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Episode 99: Artist Shelley Mouber from Deadhead to WuTang and Everything in Between

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About the Show: 

We sat down with local artist Shelley Mouber to discuss her journey as an artist. From growing up in Southern California to relocating to Northwest Arkansas there have been many things to inspire her art and life.  

99 - Artist Shelley Mouber From Deadhead to WuTang and everything in between (edited)

TZL Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn. I'm excited today. I'm here, actually, in my newfound space and it's an open space, and I think it's appropriate for the guests that I have today. And we're actually in the Ozark Natural Foods, Coop, Onyx Coffee Shop. You guys have probably heard and probably seen. It's a lovely space and I'm excited to give them a little plug because ONF is near and dear to my heart. I shop there all the time, but I also think it's just a great place for folks to come. So, I am sitting down with Shelley Mouber and she is a local; I won't say she's a local legend, but she is a local artist. She's well known. We have a lot of common friends. We connected about a year ago and I was excited to sit down with her and learn more about her background. And she's an amazing artist, and so, we finally got this thing together. And with everything going on with COVID. It took forever for us to coordinate it. We kept running into each other and that's a good thing. And so, without further ado, Shelley, welcome to the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast.

Shelley Mouber [1:54] I'm so excited to be here. Thank you, Randy.

Randy Wilburn [1:58] I just wanted to do one thing and that's to share your superhero origin story. How did you get here? Yes, your superhero, because we all have one, right. And I think that's the thing. Often, when people don't know this or that about us, it creates instant conversations, it creates awareness, and I think we all have a story to tell. I would love for you to give us the cliff note version of you and how you got to where you are now. And certainly, what propelled you to become an artist?

Shelley Mouber [2:27] I think there is a journey for all artists to venture into their true selves and work. I was born in California, raised in San Diego, and my mom moved here. I lived with my father, and my mom moved here in 1983. And I visited her in the summers for about six years. And then, my senior year, I moved here after high school, and I moved to Rogers, a totally different place in 1989. And Fayetteville was the wild place. It was where we went to do things that we weren’t supposed to do, which wasn't that big of a deal, believe me, considering I just came from San Diego. But after high school, bummed around for a while, and did some grateful dead.

Randy Wilburn [3:23] So you're a deadhead, a little one.

Shelley Mouber [3:26] Had my daughter during my freshman year of college, which created a challenging college experience, but worthwhile because I learned quite a bit and met an amazing community. I'm still connected to 95 percent of my friends here that I went to school with, or that was in graduate school when I was in school, and that's how I got to Fayetteville.

Randy Wilburn [3:59] So you went to the U of A?

Shelley Mouber [4:02] Yes, I went to U of A, and I studied Sociology. And my last semester, I thought about changing to art because I was so completely drawn to it and fascinated. And my uncle, who was an artist, has recently passed away. And he said, no, don't go to art school, it will ruin you. So, I had already taken all of my electives and written my papers, so I just finished out with sociology.

Randy Wilburn [4:25] There's nothing wrong with that. So, when would you say the art bug bit you?

Shelley Mouber [4:31] When I was a child. My uncle has always been an artist growing up in the Bay Area. I got to experience a lot of really unusual art- installations showed the culture and lifestyle at a very young age and didn't get reintroduced until I went back out to California after high school. I lived with him for a little while and just got back into being with him at the studio, and watching him reclaim objects and create things out of art that I would have never thought of. Initially, I just didn't see things the way he did. And when I started to look at perspective and all of the things that he was showing me about colors and people's styles, I was just mesmerized. The one art class I took in college, I got a D in with ceramics.

Randy Wilburn [5:28] Clearly, that art teacher did not know what they had.

Shelley Mouber [5:31] There was a story behind that. But anyway, it's just funny because that's literally the only art instruction I've ever had and didn't do well, so I guess that's a sign for me.

Randy Wilburn [5:45] I mean, so you come here, you get influenced by your uncle. He's out in the Bay Area. I lived out there for six years, so I get it. But coming here, how did Northwest Arkansas influence your artwork?

Shelley Mouber [5:58] Oh, well, that is key. The other thing that I feel like I was made comfortable with and California was that in my life was that my uncle was gay. And this was in the 80s, the height of the AIDS crisis, and he was HIV positive, and, so I've been through that. He lost his partner in 93. It played a huge role in my life, in my mind, and I've always felt the need to advocate for others. We had a difficult childhood and I can relate to social issues, and I try to advocate with my art. I would like to say that's probably how Northwest Arkansas plays into my art because all of my art, every single piece that I do, has a social basis. I’d like to think that my art is advocating for disenfranchising, LGBTQIA+, mental health awareness, anxiety, everything that's involved with invisible diseases. Just really any marginalized group to me is something that we need to embrace, because if we don't help one another, where are we really? If you can't lift one another and celebrate everyone's successes, you're not in the right group, or you just don't realize that if you're winning, your friends are winning, your friends are winning, you're winning and we all can succeed.

Randy Wilburn [7:30] It's not a zero-sum game at all. I think we're slowly getting there as a society in a lot of places, but we still have room for growth. And, I think that's the challenge that we face. As human beings, we're continually evolving, constantly iterating, and I would say, what would be when you think of it from that perspective. How has your artwork iterated over time? Because I've seen some of your work that I was just blown away by. And I can't remember exactly what the material was, but you recycled some things, and you made these really great prints that were like women or something like that.

Shelley Mouber [8:09] Okay, so that is probably the closest to my heart is the body positive movement and LGBTQ. The body-positive movement has a lot about self-acceptance and self-love; just a body normative experience where all humans, thin, fat, short, tall, whatever, don't matter. But with my skin, what I do for my people, the portraits that I do, I look through all of the magazines or whatever I have been donated. I get lots of donations of paper. My whole studio is paper. It is just filled to the brim with paper, but I'll take it. I like to take things I see and put them away. And I might have something for a few years, and then I'm like, I've got that free piece of paper with all of those countries on it, I will use that. It’s funny because it stays in the recess of my mind when I don't remember that I have it, and then I call on it. It's a kind of providence.

Randy Wilburn [9:12] I love that. And when you described what you were using to create it, I was blown away.

Shelley Mouber [9:19] What I do is go through all the photos. When I first started doing collages, I realized using magazines; it didn't matter what type of media print it was. It was impossible to find any diversity. So, just to complete one of my pieces, I have to get somebody to donate me Essence magazines, or other magazines that show lots of diversity because fashion magazines, honestly, you would think they'd be the worst, they're not. It's just mainstream. It's crazy. So, I would take all of the different shades of skin that are photos of skin. Then I combine them and, in that way, representing all people, not just one person, a Caucasian individual. Still, it represents all people of color, Hispanic, Native American; it doesn't matter. And so, I’d like to bring that, and that is my attempt at a statement of inclusion.

Randy Wilburn [10:25] So that's really what informs your artwork?

Shelley Mouber [10:29] Absolutely. That's behind every piece.

Randy Wilburn [10:31] I spoke to one of your friends who's a mutual friend of ours. Kinya Christian? I'll give her a shout out. She's been on the podcast.

Shelley Mouber [10:42] She’s my fellow board member at Fenix Art Gallery.

Randy Wilburn [10:45] Would you tell people where this art gallery is?

Shelley Mouber [10:48] Phoenix is in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It's on Spring Street in Fayetteville in the square across from the old post office and it's at Cheers Restaurant now. And we've got a beautiful, beautiful mural that stands out on the square done by Octavia Logo and Eugene Sargent. And we're really excited about Phoenix and what we've got in the future. We are actually changing spaces. We're still trying to determine where we want to enlarge our membership, develop programs, art education, and advocacy, and continue embracing the Northwest Arkansas art community. So, we're in a time of transition. We just got out of being a private entity, LLC, to a 501c3. During the middle of the pandemic, transitioning into a nonprofit has been challenging, but we have some awesome people on the board.

Randy Wilburn [11:46] As it is for most people right now. I mean, for-profit businesses are having a hard time. I mean, everybody's having a go of it right now and I think that is the challenge that we're all facing. But the one thing that I can say about Northwest Arkansas is that people tend to rally around the flag if you will. Is that true?

Shelley Mouber [12:02] That is so true. One of the things that took me a while to get used to from California, because I remember, when I first moved here, somebody waved at me when I was driving. And you know, living in a metropolitan area, if somebody waves at you, you immediately take defense.

Randy Wilburn [12:21] Or did they just flip me the bird? What’s going on?

Shelley Mouber [12:25] That’s exactly what I thought and I kept thinking, why is everybody waving at me? That's really creepy. But now I realize that is a genuine, just honest to goodness, midwestern thing, and I didn't get it.

Randy Wilburn [12:38] Midwestern, or I like to say mid-south thing. It's so hard to place because when people ask me where we are, and I'm like, well, look, we're almost into Oklahoma. And so, when you think positionally, Missouri, Oklahoma, you got Kansas up there in the corner, it's kind of weird how everything is, but that's just it. And so, I think there is an atmosphere about this place that affords us that civility that you may not find in other parts of the country. And so, I think more than anything else, and I tell my wife this all the time, I'm thankful for that. Because there are just a lot of places where everything is just in your face, and that may or may not necessarily be good, but it's what it is.

Shelley Mouber [13:22] I will say that is one thing I have been grateful for every day during the pandemic that I'm here and I'm not in a larger community. Because not that larger communities are any different, but I like being in this size community that we're in because, as you said, there's just so much support building one another up. On social media the other day, I noticed that there are quite a few people that I know that are doing drives for toys and things for the holidays for the less privileged, and I just like being a part of helping other people get through this life.

Randy Wilburn [14:03] And it's so funny because as I've gotten to know people here, I find the same people connected with individuals like I think Octavia Trimble. I know that you are connected with her.

Shelley Mouber [14:44] We all kind of know one another a little bit if we don't know each other well.

Randy Wilburn [14:50] Right. But I love that there is a fairly close-knit art scene, and a lot is going on. I got involved with the local rotary here in Fayetteville and one of the members of that rotary runs a gallery in downtown Fayetteville, Sharon Killeen.

Shelley Mouber [15:13] I don't know, Sharon, but yes, I know Art Ventures.

Randy Wilburn [15:16] Art Ventures is a beautiful studio.

Shelley Mouber [15:20] They have got a new location. It's exciting for Northwest Arkansas.

Randy Wilburn [15:23] Yes. But that's just it, what people don't realize is that you have so many outlets here. People think, well, Northwest Arkansas, there's not much going on and I'm like, well, slowly roll there. We've got Crystal Bridges, and now The Momentary, and to me, The Momentary is a perfect dovetail right into the type of presenter and artwork that you do, because it opens up for the creator a space for you to be able to share that. And it's connected with such a prestigious venue and that’s what’s really cool.

Shelley Mouber [16:01] I have a friend, actually, that has a studio on Archibald DL. Her name is Brandy Lee, and she owns the Big Sister studio. And she has an exhibit right now at The Momentary that is a statement on Nick Cave's installation at Crystal Bridges. They have reached out to many artists and included them in an exhibition and Brandy was one of them; her work is amazing. It's so exciting to see friends get these big shots. She won the Fashion Week last year; she was already a big hit. It is very exciting and congratulations, Brandy.

Randy Wilburn [16:42] Oh, that's cool. I love that. I would imagine that your work will show up at The Momentary at some point in time in the future. Because obviously, you mentioned Instagram a few minutes ago, would you mind sharing your Instagram handle?

Shelley Mouber [16:59] My Instagram handle is artistshelleymouber.

Randy Wilburn [17:06] Okay. And we will put a link to it on the Show Notes. I love your hustle on Instagram. One thing I haven't shared a lot on this podcast is a little bit about my father. My father was an artist. He was a quote-unquote, starving artist. He was an art teacher who had a good job as an art teacher, but he was truly an artist. And he was an artist stuck in an art teacher’s body if that makes sense.

Shelley Mouber [17:31] I know some of those.

Randy Wilburn [17:32] You know what I'm saying? He’s stuck in an art teacher’s body. It’s where it's like, you can't go out and just completely do your art on your own because you won't be able to feed yourself. But you could if you step out in faith, right, and just try to do that.

Shelley Mouber [17:46] And that's what I've been doing for the last several years is being that starving artist, and just being able to focus on my artwork, and living pretty minimally.

Randy Wilburn [17:56] But you've developed a following, though.

Shelley Mouber [17:58] Until recently. I guessed, I didn’t know, maybe the end of Spring and seemed just to be getting a great deal of work from outside of the area. And I was able to move closer to the square. I just love being able to walk to the Coop every day and walk up to Mount Sequoia, which is basically above my house.

Randy Wilburn [18:23] And it’s an inspirational place to be.

Shelley Mouber [18:24] It is amazing. Every morning, I am very grateful that I'm in that neighborhood, and I've got tons of friends within a block or fewer houses away. And it's just during this pandemic; it just feels like we're closer when we're all having to be a part, especially if we live alone.

Randy Wilburn [18:44] Exactly. And that's important. So, let's get back to just some of your Instagram tips. How are you so prolific on Instagram and it's not that you are unashamedly posting stuff and just putting it out there. You're very meticulous about the way that you present your art. And I would love for you to share that because I know we have people who are artists that listen to the podcast and others who might be thinking about well, I'm a creator, I'm a maker, I want to put myself out there.

Shelley Mouber [19:16] Instagram has been key for me that 75 percent of my sales are Instagram. Fifty percent of my sales are local, or 30 percent. I probably have a little bit more outside. I ship everywhere. I have shipped pretty much all over the world, so it's not confined, and that's what's very exciting. And what is exciting about social marketing or digital marketing is just the potentiality of your audience. Because I do love Northwest Arkansas, it's wonderful, but Instagram goes way above that. And so, once you figure out how to navigate it, it's a really great tool.

Randy Wilburn [20:00] So, what's the biggest tip that has helped you gain some additional exposure?

Shelley Mouber [20:05] 30 hashtags.

Randy Wilburn [20:07] Okay, so what are your favorite hashtags?

Shelley Mouber [20:09] Well, my favorite ones are Northwest Arkansas artists or Arkansas artists. You know, just bringing in the locals.

Randy Wilburn [20:17] Ozark? Hashtag (#) Ozark.

Shelley Mouber [20:19] I do Ozarks artist. I switch them up every time because it's just how the algorithms work and the way they suggest images for people to look at. And so, I try to just throw in some random words and, I swear, it seems like all the time, I'm just thinking off the top of my stream of consciousness the words and attaching them to the Instagram handle.

Randy Wilburn [20:44] You never know. Well, some of that's a little serendipity that happens; people just kind of stumbled. That's how I've stumbled upon some people that I follow on Instagram now that I wouldn't have normally followed. For whatever reason, I was looking up a hashtag or just looking up something, and it just shows up.

Shelley Mouber [20:59] Yes. And that would be what I would say to people who aren't super Instagram savvy, is that the more time you put into liking, commenting, sharing, and posting, your work is thrown out there? Yeah. So, I have, I don't know, close to 900 followers, which is nothing in the Instagram world, but I don't care because it's the quality of who follows me, not the quantity. And I've got a fantastic group that follows me and they share my work. I have my work shared in other countries all of the time, and I have people reach out, so it's just exciting. It broadens your perspective and your idea of where your art can go.

Randy Wilburn [21:51] I love that you share that because, with any of these tools that we have at our disposal, they're only as good as how you use them. The other thing is that there is enough free information out there for you to be dangerous. So, you don't have to go buy-in. You can buy a tutorial or something like that and I'm all for that because I create them myself, but I think there's just so much free information out there that you can be dangerous with it.

Shelley Mouber [22:21] I think that the information is great that you can find on the internet about Instagram and whatnot. But the real key is putting that time in and that's why there are a lot of companies that you can hire that do SEO, and they can robotically get you likes and members. But you know what, those aren't going to be the people that interact with you. Those are the people that on holidays reach out to you to do their family photo or an interpretation of their fur baby, whatever it is. And those are the repeat customers I've had. They reach out and ask me to do something for them, and then they end up following me. I have people that I make something for them a couple of times a year, so it's exciting.

Randy Wilburn [23:14] That's awesome. Well, I have a creator question for you because I know a lot of artists find their groove or their rhythm through music as they create. So, I'd love to know what kind of playlist you curate? Do you create art too?

Shelley Mouber [23:30] Okay, so that's kind of funny because it really depends on my mood. If I need motivation, I will always put on Wu Tang.

Randy Wilburn [23:44] Okay, C.R.E.A.M. Get the money, dolla dolla bill, y’all.

Shelley Mouber [23:47] That's my favorite.

Randy Wilburn [23:48] I love that. For those who don't know the Wu Tang reference, you have to check out the Wu Tang clan. That’s why those guys like Method Man and Redman and all those guys have gotten a lot of play over the years. I mean, Method Man is a big actor now. He’s in a lot of movies and a couple of those guys have died. I think old dirty bastard has died, excuse my language, but there's a few of them. But Wu Tang is a very interesting group. And you know what, the thing about Wu Tang that I’ll mention and we will move on because they were unapologetically themselves. They were true to themselves, even then back in the day when they came out. As an African American, a lot of people were like, oh, their rap is cool, but those guys are kind of weird. They're not like the standard; they are extreme, but I really liked them. And as I went back over time and started listening to the stuff I'm like, these guys were prolific.

Shelley Mouber [24:47] And they were so political.

Randy Wilburn [24:49] They were very much. They came after Public Enemy, so Public Enemy and others inspired them. And you know, there’s a cultural reference. You hear people talking about them; they talk about them all the time. I see guys walking around with the 36 chambers and all this other stuff. A lot of cultural and pop references to Wu Tang still exist to this day. I mean, those guys were big in the 90s. So, Wu Tang is part of your musical rotations. Anything else?

Shelley Mouber [25:24] Yeah, I've got quite a few. So, let's see. I was the biggest Smith's fan. The Smiths and I'm big into 70s rock too. I love Joni Mitchell too.

Randy Wilburn [25:49] ‘Six long years on your trail.’ ‘Call me morbid, call me pale.’

Shelley Mouber [25:55] That type of person and that’s my favorite song.

Randy Wilburn [25:58] Listen, there's something haunting about his voice.

Shelley Mouber [26:04] He didn't have the confidence yet, and I think he was already a narcissist, obviously. Well, I guess he also hadn't come out, so that would be part of it. He just was a little less a braggart. Yeah, it's like after I read his autobiography.

Randy Wilburn [26:27] Extremely talented. The lyrics are insane, and it's funny because they weren't somebody that I'd normally listen to, but somebody else was like, you got to listen to these guys.

Shelley Mouber [26:43] That was my genre.

Randy Wilburn [26:44] And so I listened to them. I actually discovered them in college at Howard. So, like, between 87 and 91, that's when I started really listening to The Smiths. Dead Kennedys and The Smiths were just a number of groups that I started really discovering. The only one that I had discovered prior to that was the B-52, one of my favorites.

Shelley Mouber [27:11] I’ve seen the B-52 in concerts. There was a concert at the San Diego sports arena, and it was B-52, Jesus & Mary Chain, Love and Rockets, and Susie And The Banshees. It was fun, and I know that some of my friends listening to this are going like I was there.

Randy Wilburn [27:29] That's cool. I love that. Music certainly inspires art and art inspires music, so I think that goes without saying, but I appreciate you sharing a little bit of your playlist with us. I'm never going to listen to Wu Tang the same ever again. I'm going to think about Shelley all the time when I listen to Wu Tang now. So, what’s on the horizon? I mean, you've been dealing with this pandemic, as we all have. And at the time of recording this, we are in early December of 2020. So even if you're listening to this a year or two later, hopefully, by then, we have a vaccine, and everything is good. But we're still in the throes of this, so I'd be curious to know how you are dealing with this pandemic and how you're maintaining it?

Shelley Mouber [28:15] Well, I think how I'm maintaining is keeping busy and focusing on my artwork, and trying to disconnect from everything as much as I can. I don't watch the news, and that's intentional because I know enough that I don't need to get it from the news and be upset by it all day, so I steer clear from that. I have some websites that I trust that I go to for information. But other than that, I like to post on social media and get off.

Randy Wilburn [28:46] I hear you. I mean, that's just the way that it is and I'm hoping that we can get back to some normalcy sometime soon. I think we're all dealing with this, even the best of us. Those that are the strongest of mind are struggling right now.

Shelley Mouber [29:01] Absolutely. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had many friends who felt this way as well. Now, there are exceptions, but as an artist, you know that you're reclusive anyway, and most people have the time that they create, and that's an alone time. So, at the beginning of the pandemic, it wasn't all that different. Other than that, I couldn't go to do my normal routine, but in my studio, everything was the same. Initially, everything was okay in that way, but I would say probably mid-summer to the end of summer, it became too much. I'm trying to be very cautious with people that I know that are struggling. I have had mental health, you know, depression and so I get it. One of my biggest desires is to empower people who feel separated because they might be depressed or anxious during this. They feel alienated from their community or their family, you know, they can't go on holidays, etcetera. So I try to tell them that they’re not alone; there are resources I regularly post on my Instagram profile. I always try to be supportive of those that are struggling because I know what it feels like.

Randy Wilburn [30:36] I mean, mental health is one of the biggest issues, or rather, we've made it a non-issue even though it is an issue, meaning that we tend to ignore those things that we don’t like to talk about.

Shelley Mouber [30:50] It is so much better than when we were in high school. People were just signed off as crazy.

Randy Wilburn [30:56] And they were a few people I grew up with that had some challenges because of peer pressure and the like, but it would have killed them had they had Instagram and Facebook. I have three boys, 15, 14 and 10, and I'm highly, acutely aware of how powerful social media is in their lives, and how it controls things, and it can control a narrative that you don't want to exist.

Shelley Mouber [31:26] I can't imagine. I'm so thankful, honestly, that my kids are older than that. Both of my kids are on social media, but they're old enough to remember what it was like before, especially my daughter.

Randy Wilburn [31:39] My kids don't understand that. Gen Z nowadays, those kids that were born after 97-98, it's hard. They just don't have a frame of reference. They don't know things before the internet or anything.

Shelley Mouber [31:54] And so I'm thankful that my kids have that sense that I don't have to patrol them like a lot of the parents now. I honestly cannot imagine what it's like right now during the pandemic to have children. I have so many friends that are attempting to work full-time or create full time and then homeschool.

Randy Wilburn [32:15] Well, as I said and I will use this overused golf reference. Everybody, every family, every parental unit, every kid is getting a mulligan right now. And what a mulligan and golf is where they just give you some strokes to say, hey, we're going to give you a mulligan on this hole, don't worry about it. Because I think we all need that right now.

Shelley Mouber [32:36] And that's actually something that I have in one of my stories on Instagram right now is a statement by a psychologist, a Ph.D. that says that we're all just expecting too much of one another right now during the pandemic. We can't be there for everyone like we would like to be, or we just can't hold anyone else’s expectations right now. It’s just not fair.

Randy Wilburn [32:56] It isn't. The other thing, too, is one of those creeds that we need to really follow now more so than ever before, is that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say? It's like those age-old grandma references, right? I mean, your grandparents or your great grandparents gave you the golden rules, and we seem not to be following those golden rules as much as we should, but that's a whole different conversation.

Shelley Mouber [33:23] That's funny that you say that too because I think I've told you this before, that my grandfather was the voice of San Francisco for 30 years.

Randy Wilburn [33:30] You did mention that to me.

Shelley Mouber [33:33] He was in PR, which, you know, at the time was social media anyway. So, he was the Public Relations Director for B.A.R.T. for a while until they transitioned from typewriters to computers. He'd been a trained journalist and worked for The Washington Post. He went into B.A.R.T. as a journalist but got pushed into Public Relations. It's just so interesting now that I got to visit him all the time in his work environment or several times, not all the time, but enough to know what it was like to go into a room and there were computers.

Randy Wilburn [34:16] Now we carry quality computers right here in our pockets.

Shelley Mouber [34:20] I wish my grandfather could see that.

Randy Wilburn [34:22] It’s funny because B.A.R.T. stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit and that is the local transit system, and they were famous back in the 70s for having the most comfortable seats in-transit plus they used to pipe in music.

Shelley Mouber [34:37] Not the best transportation now.

Randy Wilburn [34:39] But it's still reliable. Trust me, the thing I like about BART is that it takes you pretty much everywhere you need to go to the Bay Area, which is really cool. So, listen, as we wind up, I'd love for you just to share with somebody listening that's thinking about moving here to Northwest Arkansas. Share your why. What makes this place so special? I mean, you've already said a number of things.

Shelley Mouber [35:07] I think that it's definitely something you need to come and experience because every perspective is all coming from a different place. But what I value is the hospitality people, the welcomeness, and the sense of community. There is nothing like it. I've lived in many other places, and there's none other like this.

Randy Wilburn [35:32] It's not the same. It's not the same, and like, what I tell people is, I mean, again, not that Northwest Arkansas isn't an anomaly in Arkansas, but it is, kind of is, I mean, but it's starting to emanate and go out further. We are starting to affect those people that are in Tulsa and other places.

Shelley Mouber [35:52] Absolutely, but that is a whole other conversation. Now that Crystal Bridges is opened and since Walmart has expanded, that's what brought so much to the area. In terms of Benton County, that's really blown Benton County out of the water. There was one stoplight when I moved here to Bentonville.

Randy Wilburn [36:11] And it's much different now. And in the last 20 years, I've talked to people who say even a nine to five; they were like this is not the same. It's like Atlanta before the Olympics. You know, Atlanta was a sleepy southern town before the Olympics. It was big, but after the Olympics, now if you go to Atlanta, you won’t recognize it. It's just not the same Atlanta. It's like your grandfather's Atlanta.

Shelley Mouber [36:33] I want Fayetteville to slow down a little bit.

Randy Wilburn [36:35] I hear you, and I think we will. Even with the number of people they expect us to have by 2040, I still believe we have plenty of space. So, I think there are interesting things. The last thing, what’s your favorite restaurant around here? And I don't want you to get any of your chef friends in trouble.

Shelley Mouber [36:54] But I'm going to be honest. My go-to, Hugo’s.

Randy Wilburn [36:58] Okay. Their fries are amazing.

Shelley Mouber [37:02] There are several restaurants, but I love Leverett Lounge as well. Ben and Hannah are amazing people and doing holidays, which I guess won't be heard at Christmas time, but our gift market shows open right now. Okay.

Randy Wilburn [37:22] We will certainly put out a post about that. And I'm not exactly sure when this comes out. It might come out before Christmas. But we'll put a post out, and we will make sure that the information is there. So Leverett Lounge, Hugo's, are two places that I would certainly encourage anyone coming down here to Northwest Arkansas to check out.

Randy Wilburn [37:43] Their sandwiches are great. So I definitely would encourage that. And I love the little setting down low.

Shelley Mouber [37:50] That is true Fayetteville. From the 80s. I remember.

Randy Wilburn [37:54] That's just great. Well, Shelley, thank you so much for coming on this podcast. This has been a year finally coming together. We've been through and are going through the pandemic. There’s still so much happening, but we finally got together. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your superhero origin story and share a little bit about your artwork. I’m going to post all this information in the Show Notes so people can see what I've noticed that has impacted me because I really do love art. And I mean, as being the child of an artist, I've always appreciated great art. And I think that you know, art is a part of life that we can never ignore, or we should never ignore.

Shelley Mouber [38:32] One thing that I would like to highlight for the pandemic is that we’ve all had to turn inwards. We have all had to isolate more and what has been getting us through. It’s not just visual art; it’s sound art, performance art. It's any type of creation.

Randy Wilburn [38:55] This podcast has been getting me through it. I've been recording these podcasts, both virtually and in person. And I mean, we are doing this in person, but these are the things that get us through.

Shelley Mouber [39:04] And I'd also like to say that the other thing that I'm very passionate about with my art is to be kind to one another because you don't know the battles that people are dealing with on the inside. Their life may look perfect. I guarantee you it's not.

Randy Wilburn [39:18] It could be a sugar honey iced tea.

Shelley Mouber [39:20] And so we all have obstacles that we don't share with others, so just be kind.

Randy Wilburn [39:27] You have laid it out nicely, and I really appreciate you doing that. Thank you so much. I hope that your friends and all those who are part of the I am Northwest Arkansas tribe enjoy this as much as I have.

Shelley Mouber [39:42] Well, I hope so because I know that you're a big deal too. Well, you can get embarrassed about it. But you're awesome, and your show is fun and it's very engaging. I have really enjoyed being a part of it, and I also just value your friendship. It's been great knowing you the last year.

Randy Wilburn [40:09] More than anything else, the friendships that I am creating because of this podcast have been timeless, and they've been perfect.

Shelley Mouber [40:14] Especially this year. Everything just seems to mean more, at least to me.

Randy Wilburn [40:19] I love it. Well, Shelly, thank you so much for coming.

Shelley Mouber [40:22] Thank you, Randy. Appreciate it.

Randy Wilburn [40:23] Alright, folks, there you have it. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Shelly was amazing. I really want you to check out her artwork. Give me your Instagram handle.

Shelley Mouber [40:34] That is artistshelleymouber, all one word.

Randy Wilburn [40:44] So you can just look her up on Instagram. Check out her artwork. You will see what I'm saying. Once you see it, you're going to be like, oh, Randy was right. So anyway, we appreciate you. Check out her artwork, and you can get more information and more details from all the things that we talked about on the Show Notes I really appreciate you guys taking the time to listen to this. As always, please, when you get a chance to rate and review the podcast wherever you listen to this podcast, whether it's Apple, Google Stitcher, SoundCloud, no matter where you can find it. You can also find us on Alexa, as I always like to remind people just say, hey, Alexa, play the latest episode of The I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast, and Alexa will oblige them for you. We appreciate you doing that and continue to support what we're doing here to tell people's stories like Shelley's that we just shared with you. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. And as always, we come out every Monday, so be sure to tune in, subscribe to the podcast, and we'll be happy to allow you to be a part of the tribe, I am Northwest Arkansas.

Shelley Mouber [41:54] It's a good tribe.

Randy Wilburn [41:55] It is a good tribe. So, that's all I have for you today and I will see you next week. Peace.

TZL Open [42:05] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week, available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For show notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

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