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Art influences two women early in their lives
'50 Shades of Summer' exhibit features females' work
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Struck early in life with an affinity for art, two Helen women are sharing their creative insights with Northeast Georgians.

Gayle Murdock and Pat Potesta are the featured artists of the “50 Shades of Summer” exhibit at the Helen Arts & Heritage Center.

The exhibit’s opening reception will be 5:30 p.m. today at 25 Chattahoochee Strasse in Helen. Admission and parking are free for the exhibit running until Aug. 23.

The arts center is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more information, visit

Murdock believes her life has been about “art, life and divine nature.” She said she believes the pivotal moment that set her on the art journey was when she won a fifth-grade art contest as a child.

She advanced her sojourn into the art world by obtaining bachelor and master degrees and later completing design courses at the New York School of Interior Design and the Atlanta Art Institute of Interior Design.

Her art explores the many depths of painting and expressing the “feelings of divine nature that surrounds us daily.”

By uses acrylic, oils, watercolor and mixed media, Murdock feels she has the tools necessary to express her passion for painting. She incorporates elements of her background in teaching, business and design into her art.

Potesta dabbled in art as a child, too. She constantly drew her favorite image over and over: A house with a chimney with a tree in the forefront, drawn in a mountain setting. This is the scene now of Potesta’s residence in the Innsbruck Community in Helen.

However, her route with art took a less tradition path. She enrolled in Wilton cake decorating classes and was the one everyone went to for birthday cakes for a time.

Later, Potesta experimented in the art of jewelry making and then graduated to creating porcelain dolls. She took classes for a few years, making more than 100 dolls.

Finally, Potesta attended a class about glass fusion and became “hooked.” Now, Potesta loves the art produced with glass along with the peaceful solitude she experiences when working on a project.

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