When picturing The Alamite Hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa, one of the first things that comes to mind is the eye-catching artwork found throughout the space, from the lobby to the rooftop bar. Curated largely by Blair Plott, a member of The Alamite’s ownership group, the collection features works by many talented local artists and each piece holds a unique story. SoulGrown is excited to present an exclusive series of interviews, deep dives, and more that tell each artist’s tale.

(Kathryn Gage/Contributed)

If you happen to walk towards the elevators in the main corridor of The Alamite, you may notice a stunning art piece, Clara, by Kathryn Gage. Gage, a Tuscaloosa native, created this piece with her daughter, Clara, as her muse.

Since she was young, Gage knew that she wanted to be an artist. Her initial goal was to be a children’s book illustrator, a path inspired largely by her favorite children’s book illustrator, Joan Walsh Anglund. After graduating from Auburn University with majors in fine art and graphic design, she began to work full-time as a graphic designer while taking painting commissions on the side.

Gage credits her style to being heavily influenced by her graphic design background sharing that it is “very linear and often bold with emphasis on shadow and composition.” Before switching to being an artist full-time in 2015, she worked for Cooking Light Magazine as a Creative Director, HGTV as a Brand Manager, and launched Clarabelle & the Hen, a children’s clothing business.

(Kathryn Gage/Contributed)

The painting was first thought up in a discussion between Gage and Plott. As the painting was to be placed in close proximity to the women’s restrooms, Plott thought it would be fun to reference a girl’s night. Gage had the idea to feature her daughter Clara as she would be on her way to study at The University of Alabama that year.

“I set up my photo gear and asked her to go throw on a party dress. I literally had her pose in every possible scenario—putting on lipstick in front of the mirror, making a toast with a champagne glass, perched on a chair, or standing and laughing with a friend,” shares Gage. “Of course, she played the role of each person at the party and I pieced together the scene in Photoshop which ended up being very tightly cropped to feature the mirror scene with the champagne toast in the foreground. She and her friends have gotten a kick knowing that the painting depicts her—especially when their parents come to town and stay at The Alamite. It’s been a fun addition to her college experience for sure.”

While each piece that Gage has created is special to her for her own reasons, a few series that have stood out to her are Madmen and Beach Babes. She loves painting watercolor portraits of children, botanical collages, still life, and figurative pieces.

“Being asked to have my art featured at The Alamite is a career highlight. The other artists are all simply incredible and I admire each of them. As you well know, the design of The Alamite is impeccable along with the food, and the hospitality—all of it is top-notch, and I am very proud to have been a part of it.”