By Morgan Bryce
Handmade wooden frames, locally produced artwork and more can be found at Opelika’s newest art gallery, Chirpwood.
Located next to the Opelika Farmer’s Market on Tenth Street, the business features pieces from well-known Alabama artists including watercolorist Iain Stewart and pen-and-ink sketcher John Warr.
“The common thread isn’t the type of art that we have here, the common thread is that it’s local. There’s a soul to the stuff here, an authenticity, if you will,” said Chirpwood owner Scott Moody.
Moody, a former Lee-Scott Academy mathematics teacher, started the business three years ago. An outdoor enthusiast and fan of wooden objects including birdhouses, he said he blended these passions together to create Chirpwood.
Working out of his basement, Moody said he turned it into a laboratory, finishing his handmade frames with unusual substances or methods like liquid gold floor wax or wire brushing the wood to make them resemble something one would find in a forest.
“…I would be walking, and see something like a mossy, old tree stump and I would just stare at it and try to figure out why my eye perceived it as a mossy old tree stump. I would think to myself, ‘how many colors do you have to have embedded in it before your eye starts picking that up?’” Moody said.
Moody said the rugged, natural appeal of Chirpwood’s frames caused business to boom, and was a primary factor in his decision to move it to Opelika last fall.
In addition to art, Chirpwood recently added a coffee/book-reading area called ‘The Nest’. Instead of a regular coffee bar where long lines and lack of seating are the norm, Moody said The Nest is a self-serve, pay-by-the-hour establishment where patrons are encouraged to sit and stay a while.
“It’s a B.Y.O.B, be your own barista … we’re not a coffee shop. Within 30 seconds, you’re pouring yourself a cup of coffee, getting a snack or buying something over at the (Opelika) Farmer’s Market to bring back here,” Moody said. “We want people to sit down and stay as long as they want to. If you want more coffee, you can go get yourself some more coffee … the idea is that we want it to feel like a club, a membership, where people feel like they’re a part of something.”
Moody said nearly half of Chirpwood’s profits are donated to Bridge2Rwanda, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing aspiring Rwandan youth an opportunity to pursue an education and bring their skills back home.
A volunteer in the organization’s scholarship program, Moody said he returns to the country twice a year to help students hone and strengthen their mathematic skills, as well as prepare them for college life abroad.
“Each year, 40 kids from the program who have degrees from Harvard or Yale return to the country with a world-class education and a desire to be a part of the leadership class of a quickly growing country. The biggest thing I get out of this is the leverage … I get to be a small part of teaching people who are literally going to be in the leadership of a small country in the next 20 years,” Moody said. “We hope that by doing this in Rwanda, the country can serve as a blueprint of success for the surrounding countries in East Africa.”
Chirpwood is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and is located at 405 S. 10th St. The business can be found online at www.chirpwood.com, or on Facebook and Instagram. For more information, call (844) 692-4477.