Gainesville-Hall County, with the Northeast Georgia Medical System, is one of Georgia’s prominent medical centers. With Lake Lanier, it is one of Georgia’s prominent recreation hubs. With the poultry research laboratory and a high number of poultry industry businesses, it is one of the state’s agricultural centers. With the changing seasons in the Gainesville section of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the area will become a prominent center for celebrating spring, summer, fall and even winter.
And Gainesville is a prominent Georgia center of fine arts. The field of fine arts was not considered important decades ago because “thinking outside the box” wasn’t important. Despite a lack of major support, Gainesville got a fine arts center, developed live theater, a ballet company and its own orchestra. Some of these entities have won national recognition while all gave us a better understanding of each other.
Once when in Savannah with that city’s unhappy proponents of dance, I was asked how Gainesville was able to do so well in fine arts. One answer to this question is the Smithgall family. Lessie Smithgall is among the many people who have made the fine arts successful in this city. Of course, her late husband Charles Smithgall, was another of the major fine arts supporters. They each have been stalwarts in the arts community for many decades.
There is a long list of people who could be named in this subject, but with Lessie Smithgall’s contribution of a Rembrandt ink etching from 1630 to the Quinlan Art Center, it is appropriate now to thank her and her family. We cannot enjoy so much of Gainesville’s fine arts treasures without thanking them.