GIM September/October 2022

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features 48 MASTER OF COLOR: With bright, bold designs, Kevin Bongang’s art is unmistakable. The SCAD grad has an ever-increasing number of murals popping up around Brunswick (and on the cover of this very magazine).

56 RENAISSANCE MAN: David Millman can literally do it all. A painter, illustrator, and sculptor, he also won an Emmy and Peabody Award during his time working for ABC News.

62 SHAPE AND FORM: Syd Summerhill’s biography reads like an adventure novel. A musician, pilot, missionary, dentist, and later, a renowned sculptor, the St. Simons artist has shaped a fascinating life.

70 EARTH MOTHER: Megan Torello’s unique style often draws on feminine forms. The St. Simons painter and mother of two often taps into natural themes for her mural and canvas work.

80 THREADS OF TRADITION: The ladies of the Golden Isles Fiber Arts Guild have banded together to continue the time-honored tradition of sewing, weaving, textiles, and fabrics.

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Table of contents


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COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS 12

EDITOR’S NOTE

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WORD ON THE STREET

18

COASTAL QUEUE

34

DUE SOUTH

36

BY DESIGN

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LIVING WELL

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NATURE CONNECTION

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MONEY TALKS

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GAME CHANGERS

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THE DISH

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NOISEMAKERS ANDERS THOMSEN

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3011 Altama Ave, Brunswick GA 31520

Publisher Editor

Buff Leavy Lindsey Adkison

Director of Advertising Jenn Agnew and Marketing Assistant Editor Proofer

Lauren McDonald Heather Murray

Account Executive

Kasey Rowell

Sales Assistant

Joy Kendricks

Contributing Writers

Debbie Britt Taylor Cooper Derrick Davis Terry Dickson Sebastian Emmanuel Megan Fitzgerald Dr. Jack Johnson Ronda Rich Cynthia Robinson Lydia Thompson

Contributing Photographers

Derrick Davis Terry Dickson Leslie Hand Bobby Haven Michelle Holton Querencia Creative Shirley Robinson Daniel Thompson Ginny Worthington

Contributing Designers

Stacey Nichols Donte Nunnally Terry Wilson

Golden Isles Magazine is published six times per year by Brunswick News Publishing Company To subscribe online to Golden Isles Magazine, go to goldenislesmagazine.com/subscribe

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G O L D E N I S LES

About the Cover: This custom cover was created by the brilliant artist Kevin Bongang, who is also featured in the issue. If you look closely, you’ll see a number of the Golden Isles’ landmarks — the Sidney Lanier Bridge and the St. Simons Island Lighthouse — within the design. We hope you’ll enjoy having your own piece of Bongang art in your home.


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Submissions Golden Isles Magazine is in need of talented contributors. Unsolicited queries and submissions of art and stories are welcome. Please include an email address and telephone number. Submit by email to the editor, Lindsey Adkison: ladkison@goldenislesmagazine.com or by mail to 3011 Altama Ave, Brunswick. Only work accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope will be returned. Advertising ISLAND ACE HARDWARE 329 Longview Plaza., SSI 912.639.3800 | LIKE US ON

Information regarding advertising and rates is available by contacting Jenn Agnew at 912-265-8320, ext. 356 or by email at jagnew@thebrunswicknews.com; Kasey Rowell at 912-2658320 ext. 334 or krowell@thebrunswicknews.com; or Joy Kendricks, jkendricks@thebrunswicknews.com or call 912-265-8320 ext. 303.

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All content is copyright of Golden Isles Magazine, a publication of Brunswick News Publishing Company. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the publisher. We have sought to ensure accuracy and completeness of the content herein, but neither Golden Isles Magazine nor the publisher assumes responsibility for any errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or other inconsistencies, including those related to quotations. We reserve the right to refuse advertising. All advertisements appearing herein are accepted and published on the representation that the advertiser is properly authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter thereof. All ads are paid advertisements and/or gifts given as part of a contractual agreement regarding Brunswick News Publishing Company. Neither Golden Isles Magazine nor the publisher is responsible for any statements, claims, or representations made by contributing writers, columnists, or photographers. Golden Isles Magazine and the publisher are also not responsible for anyone’s reliance on the content included in the publication. All projects described in this publication are for private, noncommercial use only. No right for commercial use or exploitation is given or implied.


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Editor’s Note

A moment of gratitude It’s completely surreal, but this issue marks my third year as editor of Golden Isles Magazine. When I took on this job, I could never have imagined that I would be doing the majority of it during a global pandemic.

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Yet, here we are and we’ve made it. During my time in this role, I have learned that the key to this position is knowing the right people to ask for help. That’s honestly my job description — the “art of editorship,” if you will. I’ve been so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the absolute best photographers and writers who have supported me through this truly wild ride. I could never have made it without them. Then of course, there are also the sources. This publication would be nothing (quite literally blank pages) without the incredible people who allow us to share their beautiful stories. We are grateful for that opportunity and see it as a serious responsibility. Then, there’s you guys — I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it — we wouldn’t be here without our readers. We love and appreciate each one of you. And we hope you enjoy this issue.

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It’s another shining example of our brilliant friends and neighbors. From cover to cover, this edition is chock full of talent. To start, we have the one and only Kevin Bongang. The Savannahbased artist is super active in Brunswick and his work can be found on multiple facades across town. He was also kind enough to create a custom cover for us in his signature vibrant style. So along with his

Photo at the Kevin Bongang mural at South of Heaven Barbecue on Altama Ave.

compelling story, we’re giving you guys your very own piece of Bongang art! Next, we sat down with David Millman. This fella is honestly one of the most gifted people I’ve ever met. David does it all — painting, sculpting, and drawing (he was behind the fabulous illustration of Bessie Jones for our July/August feature). As the feature title indicates, he’s truly a Renaissance man and someone the Isles is truly lucky to have … I mean, the man won an Emmy and a Peabody for goodness sakes. Writer Taylor Cooper also sat down with well-rounded artisan Syd Summerhill. The St. Simons resident has been a pilot, a missionary, a dentist, and is now an incredibly skilled sculptor. But wait there’s more. Associate Editor Lauren McDonald met with the marvelous Megan Torello to talk about her beautiful boho art and magical murals. Last but certainly not least, Cynthia Robinson headed over to the new fabric studio Sea Stitches off Frederica Road to meet with members of the Fiber Arts Guild. She connected with a number of these crafty folks who share their innovative pieces. We hope you enjoy meeting all of these fabulous creators. Artfully yours — Lindsey


L to R: Joe Riccio, Senior Commercial Lender, PrimeSouth Bank, Curtis Tumlin, Glynn County Market President, PrimeSouth Bank and Frank Owens Jr., Owner, City Market.

io, Senior Commercial Lender, ank, Curtis Tumlin, Glynn County ent, PrimeSouth Bank and r., Owner, City Market.

PRIME

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City Market owner, Frank Owens, feels blessed and so do his many happy customers. He is the third generation to bring in the catch that hooks locals and tourists alike. His fleet supplies restaurants Frank Owens Loves throughout the Golden Isles, and keeps customers lining up at his Brunswick seafood shop for fresh The Water, Just Not shrimp and fish. That’s why Frank would never settle for the stale promises of big banks. He likes banking, especially atso PrimeSouth, with bankers he knows make Watered Down Banking. City Market owner,relationship Frank Owens, feels blessed and do his many happy customers. Hecan is the thirdthings happen and feelthat like hooks family. locals When and you tourists work onalike. the water, yousupplies need bankers with their feet on the ground. generation to bringmake in thehim catch His fleet restaurants

Frank Owens Loves The Water, Just Not

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throughout the Golden Isles, and keeps customers lining up at his Brunswick seafood shop for fresh Learn more at: PrimeSouth.com shrimp and fish. That’s why Frank would never settle for the stale promises of big banks. He likes relationship banking, especially at PrimeSouth, with bankers he knows can make things happen and make him feel like family. When you work on the water, you need bankers with their feet on the ground.

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Word On The Street Cover Ginny Worthington: Gorgeous!!! Top tier!!! Michelle Holton: Love it!! Good job, Lindsey Adkison Wayne Rainey: Very beautiful cover!!! Robin Williams: I got my magazine today! Love the cover and always love the articles!! Emily Burton: Beautiful!! Aleta Walker: There is Kenny Nobles’ gorgeous photography on the front cover! Heather Nicole Holland: Love Kenny’s photography! wild_and_personal:

Your reactions sent to us by emails, posts, & tweets

TIME TO GET SOCIAL facebook.com/goldenislesmag instagram.com/goldenislesmag twitter.com/goldenislesmag

If you prefer to send us your comments by email, contact Editor Lindsey Adkison at ladkison@goldenislesmagazine.com. Anything posted to our social media accounts or emailed directly to the editor will be considered for publication. Comments may be edited

Alayna K. Mock: Gorgeous pics! Shirley Robinson: This is a magnificent shot. I just love it. I love shooting birds anyway … with a camera, of course.

Bessie Jones Janice Clements Lamattina: It was an excellent piece. I actually read bits twice. Great reporting and great writing. The visuals were what caught my attention. Thanks for all you do for our community! Angie Aimar: Great article. Love reading local history. Susan Garrett: This is a beautifully written article about a beautiful soul. Thank you for bringing Bessie’s story to life. Marti Jeffers: This is a beautiful article about a beautiful woman. Thank you for teaching us about her. Thank you for bringing her soul to our soul. Ginny Adams Worthington: Oh wow! I can’t wait to read this!!! Elizabeth LeSueur: Wonderful article! Thank you!

for clarity or grammar.

Where the Eagles Fly The Wild Altamaha Ruth Weaver: Love it! John Hartland: Amazing. 14

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Kelli Bright Whitlock: Cumberland Island has a good amount of eagles too. Caleb got pictures of them every summer he went with the scouts. So, so cool!

The Elegant Oglethorpe John La Bone: I remember it well. I could see it in the distance when I went to the movies at the Ritz. Seen from a distance it looked like a magnificent castle. The Jekyll Island Club nearly met the same fate, but was rehabilitated and lives on in all of its refined elegance, with the merciful addition of air conditioning.


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NATIONAL CHAMPS ready to tackle new year

WORDS BY DERRICK DAVIS PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS + THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

T

The celebration was well on its way in the stands of Lucas Oil Stadium as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the College Football Playoffs finale. Georgia already had an iron grasp on the game when Kelee Ringo plucked an under-thrown ball by Alabama’s Heisman-winning quarterback out of the sky and scampered 79 yards the other way with less than a minute remaining on the clock. The Bulldogs, including a couple of former Brunswick High and Glynn Academy standouts, were national champions. “There were a lot of emotions,” says Warren McClendon, Georgia’s stalwart starting right tackle and a Brunswick High graduate. “Just hearing the crowd erupt on the pick, Kelee took it in and just sealed the deal. Just all those emotions coming over you and all the hard work that you put it, and it finally paying off, it was just a great feeling.” Even as Glynn Academy alumnus Jack Podlesny tacked on the final point of Georgia’s first national championship victory in 41 years, it was difficult to fight the feelings brewing inside.

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“I remember tears rolling from my eyes,” says Podlesny, the Bulldogs’ kicker, who finished the campaign with the school record for points scored. “I wouldn’t say I was gushing like Stetson Bennett was — I get that moment for him growing up as a Georgia fan and everything was definitely different — but just embracing every team member I could and seeing the happiness and joy, knowing that this weight had just been lifted off our shoulders. It was such a cool and profound experience that I wish I could do it all over again.” That’s the goal for the University of Georgia, which hopes to make the magical season into an annual reality. Nevertheless, it will be difficult to top the cathartic victory of 2021 for Georgia, which relieved decades of setbacks while smiting the inner demons Alabama represented for the program. A cold night in Indianapolis did nothing to deter the Bulldog faithful, who made the trek to the title game in droves to support the team in its pursuit of history. After watching the players soak in the glory on the field, Georgia fans, friends, and family members packed the team hotel to celebrate with the returning heroes.


“That night was crazy,” McClendon says. “A bunch of fans everywhere, everybody going crazy. Just getting back to the hotel, and seeing all the fans there, everybody high-fiving, hugging, celebrating, it was a good feeling.” There wasn’t much sleep to be had by anyone with Georgia ties on the night of Jan. 10, as Stetson Bennett attested to on his ‘Good Morning America’ appearance the following morning. “I think I hit the bed at like 4 or 5 a.m. I know some guys pulled all-nighters,” Podlesny says. “I went into the room and my roommate Jake Camarda hadn’t been back yet… We actually put on the game and rewatched the game. It was a surreal moment. You had to rewatch some kicks, rewatch some punts. It was just like watching film all over again.” Georgia fans were doing the same, but the Red and Black still showed up in hordes of thousands to greet the Bulldogs back in Athens the following day. A few days after that, fans filled out Sanford Stadium for the chance to see the long-sought championship trophy. Even a month later, the celebration was still on in some parts of the state, including the Golden Isles, which welcomed prodigal sons McClendon and Podlesny home with the Golden Isles Bulldog Parade. Glynn County residents have followed McClendon and Podlesny throughout their respective incredible journeys, giving the commemoration an extra personal touch. “It’s been really cool to see all the fans, all the family and friends coming together to support Warren and me,” Podlesny says. “It’s an

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experience that I’ve never had before, and to see them love us, not just as the athletes that won a national championship, but as people as well, is a great feeling. Knowing that we could bring something to the fanbase was also another outstanding time.” Before taking the ride down Gloucester Street from Howard Coffin Park to the Mary Ross Waterfront, Podlesny got an opportunity to chat with MLB pitcher, and fellow Glynn Academy alumnus, Adam Wainwright, who knows a bit about championships. Wainwright has played 20 professional seasons, and he can still remember the feeling of clinching the World Series in 2006. He encouraged the players to savor the moment. “It was definitely good to know I was part of history,” Podlesny says. “As I was talking to Wainwright earlier, he said that confetti feeling is unreal, and he described it correctly. Seeing the confetti explode out of those cannons, I was in awe. I probably blacked out for a few seconds like, ‘Did this really just happen?’ It was awesome.” But all good things must come to an end. The celebration is over for Georgia. Now, the Bulldogs must work to do it again. It won’t be easy, as Georgia has a lot of talent to replace. Fifteen Bulldogs were selected in the NFL Draft — the most by any school since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994 —

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including a program-record five first-round picks and the No. 1 overall selection. Though McClendon and Podlesny will reprise their roles on the team, just three starters from Georgia’s elite championship defense will return.

Power is in Ownership . . . Wealth is in the land

However, Georgia has the feel of a burgeoning beast just getting started. “It’s just kind of ‘Now what?,” McClendon says. “We won it, now what? Do you want to go back and have a terrible season next year, or do you want to go back and redo it? I think that’s where our mindset is at — getting back to work trying to get another one.”

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ARTrageous Bra

S

FUNDRAISER TO RETURN

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON | PROVIDED PHOTOS

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Southeast Georgia Health System has been on the front lines. Doctors, nurses, and support staff have worked around the clock to help patients recover from the illness. But as the health system was leading the charge, it also had to set an example for the rest of the community. That often meant shifting crowd-drawing fundraising events to a virtual format. Unfortunately, that included sacrificing the beloved ARTrageous Bra fundraiser. Krista Robitz, director of the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation, says that while the online event was success, the interpersonal connection was sorely missed. “Like everything with COVID, we really felt like we lost the ability to connect a bit,” says Robitz. “We weren’t able to do the in-person piece of it, like our Mammograms in Motion program or other events that raise awareness.

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That’s a major part of what we do, so that was lost. That was really the only thing that suffered.” But, this year, she’s thrilled to report a return to normalcy. The ARTrageous Bra fundraiser will be making its in-person comeback. The event invites participants to showcase their creativity as civic groups, businesses, and individuals decorate bras in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They then return the designs to the Foundation to display in the Brunswick and Camden hospitals. Visitors may cast $1 votes for their favorite styles (in-person or online). The bras are then modeled at a live fashion show and auction at the Ritz Theatre in November. All of the funds raised benefit local cancer care programs. It’s become an important mission for the sisters of the Zeta Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. in Brunswick. “We’ve been doing it for seven

years. It’s a wonderful thing,” says Sabrina Nixon, chapter president. Over the years, their creative designs have incorporated their telltale pink and green, often embellished with faux pearls, flowers, and greenery. But Nixon notes that the chapter does much more than simply design bras for the ARTrageous fundraiser. They’ve worked to partner with the health system for years to promote awareness of breast cancer and the importance of preventative care. Since their sorority’s international president made it a key mission of the collective sisterhood, they’ve delved even deeper. “Women’s healthcare and wellness are huge parts of our community service platform. We work hard to encourage women’s health by sharing information with women, especially those women who look like us, women of color. We know that women of color are more likely to suffer from breast cancer, so we


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work to provide women, and men too, with information about breast care routines in October and beyond,” she says. The ladies are hard at work on their latest design and will soon submit their piece. The bras are due to be returned to the Foundation by 4 p.m. September 23. “In November, we’ll have our fashion show. Our models wear the top 10 vote-receiving designs and those can be bid on in the live auction. The rest will be available at the silent auction,” Robitz says. “It’s really neat because it gives businesses who participate an opportunity to provide a model and tell a bit about their business. Many times the model is a breast cancer survivor. Or, for individuals, they can design a bra in honor of someone and be able to share their story on stage.” Attendees and voters will also get a major treat, Robitz says. After all, these bra designs are always incredibly innovative and exceptionally creative. “Every year, we say ‘this is the best year,’” she says with a laugh. “The designs are always amazing and so creative. The materials that they use are unbelievable ... things you never thing of using, like coins. It truly is ARTrageous.”

The Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation’s ARTrageous Bra fundraiser is currently underway with bras being designed by local businesses, civic groups, and individuals. The design period runs through September 23. The public are encouraged to cast their vote — each costing $1 — for their favorite piece. Votes may be logged in-person at the Brunswick and Camden hospitals or online at wearethefoundation.org. Voting will be collected through October 31. The fashion show, along with the silent and live auctions, will be held at 6 p.m. November 4 at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick.


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CELEBRATES WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON PHOTO BY DANIEL THOMPSON

The waves roll in. They roll out. The sands of time shift and yet she stands. The St. Simons Island Lighthouse has stood as a silent witness through world wars and the fall of empires. She has ushered countless mariners through choppy waters and shaded newlyweds’ first kiss. While the lighthouse’s history on the site dates back to 1810, that structure was destroyed by Confederate soldiers fleeing Union troops during the Civil War. The current incarnation was erected in 1872,150 years ago. To mark this important milestone the Coastal Georgia Historical Society is planning a host of activities. The organization’s Chautauqua Lecture Series, titled “It Happened in 1872: National Events from the Year Our Lighthouse was Illuminated,” began in August. It has featured topics that explored museum art exhibitions and the founding of Yellowstone National Park.

The final session, “Orlando Poe: Civil War General and Lighthouse Engineer,” will be held on September 8. From Sept. 2 to 5, the Society will host a program celebrating the lighthouse’s past. The brainchild of the Castano Group, the project will include historical images projected onto the iconic structure. The show — which runs on a loop from 8:30 to 10 p.m. nightly — will be accompanied by a dynamic soundtrack. Each show will be free and open to the public. As an extra treat, patrons of the the Sept. 4 Little Light Music concert can enjoy the laser light projection following the performance. For the Coastal Georgia Historical Society’s administration, the celebrations will offer the public a unique experience. “This projection show will offer the public a chance to experience something entirely new in the Isles,” says Sandy White, education director.

YEARS

“The show will highlight the history of the lighthouse and its keepers, as well as celebrating the heritage and culture of this area over the past 150 years.” Sherri Jones, Coastal Georgia Historical Society executive director, agrees. “Each year, tens of thousands of visitors enjoy spectacular views from the top of the lighthouse tower and explore the fascinating history of our area through exhibits and period rooms in the keeper’s dwelling,” she said. “Coastal Georgia Historical Society is honored to be the steward of this beloved landmark, a symbol of the cultural heritage of the Golden Isles since 1872. We welcome the community to join us for the lighthouse’s 150th birthday celebration over Labor Day weekend, which will feature a projection show highlighting its rich history.” • For more information on the St. Simons lighthouse, visit coastalgeorgiahistory.org.

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Dinner Under the Stars: A Fundraiser to Benefit Local Children WORDS BY TAYLOR COOPER

This year’s Dinner Under the Stars could be the first since the event’s inception in 2018 to actually occur under the stars.

That’s just a small slice of what the program does for kids. It’s a mission VanDerbeck believes in wholeheartedly.

Beth VanDerbeck, CEO of Morningstar Children and Family Services, said she hopes this year’s fundraiser for the youth counseling and residence complex on Ga. 99 can proceed as planned — outside, under a tent and in person.

The menu for the dinner hasn’t yet been decided, VanDerbeck says, due to the nature of the food. It’s all farm-totable, meaning that caterer Halyards of St. Simons Island will have to see what’s in season and available close to the event date in October, she says.

Due to a tropical storm, the second Dinner Under the Stars in 2019 moved into Morningstar’s Spanish mission-style chapel. Most can guess what happened in 2020 and 2021 — the COVID-19 pandemic. Both years, donors did not gather for dinner at Morningstar but ate their meals at home, as partner Halyards delivered the food. The event is on October 15, and tickets are currently on sale. They are available at morningstarcfs.org. Money raised goes to the general operating fund, which covers everything from clothes, grounds upkeep, medical needs, education, workplace programs, and casework team members who assist kids as they move into the real world. “The cost of food, the cost of gas to take kids on trips is up, the cost of personnel is up, everything is up,” VanDerbeck says. The money also helps Morningstar create childhood memories for kids who would otherwise not have such opportunities. “We’re creating birthday celebrations and holidays, we’re creating memories for them,” VanDerbeck says. They take them out to lunch, to the movies, to the beach, Summer Waves and other things that kids get to do. Some of the kids are unable to ride bikes due to learning difficulties or other issues, so last year Morningstar bought adult tricycles. One of the more exciting experiences for the kids was getting to ride horses brought in from a riding school in Darien. Such expenses can be very high for 30-plus kids and staff members. The staff essentially serves as parents for some of the kids. They come to Morningstar for counseling, usually specialized counseling, so it can be hard to find a new home for them. Some end up staying for three years or more. 26

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One of the details that are absolutely settled is local band Suzie and the Bird Dogs will offer the entertainment for the evening. Also on the agenda is a silent auction, for which Morningstar is still collecting items. Anyone interested should contact Lindsey Crawford at 912-267-3700 ext. 2140. Crawford can also provide more information on tickets, donations, and sponsorships. “It’s always a sold-out event,” VanDerbeck says. “But how quickly will it sell out?” Morningstar’s trust in the community has not gone unrewarded. The last fundraiser brought just over $150,000 in 45 days to match grant funds from the Murray Foundation for renovations of Bradley Cottage, which will ultimately cost around $630,000. The cottages can house roughly 20 children, who come from all over the state through the Department of Children and Family Services. The renovations could only happen because the cottage was empty, and no new kids were being sent to Morningstar at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “While that felt like a negative, the new Bradley Cottage is one of our unexpected COVID blessings,” VanDerbeck says. Renovations will cover a new roof, new floors, new furniture and appliances, and bring an entirely new, fresh atmosphere to the 1950s cottage. “It’s like clearing out your house and starting again,” VanDerbeck says.


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For almost 20 years, Billy Copelan watched his mother go through every stage of Alzheimer’s disease, from her early onset diagnosis in her 50s to her death in 2018 at the age of 72. He and his family cared for her at home as long as they were able, until she needed the support of assisted living. After his mother passed, Copelan hoped to find a way to help other families like his who are touched by a disease that affects millions and that has no cure. “It was obviously a very difficult journey for me and my family,” he says. “I just felt like I needed to do more, learn more about it, because especially when we started this journey with her — that’s now been well over 20 years ago — there just wasn’t as much information out there.” Copelan works today with the Georgia Alzheimer’s Foundation, a local nonprofit organization founded in 2020 with a mission to support innovative research and community services for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. For the past three years, Copelan has chaired the annual Golden Isles Alzheimer’s Walk on St. Simons. The event is set to return this year on Saturday, October 1, at Neptune Park.

Alzheimer’s

Walk

returns in October WORDS BY LAUREN MCDONALD PROVIDED PHOTOS

The Golden Isles Alzheimer’s Walk is a family-friendly event during which attendees will honor and remember their loved ones before participating in either a one-mile or two-mile walk through St. Simons. The event features food, music, a kids’ zone, and giveaways from participating sponsors. “It’s very family friendly, and we invite everyone to come,” says Andrea Mickelson, executive director of the Georgia Alzheimer’s Foundation. “We’ve got activities for kids. It’s dog-friendly, so you can bring your pet on a leash. And even though it’s a very sad disease, we try to make it a fun, positive, uplifting, hopeful event.” There’s no charge to participate, though donations are appreciated,

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and walkers are encouraged to wear purple. Participants are able to carry personalized signage that indicates the person for whom they’re walking. The walk brings together people with a wide range of connections to the disease. “Many people have been impacted by this in one way or another, whether it’s through a parent or a grandparent or a relative,” Mickelson says. “Or maybe they’ve been a caregiver for a family member themself. We also have a lot of folks that participate in the walk because they work in the industry, whether they’re working in home care or working in assisted living. Or maybe they have a close friend who has a parent. It’s unfortunate, but it seems like everybody has a connection in some way.” Many still see dementia as part of the aging process, she says, but that isn’t true. “One thing that I’m passionate about is this prevention and trying to educate people that it’s not something that’s inevitable as far as aging and older stages of life,” Mickelson says. “It’s something that we really need to focus on and research.” The Georgia Alzheimer’s Foundation supports Memory Matters Glynn, located in Brunswick, a nonprofit that provides support services like education, social activities for people with memory impairment, individual consultations, and support groups. In addition to Memory Matters Glynn, a portion of the event’s proceeds support the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, whose mission is to improve the lives of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s and related diseases through research, education and care. Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, affects memory, thinking, and behavior, and its symptoms grow more severe over time. After his mother’s death, Copelan


hoped to offer the kind of support he wished his family could have had during their experience.

like we’re going to have some more tools as far as treatment in the next three to five years.”

“I went through the actual Alzheimer’s Association and became a certified community educator,” he says.

A lot of research is also currently focused on prevention, she says, and lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of dementia.

He’s used that training to go before civic groups, churches and others to discuss aspects of dementia like warning signs, steps to take to help loved ones and more. He also joined the board of Memory Matters.

The walk also raises awareness in the community and hopefully reduces the stigma some still attach to the dementia, Mickelson says.

“Really I’m very involved in trying to promote awareness and obviously trying to raise funds for research because we don’t have a cure for this disease,” Copelan says. “There is no real treatment for this disease.”

“There’s also a denial process that a lot of families experience,” she says. “So raising awareness about it in our community and getting people comfortable talking about it and coming out to support it is really, really important.”

He hopes to change the future experience for families who, like his, see their lives altered by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Money raised through the Alzheimer’s Walk stays instate and helps people locally, Copelan says.

“I’m hoping my kids don’t have to go through what I had to go through with my mother,” Copelan says. Great strides have been made in research about the disease and in medications that can slow down its progress. “There are a lot of drugs that are in the trial stage, but unfortunately that process is just really lengthy,” Mickelson says. “But from what we’re hearing, it seems

“That money that we raise is staying right here in our community,” he says. “It’s not going to some national organization somewhere else and then being distributed and going to overheard of whatever. It’s actually going to an organization that’s helping people, and it’s going to research.” — To learn more, donate or register for the Golden Isles Alzheimer’s Walk, please visit www.gaalz.org.

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Photo by Shirley Robinson

Around the Town September September 2 through 5 The Coastal Historical Society will host a community-wide celebration for the St. Simons Lighthouse’s 150th birthday. Visit the lighthouse grounds to view a spectacular light and music show projected onto the tower, showcasing this icon’s impact on our area over the last 150 years. The show will last 12 to 15 minutes and will be offered each evening over the holiday weekend. September 3 and 4 The St. Simons Island Antique Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the shaded oak trees in Postell Park, located at 522 Beachview Drive in the Pier Village. The festival will feature antique dealers from around the Southeast offering items such as antique furniture, primitives, jewelry, silver, collectibles, glassware, porcelain, decor and more. September 4 The Little Light Music Concert will feature the Sounds of Motown from 7 to 9 p.m. on the oceanfront lawn of the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. Tickets are $15 per person and children under 12 are admitted for free. For more information, visit coastalgeorgiahistory.org. September 23 The 2022 American Cancer Society Victory Board will host 30

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the Gala of Hope at Forbes Farm, 2610 Lawrence Road, St. Simons Island. The black-tie event will include silent and live auctions, a strolling reception, live music and dancing. For more information, visit acssers.ejoinme.org. September 25 and 26 Glynn Visual Arts will celebrate its 51st year hosting the Under the Oaks Art Festival this year. This two-day event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Postell Park on St. Simons Island. Regional artists and artisans will display and sell a wide range of offerings from an array of mediums. It is free and open to the community. For more information, visit glynnvisualarts.org.

October October 1 The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will host CoastFest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, 100 F St., Brunswick. Admission is free. The event is rain or shine. For details, visit coastalgadnr.org/CoastFest. The 5th annual Firebox BBQ on the Bluff hosted by Southern Soul BBQ will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. at Gascoigne Bluff Park. This St. Simons Food Festival will feature pit masters, chefs, farmers and distillers. There will also be live music for people to enjoy. For all details and links to purchase tickets, visit www.ssbbqfirebox.com. The Georgia Alzheimer’s Foundation will hold the Golden


Isles Alzheimer’s Walk to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s and dementia research and local support services. The opening ceremony will begin at 9:45 a.m. with the walk starting at 10:15 a.m. at Neptune Park, 550 Beachview Drive on St. Simons Island. Attendees can either participate in a 1-mile or 2-mile walk. Registration on the day of the walk is open from 9 to 9:30 a.m. To donate and register, visit gaalz.org. October 8 Saint Simons Christian School will partner with the Jekyll Island Authority to sponsor the 12th annual Under the Oaks Run on Jekyll Island. The half marathon begins at 7:30 a.m.; the 10k starts at 7:45 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. marks the beginning of the 5k. To register, visit undertheoaksrun.com. October 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 13 The Brunswick Actors’ Theatre will perform “The Cocktail Hour” by A.R. Gurney at 1413 Newcastle St. in Brunswick. Tickets can be purchased online at soglogallery.com. October 14 Golden Isles Live! will host The Everly Set, a tribute band to the Everly Brothers, at the Wesley United Methodist Church. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at goldenisleslive.org. October 15 Ophelia’s Classic Car Challenge will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site, 5556 U.S. Highway 17 N, Brunswick. Attendees will be able to view cars and vote on their favorites. Tickets cost $5 to $8. For more information, visit explore. gastateparks.org.

October 21 and 22 The Bounty of the Fleet Festival is a two-day festival celebrating the fishing industry with parades, a 5k run, live music, art displays, hot air balloons, and food booths. It will begin at 4 p.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Saturday at 105 Fort King George Drive, Darien. For more information, visit festivalnet.com.

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Morningstar Children and Family Services will host its 5th annual Dinner Under the Stars beginning at 6 p.m. at the campus, 1 Youth Estate Drive, Brunswick. The annual event will include a silent auction, a cocktail reception with live music, and a farm-to-table dinner provided by Halyards Catering. To purchase tickets, visit morningstarcfs.org.

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Facts

J U ST T H E

The season of tricks and treats is finally here.

WORDS BY MEGAN FITZGERALD

As the days grow cooler and the nights grow longer, Brunswick residents will begin to prepare for the first holiday of the fall and winter seasons: Halloween. People will rush to hang up cobweb decorations, select their creepy costumes, and stock up on sweet treats as the days start to wind down towards the 31st of October. To help you learn more about this chilling celebration, we’ve gathered some fun facts on the details and history of Halloween that help make it the spookiest night of the year.

30,581 The record for the most lit jack-o-lanterns on display is 30,581, which was achieved by the City of Keene, New Hampshire in 2013 according to Guinness World Records.

16.47

According to Guinness World Records, the fastest time to carve a pumpkin is 16.47 seconds, which was achieved by Stephen Clarke in 2013.

20

One of the top-grossing films released in 1978, “Halloween” was filmed in 20 days.

11,000 On Halloween, kids who trick or treat will bring home a bag of candies worth on average 11,000 calories.

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3.32

The total amount spent on costumes for 2021 was $3.32 billion, the highest it has been since 2017.

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Annually, around 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced for Halloween.

1983

Studies have shown that 50% of children prefer to receive chocolate on Halloween.

Spirit Halloween, one of the most popular Halloween stores in the United States, was founded in New Jersey in 1983.


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DUE SOUTH rises up from the golden marsh. Edward, hardly planning on it, has built a persona larger than Beowulf’s Grendel. And, like Grendel, Edward’s legend will live for generations. The rest of us will be long forgotten but someday, somewhere — probably in the Golden Isles — people will take holiday weekends to celebrate the Edward Armstrong Legend. Tink enjoys so much watching the two of us banter and chatter, while trying to outwit one another, that he often asks, “Why aren’t y’all on TV? With your own show? You’re fun entertainment.” We are both purely Southern-to-thebone characters. We both are from rural, Southern towns that aren’t much more than polka dot stops on the state route map. But there is a difference. Edward was genteelly schooled in etiquette and even studied elocution.

Art of the Soap

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WORDS BY RONDA RICH

Perhaps you never considered a bar of soap to be a fine work of art. Never had it crossed my mind, either. Until recently. Art, in its most simple form, is a thoughtful creation from another’s mind and hands. We are drawn to the art by what

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it says; how uniquely it speaks; the blending of other mediums. Few art pieces have a scent but, oh, when they do, it is perfection because it adds an extra sensory reaction. My appreciation for the art of soap began a few months ago while we were on St. Simons for a speaking engagement. It happened to be my birthday so Edward Armstrong called up. “Oh, darlin’, we just have to celebrate your birthday at the Georgia Seafood Grill.” He stopped, lowered his voice conspiratorially and whispered, “It’s hard to get in there but I made this reservation two weeks ago.” His voice sounded like a furrowed brow. “Only for you, darlin’.” Perhaps you’ve met my friend, Edward. He’s one of the storied legends that

“Let me tell you this,” he started at dinner, then stopped himself. “Oh, my. I know better than that! I took elocution classes. Never start a sentence with ‘Let me tell this.’ It’s impolite.” I did not take elocution classes — or ever heard of them — so I use that phrase frequently. I even wrote a book entitled, Let Me Tell You Something. “I didn’t know I wasn’t suppose to say that,” I admitted reflectively. Edward smiled compassionately, shook his head sadly, patted my hand, then sweetly sighed. “I know, darlin’, I know. It’s okay.” On this particular evening at the Georgia Seafood Grill, Edward came whizzing through the door. He has two kinds of walks. One is a jaunty sashay, rippling joyously as he glides in upon arrival. This brings smiles to all who witness it. The other is a rushed walk that booms softly like a baby-sized thunder clap. Usually, he is clasping too much in one arm and, with his other hand, is pushing back a thick mound of blonde hair while dew glistens on his forehead.


On the aforementioned, unusually cold January night, he sashayed in happily, then set down two gift bags on the white clothed table. “This bag is your main gift. Open the other later because it’s just bits and pieces.” When I returned home and opened the bag of bits, I discovered a large, hard milled bar of soap from Michel Design Works. In my hand, the sturdy weight felt luxurious — I grew up on lightweight Ivory soap — and the scent of peonies was gorgeous. Out went the half-used bar of Dove — it’s not easy for a ScotchIrish lass to throw away anything usable. So, I didn’t. I put it in the closet to use later in scenting drawers or scrubbing a dog.

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The moment I opened the soap, I was in love. Now, I realize why people love art: they find something that makes them happy and peaceful. I called Edward. “I need more soap. Where can I get it?” “I bought it at St. Simons Drugstore but I don’t know if they still carry that fragrance.” A few weeks ago, we were down on the island so I stopped by the store to check. My high school friend, Vandy McArthy, works there but it was her day off. Another woman said, “We might be getting the peony scent back in.” Vandy emailed the next day, “As soon as we have it again, I’ll let you know.”

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Meanwhile, I’m using other fragrances from the company: Lemon Basil and Almond Honey until Peony returns. This soap is the first piece of art I’ve owned. And I love it.

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BY DESIGN They call it change out day, and it’s not as if anyone feels moved to the back because the gallery has entrances on either end. They also take turns minding the store, sitting at a desk on the Frederica Road. They usually end up painting. It was Keefer’s turn recently and she worked on a small painting from a picture on a laptop on the desk. She has a studio in Asheville, N.C., and had been coming to St. Simons for 30 years.

ArtTrends marks milestone

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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY TERRY DICKSON

The s in ArtTrends gallery is important. The 7-year-old co-op gallery has nine artists whose art trends in different directions of the fine arts. Three of the original members, Ella Cart, Dottie Clark, and Trish Rugaber, are still there and still painting. It was the brain child of Cart, who says the fundamentals of a co-op gallery were hashed out over happy hour drinks at Tramici. They didn’t go out the next day, however, looking for space. “We talked to other co-op galleries about what works and what doesn’t,” before finding a location, she says.

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One thing that works is the diversity. If potential buyers walk through one of the orange doors and see an impressionist painting that doesn’t suit them, they have only to keep walking and they may find something that does. The nine artists have paintings that capture St. Simons from sea birds to the lighthouse to marsh and beach scenes to people lounging under umbrellas. Although some of the artists overlap in their work, they all have their roles and the three founders have taken on responsibilities to keep it running smoothly. “I’m mostly like the detail person, operations. Dottie takes care of finances. Ella is the fearless leader,” Rugaber says. As Cheryl Keefer says of Cart, “She’s our president, I guess, if we have a president.” They all have ownership in the gallery, but no one can look at a wall or a display easel and say, “This is mine.” Every six to eight weeks, the artists gather and move their work counterclockwise.

“I came during COVID and stayed nine months,” she says. She and her husband rented a place. “We stayed near the beach, and I got plenty of paintings of beach scenes, people, umbrellas, birds,” she said. They now have a permanent address on the island. Recently, the artists — at least those in the country — were at the gallery moving their paintings, helping each other place hangers on the walls and suggesting placement. Husband and wife artists Michael and Deborah Jinkins display close together. The rotation put her bright painting of a yellow butterfly on display in the front window. He has been painting his whole life, but Deborah has been painting 10 years. “I’ve always wanted to be a water colorist, but I didn’t start until we moved here,” she says. “I love overlapping shapes.” That shows in a painting of shells, another of a lamentation of swans and another of crabs. Michael’s abstracts tend to be large, but his painting of the craggy west coast of Scotland is not. “Pure oil,” he says of the painting. “One in a series of three.” There is snow on the daunting, rugged landscape. He quotes Duke University professor Dale Purves, who, his bio says, continues to study “visual perception and its


neurobiological underpinnings.” “Everything we perceive is inconsistent with the physical reality of the world,” Michael says quoting Purves. In his art, he perceives a reality we miss, and he sometimes reduces it to fewer elements or enhances it including the forbidding wildness of a Scottish landscape. Every member of the co-op is happy to have the diversity including, Lydia Thompson, a local bird expert (and GIM contributor), whose art reflects what she knows. Keefer notes that Thompson is one of the few print makers left, and that the gallery is very fortunate to have her as a member. Her prints include images of oyster catchers, skimmers, gulls and other birds and one, a panorama, harks back to a bygone era, the old St. Simons pier village with the Binnacle and the former mini-golf course, all of which have disappeared. Many of Rugaber’s work depicts what she knows and also what she formerly

taught as a professor of biology and botany at College of Coastal Georgia. Her botanical paintings include hydrangeas, hibiscus, black-eyed Susans and camellias. She also has paintings of egrets and herons and her landscapes and seascapes, include a bagpiper playing as the sun sets, the Atlantic with a wave lit by moonlight softened by high clouds. The colors in her marsh scenes appear blended by the wind. The artists note that business is hard to predict, that some days they see no one while on others it’s very busy. But Keefer notes that usually those who visit are looking to buy and they can usually find something. — ArtTrends Gallery is open 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Other information and the artists’ portfolios are available at www.artrends. gallery.

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LIVING WELL of damage to their optic nerve before vision loss starts.” The second type is called Angle-Closure Glaucoma. Johnson says that this condition can develop quite quickly. “This type happens suddenly when the drain cannot allow normal eye fluid to leave, thus increasing the eye pressure very quickly,” he says. “This can be a true emergency as the very high pressure can damage the optic nerve very quickly causing blindness. Unlike Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, this type usually has symptoms associated with it.”

Glaucoma, ‘the silent killer’

S

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON

Sight is our gateway to the world. But for many people, diseases can cause severe impairment that deeply impacts one’s vision. For Dr. Jack Johnson, one of those he most often sees is glaucoma. The board certified ophthalmologist and surgeon at Coastal Eye Care on St. Simons Island says that the condition is one of the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. “It usually happens when the fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. That

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extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, subsequently causing damage to the optic nerve,” Johnson says. “The optic nerve is like an electric cable made up of many small wires. When these wires die, you will develop vision loss, specifically progressive blind spots in your vision that left untreated can cause total blindness.” At his practice, glaucoma makes up around 15 to 20 percent of his work. There are a two main types of glaucoma with a variety of subtypes. The first is called Primary Open Angle Glaucoma. “This is the most common type and happens gradually, often without any symptoms early on. It is often painless and causes no vision changes at first,” he says. “(Glaucoma) is called the ‘silent killer’ of sight due to the progressive nature of vision loss. Regular eye exams are extremely important to find early signs

Those often include severe eye pain, headache, and blurry vision. Johnson stresses that patients experiencing these symptoms need to be seen immediately. And while damage cannot be reversed, the sooner one is treated the better the results. “Unfortunately, glaucoma damage is permanent. But there are a variety of treatments to help stop further damage or prevent initial damage from happening,” Johnson says. It’s one of the many reasons that maintaining eye care is critically important. Many of the tests conducted during a routine exam is designed to detect signs of glaucoma. “The only way to get a complete evaluation is with an eye exam. During the exam, your eye doctor will 1. Test your peripheral vision, 2. Examine the optic nerve for damage, 3. Measure your eye pressure, and 4. Measure the thickness of your cornea,” he says. “This is very important because they can definitely pick up the early stages of glaucoma.” If one is in those early stages, Johnson says that there are conservative measures can be put in place aiming to stop the progression. “We start with medication. Often that is


just eye drops that essentially work like blood pressure medication but for your eyes. They work to lower the pressure,” Johnson says. “So we will start there and continue to check it. If it’s not getting worse and the pressure is good, that may be all the patient needs.” But if more comprehensive treatment is needed, Johnson can do that too. He often utilizes laser as well as surgical procedures to prevent glaucoma progression. And the surgical options have come a long way over the past few decades. “Fortunately, glaucoma surgery has made numerous advances in the last five years, specifically with the development of Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS),” he says. “Compared to more invasive glaucoma surgeries with high complication rates, MIGS has fast recoveries and minimal trauma.” — Dr. Jack Johnson welcomes anyone who has developed glaucoma or is concerned about the condition to contact his office and schedule a visit. To do so, contact Coastal Eye Care. The practice may be reached at 912-638-8652. The website is ssicoastaleyecare.com.

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N AT U R E C O N N E CT I O N

A Hodgepodge of Happenings WORDS BY LYDIA THOMPSON fish, crabs, and other creatures. These shearwaters find their food there. In the summer, these shearwaters fly along the coast of South America, where the waters are cold, and food is abundant. But this summer, the winds were blowing hard, and the shearwaters had a hard time staying on course. They ended up where there was no food, off our shores.

F

For 20 years, I wrote a bird column for the Jekyll Islander titled, “Birdchat.” It was a newsy column about what was happening with the birds on Jekyll. There were times when the news was coming in fast, and it was hard to keep up. Nevertheless, those were some of my favorite columns. I called them “Hodgepodges.” This past summer was one of those hodgepodge times. There were fun, beach-nesting birds and strong, east wind blowing, far-flying birds off the coast. Let me start with the far-flying birds. It was the middle of June when reports started coming in to me. There were hints of the coming hard summer when the sighting of Great Shearwaters excited the birders in the area. It is a warning

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I ran into a friend in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on the beach. He was there to pick up the dead shearwaters. They sent their bodies to determine the cause of death. He later told me the birds mainly were emaciated young Great Shearwaters. They had documented 210 dead birds along our coast. I hate to see this happen to our ocean birds. But, did I mention this is a hodgepodge?

sign something isn’t right when you see birds who usually spend their lives at sea flying close to shore. But it was very alarming when beachgoers started seeing strange, big birds washing up on the beaches. They were dying. One of my Wednesday mornings in the middle of June, Jennifer and I were making our way out to the big yellow caution sign to start our Shorebird Ambassador time slot when a woman stopped me. She asked me what the big brown birds were. She told me they are all washing up on the beaches. Following all the reports I was getting, I knew the birds were Great Shearwaters. These birds live on the current. Shearwaters are a perfect name for them because they fly fast, right over the top of the waves in the ocean. They look like they are shearing the tops off the waves. One hundred and fifty miles off our Coastal Golden Isles is an ocean defined by currents. Four of these come together to create a region of the Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. It is where our hatching sea turtles are scurrying off to when they hit the beach on those August mornings. The golden algae called Sargasso defines the sea as cold and deep. It forms massive floating worlds for small

On a happy note, our unique beach-nesting shorebirds did very well over the summer. It is a delight to see chicks darting from their hiding places. This was my first summer on a coastal team of bird stewards or ambassadors. We were out with our signs and flip books containing information on our nesting birds. Education is a significant part of helping our beautiful Georgia Coast remain natural. At Gould’s Inlet, our American Oystercatcher pair failed on their first try, but the second try was a success. They had two gangly chicks. I was honored to watch the chicks get their friendship bands, the large red strips placed on their legs which allow us to follow them. Earlier, I mentioned our team of bird stewards or ambassadors. They are Abby Sterling, Allie Hayser, and me. My goal is to keep up the education throughout the year. We want to do bird walks, so we will be ready for next April when the Plovers and Oystercatchers come to nest. Suppose you want to join us and learn about these shore and ocean birds. Please get in touch with me at birdjekyll@gmail.com. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my Hodgepodge of bird news this summer.


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M O N E Y TA L K S Third-Party SNTs are funded with assets that have never been owned by the special needs trust beneficiary. These third-party SNTs can be created to presently exist, or their creation can stem from the passing of another (testamentary). Sometimes it makes sense to create a Third-Party SNT that is not testamentary in nature. Having an SNT not tied to someone’s passing can be very helpful. For example, the parent(s) of a young child with disabilities can create a SNT so that gifts, inheritance, etc. may be received for the child from the parents themselves as well as from other family members and friends. Once created, the SNT can receive gifts from others directly or through estate planning distributions. A presently existing SNT is a useful vehicle for accepting the financial contributions of other loved ones without negatively impacting the SNT beneficiary’s current and/or future public benefits eligibility.

Preserving Public Benefits with Special Needs Trusts

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WORDS BY DEBBIE BRIT T, ESQ.

Having a loved one with intellectual, developmental, and/or physical disabilities can be very challenging. It can certainly take a village to provide the best love, support, and resources for children and adults with special needs. As parents, grandparents, adult children, siblings, extended family, and friends, we naturally want to share what we have. We often give our love, our time, and our energy freely. If we are able, we also want to share our financial resources, both while we are living and when we pass. Of course, we want to make sure our loved one receives any need-based public benefits to which he or she may be entitled (typically SSI and/or Medicaid). Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) exist to supplement the needs of beneficiaries with disabilities while preserving their eligibility to receive these important public benefits.

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Testamentary Third-Party Special Needs Trusts Estate planning, e.g. Wills and Revocable Living Trusts, may provide for beneficiaries with disabilities by directing that distributions for those beneficiaries be made to special needs trusts that come into existence at the time of the death of the maker of the Will or Trust. This is a way for persons with disabilities to receive inheritance without jeopardizing their need-based public benefits.

First-Party Special Needs Trusts Funds belonging to a beneficiary (e.g. money in the bank and/or money received through gift, inheritance, personal injury settlement, etc.) may be placed in an irrevocable First-Party Special Needs Trust under certain circumstances. Generally, the person must be disabled as defined by 42 U.S. Code Section 1396p(d) (4)(A); the SNT must be established by the beneficiary, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court; and the SNT must be established before the beneficiary reaches age 65. When created, funded, and administered properly, the SNT beneficiary can enjoy the money held in trust for

supplemental needs allowed by law, while maintaining their eligibility for valuable public programs. Unlike Third-Party SNTs, funds remaining in a First-Party Special Needs Trust when the beneficiary passes must be paid back to the State if Medicaid benefits have been received, and any funds remaining after that can be distributed to remainder beneficiaries per the terms of the trust.

Naming Trustees and Pooled Special Needs Trusts Naming trustees for Third-Party and First-Party SNTs should be done carefully. While the first thought is often to name family members, consideration should be given to professional trustees who are familiar with the complexity of following applicable laws and rules regarding SNTs. One great option is to consider the use of a Pooled Special Needs Trust provider, when applicable. These are non-profit organizations (Georgia Community Trust and The Arc Georgia) that pool the funds of various SNTs to maximize investing and lower administration costs. Learning about special needs trusts and making some decisions about when and how to fund them, can mean the world to your loved one with special needs and their quality of life. Careful trust administration can lead to meaningful, positive impact now and for years to come. Taking the right steps offers everyone concerned invaluable peace of mind. Knowing your loved one will be taken care of financially even after you are gone can be of great comfort. The information contained in this article is intended to be educational and general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. You should consult legal counsel regarding your specific situation, questions, and concerns. Experienced professionals, i.e. Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys, Financial Advisors, Tax Professionals, Professional Trustees, and sometimes Courts, are essential team members to involve in special needs planning. — Debbie Britt, Esq. of Debbie Britt Law, is an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney located at 302 Plantation Chase, St. Simons Island. Her practice, which includes Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Probate, serves the Golden Isles and surrounding areas. She can be reached for questions and/or to schedule a consultation at 912-268-2655. Her website address is: debbiebrittlaw.com.


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GAME CHANGERS was able to pull parts from 30 or so older models to configure 12 bicycles for the tours. Once those were assembled, Old Town Tours was ready to roll (or pedal). Basing his bicycles at Silver Bluff Brewery on Newcastle Street, Vaughn created three options for customers — small group and private tours, as well general bike rentals (for independent downtown exploration).

bike Tours explore old town

B

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON + SEBASTIAN EMMANUEL PHOTO BY DERRICK DAVIS

Brunswick is unique for dozens of reasons. For starters, it’s brimming with history. Not only do many of its buildings date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, it’s also the only area in Glynn County that boasts a residential district with an equally rich history. With sweeping porches and evocative widows’ walks, these homes continue to share the stories of the past. It’s something that’s always appealed to Tyler Vaughn. Though not native to the area, Vaughn often visited as a child. After moving around the country, the siren song of the Isles called him back. Once moved and settled, his mind turned to an idea for a business venture which incorporated a few of his favorite things — bike rides, brews, and Brunswick. “I thought to myself, I’ve guided (tours) before. I love bikes and I love downtown Brunswick,” Vaughn recalls. “It basically just fell into place. The

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(Downtown Development Authority) was willing to give me a jump-start grant to start my business, which was because it was on their strategic visionary plan.” That’s how Old Town Tours was born. Beginning his business during the peak of the pandemic, Vaughn took time to absorb everything he could about the port city’s history. To learn all he could, he tapped one of the city’s greatest resources — Bill Brown. A descendant of one of the oldest families in the city — the Darts — Brown was a walking, talking history book during his 103 years on earth. He passed away in early 2022.

For the group tours, Brunswick Old Town Bike Tours offers 90-minute sessions that take in the historic district and squares. Every group of bikers learns something new. “We focus on the ecological history, the historical significance, and the vibrant small businesses that are here,” Vaughn says. “… architectural history, as well. You get a little bit of everything. One of the unique things is that I talk to my guests at the beginning of my tour and see what they are wanting to get out of it. So I tailor the tours a little differently based on the group of people I’m with.” The first 100 customers who took part in tours were all locals. Now, word has spread with more visitors from different areas signing on. “Fifty percent is word of mouth and 50 percent is advertising,” Vaughn says of his business. “A vast amount of it being with The Brunswick News. The other half is me going out on my own and doing it myself.” The tours are proving increasingly popular. To accommodate the interest, Vaughn now offers tours Wednesday through Sunday.

“(Bill Brown) was a fourth-generation native. I had the opportunity to meet with Bill twice a week for the last year and a half before he passed,” Vaughn says.

“The first 30 minutes of the tour, we hit up all of the historical squares and talk about the history of Brunswick,” Vaughn says.

“I was able to hang out with him for a few hours a week and get information and the history of Brunswick. He was a Realtor. His father was a Realtor before him, so that’s 150 years worth of real estate knowledge. His father also learned from his grandfather who learned from his father as it was brought down four generations.”

“The second third, we go down the length of Union Street and we talk about the historic architecture. In the last third of the tour, we go down the entire length of Newcastle Street and we talk about some of the businesses that used to be there, as well as some of the businesses that are there today.”

But Brown wasn’t Vaughn’s only source. He spent time with GuyNel Johnson of the Magnolia Garden Club and City Commissioner Julie Martin. Vaughn also received help from friends at the Brunswick Landing Marina. Once the history was mapped out, Vaughn had to secure the bikes. Thanks to Adam Marlow, that was relatively easy. He

For his part, Vaughn is thrilled to offer participants stories that are as unique as the city itself. “I got to learn all these amazing stories that you can’t necessarily learn in a history book,” he says. — For more information on Brunswick Old Town Tours, visit Brunswickoldtowntours.com.


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THE DISH

“I did breakfast and lunch (at the café) because I wanted to be a father,” Williams says. “If I worked at night, they’d be at school all day and I’d never see them.” Getting started wasn’t easy. He was a big and established name in the local food service industry, but had never opened his own place. By his own admission, he picked a bad time to do it — in the early days of the housing market crash that signaled the beginning of the Great Recession. He’d been saving on his own, sourced some private loans, convinced the owners of the current location to allow him to convert it from an office into a restaurant and got the permits to make it all happen.

breakfast bliss on mallery WORDS BY TAYLOR COOPER PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS

L

Lance Williams, owner of Mallery Street Café, usually doesn’t like the limelight. Instead, he lets his food speak for itself. He’s an adherent to the late chef Anthony Bourdain’s philosophy of letting his food do the talking. If a man spends all his time promoting himself, what is there to say about his restaurant? “I like to say most people can identify my food in a lineup, but they can’t identify me in a lineup,” Williams joked.

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Learning to cook was a natural thing. His mom, an insurance agent, raised both Williams and his brother. She worked most of the day and his brother ate all the food, leaving Williams to fend for himself most of the time. He was quick on the uptake, though. Despite the fact he wasn’t supposed to leave the house after dark, he recalled one memory of riding his bike to the grocery store and buying a lobster to make his dinner. The stocky father of two moved to the Golden Isles in 1985 and started working at 15 for a restaurant called Chelsea, no longer in business, but one located across the street from Crabdaddy’s.

When the housing market crashed, he knew it was either sink or swim. If he waited, he’d lose it all. Rushing to open the new establishment could also be a disaster for him if it failed so early. With all that pressure on him, a relative newbie in the world of breakfast food, he pulled the trigger and prayed for the best. “I was terrified,” Williams says. “I was laying awake at night wondering how I was going to poach eggs.” It wasn’t all up to chance, however. Given the swiftly developing economic recession, he set his sights on a customer base he felt could support his business in tough times. “I really made the menu in reverse,” Williams says. “I targeted the nice, sweet ladies of Sea Island.” He set out to make that demographic at home with the interior décor: flowers, bright and clean interior, light menu.

At 18, he joined the opening crew of Crabdaddy’s. He then worked on the original opening crew of Coconut Willie’s with the late Ricky Albright, followed by Spanky’s, CJs Pizza and finally, back to Chelsea along with Latitude 31.

The fact he’s here today, 12 years later, is a testament to the success of the concept. It’s a booming business, and he estimates 95% of his customers are regulars who live or vacation on St. Simons Island.

That all led up to January 2009, when he opened Mallery Street Café, a pretty substantial departure from his previous jobs, which were mostly lunch and supper with a focus on supper. He went from working afternoons and into the night to showing up for work at 5 a.m.

He knew he’d made it when heard an anecdote from a friend — a golfer in a Sea Island Golf Club locker room complained his wife was racking up a lot of bills at a place called “Mallery Street Café.”


Mallery Street Café’s seafood crepes 1½ cups Bisquick batter 3 eggs 1¼ cups milk PAM cooking spray Directions: Mix the Bisquick batter mix, eggs, and milk well. Preheat pan over low to medium heat. Pour a third of a cup of the mixture into the pan. Swirl to coat pan evenly. Cook until the crepe loosens, around 2 minutes. Flip when golden brown. Prepare crepes and sauce before filling. Sauce for crepe filling 2 oz. heavy cream 2 oz. cut and washed leeks (white part only) ½ oz. Sherry Salt and pepper to taste Directions: Place all ingredients in pan. On medium heat, reduce until thick like a sauce. Set aside and keep warm. Crepe filling 2 oz. rough-chopped shrimp 1 oz. rough-chopped scallop 1 oz. Chardonnay Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Coat pan with clarified butter or olive oil. Preheat to medium heat and add salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp and scallops are opaque, deglaze with wine. Reduce until little moisture remains. Place in crepe shell evenly and roll. SEPTEMB ER/OC TOBE R 2022

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Kevin Bongang

Master of

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WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON PHOTOS BY BOBBY HAVEN + QUERENCIA CREATIVE Like many Brunswick residents, a drive down Altama Avenue is a daily occurrence for me. Along the way, there’s not usually much excitement. Well, that is, until I see those telltale pops of pinks and orange on the side of South of Heaven Barbecue. The vivid hues and expert artistry can only belong to one person — Kevin Bongang. For the past few years, it seems like Bongang’s bold murals have been materializing all over, brightening up buildings and bringing color to a monochromatic landscape. Bongang’s flare and unmistakable, upbeat style has created quite the buzz. But it’s been a journey. The painter, who is a native of Cameroon, West Africa, started his artistic adventures when was just a child.

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“I arrived in the U.S. when I was 11 and lived in South Carolina before moving to Savannah,” he says. “I’ve always had a passion for art, even before I recognized it as my gift. My parents have always been supportive and they acknowledged my love of art at an early age, going so far as letting me draw on our walls.” During his early life, others in his family helped guide and encourage Bongang. His cousin, in particular, helped to nurture his talents, especially in drawing. “My cousin really helped me in my younger years with sketching and drawing my favorite cartoons and comics. I knew in middle school that I wanted to have a career in art,” he says. To strike out on that path, Bongang attended Savannah Arts Academy High School, before applying to the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). There, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in illustration.

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Though his experiences at each level differed, his education helped him build consistency in his work. “High school was great. There were some fantastic teachers — Napoleon Wilkerson, Steve Schetski, and Carrie Chapman — who were also artists that really helped me refine fundamentals and techniques,” he says. “College was enjoyable but very different. It really helped me in the areas that needed attention such as discipline and focus. I believe in timing in my journey and I wouldn’t have done anything different to speed up my learning process.” In both high school and in college, Bongang studied the traditional artistic pillars including the

likes of Basquiat, Haring, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Dali. While they were inspirational, it became clear that Bongang was going to blaze his own trail. “Throughout the process, I explored and discovered mural art and fell in love. I create art digitally, on canvas, on walls, and on nontraditional surfaces such as playgrounds and shoes,” he says. “After completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I began pursuing mural work.” But as with all things, his success was built on time and patience. In the meantime, Bongang worked as a full-time graphic designer at a Fortune 500 company. That lasted for several years before company layoffs forced him to redirect.

“The company laid off thousands of employees after a corporate merger and pushed me into position to decide to pursue more corporate work or pursue my art business full-time. I was devastated and scared but I took a leap of faith, pivoted, and chose my art,” he says. He’s never looked back. In fact, the move turned out to be one of the best he’s ever made. Once his work started to circulate, he’s racked up an impressive list of clients. From local businesses like South of Heaven and Wake Up Coffee’s Altama location to The Chapel’s exteriors, the basketball court of the Boys & Girls Club at Burroughs-Molette and a playground at Satilla Elementary, Bongang has definitely made his

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mark on Brunswick. He also frequently travels to places like Nashville and Las Vegas for mural work. “After building my portfolio and refining my style, I became sought after by private and commercial clients alike. My business began to grow exponentially as I dedicated more time to my craft and prioritized my art career. As a result of my increased demand, I was able to employ my wife fulltime to manage our brand and business,” he says. “I meet my clients’ design needs in a process that allows me to share in their vision. The client usually has a look or message they want. I then study their brand and add my style to create something complimentary to tell their story. These days you can find me painting murals, creating graphics and illustrations for commercial brands, and engaging in my local community and communities all over that I love.”

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For Bongang, the process has been incredibly rewarding. Not only is he able to have the perks of working with his wife, being able to set their own schedule, he’s also able to see how his vivid designs impact others. “I work to put smiles on people’s faces, brighten children’s days, and send simple but powerful messages in the name of peace, encouragement, and positivity. I operate my art business with my wife and best friend, Britney, who also serves as my art representative, paint assistant and project manager. I am most proud of the fact that I am able to make a living creating art,” he says. “Inspiring others, especially the youth, to create is also very rewarding, showing them they too can be a full time creative when they grow up.” — For more information about Kevin Bongang and his art, visit bongang.com or follow him on Facebook or Instagram @bongangart. SEPTEMB ER/OC TOBE R 2022

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David Millman:

Renaissance The

Man

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS + LESLIE HAND

Dodging the downpour, Derrick and I dashed our way to the front porch where Dr. Fran Owens had stepped out to meet us. “I am so sorry about the rain,” she offers sympathetically. “Just toss your umbrellas down and come inside.” Stepping inside the St. Simons Island home, not only did we discover shelter from the storm, we were also embraced by a sense of familial warmth. Carefully placed frames held the faces of loved ones, who peeked out from desktops, gallery walls, and ascending a staircase. Mingled in with the many family and friends were intricately sculpted busts of children, elderly women, and even a dog. Each one held special meaning for the artist, Owens’ husband, David Millman.

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The multi-discipline, immensely talented Millman is one of the few who truly deserves the title of “Renaissance man.” He is an incredibly gifted sculptor — working with both wood and clay, a painter, and an illustrator. He also writes poetry and dabbles in the blues harmonica. But his broad interests began early in his life, growing up in St. Louis, Mo. “I had my first official recognition as an artist when I was in third grade. One day our teacher introduced us to painting. I stood before an 18 by 24 inch piece of blank paper clipped to a children’s easel placed above a large tray of paint jars. ‘Fill the page’ my teacher said,” he recalls. “I used every jar of paint on my tray and the vertical drips became a happenstance of color and shapes. I had no idea who the painter Jackson Pollock was but some 1950s zeitgeist must have imbued my brush strokes. To me, it looked like a bunch of germs all vying for the same space, so I called it ‘Germ Warfare.’” The teacher was pleased. In fact, Millman’s work was selected to be entered into a contest comprised of children’s artwork and was selected to be exhibited at the St. Louis City Art Museum.

Leslie Hand

Leslie Hand

Leslie Hand

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“My grandfather was so proud of my accomplishment, he stood next to the painting and explained to passersby that his grandson had created the masterpiece,” he recalls with a chuckle. That same creative surge has continued to propel Millman throughout his life. After finishing high school, he attended Southern Illinois University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. In 1973, he graduated with a master’s of fine art degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. While at Pratt, Milliman created some truly unique pieces, one of which hangs in the couple’s dining room today. The massive vertical painting depicts a high rise building with balconies that feature all sorts of people from various backgrounds.

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“I like the ladies in the head scarves,” Owens notes, pointing to a balcony. Like the unique figures in the paintings, Millman has an uncanny ability to breathe life into his pieces. Whether it’s delicate features of a portrait or sculpting a bust of his dog, Essex, or his mother, Leah, there’s a sense of life and movement that seeps into each one. It’s even present in his abstract wood carvings and mobiles. “There is a magic in being able to express your feelings visually like a painting or sculpture, musically like composing or performing, physically like choreographing or dancing, theatrically like acting or directing and verbally like writing or oratory ... I feel lucky because I get to enjoy the process of creation,” he says. “Making the intangible tangible requires perseverance, spontaneity, observation, clarity, and maybe a little bit of humor. When I work my thoughts become visual. After several hours, I am so visually focused that I forget how to verbalize and communicate with words because I’m immersed in the vocabulary of forms, shapes, colors, designs, and rhythms.” 60

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Chee rs

While he’s cultivated these elements in his studio, Millman also used his skills in his professional life. For 28 years, he worked as a graphic artist for ABC News. During that time he received dozens of accolades including an Emmy for his illustrations on ABC’s Nightline special “The Cuban Missile Crisis Anniversary.” He also won a George Foster Peabody Award for his artwork during the network’s coverage of 9/11.

to fun, football and not-too-fancy

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His work is in permanent exhibitions at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, the Springfield Museum of Art, and the Franklin Mint, among others. Millman’s work was also featured in the private collections of the late actor George C. Scott, baseball legend Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays. After moving to St. Simons Island in 2004, Millman played an active role in the local art scene. He’s exhibited his work at Glynn Visual Arts and the Jekyll Island Arts Association, as well as Old Jail Art Center in McIntosh County.

J

But regardless of what he’s creating or where he’s sharing it, Millman relishes the chance to give form to the previously formless. “The great thing about art is ... it’s pure creation. You can make it however, whatever or whenever you like. You can stylize it, formalize it, analyze it, or just let it be. Art, like the universe, is unto itself. Enjoy it for what it is,” Millman says. For more information on David Millman, visit millmanart.com.

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Shape & Form: The Sculptor Syd Summerhill

WORDS BY TAYLOR COOPER PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS + QUERENCIA CREATIVE

Of all his sculptures, Syd Summerhill is partial to Annabelle, a headless, armless woman who occupies a corner of his living room. “She’s my buddy,” Summerhill explains. Annabelle was crafted from travertine, a type of limestone found around mineral springs from the Indus River Valley in Mesopotamia. It’s not the most sought-after medium in the sculpting world, but it worked for Summerhill when he was crafting one of his first pieces. He spent a year on the sculpture — which started as a one-ton block — at a workshop called Art City in Ventura, California. There, he learned from a cast of other resident artists, all women. Their input was very useful when carving the female form, he notes.

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When one spends that much time with a piece of stone, he bonds with it, Summerhill says. There’s a give and take, and over time one comes to know how to best handle the material. He’s quite proud of the travertine Annabelle, but he prefers Carrara marble, the stone of choice for the greats. It was commonly used by such figures as Donatello, and Michelangelo used it to carve his famous Renaissance masterpieces, “David” and “Pietà.”

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Each variety of stone has unique characteristics, but Carrara, mined from the mountains around the town of Carrara, Italy, is widely considered among the best mediums for sculpting. While he doesn’t compare himself to the likes of Michelangelo and Donatello, Summerhill says anyone who has a knack for sculpting is, on some level, the same. It’s his most recent hobby, and one that’s hard to put down, which he says is true for every other sculptor he’s met. At 83 and after 20 years working with marble, Summerhill says that he’d have skipped all the other things he’s gotten into and gone straight to the hammer and chisel if he’d known how much fun it is. Well, except for music. Music was his first major hobby. He played in a symphony in California but didn’t plan to stick with it because, in his words, he “didn’t want to be poor.” It seemed hard to make a living doing that at the time. While in Germany — stationed there during a stint in the U.S. Army — Summerhill learned a bit about jewelry. He learned about cutting gems as well as fashioning the various components. He trained under jewelry makers around Europe before returning to the U.S.

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Upon his return from Germany, he had to decide on a long-term course for his life. It wasn’t going to be in gemstones, and he wasn’t keen about embarking on a musical career. So what else but dentistry? “I (thought) I’d rather go to dental school than be poor,” Summerhill concludes. Concurrent with his dentistry career, he picked up flying. Not for the love of taking to the air, but to help others. He was part of a mission group that financed a hospital for the Yaqui indigenous tribe in Mexico, but getting supplies to the remote facility was difficult at the best of times due to instability in the country. “So I got my license and became a commercial pilot to fly down there and help,” Summerhill says casually. “Because of that, we would organize little trips all over Mexico.” Among the group was the founder of a travel newsletter called “Entrée,” who recruited Summerhill as the organization’s executive editor. Summerhill started his publication called “Odyssey” not long after, but the travel writing gig was a shortlived side hobby. Around 20 years ago, nearing his retirement, Art City caught his eye and he begged the women who engaged in their craft there to take him on as an apprentice. They said no, but were happy to let him watch. Summerhill said he absorbed as much as he could before trying his hand at sculpting. No one wanted an apprentice, but all were willing to critique and offer advice, he added with a chuckle. The only real difference now is that he had access to better tools back then, a lot of compressed air-powered equipment. No matter what you use though, sculpting is “violently noisy.” 66

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“The end result is the same, it just takes longer,” Summerhill says. “I’m limited by the amount of marble dust I can spread around the neighborhood.” During this time, he also started looking for inspiration. There’s the obvious Donatello and Michelangelo, but Summerhill said he was equally inspired by the works of Constantin Brâncuși, a Romanian sculptor who was a major influence due to his simple forms. The rest is history. He’s completed dozens of pieces, some of which have sold for large sums. He’s worked with the classic Carrara, but also green marble from China, of which there are many varieties, the gray-on-gray Cipollino marble and a striking marble from Utah called Picasso marble, characterized by black, brown, white, and gray colors. Summerhill’s tried his hand at wood and brass sculpting as well, but wood is quite different and brass is too expensive. A foot-tall humanoid statue cost him $3,000 just to cast.

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No, he’s content with marble and other stones. “The thing I could eat, breathe, and sleep is sculpting,” Summerhill says. “I am not different from any other sculptor.” He took a shot at painting, but it’s a far cry from sculpting. Sculptors and painters are often different people, he says. It’s built into the psyche, in the DNA. One is additive and one is reductive. He’s very steadfast in his beliefs about sculpting and art in general. It’s a reflection of the human soul and can’t be properly called art unless it’s made by human hands. “It’s the mere fact that a mortal can make something that exquisite,” Summerhill muses. “Stone is cold and hard and immovable. How can you make it light and airy and warm?” — Syd Summerhill exhibits in a number of local galleries including Anderson Fine Art Gallery on St. Simons Island.

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Earth

Mother: The Marvelous Megan Torello WORDS BY LAUREN MCDONALD | PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS + LESLIE HAND

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Megan Torello has a habit of driving past large blank walls around Glynn County and losing herself in ideas of what kind of artwork could fill that space. Since moving to the area several years ago, she’s already added her own colorful creations to numerous large empty walls and other surfaces, through public and private commissions and a community-wide mural initiative. Torello has been an artist for as long as she can remember, although it’s not her day job. Instead, she finds time in a busy schedule of work responsibilities and family engagements to let her creative mind blossom and make the kind of art that she hopes brings happiness to others. Torello lives on St. Simons with her husband, 15-year-old son, and 11-year old daughter. They moved to the island from Maryland. Her artwork can be seen all over Glynn County, in public murals and inside homes, at art shows, on the tables at Chile Peppers Island Cantina, along the banister at Three Little Birds Catering and more. All of her commissions have been made possible by word of mouth referrals, and Torello is able to paint and create in her brief pockets of free time. During a meeting over coffee at Wake Up Coffee in July, Torello had eight art projects on deck, including a residential mural on Sea Island and a planned interior mural for the gymnasium at Morningstar Children & Family Services. She described the constant flow of opportunities to create art for others as serendipitous. “I’ve never really put in bids for anything or asked for things,” Torello says. “The universe is just like, ‘here, let me bring this to you and see what you want to do with it.’ And I love that. “It really gives me this freedom because I do work full time and I do have two children who are very busy. It gives me the opportunity to say yes to the things that spark some joy for me.” She began honing her artistic skills early, as a little one who loved to create.

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“I’ve been painting, drawing, gluing things together since I was a child,” Torello says. “I can remember creating art my whole life. I feel like a lot of it started with my grandfather. In childhood, he used to bring home giant pieces of cardboard and we would just draw and paint all over them.”

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She carried that love for creative endeavors forward into high school and through college, where she majored in art therapy. “I feel like college was really the turning point for me where things started to click and not only did I love it but I felt like I could really do it,” she says. “It’s always been something that’s fulfilling. It feeds my soul, and it sort of just keeps me sane.” She turns to art when she needs questions answered or has thoughts to ponder.

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“It’s sort like meditative practice,” Torello says. Torello works full time though for the state’s Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) as a special projects manager for the Quality Rated division, which is responsible for childcare quality improvement efforts across Georgia. She’s passionate about the work and maintains a strong interest in the ways that fostering creativity can improve a child’s education.

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“Creating art, especially for young children, can be so powerful without them even realizing, which I think is what makes it so magical,” Torello says. “The opportunity to take materials and create something out of nothing, and then look at it and realize I created that out of nothing, that is such a powerful experience for children.” Art promotes problem solving skills and teaches patience and kindness, she says. “Art helps math, helps reading, helps social skills,” Torello says. “It’s just such a powerful backbone to everything.” During the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she couldn’t go into others’ homes or businesses to create commissioned art, Torello spent a lot of time creating in her home studio, which is tucked into a corner of her family’s living room. “I really got into watercolor during that time,” she says. “I painted a mural up my stairwell. I didn’t mean to. It was just a solution to me not being able to reach the top of the wall.”


She ended up painting halfway up the wall and then created outlines of flowers to blend the border between the new and old paint that she couldn’t reach.

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“It’s honestly one of my favorite things I’ve ever painted, and it just was one afternoon of spontaneity, of like ‘I’m going to paint some flowers on the stairwell,’” Torello says. The daily time spent in her studio during that period of the pandemic became a salve that helped her process the stress at that time. “Spending daily time in my studio really helped me deal with what was going on and helped me be a more present parent for my children, to help them deal with what was going on,” she says. “I feel like art at times is what saves me from anxiety, and it helps me process things.”

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Torello keeps two lists that are constantly evolving, one with art ideas for others and one with creations she’ll work on in her home studio. The latter, though, is less an organized list than a jar fulled of scraps of paper where’s she’s quickly sketched sparks of ideas or written down random words. Torello fills a ceramic pot at home with these “lost ideas” and gets to them when she has time. “Sometimes if I go into my studio, if I don’t have something on deck that I know I’m going to work on, I’ll just sort of dig in there and see what resparks,” she says. When asked to describe her artistic style, Torello doesn’t try to sum it up in a sentence or two. She never lets herself pick a lane because she loves trying new techniques too much to stick with one approach. “I’ll find a new material or a new brand of supply that I want to try, and I’ll just go down that road for a little while and see what happens,” she says. She draws plenty of inspiration from the coastal beauty of her home, though. “I love to paint the ocean and landscapes here,” she says. “It’s just really the nature here is totally inspiring. But I use water colors, I use acrylics, I use pastels, I sort of use lots of things and paint lots of subjects, so it’s difficult for me to give an elevator speech about my art.”

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IMAGINE THE STORIES YOU’LL TELL

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She hopes, however, that everyone who views her artwork takes at least one thing from the experience: joy. “Talking about art is one of my favorite things to do, and one of the topics I love is ‘Does art need to be beautiful?’” Torello says. “And I don’t feel that it does. But for sure my goal with art always is around joy. Bold colors, bright spaces. If you drive by it or walk by it or happen to see it, I just hope that it sparks a little bit of joy.” She encourages even the busiest of people to find time to engage in creative pursuits. “Even if it is minimal, just to give your brain and your soul a little space to move around, and see what happens,” she says. “It really is so valuable to your inner peace.” For more information on Megan Torello and her art, visit megan-torello.pixels.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram @megantorelloart.

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Threads of Tradition: A Look at the Golden Isles Fiberarts Guild

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WORDS BY CYNTHIA ROBINSON PHOTOS BY LINDSEY ADKISON + DERRICK DAVIS

While many artists express their creativity through painting, drawing or photography, members of the Golden Isles Fiberarts Guild channel their imaginative talents using textiles, such as fabric, yarn, and fibers. According to Louise Eaton, the Guild’s publicist, the group is marking its thirty-third year. Eaton says it all began with three women who met at a weaving class. They wanted to see if there was any interest in forming a local group dedicated to the fiber arts, Eaton said. After placing an advertisement in The Brunswick News, the three were stunned when more than 60 people showed up to that first meeting.

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“At that meeting, it was decided to form a guild and the group held its first meeting in January 1990,” she says. The Guild takes working with textiles, yarns, and more to another level, in a supportive environment. The Guild meets monthly from October through May at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church on St. Simons. Each meeting, which is also open to the general public, centers on a fiber art skill or technique and often includes hands-on demonstrations. “With the influx of new members who joined this year, we are now at over 90 members as of May,” Eaton says.

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In addition to large scale meetings, the Guild also has expanded to multiple interest breakout groups that each focus on one facet Top of the fiber arts. Those now include ones Producing for beading, embroidery, felting, garment

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construction, knitting, quilting, rug hooking service design, and weaving. The Guild also holds biennial fiber arts exhibits. The most recent exhibit and sale, “Picking up the Threads,” was held at SoGlo Gallery in downtown Brunswick. Several members of the Guild gathered recently at Sea Stitches, a fabric store on St. Simons Island to display some of their newest fiber art pieces and discuss their love of the fiber arts. Eaton said her interest in the fiber arts grew as she transitioned from painting in oils and working with pastels. She has been a member of the group for about 15 years. “I enjoy quilting and designing and dyeing fabrics. I also found the fiber arts easier to store and transport,” she says, smiling. Fellow member, Lane Night said she began knitting, crocheting, and sewing as a young girl growing up in California and Chicago.

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“I learned to sew my own clothes as a child,” she says. Lane discovered the Guild after moving to St. Simons in 1998 after retiring from a career as a business consultant in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. Since joining, Night says she has expanded her fiber art pursuits to include quilting, weaving, garment construction, basket weaving — it runs the gamut.

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“I’ve learned so much through the Guild,” she says. Joining has also allowed Tonya Bradley to more fully explore her creativity through the fiber arts. “I can’t really say what my main focus is now. I do beading, sewing, weaving, surface design, and embroidery,” Bradley says, holding up one of her recent quilting pieces featured jewel-toned fabrics. She says her mother, Leola Holton, steered her into the fiber arts as a child. “My mother also stumbled on the Guild and she and I joined immediately and we’re still members 20-plus years later,” she says with a wide smile. “My mother and I get to do all this together.” Bradley says since retiring as the office manager for the Glynn County Schools Transportation Department in 2016, she has enjoyed spending more time creating and learning even more fiber art techniques. “There is so much creativity in this group and being a part of it has taught me so much. We enjoy sharing and learning from one another,” she says.

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While member Mariam Kennedy isn’t retired, her day job is fiber arts related — she works at The Stitchery of St. Simons, where she also teaches knitting and crotchet. “I was born and raised in England and made my way to Georgia starting in Washington State, Louisiana, Grenada, New York, Ohio, then Georgia,” Kennedy says, laughing. “I was following my husband’s profession in herpetology.” Wherever she landed, she continued to practice the fiber arts. While Kennedy has been knitting and crocheting for years, she has more recently developed a keen interest in the art of felting and started the Guild’s off-shoot felting group. “It’s basically making felt using raw fibers, water, soap, and agitation. It’s very physical art and I find I enjoy it very much,” says Kennedy, who is also a member of the Jekyll Island Arts Association and sells her art pieces under the label, “The Merry Juggler.”

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Kennedy adds that while felting is one of the world’s earliest crafts and can be traced back to early Asia, the art fell out of favor for years, before enjoying a resurgence. “Felting started out as a practical craft and years later, people staring using it as more of an art form,” she says, as she held up a jaunty felt cap she recently created. Kennedy has shared some of her felting techniques with the Guild and enjoys learning other fiber art techniques from fellow members of the Guild, a sentiment they all seem to share. “God has given us all talents in some shape or form that are meant to by used,” Bradley says. “This group allows us to do that. We are blessed to have this arts family.” The guild is open to new members, even those with no fiber arts experience. Current Guild cochairs are Nancy Harper and Jeanne Cieszeski. For more information, visit their Facebook page, goldenislesfiberartsguild or their website, goldenislesfiberartsguild.com.

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NOISEMAKERS

W When he was 12, Anders Thomsen managed to get his hands on a guitar. And he hasn’t put it down since. The Michigan native worked hard to hone his skills in his pre-teen years, eventually looking to join a band.

“I played quite a lot and I had heard about a band that was playing around. They were a ‘real band’ with gigs in bars. And of course, a lot older than me,” he says. “I’d sneak in there every Sunday night. They would let me sit in with them for a song or two, even though I was underage.”

It was a relationship that proved to be fortuitous for both Thomsen and the band. “One night the bass player quit and I was arriving to see the bass player storming out. And the lead singer asked me, ‘hey, you want to play bass?’ So I really started that night with my first actual gig,” he says.

Thomsen couldn’t have asked for a better foray into the music industry. The band he joined, Bob’s Boogie Band, was a pretty big deal in Lansing. The young guitarist soaked up all he could from “Boogie” Bob (Baldori). “It was really a great start for me. I was lucky to get into music that early in my life and learn about it,” he says. “And you know, Bob is actually still playing. He was in Paris, France, not long ago.” As for his own career, Thomsen gravitated toward a traditional country sound the likes of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr.

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ANDERS THOMSEN

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON | PHOTO BY DERRICK DAVIS

“I have a big sister who was about six years older and she worked in a record store in a college town. So, she really helped to broaden my horizons. I listened to a lot of different styles of music,” Thomsen says.

get the best players I can, and of course, other people want them to play with them as well,” he says.

“But the traditional country is what I’ve always done in my shows. In the 1990s, I was in a band called the Ex-husbands, which was billed as an ‘alternative country’ band … even though we played more traditional country. We were based in Nashville, but we played around a lot.”

“I try to keep ahead with bookings so I can get them, but I love all the people that play with me,” Thomsen says.

One of those tours took him to Savannah, where he performed at a longstanding local hotspot, the Velvet Elvis. “… and that’s where I met my wife. She ran the Velvet Elvis at the time, which was 1996,” he says. The two married and lived in Nashville for a number of years where Thomsen’s singing and songwriter career flourished. After living in the country’s country music hub, the couple eventually decided to head back to Georgia. “My wife wanted to get back to Savannah, so I said, ‘why not not, we’re not getting any younger,’” he says. Since relocating, Thomsen has stayed busy with both performing and writing. He also enjoys building guitars, as well as set lists. Most recently, he released an album titled “Seven Songs,” on streaming services. When he performs live, he plays with a trio conveniently dubbed the Anders Thomsen Trio. “It is a trio but it’s been revolving cast of characters because people are busy. I

Drummer Chris Fullerton and bassist Chris Riser are most often in the mix.

And one place that the trio has popped up locally — Tipsy McSway’s in downtown Brunswick. The funky joint really appeals to Thomsen for its laid back, eclectic vibe. “It’s a really cool venue. Susan is just awesome and she does so much for music there,” he says. “It’s infectious. You just want to be part of it, so we always like to get down there and play. I’m always looking around for other places in the Golden Isles to play. I’ve met a few other musicians there, so I feel like they’ll point me in the right direction.” Wherever he plays though, Thomsen enjoys bringing a different bit of musical flare to the venue. His set lists often include Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, Merle Haggard, Johnny Winter and Tennessee Ernie Ford. “Really whatever you’d hear on your granddaddy’s car radio. Mainly, that’s what I do,” he says. “Take a blues song and add a fiddle, then it’s a country song. Take a blues song and add a guitar and it’s rock and roll. The old school country and blues are really the building blocks of all music. But the country is really best for me. I think that’s when I perform my best and I want people to get me at my best.”


COASTAL SEEN

YOUR BEST BEACH BUDDY Bonnie Rheborg, left, and Judy Johnson

Large selection of dog collars, harnesses and leashes in all sizes and themes - beach, novelty, collegiate or training. Large Selection of Dog Collars, Harnesses and Leashes!

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Choose your theme: Beach, Novelty, Collegiate or Training. Teacup to Dane sizes available! Toys, toys and more toys! Specialty treats, Bandanas, Clothing and Gifts.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND ART STROLL The St. Simons Art Stroll was recently held with five galleries displaying local and regional art. The participating galleries included ArtTrends, 3305 Frederica Road; Wallin Gallery, 3600 Frederica Road; Anderson Fine Art Gallery, 3309 Frederica Road; the Artists’ Annex Gallery, 100 Sylvan Blvd. Suite 170; and Glynn Visual Arts, 106 Island Drive. All are located on St. Simons Island. The art strolls are held multiple times a year.

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Deborah and David Wright

Don and Susan Myers

Janet and Jim Shirley

Elizabeth LeSueur, from left, Michelle Register, and Dr. Betty Oliver

GLYNN VISUAL ARTS’ “COMMON ROOTS: MANY BRANCHES” EXHIBITION OPENING Glynn Visual Arts on St. Simons Island recently hosted an opening for Common Roots, an exhibition featuring work curated by the National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The collection featured more than 60 pieces in a variety of mediums including acrylic, oil, photography, mixed media, and more. For more information about the art center, visit glynnvisualarts.org.

Margie Harris, left, and Beverly Lewis

Myrna Amos, left, and Kari Morris

Terri Evans, left, and Kevin Pullen

Sharon Blue Lee, left, and Elizabeth Holladay

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SAVE THE DATE! Friday, October 21st 6:00pm - 10:00pm Location: Oaks on the River

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Rhonda, from left, Kevin, Jeremiah, and Jordan Mitchell

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE COALITION’S TASTE OF GULLAH The African American Heritage Coalition recently hosted its annual Taste of Gullah event, which celebrates the food and culture of the Gullah Geechee people. It was held at the Harrington School on St. Simons Island. It featured live music, food vendors, and a book signing by chef and author Kevin Mitchell.

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Cameron Nicholson, left, and Anthony Lee

Chris and Joyce Slack

Dale and Gus Wheeler

Elma Andrews, left, and Lynn Cates

COASTAL PHOTOGRAPHER’S GUILD BIG PHOTO SHOW Photo assistance by Michelle Holton and Ginny Worthington The Coastal Photographer’s Guild recently hosted an opening reception for its 14th annual Big Photo Show at SoGlo Gallery in downtown Brunswick. Hundreds of images were displayed in a variety of categories. Awards were given by professional judges and People Choice winners were also distributed based on votes from the public. To learn more about the Guild, visit coastalphotographersguild.com.

Evan Winterberger

Harvey Williams, left, and Neal Gilchrist

Ginny Worthington, from left, Cheryl Fisher, and Jakie Archer

Jim Patrick

Michelle and Daniel Holton

Katherine Kinstle, from left, Nance Manderson, and Lucy Brous

Scarlet Hughes

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Nathaniel and Daniel Thompson

Michaela, from left, Scarlett, Emma, and Matt Hughes


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COASTAL SEEN

Brandon Sigman, left, and Lea Maye Smith

Ashleigh Purvis, left, and Ariel Anderson

Allyson Jackson, left, and Tracie Sproull

THE GOLDEN ISLES PENGUIN PROJECT The Golden Isles Penguin Project recently staged “High School Musical Jr.” at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick. The program pairs actors with disabilities with mentors to create a production. Sponsored by the Golden Isles Arts and Humanities, the show is performed every June. For more information about the program, visit goldenislesarts.org.

Brantley Kate Jones, left, and Wynslett Wills

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Brooke Wiggins, left, and Sandra Smith

Cathy and Tommy Schueler

Jack Bachman, left, and Emmeline Griffith

Doreen and Kelly Sigman

Jonathan Wade, from left, Will Ours, and Daniel Jackson

Josh Dukes, left, and James Laurens

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College is better College is better by the beach! by the beach! Not everyone gets to go to college in paradise. But for students at the College of Coastal Georgia, the Golden Isles is where they learn, study, and play. Part of the University System of Georgia, Coastal Georgia offers challenging academics, unmatched affordability, and competitive athletics--all in a vibrant, collegiate, coastal community. Named the #1 Best Value school in the state and just minutes from the beach... ...is it any wonder that students love the College of Coastal Georgia?

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DESIGN

Deliver your decorated bra to the Foundation by

SEPTEMBER 23, 4 P.M.

VOTE

Bras will be on display in Brunswick and Camden at Southeast Georgia Health System. Vote for $1 at either campus, or vote online at wearethefoundation.org

OCTOBER 1 – 31

LIVE AUCTION

The Historic Ritz Theatre in Downtown Brunswick

NOVEMBER 4, 6 P.M.

For more information, visit wearethefoundation.org or call 912-466-3360. Proceeds benefit Southeast Georgia Health System cancer care programs.