By: Veronica Burniston
Although Mountain City is a small town located near the eastern tip of Tennessee, it is a town brimming with young entrepreneurs, world travelers, and plenty of budding talent. Typically drawn to the area by the green wavelike mountains and the autumn leaf colors, visitors have passed through Mountain City for years only to find themselves yearning to return to the familiar embrace of the Appalachian Mountains. These visitors, like everything else in nature, come in a variety of shapes. Equipped with different personalities, histories, and skills, they each bring something unique to Johnson County, whether it be dreams and aspirations, a fondness for a certain area of study, or simply a love for working and creating with their hands. No matter how one looks at it, this small mountain town is full of surprises, overflowing with an assortment of skilled and interesting individuals.
A man of many talents, Chuck Johnson is a 61-year-old self-taught painter, wood carver, portrait artist, and musician. This jack-of-all-trades rose from the ashes of a financially devastated life when in 2007 Johnson, a former security company manager in Ohio and then Florida, was laid-off and lost his vehicle, his condo, and, as Johnson puts it, his good credit. After an unfruitful search for another security manager job, Johnson decided to pick up his paintbrush again, something he hadnt done in years. And just like that, a journey of hope and art began as Johnson pursued not only a lifestyle of painting but a young boys dream.
Johnsons life in Florida, after losing his job, was a conglomeration of lettering trucks and boats, as well as painting signs and murals and logos for a variety of customers, shops, and businesses. Johnsons artwork colored the signs of car lots, scooter and motorcycle shops, and various restaurants in southern Florida, including Joes Tiki Bar Grill & Sushi in Hollywood, FL; Loggerhead Cafe at the John U. Lloyd State Park at Dania Beach; the Blue Marlin at Oleta River State park in North Miami Beach, and Le Tub Saloon also located in Hollywood, FL, where Johnson later painted a mural of a nine-foot-tall mermaid modeled after his wife, Jodi Tyson. When I started losing everything, Johnson said, I started painting, doing all the stuff I love.
Also a talented musician, Johnson spent a year playing piano and a variety of other instruments at The Fish House in Key Largo. Beginning at eight years old, Johnson has played piano and guitar for over 50 years, and has taught several guitar classes in Ohio, Florida, and Tennessee. He is also gifted at playing the violin, mandolin, and banjo.
Then in late 2008, after Johnsons mother passed away, he decided to stop by Mountain City to visit several of his relatives. It was during this visit that he met Jodi Tyson, his future wife, and the thought of settling amid the beautiful Appalachian Mountains truly became a possibility for him.
With much support from Tyson, Johnson recently opened a studio in Mountain City located on South Shady Street. Besides his usual carving and painting, the multi-talented Johnson has also started designing a clothing line named Jodi Coyote: Mountain Style Clothing. He and his wife are working together on the project and hope to see it come to fruition soon, as those sketches become reality, one line at a time.
I just cant stop designing and creating, Johnson said as he scribbled an intricate design for a sign he is currently working on for a local antique shop onto a piece of scrap paper.
Since his arrival in Johnson County, Johnson has painted signs for the Harvest Festival, began work on several wood carvings (six foot tall cats) for a local store, and painted the beautiful window sign for the Color Me Happy Salon on South Church Street, across from the Tomahawk office. And despite his already full plate of creative endeavors, Johnson has another pursuit in mind for the future: writing. He and his wife are currently working on a screenplay they hope to one day see transformed into film.
For more information on Legendary Design Studios, visit the Studio at 1019 South Shady Street or call (423) 297-5222.