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VIProfile: Jessica Dover Ramsey

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By Gay Lyons with photography by Whitney Jade Photography

Jessica Dover Ramsey, artist and owner of Jessica Ramsey Art & Murals, traces her love of art to second grade. “My mother started the Art Masters art program at Sequoyah Elementary School. I got to explore different genres at home and at school. We got to be her test students. I became excited about art in elementary school. In middle school, it was my favorite class. At West High School, I couldn’t take enough art.”

“In college I focused on learning what I loved to do,” she continued. “I didn’t think about where I was going to take it.” She earned a BFA in Fine Arts, concentrating in drawing, and moved to Nashville following her 2008 graduation. “I got a job at the mall selling makeup to pay the bills; then I met a faux finisher who hired me to start the next day. She taught me the business.”

In 2010, Ramsey was reunited with her high school sweetheart, Shea Ramsey; the couple moved to Knoxville and were married at Islamorada in 2012. Shea became Director of Operations for Dover Signature Properties. Jessica wanted to do faux finishing but wasn’t sure how to do it. “I got a job at Bennett,” she said. “I was a salesperson, but at least I was surrounded by art.”

Mural work started to come, mainly exterior logos. “One of my first murals was Toddy’s
logo,” she said. “Next came Label Industries and Todd Richesin. I slowly got the word out I was doing that.”

After the Ramseys’ three daughters, Austin Blake, age 5; Guinny, age 3; and Roxanna, age 2, started arriving, art had to be balanced with motherhood. She continued doing a little commercial work and taught at Painting with a Twist. Two things happened that propelled her career as an artist to the next level: Instagram and Dolly Parton.

“I used to be so bad about documenting my work,” she said. “Then I found Instagram and that has changed my business completely. I started posting photos of art I had done that was around my house. Now I have over a thousand followers, and it’s growing every day.”

Dolly entered the picture when Ramsey’s friend Abby Ham asked salon owner Shane Archer of Grow whether he was taking his painting of Dolly Parton to the salon’s new location, referring to his small painting of Dolly with the caption, “I don’t trust anyone who does her own hair.” “My friend Jessica could do a large mural,” offered Ham. Ramsey’s 8 x 14 painting of Dolly was a first. “I had never painted Dolly before. I made it come to life. I like doing things large scale. I draw it small, then enlarge it, project it, so I have the scale right.” I’m the busiest I’ve ever been” she continued. “Pop art is driving me right now, well known figures. Also abstract art. I’m still doing faux finishes, and I sell artwork at the Village Exchange. I have a one-thousand foot historical mural coming up in Oak Ridge.”

Ramsey hopes to have an art show later this summer at Hyatt Place in downtown Knoxville in lieu of the holiday art show postponed because of Covid. Part of the proceeds will go to the YWCA’s Keys of Hope housing programs.

Ramsey will also be on a new show on HGTV. The Charleston, S.C. based series “Breaking Bland” introduces designer Mary Welch Stasik, who is Ramsey’s sister-inlaw. During each episode, according to the producer, “Mary Welch will break design boundaries and encourage clients to eschew traditional looks to create a personalized space.”

“She really thinks outside the box,” said Ramsey. “Her style is mid mod with a side of rock & roll.”

“I’m honored that so many clients want my murals and art in their space,” she said. “I consult
with clients about their vision, and I make their dreams a reality. What they have dreamt up, I will manifest. I think great art tells a great story.”

“I love murals because the architecture becomes part of the art work,” she said. “Large
upscale public murals are my favorite. It’s something to show my daughters so they can be proud of their mama. It’s all about family and community and restoring things. Murals and art are a great way to marry all those together.”

“I want to be a good role model to my daughters like my mother was for me,” said Ramsey. “I want to help support my family.”

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