Brian Serway: Providing Space for Neo-Appalachian Art

by Monica Hoel
All the art in Brian Serway’s new store is Appalachian. But If you’re looking for quilts or dried apple dolls or a squirrel carved from a peach pit, you’re in for an exciting surprise.

Brian SerwayEmory & Henry Class of 2013 Brian Serway
Emory & Henry Class of 2013
HollerHouse is the new venture Brian and a partner in Asheville have undertaken as a way to provide space for what he is calling “Neo-Appalachian.” There are as many as 50 different artists represented in this very hip, sleek retail space on State Street in Bristol, and each one lives in the Tri-Cities or the near region (think Western North Carolina or East Kentucky). Each art style is unique and completely captivating, and Brian says nothing makes him happier than when someone seems surprised that these are all creations by local artists. “As my grandmother likes to say, I’m tickled to death when people say, ‘This is an artist from Kingsport?!’” 

Mothkid is Brian's creation of a junior version of a West Virginia legend, Mothman. He says he li... Mothkid is Brian's creation of a junior version of a West Virginia legend, Mothman. He says he likes the juxtaposition of creepy and cute.Brian is himself an artist, and describes his own work as “…ephemeral, cosmic, ethereal – creepy cute folk art!” But HollerHouse features more work by his friends than by his own hand. This project is about putting into practice his belief in supporting the local community. “Right out of college I worked for Appalachian Sustainable Development and it really reinforced for me the importance of supporting the local community. So whether that’s through food systems or retail or art – we can strengthen our communities by supporting our neighbors.”

And while the art you see in the store may challenge old perceptions of Appalachian art, Brian is excited to say that everything in the shop is very much rooted in Appalachia. He says this new venture is about giving voice to people in Appalachia who haven’t always had a place to shine: many of whom are younger and most of whom are finding new ways to create art in the place they call home. “This art may not look like the sort of thing we’re used to seeing in Appalachian art galleries, but every one of these artists is Appalachian – and the art has been inspired by Appalachia.”

One of the unique aspects to the store is that it is not solely a store filled with over-sized prints for sale: art lovers will also find stickers, postcards, enamel pins, 4x4 canvases, and more. “You can come in here and get a cool piece of art without spending more than $20.”

This collage of artwork is a great representation of the wide range of styles you'll find at Hollerhouse. Each of these nine pieces has been created by artists in the region surrounding Bristol.Brian speaks with deep affection for Appalachia, and this very vibrant art store is just an extension of his mission to support the region he loves. “We want to expand the notion of what being an Appalachian artist is. We want to give a more modern, holistic sense of what Appalachia is. My wife and I love to hike and garden and spend time outside…and we’re constantly inspired by nature and natural ancient beauty of the mountains. I want people my age to take pride in being part of Appalachian.”

Enjoy an insightful conversation with Brian on the Duck Pond Wall Podcast. Check out their Facebook page: HollerHouse, and their website HollerHouseBristol.com. And visit the store soon (509 State Street, Bristol, VA) for a fresh and exciting new vision of Appalachia.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2430-town-of-saltville-eyes-big-plans"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.JPG 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.JPG" alt="This beautiful bird is the latest visitor to the well fields in Saltville, and bird enthusiasts are having fun figuring him out. There is..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/11805_gwh_all.rev.1660772634.JPG 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2400" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2430-town-of-saltville-eyes-big-plans">Town of Saltville Eyes Big Plans</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> There’s a Labor Day party coming up in Saltville, Virginia, but town leaders are looking at much more than just a big weekend. <a href="/live/news/2430-town-of-saltville-eyes-big-plans" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2370-the-woman-behind-the-statue"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.jpg" alt="Meg Hathaway Retinger E&H Class of 1976" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,84,2842,2927/11386_IMG-9383.rev.1654391115.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2842" data-max-h="2843" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2370-the-woman-behind-the-statue">The Woman Behind the Statue</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> There was a special ribbon-cutting in Emory on June 4. <a href="/live/news/2370-the-woman-behind-the-statue" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG" alt="Prizes were ready for the first ever online tailgate!" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="2400" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate">First Ever Online Tailgate</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Believe it or not...it worked! <a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg" alt="The cast of Love, Loss, and What She Wore performed at the Free Spirit Theatre in Knoxville. (Front left is Cheri Compton, E&H " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg 2x" data-max-w="800" data-max-h="800" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage">E&H Friends on Center Stage</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Three of the stars in a recent Knoxville production of <em>Love, Loss and What I Wore</em> had more than a love of theatre in common: they also had a certain tiny college in Virginia as a mutual bond. <a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>