The Gainesville art community has reason to feel proud.
More than $178,000 in grants to 13 agencies promoting fine arts and tourism throughout the state has been awarded by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Wednesday. And part of that is coming to Hall County in the form of art — 28 pieces to be exact.
Deal and first lady Sandra Deal have designated nine Georgia communities to host the state’s first traveling art exhibition, and the opening stop on the tour is Gainesville’s Quinlan Visual Arts Center. For the first time in decades, a curated exhibition of 28 pieces from Georgia’s state art collection will be available for public viewing. The exhibit is sponsored by the Georgia Council for the Arts in partnership with the Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division and the Georgia Humanities Council.
The exhibition will be on view from Oct. 17 through Dec. 8 with an opening reception on Oct. 24.
“The traveling exhibit is an opportunity to use the state art collection as a springboard for additional arts and culture activities that serve to celebrate and increase awareness for the local cultural community and to increase tourism,” Deal said in a news release. “Sandra and I hope that this collection will inspire visitors and local citizens to learn more about Georgia’s artistic heritage and current artists.”
According to the release, the stops were selected through a competitive application process, which focused on strong local collaboration between a downtown development authority and a local arts entity. The Georgia Council for the Arts, the Georgia Tourism Division and the Georgia Humanities Council will offer additional arts programming to each participating community through collaborations with the Georgia Museum of Art, Living Walls and gloATL.
“Inspired Georgia: 28 Works from Georgia’s State Art Collection” will be on view at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St., starting Oct. 17. The exhibit has been planned through a partnership with Main Street Gainesville and the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority.
“Having this exhibition is an honor both as a Georgia visual arts organization and allowing us the opportunity to represent Gainesville and the entire Northeast Georgia (region),” said Amanda McClure, executive director of the Quinlan.
McClure and Main Street Gainesville Manager Regina Mansfield worked together on the application process for Gainesville.
“We definitely knew we had a good chance; I felt pretty confident,” Mansfield said. “The Quinlan, we knew, could accommodate this. There is such a strong arts presence in the community. And to get the opening was icing on the cake, a great thing for the Quinlan and Gainesville.”
“The process started months ago when Regina Mansfield and I both read the request for proposal for this and thought, ‘We should do that!’” McClure said.
“We quickly formulated our plan, and supplied some dates and then I got the call that they wanted us to have the first honor to display the work. I had to do a little creative maneuvering with our spaces, but as a happy accident, the ‘Inspired Georgia’ show will be on view simultaneously with our 66th Annual Members’ Exhibition — our longest and grandest tradition at the ‘Q.’ So for me it is a dream. That means even more people will be able to see the work. More families in the building, more people visiting the city, more ... being better in every way.”
The state art collection, owned and managed by the Georgia Council for the Arts, is an extensive chronicle of work created by Georgia artists from the 1970s to the 1990s.
According to the release, the new exhibit highlights the diversity of styles, media and techniques in the collection. Original works from some of Georgia’s iconic artists including Benny Andrews, Lucinda Bunnen, Herbert Creecy, Howard Finster, Ruth Laxson and Nellie Mae Rowe are featured.
Mansfield said she and McClure knew a few days before the announcement Gainesville had been selected and couldn’t wait to spread the word.
“Amanda and I worked hard together on this and we were sworn to secrecy on it. We wanted to tell people so bad,” she said.
The exhibit will be free, part of the community outreach component to being selected.
“As an artist myself, I am very passionate about art and bringing art into the community ... (to people) who might not have been able to see these works of art,” Mansfield said. “On a tourism standpoint, it’s a great thing to have because now it’s an attraction that will be in Gainesville for seven weeks.”
After its stay in Gainesville, the exhibit will visit Monroe, Toccoa, Summerville, Tallapoosa, Jonesboro, Dublin, Tifton and Kingsland.
Funding for the Georgia Council for the Arts is provided by appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Quinlan’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 770-536-2575 or visit www.quinlanartscenter.org.