Finer Things Gallery Reopens October 17

by Jane R. Snyder | Photographs by John Guider

Finer Things during the flood of 2010. Archive photograph

Finer Things during the flood of 2010. Archive photograph

The original Finer Things Gallery was completely lost to Nashville’s historic flood of May 2010—along with the vehicles, home, studio, workshop, and sculpture garden. Rusty Wolfe and Kim Brooks were left, uninsured, to face a loss of millions of dollars with only their beloved dogs at their side. Now, with four of the toughest years they have ever known behind them, they will finally reopen Finer Things to the public on October 17.

As you enter the space, you will witness their not-so-minor miracle—and you are guaranteed to admire, long to touch, and want to own any number of the exquisite works of art on display.
“Seventy-five percent of what we have in the gallery has my hands on it,” Rusty explained. “It’s a painting I’ve done, or a piece of sculpture, or a piece of furniture I’ve created—that means I’ve either redesigned it [or] taken it apart, refinished it, and fixed what was wrong with it. Twenty-five percent of the works in the gallery are things left over from our previous Finer Things.”

Once the art in that last group is sold, he and Kim will replenish their inventory with Rusty’s own creations, including his one-of-a-kind pieces of studio furniture. In these works he joins wood, metal, paint, glass, or marble with repurposed architectural cornices, period hardware, carved moldings, printer’s blocks, cast-iron ornaments, and other surprises.

One massive shelf unit combines the top of an antique organ with decorative wooden elements and vintage coat hooks, which make it a perfect choice for the entrance of a home, office, or restaurant. A carved walnut box is beautifully restored and outfitted with velvet-lined trays, transformed into a conversation starter as well as an ideal home for a collection of watches, jewelry, or classic fountain pens. Oversized, it is large enough for a couple to share.

“We go everywhere in search of things,” Wolfe said. They recently purchased “fourteen truckloads of everything from furniture to paperwork” from the estate of an antique dealer. A selection of lighting sources includes futuristic-looking floor lamps as well as vintage tabletop silhouettes that seem to reflect every decade since light bulbs were invented. “We have tried very hard to find extremely rare and interesting pieces rather than have just another roomful of antiques.”

Not everything echoes or celebrates the past though—a sleek, contemporary dresser made of light ash hardwood features Rusty’s abstract paintings on the front of its chrome-rimmed drawers. There are modern end tables made of steel and glass as well as a rectangular, honey-colored, cherry-wood dining table elegant enough to command respect in any environment.

Rusty has gone out of his way to make sure every object is ready to install. Looking for an antique saddle to function as a centerpiece in your office conference room? You will find it here already mounted on an elegant base. If stained-glass windows and curved or angular architectural forms draw your attention, they are all either securely framed or fitted with strong wooden brackets to make showing them off an effortless task.

Are you intrigued by cast-iron arrows harvested from antique weathervanes? One pair is already arranged on a maple-wood rack as if displayed in a fine museum. That isn’t strange at all, because Rusty Wolfe has been prepping gallery spaces at the Frist Center since the building reopened as a  Music City showcase for art and design of all genres.

For those of you who never have enough storage, Rusty has an unquenched love of antique trunks. “The more wear, patina, and character the better,” he believes. You will find a variety of shapes, sizes, and details throughout this collection. All are historic pieces ready to house your grandmother’s quilt, warm winter sweaters, or even a child’s favorite toys. If these handsome trunks could only talk, imagine the tales they might tell!

Finer Things also includes a “boutique space” that should prove to be a great resource for gift-giving any time of the year. Shelves and showcases offer handcrafted jewelry, masks, sculptures, Depression glass candleholders, vintage evening bags, striking vases, antique toys, and “just things I’ve picked up in my travels,” Rusty added. You might want to start your holiday shopping here before the most exceptional pieces have been sold. Gentlemen, take note—you’ll easily find a unique present for your special lady in this setting.

The gallery is stunning, but the most important thing Rusty and Kim want to share is their infinite gratitude to the artistic community. Following the flood, fifty or sixty talented Nashville residents came forward to assist them in cleaning up the devastation, to donate their own artworks for sale with proceeds earmarked to help provide Finer Things with a future, and they had countless anonymous benefactors. From across the country, another forty or so also reached out.

One very thoughtful soul established a Sherwin Williams credit account worth thousands of dollars so they could buy paint. Others picked up numerous meal tabs for the couple at local restaurants whose proprietors refused to reveal the source of those kindnesses. Compassion arose from every possible direction, and the couple want those individuals to know they were “truly humbled” by every generous act that helped them get back on their creative feet.
“How many people get to see that kind of outpouring of love and support in their lifetime?” he asked, fighting back tears. “Maybe at your funeral, but then you’re not there to see it. We did—and ‘thank you’ doesn’t even come close to how we feel.”

When you walk through the revived door at Finer Things Gallery, Rusty and Kim will welcome you warmly, but please be prepared. You just might wind up a little teary-eyed, too.

Finer Things Gallery will reopen on October 17 at 1898 Nolensville Road. For more information, visit

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