Photo: Pictured above, Attalla mayor Larry Means (center, holding scissors), Attalla city officials and local business owners join Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals owner Kelly Farley (red jacket) with her goat, Yoga, in support of the art studio and boutique’s grand opening. Photo courtesy of Attalla Information and Development Center Director Debby Carden.
By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer
The city of Attalla held a ribbon cutting Jan. 10 to commemorate the grand opening of Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals in downtown Attalla.
Previously located in downtown Gadsden, the new art studio and boutique features ample space to provide customers with private art classes, paint parties, unique gifts and more.
Downtown Attalla business owners attended the ribbon cutting, supporting Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals and cheering owner Kelly Farley on in her endeavors. While downtown Attalla might be considered small, its encouragement for local businesses is grand. Attalla mayor Larry Means, mayor assistant Debbie Steele, director of information and development Debby Carden and city councilman Bob Cross were among the city officials present, representing Attalla’s dedication to its business owners and entrepreneurs.
“This is such a cool little historic downtown,” said Debra Draper, owner of Heart & Soul, a vintage home décor store and boutique that opens Jan. 31. “Growth for one means growth for all.”
Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals owner Kelly Farley always wanted to be an artist. Under the guidance of private art classes with MaLou Smith for 12 years, Farley’s natural love for animals connected her to Smith. Like her mentor, Farley developed a passion for portraying wildlife through her artwork. Farley’s artistic drive led her to major in art at Gadsden State and become the first and only female sign painter to work for Alabama Outdoor Advertising in Birmingham.
Not just a talented artist, Farley is also a successful business owner. In 1992, she founded Kelly Signs, her own company that began as a “poster house” that painted billboards for outdoor advertising agencies. After Farley’s husband Richard joined Kelly Signs in 1994, the business commercialized and catered to customers nationwide.
“The signs started out as fun because I was out there in my shop on scaffolds painting billboards, then it turned into a big business when we went commercial,” Farley said. “I said when it wasn’t fun, I was done. So, 26 years later, here I am.”
After retiring from Kelly Signs, Farley acquired a collection of animals at her home: a little horse, a donkey, a llama and goats. Farley credits her niece Savannah, who shares Farley’s love for animals and accompanied her on sales, as the instigator of the farm and her father with titling her home the “Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch.” Inspired by the loving creatures she cared for, Farley began painting her adopted animals. The paintings grew in popularity and became known as Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals, her art studio’s namesake.
“If I get something on my mind, if I envision it, sometimes it will drive me crazy if I don’t sit down and paint it,” said Farley. “I was wanting to paint gourds. I was just doing some little Santa Clause gourds and stuff, when 3 o’clock in the morning I wake up and think I can make an Alabama elephant out of this gourd. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I had to get up and paint it before I forgot!”
Farley wants to use her talent to help children and young adults learn how to paint and draw. During Christmastime, she hosted a painting party at Gaston High School and described the pure excitement the students expressed while creating artwork. Farley feels that since several school curriculums do not offer art, her paint parties give students an outlet for their creativity and minister to their self-esteem. Likewise, her animals serve as a bridge that connects her to children and teaches them valuable lessons.
“It just warms my heart to see those kids’ faces light up,” said Farley. “It gives them confidence. They think ‘wow, if I can do this, I can do anything.’ That’s the same with the animals. I try to use the animals as a little ministry for kids. I can take Dinky the Donkey and tell them the Bible story about Balaam and the donkey.”
The Attalla Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals location will offer the same paint parties, gifts and goats as the downtown Gadsden location, but Farley envisions greater plans for her Attalla art studio and for the goat ranch in 2020. She hopes the goat ranch will become famous, and her goal is to be on “Absolutely Alabama” before the end of the year.
“I’m going to do gourd art and clay and eventually stained glass,” Farley shared. “A lot of these are things I like to do, and a lot of this is about lost talent. There’s a lot of people out there who I think still like to do it, but maybe need a little guidance.”
Through Lookout Mountain Goat Ranch Originals, Farley hopes people will feel better about themselves, feel inspired to accomplish their dreams and realize they can do more in life.
“I just feel like the Lord has blessed me in so many ways,” Farley said. “He’s given me this talent, he’s found Richard for me, he keeps opening these doors for me every time I turn around. So, I’m just here for the ride. I’m having a good time.”