is to build a veterans community using art as therapy
and to foster a sense of camaraderie where all veterans can rally together
The Warrior's Canvas & Veterans Art Center™ is a 501c3 Non-Profit dedicated to providing Therapeutic Art to veterans and their families. Additionally, we exist to assist veterans with PTSD and other war related trauma by providing a dynamic healing environment centered around recovery. Finally, Our goal is to provide a sense of Camaraderie and Community through community projects, and life skills development groups.
I am originally from Johnson City, TN but moved to Michigan during my high school years and then joined the United States Navy to see the world. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk as a barber. During my time with the U.S.S. Kitty I was able to visit such exotic locales as Hawaii, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. At the end of this stint, I was offered the opportunity to stay in for an additional six months to see Australia. Seizing this opportunity, I soon found my way to the Middle East due to the 1979 hostage crisis. The U.S.S. Kitty Hawk was the first aircraft carrier underway deployed to Iran.
Once I completed my tour of duty with the Navy I returned to Tennessee and completed two years active reserves in Kingsport. I was accepted and completed cosmetology school. This allowed me to obtain my cosmetology licensee and cut hair in the state of Tennessee.
During the course of my life I have struggled with many internal demons, the worst of those being drugs and alcohol. With strict conviction and strong devotion I was finally able to excise those demons in 1990 and I am proud to say I am still winning that battle today. With my new healthy living, and new found respect for life, I became eligible and received the greatest gift of all, LIFE. I received a liver transplant in the fall of 2013. With this new lease on life I visit regularly with groups of patients awaiting transplants to help them prepare mentally and emotionally for their procedure and recovery.
Despite my many challenges, the one thing that has been a constant is my enjoyment of woodworking. It’s been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Now I am able to share these talents with the world through the Warrior’s Canvas. I became involved with the Warrior’s Canvas since the beginning. I have shared my craftsmanship and helped build the sales counter and continue to keep numerous pens, bowls, and small wooden items in the gallery.
I look forward to teaching woodworking at the Warrior’s Canvas!
I grew up in Wichita Kansas and joined the United States Air Force in 1963. After completing basic training and Air Police School at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, I was assigned to the 862d Combat Defense Squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. My job was providing security on the Minute Man missile sites.
I left the Air Force in 1967 and moved to the Baltimore Maryland where I worked for an Auto Finance Company for 30 Years. I have been interested in art my whole life and majored in art at Kansas State College of Pittsburg.
I’ve studied woodcarving under several nationally known woodcarvers, and have been teaching woodcarving in the Johnson City area since 1997.
After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy for over 22 years, Skip Rhode returned to school and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a concentration in painting, from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He graduated in 2003 and opened his studio in Asheville's River Arts District. His work quickly began winning recognition in solo, juried, and curated exhibitions across the eastern half of the country. In addition to producing his own artwork, he was the courtroom artist for WLOS-TV and taught in his studio and in UNC Asheville’s College for Seniors. He also served as the first President of the River District Artists for three years, establishing the foundation for what is now Asheville’s premier organization of professional artists.
Skip’s “Meditation on War” series of paintings, about the lasting effects of conflict, led to a deployment as a civilian program and project manager with the State Department and Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad, Iraq, for 18 months. While in-country, he continued to draw and paint. His experiences resulted in a series of paintings depicting his journey both physically and mentally after his return home.
In 2011, Skip deployed again, this time as a civilian governance advisor with the State Department in Afghanistan. He served for a year in Kandahar Province, one of the most volatile areas in the country, and one that had been the heartland of the Taliban insurgent movement.
Skip regularly attended meetings with government officials, district elders, international aide organizations, and local villagers, and would often sketch the participants. Approximately 50 of these drawings are currently being exhibited as the “Faces of Afghanistan”. Currently, Skip has re-established a studio in the Asheville area. He continues to make new artwork while mentoring high school students and running a small consulting business.
David Shields was born in Florida, but grew up in California. He served in the United States Air Force for twenty-two years before retiring in 2006.
Shields has been a doodler since the eighth grade, but when a teacher told him he had a good eye, that was all the motivation he needed. He began taking art classes in junior high. During his freshman year of high school he took a graphics arts class of which photography was an integral part and photography quickly became his passion. Shields says that while his peers were saving for cars, he was saving for a view camera system. He spent $1,000 on his first view camera system, a system he still owns. By his senior year Shields says, “It was all about art. I was even the art teacher’s assistant!”
In 1990 Shields, a medical technician, was deployed to Saudi Arabia. He started drawing while in country. Therapy for him began there. “People would send over books and magazines and I would draw from them,” he says. “When the war started I found relaxation in art.” Shields was stationed in Germany after Saudi Arabia and it was while he was there that he had a dream of a finished painting. He awoke determined to make that happen.
In 2007 Shields, who already had a B.S. with an Art minor, returned to school to become a social worker. He moved to Johnson City to finish his Master’s Degree at East Tennessee State University. In August 2013 he met Jason Sabbides at a Veteran’s Center Art Show in downtown Johnson City; Jason was a juror and David was a participant. This chance meeting would lead to their collaboration and by December of that year, on a First Friday, the Warrior’s Canvas was ready for their inaugural art show. In the summer of 2014 the gallery was opened with the idea to one day expand and offer art classes for veterans and their families. This too has come to fruition in the form of a variety of workshops offered on Saturdays by talented and eager volunteers.
When speaking of the Warrior’s Canvas and the apprehension that often comes with first steps in art, Shields says, “It doesn’t matter if you can draw a straight line or really don’t ever pursue anything with art, it’s about the process. Just come in and activate the other side of your brain and let the weary side rest. Let the worries and troubles go away for a bit. This is a chance to relax and solve some problems by seeing a different perspective. So, no matter your skill level, just come out and give it a try.”