“I absolutely love being involved with the Tullahoma Art Center,” said Juli Cotton, who was recently named Volunteer of the Quarter. “It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to interact with so many local artists as well as with the variety of people who visit our gallery and gift shop.”
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Juli’s mother, who was a gifted artist, helped develop her interest in art at a young age. She went on to take art classes in high school, where she especially enjoyed drawing and painting with acrylics and watercolor.
Juli joined the Navy in 1983. “At first, I went to school to become an aircraft mechanic and learned to put numbers and insignias on aircraft,” she explained. “Later I was a military police dog handler and worked with Fidel, a Belgium Malinois, and Bart, a Dutch Shepard. Along with regular canine police duties, the dogs were trained to sniff out bombs and drugs.
Art was always Juli’s calling and she was able to enroll in college classes working toward a Fine Art degree while serving on active duty stationed in New Orleans, Louisiana. That’s where she met and married her husband, Felton. Her college was cut short, however, when she and her family were stationed abroad in Sicily, Italy, and later Guam, USA and Cornwall, England. Juli never gave up her dream of becoming an artist. Her life and travels abroad afforded her the opportunity to visit numerous architectural land marks, places of antiquity, art museums and to see in person a wide range of artists’ work, from great masters to contemporary artists throughout Europe and Asia.
She also learned and practiced needlepoint and tapestry during her four years in England. She retired from the military in 2005 and moved to Lynchburg, TN in 2008. In 2010 she took a local quilting class and became hooked. In 2012 she finally realized her dream toward becoming an artist and eventually completed a Bachelor’s Degree in science with a minor in art with an emphasis in printmaking. She was a fiber arts student at Tennessee Tech’s Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Craft and has been awarded several scholarships for fiber art workshops in the Appalachian region of Tennessee and North Carolina.
Juli’s husband, who is an over-the-road truck driver and finish carpenter is also a talented origami artist. Over the years, he’s taught kids origami classes, and makes a hit with waitresses all over the country when he leaves them origami dollar bill animals along with his tips. “A few years ago, while I was in the hospital, he delighted my nurses, by covering the nurses station in origami creatures,” laughed Juli. She and Felton have two sons; Jarrett, who is a graphic artist and Jessee, who is a chemical engineer.
Juli loves animals and has a rescue German Shepherd dog, two adopted cats and 18 chickens. Her love of chickens led to her online title and mascot, Happy Cluck, a gourd rooster she covered in bright fabric. She’s also an avid gardener, attends many craft classes to keep abreast of the latest techniques and will be teaching a Gelatin Plate Monoprinting Class on Saturday, March 24 from 9 a.m. until noon.
Kay Foote was born in Iola, KS and grew up in Davenport, IA, where her grade school teacher fostered her interest in art. She received several art awards during that period and continued to take as many art courses as possible including her years at Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS. It was there she met her husband, Bob. After their marriage in 1959 they moved to the Washington, D.C. area where their daughters, Kathy and Kelly, were born.
Kay continued taking private art lessons in a variety of mediums while living in Lynchburg, VA, Bluefield, WV and Mount Pleasant, PA. Once their girls were in high school, the family moved to FL where Kay and Bob started careers in senior housing, and her art was set aside. For the next 30 years, Kay was involved in marketing, developing PR programs and/or managing retirement communities in FL and the Chicago area. She retired from managing Tabor Hills Retirement Community in Naperville, IL in 2004, but soon found retirement didn’t suit her, so she returned to work with FoMark Companies (Foote Marketing and Advertising Firm) and moved to Lake Saint Louis, MO for two years to premarket a new senior community alongside her husband.
Feeling she had failed at her first retirement, Kay began doing the things she had intended to do earlier, and started taking art classes again while working in Lake Saint Louis. She settled on watercolor and has been enjoying her chosen art form ever since.
She and Bob moved back to Ft. Myers, FL after their second retirement and Kay resumed pursuing her art and writing interests taking classes at Naples Renaissance Academy and Hodges University. She joined the Cape Coral Art League where she took additional classes and workshops. “I was privileged to have the opportunity to study under quite a few nationally well-known watercolor artists at that time,” she said.
Since moving to Tullahoma in 2011, Kay has enjoyed belonging to, and participating in, a variety of art endeavors at the Tullahoma Art Center and the community. “Bob remodeled our bonus room into my art studio, and I have been able to teach private lessons in my home as well as a number of classes at the art center,” she explained. “I also volunteer at Morning Pointe Assisted Living Community here on Mondays, and am a small group leader at Morning Glories Bible Study, an interdenominational group that meets on Tuesday mornings at First Baptist Church. I started volunteering at the art center on Saturdays soon after arriving in Tullahoma, and love having the opportunity to interact with other artists and the community through that association.”