LY N D O N Vol 5 #1
H O U S E
A R T S
C E N T E R
N E W S L E T T E R
A FACILITY OF ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY LEISURE SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Lyndon House Celebrates 35 Years of Community Arts and 10th Anniversary of Expansion
ArtiFacts Staff Editor Madeline Darnell Graphic Designer Van Burns Writers Claire Benson Celia Brooks Madeline Darnell Irene Dodge Nancy Lukasiewicz Mary Padgelek Dale Wechsler Jenny Williams Photography Shannon Williams Nina Civilette-Olsen Nancy Lukasiewicz Ronnie Lukasiewicz Walker Montgomery Children in a summer program made this banner, visible from as far away as Dougherty Street, to attract visitors to a festival event in the mid-90s.
Ronnie & Nancy
Looking Back: A Photo History
Harriett & Robert Nix
Photo: Nancy Lukasiewicz
Lyndon House Arts Foundation Board of Directors Marie Gayeski President Irene Dodge Secretary Mary Beth Justus Treasurer Tim Brown
Ronnie & Nancy Lukasiewicz By Dale Wechsler It was 1973 when Ronnie and Nancy Lukasiewicz came to town. They met at Carnegie Mellon University and had just gotten married when they were awarded teaching assistantships in the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. Ronnie was a printmaker and Nancy a weaver, both earning their masters degrees. Lucky for Athens, as anyone associated with the Lyndon House Arts Center at any point in its history will tell you.
Van Burns Madeline Darnell Dana Downs Jessica Magnarella Matthew McKinney Ken McLeskey Amy Miller Montu Miller Erika Perry Justin Pettigrew Lanora Pierce Sam Pittard Dan Smith Dale Wechsler Don Williamson Jenny Williams
Soon after arriving in 1974 Ronnie contacted the Athens Recreation and Parks Department about teaching a community art class, as he had done in Pittsburgh. His first class was in the Lyndon House, which at the time was a recreation building. Through teaching this class, Ronnie became more acquainted with the Recreation and Parks Department, the community and the students, and talk began of doing a juried show. There were no juried shows in town at the time. In fact, Atlanta was the closest city to have such an event. Ronnie got permission to use the Lyndon House for the show, along with a twenty-five dollar budget, which they used to buy white paint to cover the institutional green walls and rent lighting to supplement the single bulbs in the center of each room.
Glen Kaufman, an internationally respected artist and Nancy’s major professor, agreed to judge the show. The show was a rousing success. Mayor Bishop, who attended the show, was very impressed with the quality of the art, the number of artists and the pervasive energy – and saw the need in the community for these types of cultural events. And so the Cultural Arts division within the Athens Recreation and Parks Department began. Ronnie was hired as the Cultural Arts Supervisor. In these early days, Ronnie created the Mobile Art Program – like the Bookmobile, only with art supplies – and the summer outreach program at the Jack R. Wells Neighborhood Center on Pauldoe Street. Soon Ronnie started the Harvest Festival, which was a joint program with Christine Howard of the Recreation Department, who worked with the seniors. The focus of the festival was traditional craft demonstrations and eventually grew to include the Cooperative Extension Service and the Council on Aging. Although Harvest festival began as a way for crafts people to get together, it quickly became a field trip enjoyed by Athens’ school-age children. The juried show continued and always strived to be very professional and selective. The gallery season was rounded out by other shows and programs that were inclusive of different segments of the community. Ronnie’s and Nancy’s visions all along were of an arts center for the entire community. In 1978 Ronnie began working at the Georgia Museum of Art as Preparator. Nancy became Director
of the Lyndon House. In these early days, as Robert Nix explained, “the staff was Nancy, Nancy, and Nancy with Ronnie volunteering countless hours after work and on weekends. They relied heavily on many other volunteers, too.” Ronnie’s vision and passion for the success of the Lyndon House never stopped and his work continued. In fact, as Nancy surmised, with Ronnie’s access to a much larger part of the community, the grass roots involvement with the Lyndon House was just getting started. She attributes the success of the Lyndon House to widespread community involvement – where there was something for everyone and lots of different ways everyone can be involved. With success came growth – the recreation functions moved to a newly constructed building next door (Tommy Lay Park) and in the late 70’s, the Lyndon House became solely an Arts Center. With a dedicated space, there were more exhibits and programs. The success of these programs outgrew their walls and more space was clearly needed. Ronnie spearheaded serious community wide discussions for more space and the Lyndon House Foundation began raising funds. “It wasn’t just artists talking about this,” Nancy explained, “but people from business, education, government, the university, social services, and tourism. It had to be more than just artists to be a success – and this was Ronnie’s vision.” But barely a year before the expansion’s opening in 1999, Ronnie died suddenly of a heart attack. The couple’s passion and vision survived the tragedy and Nancy, along with many others, continued to carry the torch. With the expansion came more staff and Nancy’s role became Curator of Exhibitions. Recalling several programs revealed one common thread – a broad perspective that involved the many facets of art and community. Two and threedimensional projects incorporated theater and dance. A haunted house gallery installation, for example, was complete with a literal skeleton in the closet and bats descending the staircase. “Since our focus was educational and we don’t have to sell art to keep our doors open we had the opportunity to present art as part of life, art as fun. People’s eyes opened to what art could be, and kids opened themselves to experience about what making Photo: Ronnie Lukasiewicz
things could be – not just a widget, but a whole environment with lighting and sound. That’s art, you know.” Nancy described how Summer Camp would take over the building for a couple of weeks each year. “You know all the ‘isms’?” Nancy said as she described one of her favorite art camps from the 1980s. “Well the theme for this summer camp was ‘Renewism,’ about recycling, of course. We had a manifesto,” she smiles, “and as a final project, we drafted a proposal for the ‘renewal’ of the city parking deck by weaving the metal work of the top deck with handiwipes. The kids thought we were crazy but they did have a good time.” So, I wonder. If someone had told Ronnie and Nancy back in 1974 that the Lyndon House would be impeccably restored to its period glory; that there would be an expansion with beautiful, state-of-the-art galleries and eight classrooms (each equipped for different media with classes held in them all at the same time); that sixteen or so community arts organizations would partner with the Lyndon House and use the facilities; that each juried art show would draw around 700 submissions; that each year’s juror would be highly distinguished in the art world; and that it was all due to Nancy and Ronnie’s vision they shared with ardent supporters like Tommy Lay (in charge of Recreation), Dan Hope (in charge of Parks) and Lonnie Dickerson (Director of the Department) – would they believe it? I’m guessing the answer would be “why not?”
Opposite: Ronnie & Nancy Lukasiewicz standing by the front porch Bottom: Installation at Memorial Park. Ronnie Lukasiewicz worked with several artists to create this installation of helium-filled plastic tubes anchored to the bottom of the lake at Memorial Arts Festival. The Tubes waved with the wind.
Whatâ€™s Your Favorite Memory of The Lyndon House? Several people have reminisced about their years involved with the Lyndon House Arts Center both before and after the expansion. Their individual stories help to tell the many-faceted story of the Lyndon House over the past 35 years. If you have a favorite memory of the Lyndon House youâ€™d like to share in the next issue, please call the Lyndon House and someone from the Artifacts staff will contact you.
Imagination Station, an afterhours art program that took place at LHAC before the expansion
Christie Moody Without question my fondest memory of The Lyndon House is dancing a tango at the opening of my dance art show with Lauren Puls and John Ahee, "The Music Between the Notes" last fall. The magic created by the live music, dance performances, and wonderful art in the show has given me a reserve of inspiration to draw on. Thanks, Nancy for making this possible!
Teens draw from a model during a drawing class in the upstairs studio in the early Lyndon House. Teen classes are now offered in the expansion
Art Bytes By Irene Dodge and Celia Brooks Blue Tin Art Studio is a new visual arts space located in the Big City Bread building in the heart of Athens. They offer classes in a variety of media for children, teens, and adults with summer registration going on now. www.bluetinstudio.com, or phone 404-556-6884 OCAF continues to offer classes for adults, teens and children with summer camp registration going on right now. Classes and workshops include painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, writing, and music. www.ocaf.com or ph 706-769-4565. 4
Town Center Fine Art is now Arcing Sky Gallery and has expanded to include a new teaching facility and Art School, located at #8 School Street, Watkinsville, GA. Classes for all ages are scheduled including adult "student led" workshops instructed by Tracy Jefferies. Contact info: 706-255-1344, www.artschoolwatkinsville.com. firstname.lastname@example.org A Visionary Journey: Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture by Ana Anest may be seen at the Florence Museum of Art, Science & History in Florence, SC from June 19 through August 8. Visitwww.florencemuseum.org for details.
Looking Back By C lair e B en s on , LH A C D i re cto r Ten years, a decade, seems like a long time, and yet, for me, it has been fleeting, full of wonderful memories and extraordinary patrons, staff and volunteers. Not only are we celebrating the ten years in our newly restored house museum and expansion space for art programs, but also the 35th anniversary of our community arts program supported by local government. In 1974, the first Juried Arts Exhibition was held at Lyndon House and Ronnie Lukasiewicz was hired by the Athens Recreation and Parks Department as the first Cultural Arts Supervisor. Shortly after that, I began my connection to Lyndon House as a grad student in Athens and I have been connected to the people and the place ever since then, even during my absences from this town that I love so much. Reflecting on the past years, we have seen the growth of a community arts program from a relatively obscure beginning to one of the finest arts centers in our state. We have even received our share of national acclaim, having won two national awards of recognition.
Photo: Walker Montgomery
We have grown from serving a few thousand people to serving over 100,000 people per year with our exhibitions, art classes, workshops, outreach programs, tours, festivals, group meetings, gallery shop, library and community rentals. We have much to celebrate starting this fall and for the next year. I’m honored to be a part of this fine institution. We have built a strong foundation on which we will continue to build. My thanks to everyone who has contributed to 35 years of excellence. Special this anniversary year and lucky timing for us is our collaboration with the Georgia Museum of Art. They are displaced from their building during renovation and construction of their own museum expansion space. What a wonderful opportunity for us to be their partner for exhibition and art education.
Lord Love You, Works by R.A. Miller from the Mullis Collection, is on view in our Upper Atrium Gallery. This GMOA/LHAC partner exhibition includes 75 paintings, drawings, sculptures and whirligigs created by the Georgia self-taught artist, Reuben Aaron “R.A.” Miller. The exhibition runs until October 24. In conjunction with the exhibition, public tours, 5thgrade tours, curator gallery talks and seminars, senior outreach, suitcase tours to local schools and a Family Day will enhance the educational experience.
Aerial photograph of the preexpansion Lyndon House Arts Center
@ Lyndon House LHAC Staff Claire Benson LHAC Supervisor Nancy Lukasiewicz Art Exhibition Specialist Caroline Self Art Education Specialist Celia Brooks Arts Preparator Shannon Williams Program Leader
Exhibitions By Nancy Lukasiewicz Lyndon House Arts Center presents continually changing art exhibitions which feature the broad range of works by practicing local and area artists in a variety of media, styles and concepts. From traditional to avantgarde, works by professional, novice, young or elder artists can be seen in Lyndon House Arts Center galleries. Some exhibitions are theme presentations, some are competitions, and some are targeted to a specific media or a local patron’s collection. Children visiting the galleries must be accompanied and supervised by an adult for the safety of the artwork and for artwork content. Lyndon House Arts Center welcomes proposals for future exhibitions - call 706-613-3623 (ext.226) with ideas.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 12 noon - 9 p.m. Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Light After Dark: Karekin and Ginger Goekjian May 31 – August 15, 2009 A selection of work by husband-and-wife photographers Karekin & Ginger Goekjian. Their photos depict dream-like landscapes from the coastal regions of Georgia, suffused with moonlight and light from hand-held sources such as flashlights and filled with the decaying grandeur of old mansions, objects being consumed by their environments, and ghostly figures.
Southeastern Pastel Society 2009 Members Exhibition June 12 - August 15, 2009 The Southeastern Pastel Society is dedicated to promoting pastel as a fine art medium. SPS members create artworks in a variety of styles using colored chalks and pastels. 79 artists submitted 226 works of art for this juried exhibition and 65 works by 53 artists were selected by juror, Greg Biolchini, a Pastel Society of America Master Pastelist.
Rainforest Installation June 1 - July 25, 2009 A growing gallery installation featuring works by young artists in art camps at LHAC this summer. If you have any information that you would like to see included in the next issue of ArtiFacts, please email: email@example.com 6
Lord Love You: Works by R.A. Miller from the Mullis Collection August 8 - October 24, 2009 Including 75 paintings, drawings, sculptures and whirligigs created by the Georgia self-taught artist, Reuben Aaron “R.A.” Miller, this exhibition is a partnership between the Georgia Museum of Art and LHAC during the time GMOA is closed for renovation and expansion. The public is invited to a reception sponsored by Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art on Saturday, August 15th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Surrealist Tropical Pop August 30 - October 31, 2009 Paintings and mixed media works by Stanley Bermudez of Athens and Carlos Solis of Kennesaw, both of whom are originally from Venezuela and have been living in the U.S. over two decades. The vibrant colors found in the works of both artists undoubtedly reflect exposure to the colors of their country, the urban and rural landscape, the influences of folk art, traditional arts, contemporary artists in South America as well as Surrealism and Pop Art. Together they have about 30 years of experience in the visual arts.
Through Our Eyes: Portraits and Self-Portraits by the Students of the Clarke County School District November 8, 2009 - January 20, 2010 Exciting works in a wide range of media by hundreds of Clarke County School District students Pre-K – 12th grade created during the entire 2008-09 school year. First American Bank & Trust sponsored a beautiful publication of the exhibition. The public is invited to attend the reception for students, families and friends on Sunday November 8, 2009 from 2 – 4 p.m. sponsored by CCSD.
Period Decorative Arts c. 1840 1890 & Athens History Museum Ongoing in the historic Ware-Lyndon House This two-story brick house represents a blend of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Interior furnishings showcase period decorative arts of the mid and late 1800s. Museum quality memorabilia in the Historic Display Room highlight significant aspects of Athens history.
Events G a l l er y T a l k *
Monthly Art Meetings at Lyndon House Arts Center
Monday, August 10, 2009 at 2 p.m. A talk by Georgia Museum of Art Curator of American Art, Paul Manoguerra
Visitors and artists are invited to attend programs at meetings of these art organizations. Free for visitors, but membership dues are required for monthly attendance. For more information call LHAC at 706-613-3623
E v en i n g f o r E d u c a t o r s *
Lyndon House Arts Foundation (meets quarterly) PO Box 187, Athens, GA 30603 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 4-6 p.m. An event open to the public especially designed by the Georgia Museum of Art Education Department to be of interest to educators.
L y n d on H o u s e A r t E x p o 2 0 0 9 a n d G y p s y A r t i s t M ar k e t Saturday, September 19, 2009 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A free day long event featuring local artists demonstrating their craft in the arts center studios and an open air market of artists selling their wares on the back lawn.
F a m i ly Da y W h i r li g ig s * Saturday, September 19, 2009 10 a.m. – 12 noon Georgia Museum of Art will host a Family Day Workshop in conjunction with the R.A. Miller exhibition.
L unc h & L e a rn* Monday, October 5, 2009, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. A panel discussion on American and Cuban folk art with Judy McWillie and Joe Norman, art professors at the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
Ni g ht o f t h e Rua na s Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. A special event featuring traditional Ruana garments handwoven by students of Erika Lewis worn by live models. The event is co-sponsored by the Weavers Web.
G a l l er y T a l k * Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 6-8 p.m. A talk by Georgia Museum of Art Curator of American Art, Paul Manoguerra *E vents marked with an asterisk are co-sponsored by the Georgia Museum of Art in partnership with LHAC.
LHAC Library Resource Room A part of SPLOST IV and joint partnership between the Athens-Clarke County Library and Lyndon House Arts Center, LHAC’s Library Resource Room provides an arts related research collection of publications, including art history and artist biographies, business and law for artists, art education curriculum and methods and studio art techniques. Resources are available during operating hours on a reference room basis. Book donations are welcome. Open during operating hours.
Athens Area Arts Council (fourth Tuesday 5:30 p.m.) • www.athensarts.org Athens Area Porcelain Artists (second Friday 10:00 a.m.) 706-743-8436 Athens Art Association (first Thursday 7:00 p.m.) www.athensart.org Athens Fibercraft Guild (second Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.) 706-769-8573 Athens Lacers 706-769-4058 or cajingle@ bellsouth.net Athens Photography Guild (third Thursday 7:30 p.m.) 706-850-1585 www.athensphotographyguild.com Casa de la Cultura (every Friday 10:30 a.m.) 706-202-0782 or www.casacultura.info/
Patricia Brown My favorite memory is back when I was a teenager, I would go to the Lyndon House for Friday night dances. There would be maybe about 50 kids there. Someone would play records for music and we’d have punch for refreshments.
(Patricia worked at LHAC in the mid- to late-90s and still helps out at the expanded Arts Center)
Classic City Woodturners 706-296-9620 or www.classiccitywoodturners.com Cotton Patch Quilters (second Tuesday 7:00 p.m.) www.cpquilters.org Ladies’ Garden Club (first Wednesday 10:00 a.m.) • 706-546-5246 or www.gardencentral.org/georgia/ladiesgardenclub Printmakers Cooperative (every Friday 10:00 a.m.) • 706-613-1948 or 706-549-9923 Teen Cartoon Illustrators Club (second & fourth Thursdays 5:30 p.m.) 706-613-3623 ext.225 Visual Arts Guild of Athens (as needed) • 706-613-3623 ext.224 7
Far right: Booth at Art Attack festival in the early 1990s, part of the fundraising for an architect's drawing to illustrate the vision for the expanded Arts Center
The Lyndon House Arts Foundation By Jenny Williams
The Lyndon House Arts Foundation played a remarkable role in securing for Athens the 40,000 square foot expanded arts center and restoring the original arts center to its grandeur as a prominent house of the second half of the 19th century. Established in 1993, this group of artists, arts patrons and community leaders, began to visualize how the arts center could grow to accommodate the broad demands of the outgrown arts center as it then existed in the original Lyndon House Arts Center. The Foundation has continued to Mary Padgelek serve as a support for the Arts Center By far my favorite memory and height of in both service and gratefulness for Lyndon House Arts Center funding, playing a happened in September 2004 when the first vital role in its life. performance run of my musical “Hands of the Spirit” was produced by Athens Creative Theatre and staged in the front gallery with the backdrop of the two staircases. The stage was constructed between the staircases and the orchestra was seated upstairs in the atrium over the room. This all happened because of the positive, adventurous spirits and expertise of Lyndon House staff, specifically the vision of Nancy Lukasiewicz , and director of Athens Creative Theatre, Tom Coleman. They both said, “Yes, why not?” The first performance was in conjunction with an extensive folk art exhibit organized by Tim Flinn.
Many artists and community members joined together in 1974 when the Lyndon House Arts Center was first conceived as Athens’ first governmentsponsored visual arts program. Through years of growth LHAC experienced “Hands of the Spirit” is scheduled for its third incredible success. performance run this February. Terry Powell, The center served present director of Athens Creative Theatre, local artists as an directed it at the Morton Theatre in 2007. I am hoping to have more future perforexhibition space, mances of “Hands of the Spirit,” yet I will provided both always remember that it got its start—its first youth and adult performance-- at Lyndon House Arts Center! classes, meeting space for many arts and community groups, a summer day camp for children and annual events such as the craft market, juried exhibition and the Harvest Festival. By the early 90s the space in the brick building just couldn’t meet program demands. It was time that LHAC expanded.
Photo: Ronnie Lukasiewicz
A Visual Arts Task Force, a group of 22 citizens, held a 2-day planning retreat and considered many options. They concluded they wanted an expansion of the Lyndon House, which for 19 years had served the community well, to be incorporated into the plans for the future. The group made it a point to look at all sides of the story to be sure that the outcome would benefit the whole community. At the end of the initial planning process, they felt unified in their recommendation. The Lyndon House Arts Foundation was formed to guide the planning for the expansion. This group then focused on the next step, fundraising, and began the process to propose their plan for the first special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum. “The Foundation was really focused,” said Celia Brooks, an active member of the group. “They wanted to have all their ducks in a row so that the proposal would have a good chance of being accepted.” In 1994, LHAF incorporated and received 501c3 tax exempt status. Fundraising became its focus. Through donations and imaginative events such as the Wearable Art Fashion Show and benefit concerts including Woodstock legend Richie Havens, they hired architect David Cox, who provided the Foundation with cost estimates, a concept narrative and renderings of the group’s vision. The Foundation had the detailed proposal it needed to present its dream jointly with ACC Leisure Services to the SPLOST Citizens Selection Committee that accepted the proposal and put the project on a referendum. They campaigned by sending a “Note to Vote” to artists and arts patrons across the community, and voters approved the $6 million allocation to the Lyndon House Arts Center Expansion and Renovation Project. Ground breaking on July 30, 1997 was a proud moment for the Foundation and the Athens community. Through the effort of LHAF member H. Randolph Holder, state dignitaries, Lieutenant Governor Pierre Howard and
Senator Paul Broun, were invited to speak at the ceremony. In October of that year, Athens-Clarke County partnered with the Foundation to furnish the historic house. With funds raised and construction underway, the Foundation refocused its efforts to the restoration of the house and LHAF members served on all project committees of the SPLOST user group. Through grants it supplemented the house restoration budget and allocated some of the funds to a conservation specialist and wood flooring for the new gallery spaces. In May 1998, the Foundation, which become like a family, suffered the loss of one of its most influPhoto: Nancy Lukasiewicz ential charter members, Ronnie Lukasiewicz. Ronnie had spearheaded not only the expansion project, but also the Arts Center’s initial opening in 1974. His sudden death affected the entire community deeply. The Foundation decided to honor his life’s work by a request to the ACC government to name one of the annex’s galleries in his honor. In the beginning of 1999 The Foundation planned yet another successful proposal to the 2000 SPLOST. This time the initiative funded the restoration of the murals discovered in the dining room during the first restoration process. It also provided for the completion of the floors in the downstairs annex and landscaping the exterior spaces. On August 20, 1999, the Foundation kicked off a weekend of activities to celebrate the reopening of the Lyndon House Arts Center with its beautiful expanded spaces. The evening, entitled First Impressions, began with a preview party that included patrons’ tours and a silent auction and brought in hundreds of community members. That Saturday, the opening weekend continued with the official ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony. The Foundation continued to work to support the Arts Center. They purchased a sound system for the expanded part of the Arts Center and other equipment not covered in its budget. They continue to offer vital volunteer support as well as a bi annual newsletter ArtiFacts.
Center, from top: May Pole performance art project led by Erika Lewis at a Memorial Park Arts Festival; Thursday Painters celebrate Edna Ellis' birthday, 1993. They met in the art studio upstairs in what is now the director's office. The group continues to meet in the new painting and drawing studio; Toni Carlucci teaching children's class in the Lyndon House before the expansion. Toni still teaches both children and adults at LHAC
Art Parade, a community project directed by Michaelangelo Pistoletto, a visiting artist who judged the 5th annual Juried Exhibition. Pistoletto is in the second row on the left. (See Richard Olsen's Memory on page 14 for related story)
Lower right: Peter and Sandy Loose and dog Bongo watch the dedication ceremony from the upper atrium balcony
Photo: Ronnie Lukasiewicz
Pat Shields I grew up down there (at the Lyndon House), as my Pappy was the first recreation director for the city of Athens, and had his office in the Lyndon House in the late 40's and early 50's... and I helped with the historic restoration when I worked with the ACC government. Nancy Lukasiewicz has been there longer than dirt.
Photo: Shannon Williams
Mary Jessica Hammes I spent several summers of my childhood at art camp, and that's when I started feeling really validated as an artist. My parents had always been encouraging, but I remember little moments at art camp in which I started to have that very special feeling that I was really, actually, truly an artist and could pursue that. Art camp also helped me make friends with some children who opened my eyes to larger social issues. I've been vegan as an adult for 10 years, but it was an art camp friend who introduced me to my first bite of tofu. And it was with art camp friends that I began talking about animal welfare and rights (we even had a short-lived club devoted to animal rights that was born out of conversation at art camp - I'm not sure what we planned to do with it, but it made us feel united for a special cause). I will always remember the fantastic quirkiness of my teachers, too. As a young adult, I volunteered a few times at art camp, too, and it was great fun to watch the kids have those growing and expanding moments that I remembered and held close. When my husband and I got married on April 6, 2002, we had our wedding reception at the Lyndon House, in the gallery and community room. It was during one of the annual juried shows and we had many photos of us taken against some very interesting pieces of art. My son Tommy is two years old, and I can't wait until he's old enough to go to art camp!
Lyndon House Arts Center is operated by the AthensClarke County Department of Leisure Services as a center of excellence for the benefit and cultural enrichment of youth and adults. Festivals, art classes, workshops, gallery exhibitions, art meetings, special events and historic house museum aim to provide area citizens with a positive experience in the visual arts, encouraging them to appreciate the arts and to develop their creative talents.
Nancy Lukasiewicz leads a gallery tour for an English as a Second Language class in the 1980s
Art by Preschoolers (1990) was a participatory art exhibition in the galleries. With the help of their teachers, 3 - 5 year-olds who were enrolled in 21 area preschools and daycare centers produced an array of hands(& feet-) on games that visitors to the galleries played and enjoyed. Over 500 children participated. The game shown at left taught children to know the difference between right and left
Harriett & Robert Nix By Madeline Darnell Harriett and Robert Nix have been an integral part of the successes of Lyndon House since it began. They’ve helped it grow from the time it was a place to store sports equipment to its current expanded building with a large variety of programs and galleries.
Photo: Shannon Williams
Harriet and Bob enjoy refreshments in the lounge during one of the many gallery receptions which they regularly attend
Harriett describes the arts center in its early days as a place everyone loved to be. “It was a casual atmosphere, and people seemed to have good feelings about it. There were “regulars” who stopped by often to visit with each other.” She was a “regular” herself, helping out wherever she was needed. One of her favorite volunteer jobs was assisting with exhibitions by receiving the art, collecting fees, and helping with the paperwork. Early in the life of the Lyndon House, Bob concerned himself with the “crazy” dream of a couple of young graduate students, Nancy and Ronnie Lukasiewicz, of establishing an arts center in Athens. Bob, who just recently retired from his position as a professor in the University of Georgia Art Department, used his ties in the art department (including drama and music, as well as visual arts) to help connect the Lyndon House with artists and art educators who needed a place for their projects. It was mutually beneficial, described Nix. “I knew who to call.”
In fact, Bob is often referred to these days as a Grandfather of the Lyndon House. When asked how he got that title, he smiled and said, “Like any grandfather who likes to spoil the grandchildren, I don’t say no to the Lyndon House.” He was and still is a loyal advocate, chairing committees, serving on the citizens advisory committee and actively involved, along with Harriett, in the Historic House committee. Both attend many of the art center’s public events, especially the openings of the juried shows. Harriett and Bob are also visual artists. They have exhibited at the Lyndon House over the past 32 years in several art mediums. Bob, a photographer who has recently gifted his photographs to the university’s special collections library, is also a metal smith, creating jewelry, knives, and cutlery. Harriett is a watercolorist, sculptor, and printmaker. They recently recalled a joint show in March of1984 (Images of Past Time) before the expansion. Bob exhibited photography of a vanishing rural Georgia, and Harriett exhibited her watercolors of angels and her doll collection. “It was a major show. We had the whole first floor,” they explained. The couple played a part in obtaining the expanded facility as well. “Over the years, the Lyndon House was so successful it was stifled. The events were so big you couldn’t move. So, a community of artists, business people and UGA faculty began to meet and plan for growth,” Bob explained. Harriett took notes and made diagrams of ideas for the group, which met every two weeks. Harriett said of the process, “It was very stimulating to plan something like that. Everyone was trying so hard to get everything right.” Harriett recalled the evening celebration of the new expansion. “We were gathered in the Atrium Gallery when it started to rain very hard. The sound of the rain on the skylights was so loud, it made us think it was raining inside. It’s one of my favorite memories.” Bob and Harriett were reluctant to talk about their individual contributions to the growth and success of the Lyndon House. Instead they mentioned a host of other people, but chiefly they emphasized the “total community involvement” it took over the years to get it started and to expand the building.
Lyndon House Annual Juried Exhibition An important part of the Lyndon House arts programming is the annual juried show. There have only been two times in the history of the Lyndon House when there wasnâ€™t a juried exhibition. Those two were during the construction of the expanded facility. Following is the list of the prestigious jurors who selected the show from hundreds of entries.
Joy of Art (1974) Glen Kaufman Artist/Art Professor, Athens GA 2nd Juried Exhibition (1975) Douglas Pickering Artist/Art Professor, Pittsburgh PA Bernie Solomon Artist/Art Professor, Statesboro GA 3rd Juried Exhibition (1976) Gudmond Vigtel Director, High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA 4th Juried Exhibition (1977) Edwin Ritts Curator, Greenville County Museum of Art, SC 5th Juried Exhibition (1978) Michaelangelo Pistoletto Artist, Italy and Germany 6th Juried Exhibition (1979) Annette Cone-Skelton Editor, Contemporary Arts Southeast Magazine 7th Juried Exhibition (1980) David Heath Owner, Heath Gallery, Atlanta GA 8th Juried Exhibition (1981) Leon Arkus Arts Consultant/Director Emeritus Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh PA 9th Juried Exhibition (1982) Nina Parris Curator, Museum of Arts & Sciences, Columbia SC 10th Juried Exhibition (1983) Marge Goldwater Curator, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN 11th Juried Exhibition (1984) Gerald Nordland Director, Milwaukee Art Museum WI Roy Slade President, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills MI 12th Juried Exhibition (1985) Thomas M. Messer Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC 13th Juried Exhibition (1986) Judy Chicago Artist/Writer, California & New Mexico
14th Juried Exhibition (1987) Lee Fleming Art Writer, Washington DC 15th Juried Exhibition (1988) James M. Demetrion Director, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden 16th Juried Exhibition (1989) Carlo M. Lamagna Owner/Director, Carlo Lamagna Gallery, NYC 17th Juried Exhibition (1990) Neal Benezra Curator, Art Institute of Chicago 18th Juried Exhibition (1991) Walter Hopps Director/Curator, Menil Collection, Houston TX 19th Juried Exhibition (1992) Michael Hall Artist/Critic/ Collector, Bloomfield Hills MI 20th Juried Exhibition (1993) Audrey Flack Painter/Sculptor, NYC 21st Juried Exhibition (1994) Richard Waterhouse Visual Arts Manager, Georgia Council for the Arts Debra Wilbur Director, City Gallery of Chastain, Atlanta
Art Rosenbaum I have many fond memories of Lyndon House over the years. I think the best was the publication party Lyndon House hosted back in 1983 on the occasion of the release by the University of Georgia Press of two books, Folk Visions and Voices: Traditional Music and Song in North Georgia which I wrote based on my Georgia field collecting starting in 1976, and Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery by John Burrison, Georgia State University folklore professor. As I remember, we exhibited my drawings and Margo Newmark Rosenbaum's photographs that were part of our project, along with some examples of the pottery John studied. But the high point of the event was the musical performances by Georgia traditional musicians and singers whom I had invited. I recall the moving and beautiful singing of the Brown's Chapel Choir of Bishop, Doc and Lucy Barnes' more upbeat gospel singing, and the intense banjo picking and singing of Lawrence Eller of Towns County. I have spoken with people recently who vividly recall the afternoon; the traditions were reborn in live performance by masterful artists. We were and continue to appreciate that Lyndon House has not only been willing to put art on its walls, but to host events that add new dimensions to our understanding of our culture.
22nd Juried Exhibition (1995) Eva Forgacs Hungarian Art Critic/Art Historian, Los Angeles CA
23rd Juried Exhibition (1996) Susan Lubowsky Previous Director NEA Visual Arts Programs, Executive Director SECCA, Winston-Salem NC (continued on page 14) 13
Jurors (continued from page 13) 24th Juried Exhibition (1998) William Wiley Artist, Sausalito CA 25th Juried Exhibition (2000) Gary Sangster Executive Director, Contemporary Museum in Baltimore 26th Juried Exhibition (2001) James Dean Founding Director, NASA Fine Art Program and former Curator of Art at the National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 27th Juried Exhibition (2002) James Rondeau Co-commissioner for US Pavillion at Venice Biennale 28th Juried Exhibition (2003) Rachael Blackburn Director, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City MO 29th Juried Exhibition (2004) David C. Levy President/Director, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC 30th Juried Exhibition (2005) Benny Andrews Artist/former NEA Visual Arts Director, NYC 31st Juried Exhibition (2006) William A. Fagaly Curator, New Orleans Museum of Art 32nd Juried Exhibition (2007) Leslie A. Przybylek Curator of Exhibitions, ExhibitsUSA, Kansas City MO 33rd Juried Exhibition (2008) Charles Wylie The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art, Dallas Museum of Art 34th Juried Exhibition (2009) Karen Shaw Chief Curator Islip Art Museum and Carriage House Workspace, Long Island NY
Richard Olsen By Mary Padgelek Dick Olsen’s Lyndon House memory involves the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, the 1978 juror for the Lyndon House Exhibit. His friendship changed Olsen’s concepts of art. When Pistelletto judged the show, everyone got in. He didn’t believe art should be a competition. If you made art, you’re in. His attitude was, “What’s this thing about being so fussy?” Olsen recalls an example of Pistoletto’s concept of art demonstrated at an art reception. Olsen and Pistoletto were standing on the front porch of Lyndon House with three women. Two of the women were in the show. The third woman was noticeably dressed to attract attention by her grooming, dress, and high heels. She knew everyone was looking at her. At that time, the Lyndon House porch had deteriorating boards. This woman sidles up seductively to Pistoletto and says “I adore artists. What is it that makes the artist? How do you make the art?” Pistoletto looks down at the porch with a big crack and he said “That’s art.” She looks down puzzled. And he says, “Why don’t you step over where I am and as we cross the line, we’re going to make art.” So then she steps where he is and he steps over where she was. Before she was on sure footing and she moved to an unstable area. Instead of poise, she exudes unease. “Oh my gosh! This is so difficult. It’s so hard.” She knew she was looking funny. And Pistoletto said to her, “Now you’re in art.” He made her decompose and not be who she thought she was. She was in the grips of something that was unknown and that she was unaccustomed to and that was art.
Omowale Dance Studio An Early Lyndon House Treasure By Madeline Darnell Just a few years before the Lyndon House became an official arts center, Nina Civilette-Olsen and Christine Simmons, Recreation Supervisor for Rock Springs Recreation Center, began the Omowale Contemporary Dance Theatre of Athens for the purpose of bringing dance education to children and youths from neighborhood families in Athens. Because of its success the program was moved to Lyndon House where Tommy Lay was head of the Recreation Division.
The Omowale studio was “my dream from childhood to give to children what I had,” explained Nina. The dream actually began when she saw her first performance of the great dancer, Pearl Primus, who was an anthropology doctoral student at New York University who returned to Nigeria to study native dance. As Pearl went from village to village to learn the dances, the Nigerians from one village would drum a message of “omowale” to the neighboring village to alert them she was coming.“Omowale” meant “child returns home.”
First Nina had to remove stored parking meters to clear enough space for a dance studio in what soon became the Lyndon House Arts Center and is now the historic house museum. At this time she received two back-toback grants from the Georgia Council for the Arts for this venture. She and Tommy Lay became great friends, as they both believed that arts were just as important as sports for children. The program eventually moved to Tommy Lay Park. The Omowale dance studio flourished for 20 years, teaching over 300 children. Nina gave her students the best training possible, augmenting their regular training with lessons from competitive workshops in the Southeastern region and once from visiting artist, Pearl Primus, who stated that the Omowale Dancers "were better than 50% of professional dance organizations." The young dancers were invited by Mary Elizabeth Busbee, wife of former governor George Busbee, to represent 'Athens in the Arts,” performing their dancing for the Grand Opening of the Georgia World Congress Center. Encouraging creativity in her students she allowed free style dance movements of their own which many times became a part of the choreography in some of the dances. Because funds for the program were very scarce, Nina encouraged her students to give their ideas for costume design, and with a little help from the mothers, Nina designed and sewed the costumes. Before moving to Athens with her husband Richard Olsen, professor of art at UGAs Lamar Dodd School of Art, Nina earned wide recognition as a professional dancer. As a child and young adult Nina studied with the Jack Bowman and Gene Kelly dance studios in Pittsburgh and became a professional dancer at age 19. Later a member of the American Guild of Variety Artists, she danced in New York, Chicago, and all over the Midwest, Canada and Mexico as a soloist in the original contemporary interpretive and jazz style.
Photo: Nina Civilette-Olsen
That performance of Primus was so powerful for Nina that her mother found her dancing, after it, in her home studio in Pittsburgh well after 3 a.m. Pearl Primus was an influence in Nina's long development as a dancer. Nina taught the children ballet, tap, acrobatic, jazz, Afro Cuban, Hula, and Spanish styles as only a dance artist in original contemporary interpretative and jazz style dance could do. Her students, who were elementary, middle and high school age, became trained in the “T-bone” technique of centering the body, the core of dance, which Nina learned from her teachers. Nina reflected that after leaving Omowale, “many of my students had the potential to be professional dancers.” Many, however, used their skill and poise to participate in various dance opportunities associated with high school sports and they later became part of Athens’ professional community.
Omowale Dancers Front row, L-R: April Campbell Lorrain Dillard Rosena Wilson Back Row, L-R: Anette Oglesby Jackie Cooper Melanie Badger
Omowale Dancers Top: Rozena Wilson Middle: Trina Crawford Bottom, L-R: Melody Badger, Daphne Brookings, April Campbell
In 1984, Nina was named Woman of the Year in the Arts in Athens, and received the Community Cultural Award from Athens-Clarke County in 1985.
Photo: Nina Civilette-Olsen
For current information on adult, teen & childrenâ€™s classes at Lyndon House Arts Center, please call 706-613-3623, or visit www.accleisureservices. com/lyndon.shtml, or refer to the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Program Guide.
How You Can Help Please consider making a donation and becoming a partner in the Lyndon House Arts Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation and donations are tax deductible. Simply fill out the attached form and mail it along with your check. If you would like to volunteer to be on a Foundation Committee please contact Celia Brooks at 706-613-3623 x224. Name
Please make your tax- deductible check payable to Lyndon House Arts Foundation and mail to Lyndon House Arts Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 187 Athens, GA 30603
Lyndon House Arts Center 293 Hoyt Street Athens, GA 30601 www.accleisureservices.com 706-613-3623
in being a volunteer J Iatamtheinterested Lyndon House Arts Center
___Artist $20 ___Individual $25 ___Family $35 ___Contributing $50 ___Sustaining $100 ___Patron $250 ___Benefactor $500 ___Corporate $1000 ___Endowed Scholarship Fund $_____ ___Ronnie Lukasiewicz Education Fund $_____ ___Other $_____ Thank You
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID ATHENS, GA PERMIT No. 211
Lyndon House Arts Center is a facility of Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department and is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts
Published on Nov 29, 2010