.

With six kids between them, Bagsy’s co-founders are certainly no strangers to the wardrobe woes of little ones. Growing kids often require a closet overhaul each season – even more often before age 2. The yearly costs add up quickly, particularly with multiple children.

While generations past have either given clothes away or packed them up for grandchildren, modern moms are realizing the benefits of monetizing their children’s closet.

It just makes sense to get a return on your investment,” says Templeton. “If you make $100 from selling just some of their clothing and invest it with a 10% annual return, by the time your child retires that’s $49,037. That’s a lot more valuable than having them yellow in the attic.

Templeton knows a thing or two about wise investments. Learning the practice of value investing from her father and great uncle, Sir John M. Templeton, she started her own firm at age 24 with $30 million in capital. Today she is principle of Templeton & Phillips Capital Management, LLC, a global investment firm she manages with her husband, Scott Phillips.

In fact, it was her eye on the global markets that led to Bagsy. After noticing the virtual overnight success of similar “shared economy” companies like thredUP, Templeton started researching the concept further.

Rather than invest in an existing company, she decided to invest in a startup, and partnered with Jenny Stickley, a former lawyer with experience in the textile industry to execute the vision. They recruited Payne who was already operating a resell concept via Facebook.

"They are like the dream team of children’s clothing; Katie knows the brands people are looking for and the trends of the market. And if you want to get something done, you call Jenny,” Templeton adds with a smile.

While they’re not the only resale website, Bagsy is the only one dedicated to high-end, classic children’s clothes. For now they’re focusing marketing efforts in the Southeast, but have already received orders from California and other states.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how robust sales have been since the beginning,” says Stickley. “We didn’t expect to progress as quickly. It’s been a huge learning curve, but I feel like we’re coming out of that and have our feet under us now.

To order your Bagsy Consignment Bag, or shop for top styles simply visit their website, www.shopBagsy.com.

One Stop Shopping for August

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The steady stream of “first day” pics in your Facebook feed can only mean one thing – the start of another school year. Whether you’re excited or anxious, the Lookout Mountain business district can help ease the transition from pool time to pencil cases. Stop in for this month’s deals, detailed below.


yessick's - discount

Yessick's 20% off all backpacks They can’t help you with a book report, but Yessick’s can offer guidance writing this year’s fashion statement. Even if your book-hauling days are over, a stylish backpack can save you from heavy handbag syndrome. Stop in today to peruse their wide selection, offering everything from neutral canvas to studded leather in eye-popping shades.


mountain escape spa - discount

Lookout Mountain Spa 20% off Teen Clean Facial You have enough pressure this year – don’t let breakouts add to your anxiety. This 60-minute facial is targeted specifically for young skin, aimed at clearing impurities as well as killing bacteria to prevent future breakouts. At just $65, it’s what your economics teacher would call a wise investment in your future.


talus - discount

Talus 15% off to-go orders with student ID No one can concentrate on an empty stomach. Stay focused on your studies and leave the cooking to the experts. This month Talus is offering 15 percent of any to-go order with a valid student ID. Their fall menu is packed with plenty of “brain food” options, from their apple-horseradish salmon to spinach and strawberry salad.

Lookout's Newest Sustainable Farm and Kennel Just Minutes from Covenant College

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They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That’s certainly true for Marshall and Katherine Teague. In fact, they’re building a business on it.

The young couple recently moved to a 40-acre property on the back of Lookout Mountain to launch EdenThistle Land Stewardship Co. In addition to raising pastured livestock such as pigs, horses, chickens and goats, they manage a small dog kennel, teach horseback riding, consult other landowners and host educational outreach programs. In this age of specialization, their business model may seem a bit schizophrenic. But their mission boils down to one simple principle – to steward the land in a way that builds it up rather than depletes.

The goal in farming should be when the land is handed to the next generation, it’s actually healthier than when you started,” says Marshall. “The way we’re doing that is to manage the land in such a way that restores it to increasingly mimic nature’s design.

One example is how they manage their livestock. Larger animals graze a field first but are moved to “greener pastures” before they deplete the grass’ root system. They’re followed by goats if weeds are a problem, then chickens, which have easy access to the bugs they love thanks to their previous “mowers.” They also scratch through the horse manure to assimilate its nitrogen more effectively.

In conventional farming, thousands of chickens never see sunlight, and their beaks and toes are sometimes cut off so they don’t peck or scratch one another,” says Marshall. “They actually have really unique eyes that are sharer than humans, and they never get to use that.

The chickens’ “nitrogen deposits” initially burn the grass, but once they allow the pasture to rest it comes back greener and stronger than before. It’s a constant dance, carefully calculated so the fields are maximized but never depleted. The system, called rotational grazing, is a niche practice that’s quietly gaining traction among farmers across the country.

When you stop trying to fight against nature, and instead work within its design, everybody wins,” says Marshall. “Our land is harvested, fertilized and aerated solely by the animals. The pigs and some chickens are then sold for meat. Other chickens supply fresh eggs.

Last year the Teagues launched their buyer’s club, which allows people to buy shares of whole chickens, bacon, sausage and eggs directly from them each month. Thanks to its success, the young family has avoided the farmer’s market circuit, which would be taxing for their two young daughters. The customers also win with prices often below the typical butcher’s shop, specialty grocery or even farmer’s market.

We understand the price point of eating this way can be a challenge for many families, so we’re very competitive with our pricing,” explains Katherine.

Even the dogs reap the benefits of this unconventional farm, spending upwards of eight or nine hours outside their kennels. “If I’m out here working, I let them run around in a field we’re not using at the time.” The entire system depends on moveable electric fencing, tiny white cords strung on stakes that plug in and out of the power source. Since the previous owners didn’t practice farming, the property is currently more woods than pasture, but that’s where the pigs come in. “Their snouts are incredible, natural plows, and their instinct is to root around and dig up food,” he explains. “They can clear dense undergrowth in a matter of weeks. We can then coax that land into more usable pasture by teasing out the grass and discouraging weeds.” The process is slower than dumping a bunch of herbicides on the land, plowing and planting. But the results are better and require less capital investment. The farm is located just five minutes from Covenant College, where Marshall and Katherine met almost a decade ago as students. It’s relatively convenient location makes it accessible for buyer’s club members picking up their monthly shares, as well as the school groups they regularly host for field trips. Down the road, the Teagues hope to expand their educational outreach, hosting overnight groups as well as interns who want to learn more about the lifestyle.

“What’s so unique about this property is it’s very accessible and not overly threatening for first-timers,” explains Marshall.

Previously owned by Hazel Bickerstaff (who built the kennels), then Dottie and Frank Brock, you hardly realize you’re on a working farm when you first arrive. Apple trees and blueberry bushes line the driveway, and a fenced-in pool beckons you for a swim. The open floor plan of their four-bedroom house is cozy and inviting, with a large reclaimed wood dining room table and basket of fresh eggs on the kitchen counter. “It kind of gives a false first impression,” laughs Marshall. “I don’t ever want to make this lifestyle sound idyllic. We chose a profession that’s a hard creek to swim in.” Even so, they hope to welcome more people into their world. Not necessarily to inspire future farmers, but to be a part of the burgeoning paradigm shift on how we feed our country and the world. Ultimately they plan to host small groups and/or interns for semester or year-long engagements. “We want to attract people from all disciplines – future journalists, economic developers, politicians, teachers – and figure out the overlap,” he explains. “None of what we’re doing is our own genius, but we find other farmers across the world doing genius stuff and we emulate that. I don’t expect us to change the world with this 40 acres, but we want to be a conduit for a more intelligent and sustainable system.”

I don’t expect us to change the world with this 40 acres, but we want to be a conduit for a more intelligent and sustainable system.

EdenThistle Land Stewardship Co. edenthistle.com edenthistle@gmail.com 423-432-0584 or 423-503-6218

Everyone Wants a Cabin on Lookout

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Roughly 3 million people visited Chattanooga last year, representing an almost $1 billion economic impact in Hamilton County. No wonder Lookout Mountain Vacation Rentals has doubled their business in just one year.

More and more people are looking for houses so they can get the whole family under one roof,” says owner Christian Thoreson, aka Thor. “A cabin on Lookout has a much cheaper price tag than a downtown hotel, but still gives you easy access to all the top attractions.

While the Tennessee Aquarium is the darling of Chattanooga tourism, Lookout Mountain boasts 4 of the city’s top 9 attractions according to the Times Free Press. Rock City welcomes 500,000 visitors each year (compared to 700,000 at the Aquarium), while Ruby Falls draws 400,000. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park hosted 906,000 folks last year, and the Incline takes 20,000 trips every year.

People hear Lookout Mountain and their ears perk up,” says Thor. “Their first question is, ‘How far is it from Rock City?’

A smaller attraction – The Hang Gliding School – is what pulled Thor to the area in the late ‘80s. Originally from Wisconsin, he learned how to fly in Europe while serving in the Army and was instantly hooked. After his tour he moved back to the states in search of mountains to jump off of.

My car was packed and I was on the way to Colorado when I heard about the hang gliding on Lookout Mountain,” he recalls. “I literally turned my steering wheel and ended up here instead.

Soon he was managing the Hang Gliding School and renting a room from a friend with a house on the bluff, which he later bought as well as the lot next door. Fast forward about a decade, and Thor found himself living in a beautiful 1,800-square-foot home with four bedrooms, a loft, and gorgeous views highlighted through expansive picture windows. “It was more house than I needed,” he says. “It wasn’t what I wanted, but I didn’t want to sell.” In 2006, his friends convinced him to convert it to a vacation rental. This allowed him to build his dream home – a Tool Shed in the valley conveniently located across from the Hang Gliding School’s Landing Zone. What it lacks in square footage it makes up for in amenities including a large deck with hot tub, dart board, kegerator and 47” flat screen TV. After several years renting the bluff view house, Thor decided the vacation rental business was a fun venture and he bought another house in Flintstone. He also married fellow hang glider pilot and real estate broker, Christina who joined him in the business. In 2009, she actually convinced Thor to move out of his beloved Shed and add it to their roster of rentals. (He took the kegerator though). Last year the couple decided to expand into Tennessee, which requires a vacation lodging license. Today they’re the only VLS licensed company on Lookout Mountain with 6 properties both on and off the mountain. And business is booming.

It’s been so much busier than we ever imagined,” says Thor. “We need more houses!

They’ve welcomed folks from California, New York and everywhere in between. International tourists from England, Ireland and Canada have all rented from Lookout Mountain Vacation Rentals, with most business coming from word of mouth and social media. Earlier this year, Thor and Christina added Monica Luck to their team. Doing everything from booking reservations to taking out the trash, she helps the couple “manage the chaos” of their Lookout Mountain office – located not far from the house that started it all. Today Thor and Christina are closely connected to Lookout Mountain tourists in more ways than one – the Incline runs through the back yard of their St. Elmo home. They also still find time to enjoy the attraction that brought Thor here so many years ago – riding the ridge in every spare moment.

Family Movie Night Under the Stars

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The upcoming Movie Night at the Commons is the first project for Love Lookout, a committee focused on strengthening our community by being good neighbors.

To know Lookout Mountain is to love it. But what does that love look like in action? That’s what Lookout Mountain’s newest committee hopes to answer.

These days we’re all so busy it’s seems we hardly get to know our neighbors very well,” says Love Lookout committee member and LMS teacher Ann Henley Perry. “We want to continually find ways to help us know and love our neighbors.

Formed in April of this year, the effort is the brainchild of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church associate pastor Brian Salter. So far the committee consists of LMPC members only, but partnering with other churches is “on their radar,” says Salter.

We’re too young to have much formalized in partnering, but it’s definitely part of our vision,” he explains. “Any of our events are open to the whole mountain and meant to serve the community rather than promote a particular church slant.

Their inaugural event will be this Tuesday, August 4 with the Lookout Mountain Community Movie Night. Residents are encouraged to grab their blankets and chairs and meet at the Commons for a family movie night under the stars.

Some refreshments will be provided, but everyone is welcome to bring their own snacks and drinks as well. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. with the movie starting around 8:00 p.m. (or at dark). Folks are encouraged to arrive early to find their spot, buy popcorn and socialize.

This isn’t the first time LMPC has donated church dollars to the community. Last year their gift of $15,000 helped complete the Tennessee/Georgia Sidewalk project. Committee member Greg Brown hopes to see more beautification efforts going forward for Love Lookout.

I can’t tell you how many people I see using the sidewalks going back and forth; state lines have gone down and it’s just all one community,” says Brown, former Tennessee mayor. “We want to help where there is a need, and promote activities that bring us together as a community.

It’s difficult to serve a community if you don’t truly understand its needs. The committee, comprised of men and women from the Georgia and Tennessee sides, hopes to build communication across the mountain. They also plan to introduce bumper stickers, t-shirts and hats reminding people to “Love Lookout.”

We hope when people see the logo it reminds them of the second greatest commandment to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” says Salter. “We simply want this to be a service to the community that promotes and fosters neighboring for the common good.

Lookout Mountain Community Movie Night August 4 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Rock City's Resident Pass

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If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unless you’re talking about Rock City’s Lookout Mountain Resident Pass, which allows you to see one of the South’s most iconic tourist attractions for FREE (basically).

“When we took ownership in the late ‘80’s, we realized that folks who lived on Lookout Mountain had some very minor inconveniences related to visitors such as seasonal traffic,” says owner Bill Chapin. “I decided that if a resident with a valid local I.D. wanted to visit Rock City, we would let them in free for a lifetime after one ticket was purchased.”

I decided that if a resident with a valid local I.D. wanted to visit Rock City, we would let them in free for a lifetime after one ticket was purchased.

Not surprisingly, the program was an instant hit. Virtually every kid on the Mountain had one in their wallet, many using it as their first photo I.D. “I know kids who used their Rock City Resident Pass as I.D. to get in and out of Jamaica,” laughs Bill.

But membership has declined a bit over the years, with many longtime residents unaware a program still exists. The original program included people in adjoining counties, but today is limited to those living in 30750 or 37350 zip codes. The Resident Pass is not officially listed on Rock City’s website, but they’ve sent postcards and advertised it in local publications such as the Mountain Mirror, says Chapin.

The pass is even valid during special events such as Fairytale Nights and the Enchanted Garden of Lights – a nationally recognized event that welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. Special event admission is restricted to Sunday through Wednesday. If you’d like to visit during the peak days of Thursday through Saturday, you simply pay an upcharge worth half the ticket price.

The Resident Pass also gives you access to one of Rock City’s latest dining upgrades – Café 7. Opened in 2013, the open-air café at Lover’s Leap allows you to soak in the seven-state view while gnoshing on modern Southern cuisine. It’s especially appealing now when ballads from bluegrass band, Old Time Travelers, are wafting through the dining area for Rock City’s Summer Music Festival.

Once only open on weekends, Café 7 has expanded to daily service, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. (Memorial Day through Labor Day). During the spring and fall, Café 7 offers Thursday through Sunday service. Starting later this month the bar will remain open until 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday (until Labor Day) and offer selections from the starters and snacks menu.

As if Rock City doesn’t give enough to our community, they’d like to offer a free appetizer or dessert per family to the first 20 Living On Lookout readers who email us at editor@livingonlookout.com. Submit your name, email and phone number to enter.

Homecoming for Alan and Bonny Shuptrine

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They say you can’t go home. But that’s not how Alan Shuptrine sees it. In fact, his upcoming art exhibition and coffee table book will likely spark in all of us a desire to return to the familiar.

It all started with a late night epiphany in 2012. Although nationally renowned for his museum-quality gold leaf frames, Shuptrine had been feeling restless; pulled to pursue his other career as a watercolorist.

I woke up at 3 a.m., shook my wife, Bonny and said, ‘I know what I want to paint,’” he recalls.

That’s how The Serpentine Chain Collection was born – 60 watercolor paintings dedicated to the beauty and mystery of the Appalachian Mountain culture. Already on the 26th painting, Shuptrine will spend the remainder of the year doing four-day stints along the Appalachian Trail.

“I hike the trail with all my senses turned on, experiencing the little towns along the way,” he says. “I go out with my sketch pad, watercolors and camera; then, upon returning home, I create the major painting from loose studies and numerous reference photos.”

I hike the trail with all my senses turned on, experiencing the little towns along the way.

When he’s done, the collection will tour up to 10 museums up and down the Eastern Seaboard, beginning at the Tennessee State Museum in downtown Nashville on June 8, 2017. Ultimately, Shuptrine plans to turn the collection into a book, partnering with New York Times best-selling author, Sharyn McCrumb.

The journey is a homecoming on many levels. Growing up the son of famed watercolorist Herbert Shuptrine, Alan couldn’t claim a hometown until he was a teenager. He had lived in 20 cities before settling on Lookout Mountain in sixth grade because his father was always “chasing the light elsewhere.” The one common factor, however, was that the family was always close to the Appalachian Mountains.

After extensive research, Shuptrine uncovered something that could explain that coincidence. A dark green mineral called serpentine snakes its way up the entire mountain chain from North Georgia to Maine. Across the ocean in the British Isles, this same mineral is found running from Cornwall to the Arctic Circle, proving that the Eastern Seaboard and Great Britain were once connected.

That means when the 18th century settlers moved into the Appalachians, they were actually coming home to the same mountains they left an ocean away – they just didn’t know it. Their Celtic traditions still thrive in the area today such as quilt making patterns, whiskey making and fiddle tunes.

When you ask people why they choose to live somewhere they often say ‘it just feels right,’” says Shuptrine. “In this case, there is a buried mineral acting like some sort of magnet. That feeling of home, of familiarity, is what I hope to capture with this series.

There will be at least one painting from each of the 14 states that touch the Appalachian Trail, but Shuptrine isn’t holding to any strict formula. Much like Celtic settlers, he plans to follow the ancient road led by instinct rather than GPS.

“People ask me ‘How do you know what to paint?’” he says. “I don’t. I take these trips hoping to see something that inspires me. It might be a shadow hitting a building a certain way, or a special face that tells a story.”

Shuptrine’s project has taken almost a lifetime to realize, but not for lack of talent. Painting at his father’s feet since preschool, Shuptrine was honored in 2011 as one of 10 artists selected for The Vero Beach Museum’s Art exhibit, “In the Tradition of Wyeth – Contemporary Watercolor Masters.”

“It’s been very difficult to become the artist I’ve wanted to be,” he says. “There have been times I’ve wanted to selfishly create 24/7, but there have been lacrosse games or fishing trips. I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m thankful for the family memories we’ve created. It’s just been hard to wait.”

There were also several successful businesses: Shuptrine Gold Leaf Designs (a fine arts gallery and custom framing/restoration business) and Shuptrine Twisted Products (a line of artisan food products inspired by Appalachian recipes). Since getting into the framing business in 1985, Shuptrine has framed hundreds of masterpieces from world-renowned artists, including Andrew Wyeth. Last year, Twisted was available in 37 states and 60 stores in the tri-state region. The Shuptrines have depended on these ventures for their livelihood. Bonny joined Alan in the gallery business in 1997 as director of marketing and sales, and helped launch Twisted two years ago. With their two sons, Jake and Ben, now headed for college, the couple felt now was the time to step away. Bonny plans to join Alan later this year on his painting trips and the two will likely tour with the exhibition, providing gallery talks at each venue. This means downsizing their Lookout Mountain home where they’ve lived since their boys were in elementary school. Even so, the couple feels like things have come full circle. Alan has always dreamed of doing a coffee table book like his father, who in the ‘70s partnered with author James Dickey for “Jericho: The South Beheld.” His experience as a framer allows him to marry each painting to its frame, embedding a piece of serpentine in each one.

The serpentine was Bonny’s idea,” he says. “Her marketing expertise and clever ideas are why we’ve been successful as a fine arts gallery. She’s constantly looking at things to their fullest potential. I couldn’t do this without her.

While the Shuptrines will likely spend many months away, they will always call Lookout Mountain home. In fact it was Bonny who insisted on settling here when they married, saying it reminded her of her hometown Asheville, NC. Alan certainly isn’t going to argue with that.

Whenever I’m going through the ridge cut and see Lookout Mountain’s silhouette, I feel a sense of city pride,” he says. “No matter where I’ve been, no matter how fabulous, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

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