Editor’s Note: Remember a time when it wasn’t gloomy and rainy and horrid outside? This terrible weather is making us dream of spring flowers and warm afternoons. What a better way to brighten up your day than reading this great archive piece about Moonflower Designs, and bask in the beauty of their wonderful floral arrangements.
Last month you might have noticed something different in the Athens downtown area. Small murals popping up in the most unexpected of places; fire hydrants! No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is a bear drawn with playful precision on a fire hydrant. To commemorate 80 years of clean drinking water in Athens, fire hydrants all over downtown have been turned into fun (and useful) art pieces. After a blind evaluation process, 20 artists with varying degrees of skill were chosen by a panel of judges representing the Athens Area Arts Council (including yours truly), ACC Fire and Emergency Services, ACC Public Utilities Department and the Athens Downtown Development Authority. What a fun way to bridge water conservation and art.
Inspired by this wonderful mix of water conservation awareness and art, John Roche created a video showing off the newly designed hydrants.
Visit the Fire Up the Hydrants to learn more more and to vote for you favorite hydrant! Voting ends in February 2017 and winners will be announced March 2017.
*Editor’s Note: We are excited to once again feature Katherine Ball of Great Dame Jewelry as we rifle through the archives and revisit stories we think are important. Take a look at the story by Christy Rogers and gather holiday gift ideas.*
Katherine Ball: The Face Behind Great Dame Jewelry
Katherine Ball is a woman after my own heart. Clad in all black, we sat together at Hendershot’s Coffee and laid our lives out on the table. A passionate dreamer, Ball spoke to me with a surefire, yet humble confidence and dug into how both her career as an up-and-coming musician and her Great Dame jewelry line strive to be as far away from that “devil” as possible.
As a child, Ball’s first instrument was her voice. When she was only three she made the jump to piano, teaching herself scales and techniques as well as picking them up in her various music classes at school. Much of her influence came from church – Ball split her time between two churches, one hymn-oriented and the other soul-centered. Always learning and craving more singing and piano techniques, Ball was forced with the choice – “It became about living inside the box versus being able to compromise and harmonize and experiment.”
Ball definitely broke the norm in her teens, hiding out in her car and blasting Metallica and Black Sabbath on her way to gymnastic meets and other events. Even though her music now is Southern Gothic inspired, both genres hit close to the cuff. “I grew up in an environment where people said how to act so I tried to act against them,” Ball says. “It’s about taking control back into the artist’s hands.”
That, Ball definitely did. Opting to spend time honing her melodic craft in college, she graduated and moved out to Colorado where she found the person she wanted to be. “It’s like a blank slate kind of,” describes Ball, touching on the weight some history can hold. “And it’s like, ‘Are you gonna let it control you and sink your ship or are you going to make something beautiful out of it?’”
Eventually Ball moved back to Georgia, packing with her so many of the earthy, honest attributes of Colorado and channeling them into her music and jewelry. Picking up the guitar as well, Ball traveled up the Mississippi River with a band, eventually leaving to go through grad school at UGA. “Athens has so many things available at your fingertips that if you just kind of let go, some pretty cool stuff will happen,” Ball praised.
Aside from her music, Ball dedicates much of her time to working on the pieces for her brand Great Dame Jewelry. Mixing in flavors of the East, Great Dame revolves around the idea of empowering women by celebrating the talents and joy that are already inside them.
Reflecting this idea, Ball blends antiques, mostly comprising the metals, from her father’s side and a gemmed, earthy character from her mother’s side, all while taking inspiration from them to support small businesses across the US. “We are living in a new Renaissance age. People are out here honing their crafts and should support each other.” Thus, the brand is about so much more than jewelry – every piece tells the story of a “revivalist, sexy, classic, empowered” woman carrying an air of timelessness around her neck or wrist.
Even though the ladies sporting Great Dame are timeless, they are far from complacent. They echo the ideas of constantly discovering your own natural gifts, refining them until they’re exceptional, and not being afraid to get uncomfortable and show them off.
Sitting snuggly along Prince Avenue, in a light, exposed brick space, sits the sunny new Indie South storefront. Its interior, upon stepping inside, boasts exposed brick walls and a collection of handmade fares that would make anyone’s wallet beg to become lighter. A woman dressed in a Bohemian top and cuffed bracelets scrolls through a playlist until she settles on the perfect artist for such a space: Cat Stevens.
Having opened in August of this year, patrons will probably know the space as the old Double Dutch Press headquarters. Now its racks and shelves are filled with crafted goods, from vintage clothes to terrariums and wallhangings.
Owner and founder of the Indie Craft Fair, Serra Jaggar, had been on the hunt for a space for the past two and a half years. The Fair has grown substantially in its years since the fledgling market started in 2006, but a storefront seemed like the next step to Jagger.
“Working out of home was difficult to separate work and life,” explains Jaggar. “It fell into my lap. I knew it was serendipitous.”
Jaggar is no stranger to turning a craft into an independent business. Starting with a jewelry and handbag line, she had a boutique in 2002 when the handmade movement was still in a stage of infancy. But after a child and a separation, she needed consistency job-wise and ultimately closed up shop.
After being a part of multiple craft shows, the Indie South Fair seemed like an obvious next phase, especially since Jaggar admits she always liked uniting people.
The craft fair grew organically, sprouting on its own as she continued to get positive feedback and took note of patrons from bigger cities.
Now the fair travels all over the southeast, hitting crafting hubs such as Nashville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina. There are still six markets a year in Athens, including the Eclectic Bazaar and Holiday Hooray (coming up December 3rd and 4th).
But it’s not just the fair that’s rewarding to Jaggar, who also started the Strange Magick Vintage line, which can be found here. She describes the most rewarding aspect of her job is watching people grow their businesses. Some vendors start out with the mindset of “my friend or my mom likes it, but I don’t know if anyone else will” and then their line resonates with others and it takes off, she explains.
“A lot of designers refine their craft and hone their skill through Indie South,” says Jagger.
While the Indie South Fair store has something for everyone, its main clientele would be an individual who isn’t focused on buying the latest thing. Rather the conscious shopper, one who is willing to invest, will find their wares here.
When asked about goals for this space, Jagger responses quickly.
“The goal is to create a place where the community feels they have a stake in it,” explains Jagger. “I am responsive to what Normaltown wants.”
The store is already in the works of starting handmade classes in order to build personal connections within the community. With the onslaught of social media, Jagger wants the store to connect with and introduce people to the things they wouldn’t otherwise see. She wants people to experience something in this space and leave feeling inspired, maybe even enough to pick up a natural dye or weaving kit and try something new.
“Art is not something on a white wall,” says Jagger. “Art is something human that we’ve been doing since the beginning of time.”
In hopes to get people in touch with their creativity, the Indie South Fair store hopes to offer a range of classes including sewing, indigo dyeing, weaving, and knitting.
Jaggar also hopes that the Indie South Fair validates the creatives living in Athens. She admits that a big motivation for starting the fair was giving validity to the “creative people doing creative things,” not just the Athens music scene. Even most musicians are also painters, creatives and makers who deserve recognition for their artistic maker side too.
While the next outdoor fair will be held December 3rd and 4th at 660 N. Chase St., Jaggar insists the storefront has helped spread awareness of the Indie South Fair. While she insists that the brick and mortar aspect of the store has made it more real to some, Jaggar has made a space that is undoutedbly a welcoming part of the Normaltown neighborhood.
“It’s all about trying to get people engaged,” she says. “I always liked to bring people together.”
To check out the Indie South Fair, take a look at their website and their Instagram.
In their new exhibition to revitalize the way their guests experience and observe art, the Georgia Museum of Art decided redecorated. The Director, William Eiland, and his team of curators collaborated to administer art to the public by adding a new dimension.
Their recently updated permanent collection encompasses guests with vivid walls the shades of forest green, Mean Girl pink and washed denim blue that’s congruous with intense and valuable historical art pieces.
I sat down with Dr. Eiland to discuss the Georgia Museum’s kaleidoscopic innovations.
Their revamped permanent collection debuted August 13th, 2016 and aims to “change [the] interpretation and concept of [its] featured works.”
The collection was originally arranged in chronological order and featured only American pieces before it underwent renovation. Realizing the affect European artists, like Mary Cassatt, had on American culture, they sought to “eliminate geographic barriers” and melded the two together in the new exhibition. The big change in this collection was inspired by itself. The GMOA team desired a new approach to help untrained eyes experience art as if they had on professional googles.
This colorful makeover does more than just beautify. Onlookers are able to “distinguish different aspects” of paintings more than ever before. This is because the curators meticulously composed their surroundings to set off certain hues and tones within them. The museum’s main idea behind remolding is to showcase their art in a more unique, comprehensive light.
“Color allows more focus on the works,” explained Dr. Eiland.
The brown room is a gleaming example of this. The golden-brown frames interact with the paint to construct an ambiance associated with the Renaissance era. This helps the viewer delve into the history behind the work. In the roseate pink room, you’ll find Impressionist era compositions. These works have overarching themes which include soft, floral palettes. The pink walls “are about light” and “intensify the mood and conceptualization” of the period. These are two objectives that the curators ensured to illustrate throughout the collection.
Truly looking more dapper than ever, the permanent collection has seen a sharp increase in the amount of time guests spend studying the art. Not only has the GMOA experienced a rise in their attendance, but have noted many attendees are coming from areas outside of Athens. Only positive feedback has been received and art buffs are raving.
Check out the new colorful renovations at the Georgia Museum of Art, open Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 1-5pm
I walk through the entrance of the Georgia Museum of Art, my heels click, click, clicking against the floor. The evening sun streams in through the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling windows and bathes the room in soft glow. The museum’s latest show, the Brooklyn Bridge exhibit, has not yet opened to the public, and for a moment, all is still and quiet.
Catherine Huff, the museum’s art curator intern, greets me warmly and ushers me into a side office where we sit on a velvety couch and conduct the interview.
An Indiana native, Huff transferred from Indiana University last year to complete her undergrad here at the University of Georgia. She is currently a senior studying art history and romance languages.
What brought you to UGA—what was it about Athens or maybe the art school here that attracted you to come to Georgia?
I was originally at IU for the first two years of my college career. Indiana is where my family’s from, but as soon as I started my undergrad at IU, my parents moved to Atlanta for my dad’s job. Those first two years were hard. I loved IU, but I wanted to be close to my family and getting the HOPE scholarship was an added bonus. I looked into the art school here at UGA, was really impressed and became sold on coming here. I didn’t really know anything about Athens, but now I love this city. It really fosters a creative atmosphere, which is something I really like. I never expected to come to such a cool place. I’m happy.
What initially sparked your interest in art?
I’ve always loved art, even from a young age. According to my parents, I was like four or five and they would take me to museums, like the Smithsonian, and other kids would kind of be running all over the place, but I would just look at paintings and be completely enamored by them. I think it’s just part of my personality; I’ve always liked things that are aesthetically pleasing, and I really like the elegance art has to offer. When I first started college and was trying to decide what I wanted to do. I never thought about art history as something I could study because, you know, people are like, ‘There are no jobs in this field; you won’t make any money.’ Art history is honestly like a joke to a lot of people, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just decided to go for it. I love museums. I love pretty things and I like writing and history and research, so art history—here we go! And it’s worked well ever since.
Describe your role at the Georgia Museum of Art and how you got involved in helping create the Brooklyn Bridge exhibit.
I am a research assistant to Sarah Kate Gillespie; she is the curator for American art. I started here as an intern last year. She offered me an opportunity to curate a side exhibition to her Brooklyn Bridge exhibit, which is very unusual because most curators would not let an intern do that. I was really lucky though – she is all about helping her interns learn and experience things for themselves. Overall, this has been a really big, fun learning process because this is something I want to do in the future. Even though my show is only fifteen works, it’s still a really big deal to me because this is my first show with my name on it.
What were some of your responsibilities? What does your job all entail?
First, I don’t think people realize how work-intensive the process is, to actually put together an exhibition starting by just trying to find a theme. I deviated a little from my boss’s work in the sense that none of my works include the bridge but are of the actual city, such as the skyline or Manhattan. Then you have to think about the medium: sculpture, painting, photography, etc. I decided to go with works on paper because the Georgia Museum of Art is lucky to have ample supply due to the fact that they are easy to store and many people donate pieces.
There were thousands of works. I spent a lot of time just sifting through and narrowing down countless files and data bases, pulling anything that could possibly work in my show. Most of the works are from 1880-1940s.
You have to pick pieces that are interesting and relevant for your viewer. You need to pick an artist that will be fascinating to people, because your viewers come from all different walks: students, experts, enthusiasts, and people who know nothing. I picked a piece by Lamar Dodd, which was cool, because here we are, at the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
After you pick your works, then you deal with the actual space. I had to pick colors for the wall and write captions and explanations and wall labels, which is a work of art in itself because it has to be so precise. You have the lighting, the hanging of the work. I had to take into account the input, opinions, and expertise of my boss, the preparators . . . it’s a big process.
What have you learned as a result of being a part of this process?
I’ve learned to be more creative and take to heart the input of others, which has truly helped me expand and develop my ideas. I think I’ve always trusted my own opinion a little too much, so definitely asking for help and listening to other people and outside sources are things I’ve learned as a result of being in this position. It’s really about team work; you can’t depend on yourself all the time.
What do you think has been the most challenging part?
I feel like in one sense I’ve kind of being handed this position of curator—like this is a kind of serendipity that happened. As an intern, people keep telling me, ‘Oh you totally have the freedom to do what you want with this show,’ but then at the end of the day I still have to ask permission. I don’t really know what my boundaries are yet. It’s just little stuff like am I allowed to say, ‘I want the walls to be blue instead of gray’? I’ve learned I’ve been given some creative control, but to answer your question, I guess it’s been a challenge to see how far my control stretches. Also, I’m totally inexperienced at this, so it’s scary to make decisions that are going to be so public.
Do you think being so young has impacted your art career in any way? Being ahead of the curve already and on your way to being an art curator, has your age affected your experience?
I think only being twenty-one-years-old and already having such a good experience so far has made me very optimistic. If I was maybe thirty and this stuff was happening I would think, ‘Okay, I’m in a pretty good position, but there’s already people who are curators.’ But because I’m so young and have been given the title of curator and if I’ve done this at twenty-one I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to see what I can do when I’m thirty.’
It’s really just optimism that my age has given me. Because like I said previously, an art history major is so looked down upon sometimes. Now I can be like, “Ha, look what I did,” when everyone was telling me I couldn’t do anything with my major. I’ve achieved a lot I think, and I’m very excited to see where life will take me during the next few years.
Leading into that, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I’ve been pondering this a lot recently, because just getting an art history undergraduate degree is usually not enough to become an art curator in a museum. I need experience, and it’s almost mandatory to get a PhD these days. So, finishing up my master’s degree and working on my dissertation is what I see myself doing in the next few years. I am really excited about school and the possibilities though.
Who inspires you? Your mentors?
My parents, it’s a given. They are ones who always told me to do what you want to do in life. My mom and my grandpa have supported me especially in my goals to pursue working in a museum. In the museum world—my boss has been a huge mentor for me. She taught me everything I know.
Do you have other hobbies or passions outside of the art sphere?
I do, but a lot of them are still artsy though. I’m very into ballet. I didn’t do ballet when I was young, so I’m not very good, but I really like it nonetheless. I love things that are pretty. For instance, I like yoga because I find the poses beautiful and interesting. But honestly, I consider myself an old lady; I love to knit and cross stitch. I love taking pictures of my dogs.
Lastly, do you have a piece of advice for budding artists or just young people in general who are in the process of pursing their dreams?
It sounds cliché, but dream big and just go for it. Don’t let something that sounds pessimistic in society be something that will halt you from pursuing something. Pursuing a degree that most people are skeptical about is something I’m proud of myself for doing. If I’d played it safe, I’d probably always be thinking of the what ifs. So, my piece of advice: of course make good decisions that hopefully set you up for a good future, but ultimately you have to do something that you love, even if it’s not necessarily going to end up with a giant paycheck because that’s how you’re going to end up happy.
As for what’s immediately next for Huff, she is going to continue her internship with the Georgia Museum of Art and begin independent research with CURO next semester. Now that you know a little more about the person who helped make the Man’s Canyon’s exhibit possible, why not visit the Georgia Museum of Art and see the gallery for yourself? Be sure to follow the Georgia Museum of Art on Instagram here to keep up with the current exhibitions and events.
Tucked behind train tracks and colorfully refurbished buildings, a small blue cottage sits. The light peeking through the glass windows spotlights blazing kilns, wooden tables scattered with metal tools, red and gray clay drying on shelves. It’s a space used to commotion, pottery wheels spinning, kilns producing controlled infernos, the sound of clay being beaten, molded, scrapped, broken.
But the morning I went to visit all was still at Southern Star Studio, except for one room. Regina Mandell’s studio space, like her beautiful ceramics line Forged & Found, holds no pretensions. A banner with the name Forged & Found hangs from an off white wall sprinkled with photos, ceramic jewelry, postcards — little pieces of inspiration. Otherwise, the space is sparsely decorated. Here, beauty is in the elemental. Worktables and shelves are filled with pieces all sharing Forged & Found’s signature aesthetic; white glaze contrasted with earth tones, sometimes the natural clay showing through on sleek and simple, handmade designs. This kind of warmth and care can’t be found on the shelves of department stores.
If you love the sound that music makes, you probably appreciate what it means to live in Athens. And if you have been checking your Gregorian calendar incessantly for weeks now, it’s because you know that the summer solstice is on its way. And you remember that the summer solstice always falls right around Athens’ biggest party of the summer: AthFest.
Today we take a look at a video series done by our very own Trevor Blesse, titled Iconic Athens. In just 15 seconds, Blesse, captures the essence of a few favorite places around town. As the weather gets warmer and the nights last longer and we anticipate the coming summer months, these are great spots to explore if you haven’t already.
Editor’s Note: This weekend marks one of our favorite events: the Lamar Dodd Jewelry Sale. Creative, unique pieces at reasonable prices have us dreaming about new earrings and necklaces. The sale will take place at the Lamar Dodd School of Art from April 28 – May 3. Friday, April 29, will also host a reception where pieces will be on sale until 8 p.m. Stop by for a beverage and a new ring. See you there!