Importance of Art in the Community
During the summer of 2007, City of Suwanee Assistant City Manager,Denise Brinson, took her family on a vacation out west. They flew into Denver, drove through the Black Hills of South Dakota, visited relatives in Montana, and trekked through Yellowstone National Park. At the end of the trip, Denise asked her children what they enjoyed the most. They talked about the “big rock” in downtown Boulder, the “cowboy statue” in front of a government building in Helena, and the “four arches made of deer antlers” that led into the square in Jackson Hole. Of all the things that they could have recalled from those landmark locations, it was the public art that made the most significant impression.
Art is important and people (kids included) are effected by its presence, whether they consciously realize it or not. Suwanee mayor and lifetime resident Jimmy Burnette will be the first to tell you that, for the 50 years prior to the creation of Town Center, Suwanee was best known for two things: being home to the Atlanta Falcons and speed traps. It wasn’t until Suwanee had an interesting “place,” which included interesting “things,” that the city started being recognized by national publications as a great place to live.
Public art has become an important piece of what Suwanee does, what Suwanee is, and how Suwanee is viewed by citizens, visitors and, increasingly, by the business community. Public art programs like Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable outdoor exhibit of more than 25 temporary and permanent art pieces displayed throughout downtown, are putting the city on the map.
Of course, Suwanee isn’t the only city creating interesting experiences. In Gwinnett County, you can watch world-class stage shows at the Aurora Theater in Lawrenceville, listen to up-and-coming musicians at “Jazz in the Alley” in Norcross, or visit a funky artist colony at Tannery Row in Buford. This list goes on and on. These places, whether intentionally or organically, have found that the arts make them more interesting and engaging. In most cases, it’s not by accident that they are focusing on the arts – they have simply figured out that the arts add real value to their communities.
Art can establish a community’s identity. Can you imagine New Orleans without jazz? Chicago without the “Bean?” Or Paris without just about everything that makes it so great? These places – and so many more – are inextricably linked to their arts. It is impossible to separate these great cities from their art. Suwanee too has decided to strive to be a great place. Public art, in the public realm and for the whole of the community, is an integral piece of our overall strategy. It’s not enough to simply create a “place.” That place has to come alive – through art, events, activities, and just making things fun. People need a reason to keep coming back and connecting.
Taking Art in Suwanee to a New Level.
March 1st marked the opening day for the North Gwinnett Arts Associaton’s Center for the Arts. Located on Charleston Market Street in Suwanee Town Center, the center offers an art gallery, art school, four individual studios and additionally, serves as the welcome center for the City of Suwanee.
Co-founder and President Ameritus of the North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA), Vickie Johnson shared, “I’m so excited- this has been a dream of mine for many, many years, and we have worked hard over the last five years to make it happen!” The gallery features pottery, paintings, drawings, a digital gallery and jewelry from local artists. The Arts Center will offer monthly workshops as well as classes for both children and adults. Children’s classes include “Building with Clay”, “Art Culture: Drawing & Painting”, “Teen Art Explosion”, “Homeschool Art Club”, a “Parents Night Out” and more. Adult classes include “Pastels”, “Art Explosion”, “Drawing and Painting” and more.
The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art organization founded in 2010, with a mission to “Bring Arts into the Life of our Community.” The Center for the Arts will help do just that. The Center has been made possible through the hard work of the NGAA, as well as from generosity through sponsorship and donations. The NGAA currently has approximately 70 members, and with the new art center is hoping to increase that number. Membership will not only help support the arts in Suwanee, but will give access to member only events, discounts on certain purchases in the arts gallery and gift shop, discounts on classes and more.
The NGAA puts on Arts in the Park, which will take place on May 14th, a Classic Car Show in the fall, is actively involved in community art projects and maintains student art scholarships for high school seniors pursuing visual arts careers. For more information on The Center for the Arts, to join or sponsor NGAA, visit ngaa4arts.com.
Oak Leaf Horizon II is part of a series that reflects the forest canopy, which is rapidly vanishing. This serves as one of the many pieces in Jim Gallucci’s collection that utilizes elements of doors and gateways to invite the participation of spectators. He feels that incorporating gates into his artwork offers viewers the opportunity to physically enter his work, creating a literal passage into embracing art. Standing 12 feet tall and weighing 2,000 pounds, Oak Leaf Horizon II is crafted from galvanized steel.
With bachelor’s degrees in both English and Art, as well as a master’s degree in Sculpture, artist Jim Gallucci, has been sculpting for over 30 years. He currently designs and fabricates sculptures in his Greensboro, NC studio. A majority of his artwork is purchased for public, corporate, and residential properties across the country. Gallucci has been selected to present his sculptures at shows not only in the United States, but internationally around the world.
Oak Leaf Horizon II is available for purchase. If you are interested in buying this piece, please contact Toni Shrewsbury at the City of Suwanee.