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Georgia's Art Loops

by Anne Jenkins

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Some of the art on display at Point of Art in Union Point

The state of Georgia discovered the attraction of art and creative economies recently and now pushes the promotion of the, up till now, untapped arts industry. In this regard, they are lucky to have the indefatigable Camille Ronay, CEO of Georgia Made Georgia Grown llc., publishing self-guided driving tours throughout the state. Currently there are four with many more planned. The first off the press was The Heritage Art Loop. It recently expanded to include Athens and is a dynamic and interesting 2-day tour. It offers the traveler a feast of good and affordable work... paintings, pottery, glass and more in the central Georgia region. It's easily accessible from the I-20 between Atlanta and Augusta, or from Athens. All the arts are covered - culinary, visual and hospitality. There are historic homes now Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants and a brewery, a garden center, cultural arts centers and marvelous galleries of fine art and funky galleries with equally fine art.

Almost halfway between Atlanta and Augusta turn off the I-20 at exit 138,   and go north on Hwy 77 about 6 miles to little Union Point. It boasts a funky gallery, The Point of Art Gallery & Studio, at 604 Sibley Avenue. Run by artist Anne Jenkins, a Hurricane Katrina transplant from New Orleans, the gallery is a feast for the eyes and not too hard on the wallet. Anchored by Jenkins' colorful and powerful work, they also show the work of anything up to 18 selected artists from Georgia. Situated in a charming row of historic buildings, circa 1895, in a town revitalizing itself in to an art town, it's a fun shopping experience. Jenkins and her husband, Lee Nelson, live in a loft above the gallery with her studio below and her painting of a single sunflower was chosen as the logo for the tour. .

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Blue Bell Gallery in Comer

"Sibley Avenue is a perfect setting for galleries and restaurants and antique shops. We're an historic town close to the I-20," said Jenkins. "We hope more artists will join us along here."

Once you've bought up some really good, affordable art, head out north on Hwy. 77 towards Carlton, Lexington and Comer. In Lexington is the gardener's paradise, Goodness Grows, a well known nursery and the magnificent Hummingbird House Bed & Breakfast nestles in the historic row of houses one block in from the main street through town. Just north of Lexington, you'll find the small town of Comer and the pottery and art gallery, Blue Bell Gallery, which is just around the corner from the Cup of Karma Cafe. Just a couple of miles west of Comer is home to Christie Moody's Blue Heron Glass studio in Carlton.

 

 

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Tina McCullough throws a pot at Blue Bell Gallery

Blue Bell Gallery is owned and run by ceramic artist, Tina McCullough who lives with her family in a loft above the gallery. McCullough is happy to demonstrate throwing a pot on her wheel by the front door. It's a magical experience watching a beautiful creation appear from a lump of clay. She specializes in pottery but is an accomplished painter as well. Her  paintings hang on the gallery walls above her pottery display. She also carries work by other artists - ceramics, sculpture and paintings.

Zip along Hwy 72 to Athens - a charming, cool college town with a strong music and arts scene...remember R.E.M and Widespread Panic started out here as local bands. Visit the Athens Welcome Center for complete information on tours, music bars and local legends. The Lyndon House Arts Center always has an interesting exhibit or workshop going on. Tour the Terrapin Beer Co, they won a Gold Medal in the 2002 Great American Beer Festival or visit Masada Leather right in downtown.

 

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Ashford Manor in Watkinsville

Then head on to Watkinsville, home to the Ashford Manor Inn, Eagle Tavern Museum, the Oconee Farmers Market and a number of good restaurants, Maison Bleu and The Krinmson Kafe among them. There's a cluster of art galleries such as The Chappelle Gallery, Circa Antiques & Art and Cherokee Connection's Spirit of Watkinsville.

Billy Lacy from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma creates custom jewelry in silver and gold. They also sell paintings, wood and stone sculptures, Navaho rugs, baskets and crafts. On the road to Greensboro, be sure to go to Happy Valley Pottery. This is an interesting artist's commune definitely worth the detour.

 

 

 

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Eagle Tavern Museum, Watkinsville

From Watkinsville take the Hwy 15 South to Greensboro. Greensboro is a thriving historic town and hometown to the Lake Oconee communities. Genuine Georgia features over 65 heritage and traditional Georgian artists. The Hampton Fine Art Gallery (formerly the Pecan Orchard Art Gallery) features the work of the talented Hampton family - Cameron, Raindance and Lisa. Painters, photographers, sculptures and textile art, they can do it all. And they do it very well. The Historic Mill Studio is a retreat for artists located on the property of a 100-year old cotton mill. Owner Nan McGarity conducts workshops and hosts invited artists to teach. FirstHand Studios is a recently opened craft school. They offer workshops in wood, clay, metal and textile. No matter if you're experienced or a beginner, they have something for you.

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Bill Lacy from Cherokee connections Spirit of Watkinsville

Other trails just recently completed and produced by the entrepreneurial Ronay are Look Out Mountain Valley Trail, Southern Roots and Routes and the Broad River. Brochures are available at all Welcome Centers, or download them from their websites.

Take the time to explore the art loop. Take a couple of days to do it well. You'll enjoy driving through the countryside as you enrich your life with great art, and you'll certainly go to  off-the-beaten track places and enjoy meeting all the interesting and out-of-the-ordinary people.

As an added creative opportunity, four members of the Heritage Art Loop - Genuine Georgia, Hampton Fine Art Gallery, Historic Mill Studio and The Point of Art Gallery - have clustered their businesses in to the Art Ramble of Greene County. The four studios and galleries are located within a seven-mile stretch and are all working studios. You can see art being created, not just see the finished product.

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Genuine Georgia in Greensboro
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Nan Mcarity's art Historic Mills Studio
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Cameron Hampton sculpter of a goat

"Rather than viewing the others as competition, we all help and support each other," Anne Jenkins said. "We can offer an fabulous day for special events, or we can open specially for your group. It's an interesting and fun tour for interested groups or an individual."

The Art Ramble has it's own website (no downloadable brochure but full directions and information): www.artramble.com 

Visit the following websites to download a copy of Georgia Made Georgia Grown's individual loop's brochure:www.heritageartloop.com
www.southernrootsandroutes.com
www.lookouttrail.com
www.broadrivertrail.com

or visit gerogiamadegeorgiagrown.com for additional information if all the trails websites aren't up and running yet, they will be shortly.

Click to learn about Anne Jenkins

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.



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