Amanda McClure calls it a “series of happy accidents” that created the opportunity for her to lead the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville. As executive director for the center, McClure gets to live out her love for art, and to help bring art to the forefront for adults and children alike.
Founded in 1946 as the Gainesville Arts Association, the Quinlan today provides art education opportunities, well-attended summer art camps for children and special events for the community. It also hosts up to 20 fine art exhibitions each year to showcase the work of talented artists, especially those who are local.
Today, The Times asks McClure five questions about her passion for the arts.
1. How did you become interested in working in the arts field?
Art was my favorite class in grade school and I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I majored in art in college, but much to my dismay, I lacked any discernable talent. I switched to art history focusing on Renaissance art, not very practical, but I was passionate. The rest is a series of happy accidents, one opportunity leading to the next.
2. How has the local arts community grown and evolved over the years?
Northeast Georgia is a great location for the arts, music, theater, visual art, with a thriving network of working artists. I can’t believe we’re planning the 10th Art in the Square festival; it has grown so much and includes artists from all over the Southeast, and is really putting Gainesville on the map as an arts destination.
There is no end to partnerships, opportunities to work with other arts professionals and nonprofits to create a better environment for our artists and appreciators.
3. What is something about the Quinlan Visual Arts Center that you wish everyone in Northeast Georgia knew?
That anyone can walk in the door and view any of our 20 major rotating exhibitions we host each year free of charge.
4. Is there a particular local artist or piece of art that inspires you?
I’m not going to have nearly enough room! Jay Kemp is an amazing wildlife artist; Jane Taylor’s monumental sculpture “Annie’s Wings” at her studio on Cleveland Highway should not be missed; eclectic and delightfully quirky photographer Fox Gradin has the best sense of humor of anyone I know; Anne Brodie Hill is so gifted and generous with time and talent. I could go on and on.
5. What would you like to see the Quinlan accomplish in the next five years?
I’d like to see an overall greater accessibility to the visual arts and the Quinlan front and center making it happen through field trips for schools and expanded partnerships to bring the arts to underserved populations in our community. I want to put more artists to work, not only through art sales but teaching opportunities.