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Nathana Cox and Lisa Curry are the Owners of Raw 1899, a talk-of-the-town art lounge at 38 North Chadbourne Street in San Angelo.

In addition to being daughters, mothers, (Nathana is a grandmother, too!), sisters, colleagues, and friends, they’re very good artists. 

Both women love to create, and their art is as unique as their personalities. Raw 1899 is the result of a spectacular collision of their individual talents.

Nathana’s Colorful Motivation

Many things inspire Nathana, and nature is high on that list: beautiful sunsets, blooming flowers, reflections in water, and the colors that bring them all to life.

“I love color!”, she says. “I believe color can change a mood and can make you feel happy, serene, even sensual.  So, more often than not, my art is driven by bold color statements.”

At age 43, Nathana, known to her friends as “Thana,” picked up a paint brush for the very first time and her passion for the visual language of art blossomed.

Immediately, she was enamored with oils — everything about them: the hues, the smells, the luminosity. But, it’s the spirit of improvisation in abstract art that motivates her.

“I’m most creative early in the mornings when it’s quiet and peaceful and when the world is fresh.  I love to disappear in my thoughts and see where the paint takes me,” she says. “It’s therapeutic, and I can express myself in a way that isn’t possible except by painting. It brings me joy.”

Lisa’s “Destructive Perfection”

Lisa began abstract painting in February 2015 and, since then, she has been captivated by the emotion of color, the power of movement, and the sheer freedom of expression this art form affords.

“To me, art is about tasting with the eyes” Lisa says. “I love to cook and explore other cultures and spices. I dissect meals placed before me; that’s what I do when I paint. I want my pieces to be so complex that they must be savored slowly to fully realize the distinctly different flavors, just like a finely crafted meal.” 

Layer upon layer, Lisa paints with an intentional “flow and messiness.”  She can have 10 to 12 paintings in process at any given time. Some may sit for months, then suddenly she’ll have a moment of revelation and “throw more paint.”   

Lisa is most creative when she paints for days on end with little sleep, until she’s content. This compulsion, she says, drives her to “a destructive perfection.” 

A Creative Transformation

Early last year, Lisa and Nathana set out to find space for an art studio, a retreat to pursue their painting passion. In March 2016, they found 38 North Chadbourne Street and purchased it.

The new owners named it Raw 1899 in honor of its rough-hewn walls and approximate date of origin. The century-old walls, original tin ceiling, and floors made with Concho River sand echo the past. 

“After we purchased the property, the space and our thinking evolved,” Lisa said. As we chipped away at it, we discovered more of its beauty, and we knew we needed to share it.”

The creative process began as they envisioned this amazing, untamed space as a place of stunning black and gold beauty. 

On October 27, the two also purchased the adjoining space. Their original idea of an art studio had officially expanded to include an art gallery and lounge. 

“We both love taking something old and turning it into something new!”, Nathana said. “That’s what we did with Raw 1899. Now our labor of love is a place to unwind and recharge with a glass of wine or beer, and small bites.”  

Raw 1899 hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, go to www.raw1899.com.

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