Volume 1 | issue 1 Fall/Winter 2013
from the editor What if we _______________?
many of the decisions of yesterday were made by people just like those we are
Three very simple words with the power
to move mountains, but it’s really the blank space that makes all the difference.
We see Thom as the personification
We were a few friends sitting around a
of a community rich in history and
table musing about something a writer
visionary thinking. In each issue you’ll
from Asheville said after her first trip
see Thomasville through the eyes of
here last fall, “there’s just something
Thom and meet the thinkers, visionaries,
about Thomasville.” We batted around
muses, artists, entrepreneurs and
what we each thought that “something”
professionals who share their talent to
was. People. History. Architecture.
shape our city. We believe in the power
Art. Culture. Geography. Creativity.
of cross-pollination and collaboration,
Collaboration. And then, BAM! What if
so you will also enjoy meeting the
we created something to document the
same kind of people who are shaping
people and the ideas that are shaping
communities much like ours. This
season, we traveled to Athens to spend time with a New York designer who has
Part magazine, part guide, part
blazed new trails as a painter by finding
documentary, we have designed Thom for
friendships among the artists who have
the culturally curious, weaving together
shaped their city’s art scene over the last
the written word with images to express
and promote the creativity in our region. We set out to design a special gift for our
As the Center for the Arts, we strive to
community, so we wanted it to be very
enrich the creative life of our community
different from anything else we have
by elevating the literary, visual,
seen. Naturally, we love working with the
performing and applied arts. Thom is an
uber creative, so we called on the hottest
entirely new venture for us and we thank
young talent the south has to offer. Enter
the artists, and 40+ partners who have
SCAD Atlanta — and their team of 21
helped bring it to life.
writers, designers, photographers and professors — and Thom was born.
If you are a member of the Center, you’ll receive Thom by mail twice a year with a
We were in the late stages of design
special gift from our presenting partner.
when I heard our Mayor, Max Beverly, tell
If you’re not a member, I encourage you
an audience that Thomasville’s success
to become one so you don’t miss out on
is due in large part to a series of good
the coolest happenings in town. But, you
decisions made by good people over a
can pick up a complimentary copy at any
long period of time. I fancy the idea that
of our partner locations. If you have a few minutes, drop me a line and let us know what you think. Thinkers make the world go ‘round!
2 THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THOM The Honorable Max Beverly
6 A mentor & A Visionary Hananel Mavity
12 Charming Charlie Charlie Whitney Creators
16 Inside the owls nest Brandy and Gates Kirkham Artist
24 Peter Corbin Featured Painter Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival Collaborators
26 Playing Community A Peek Inside the Treehouse 30 THOM’s guide Trailblazer
78 Simply Susan Susan Hable Smith Foodies
84 Riding Shotgun Nan Myers and Carol Whitney Placemakers
90 Jaunt Around Tallahassee’s Creative Hub Innovator
98 All About the light Kenn von Roenn 104 Concept team Savannah College of Art and Design – Atlanta 105 contributing artists
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT
THOM. TO PRONOUNCE THIS word correctly is a verbal exercise that uses every
muscle of the speech apparatus, sort of like an oratorical jumping jack. It feels
and Nikki Igbo
like an affirmation when spoken. Each time we utter a name, we invoke all of the
energy and meaning associated with it. (When citizens of Thomasville speak its
name, they reiterate an essence, an outlook, a truth.) For us, Thom is an abbreviation of Thomas which is an awesome name in its own right. Sure, it technically means “twin” but those who have been given the name tend to have an uncommon way of touching the lives around them. Think Edison, Paine, Jefferson, Blanchard or Wolfe. These namesakes didn’t mind undertaking huge endeavors. They were visionaries who practiced truth, justice and discipline; who went on to become charismatic leaders; who valued rich history while pursuing a bright future. Thom, although seemingly truncated, means much more. As all nicknames do, it denotes a special recognition and familiarity. It means “I’ve gotten to know you and you have become dear to me. So much so, that I can’t forget you.” Thom is up close and personal. Thom is here among us. In lieu of a memorized, remote figure in a history book, Thom is a neighbor who is alive and well, a call away. Thom celebrates the many “Thoms” of Thomasville. While these community champions may not bear the name Thom, they all share a common characteristic. They shape the lives and experiences of this exceptional Georgian community through their creative ideas and movements. They are a reminder of all the original hopes and wishes for the town. One such notable goes by the name of Max Beverly.
Mayor Max Beverly is the kind of guy who gets more sidewalk greetings than Google hits. He’s a sleeve roller-upper who can be spotted at Grassroots Coffee with Wells, his black Labrador. A grown up Boy Scout, a fan of fly fishing, grilling and the crisp appeal of craft beer. Though he has no ambitions of higher political office, he does aspire to create and maintain the best possible Thomasville for his wife, his three sons and his 18,000 neighbors. So, each day, he contributes his time and love of community to doing just that. Max is a member of a collective effort with a longstanding tradition – a Thomasville tradition of forward-thinking vision, pragmatism, and civic pride on all levels. One that includes avoiding destruction during the Civil War; efforts to heal and rebuild during the Reconstruction era; an embrace of the hunting, timber, and bread making industries, as well as healthcare and higher education; and the 1889 introduction and ongoing expansion of electricity services a mere seven years after Edison’s first electric power plant was established in New York.
of the city council to envision big picture plans for the city while leaving the day-to-day operations to
Today Max uses the same smart growth approach
a city manager. He’d talk about the desire to always
of his forefathers to fulfill his personal commitment
provide a place for his three sons to live and thrive
to the town he loves. This innovation manifests
once they’ve gone off into the world to have their own
itself through various projects including the vision
of a convention center to accommodate events for 500-700 people; conversion of the city’s fleet
After greeting a few passersby while admiring the
of vehicles from diesel to compressed natural gas
hustle and bustle of the downtown district on a blue-
(CNG) and the establishment of a publicly accessible
sky morning, Max would give Wells a pat on the head,
CNG filling station; true revitalization of the historic
get back in his truck, and go back to the business of
neighborhood of Victoria Place; and a full embrace of
being just another Thom. It’s kind of a Thomasville
visual and performing arts throughout the community
via a partnership with Thomasville Center for the Arts. The most amazing thing about what’s happening is the interconnectedness of it all. If anyone were to ask Max about these projects, he’d simply explain the partnerships between residents, local government, the plantations, private industry, non-profit organizations, and local schools and universities with a shrug and a smile. He’d talk about the will of the people to reduce the negative and promote the positive. He’d discuss the unique opportunity he has as a member
City of Thomasville 111 Victoria Place Thomasville, GA thomasville.org
Written by Ally Wright Photographed by Anna Bader
A MENTOR AND A VISIONARY I HAVE A MEMO board — a homemade one, of fabric and ribbon — covered in things that I want to do. Most of them are events. Most of them have already happened. And most of them, well, I did not actually attend. My refrigerator magnets hold up other reminders. Make this recipe! Write this person back! Visit this town! I think I just like magnets. Don’t get me wrong. I do things. But it’s mostly accidental. In the moment. Planning something in advance and making it happen? Harder. I’m always shocked when something works out. Hananel Mavity is not like that. She has a vision. She makes it happen. Both her careers — singer/songwriter and teacher — prove this. And she teaches her students to do the same. Hananel, 24, embodies a profound sense of practicality mixed with a visionary’s eye. She used this unique blend to envision herself as youth education coordinator at Thomasville Center for the Arts (TCA). And she made it happen. “Maybe I was too young to know I wasn’t qualified,” Hananel laughed. After a brief but rewarding stint as a teacher for a summer camp at TCA, she went to Youth Education and Outreach Director Mary Oglesby and said she wanted to teach in the afternoons during the school year. “Oglesby was always open-minded, always looking for the best and most creative way to do something good for the kids,” said Hananel. TCA was in the process of launching the aptly titled Art in the Afternoon, and she was hired to help teach it. Because of the program’s infancy, Hananel was able to write and create a lot of her own curriculum. This began a career path that quickly took over her life. Hananel joked about it, but she definitely wasn’t unqualified. When she was hired to teach at TCA, she had been practicing her mentoring skills for years, most recently as a student at the International School of Theology and Leadership. Hananel’s friend and lifelong mentor, David Parrish, encouraged her to apply. 6
Hananel credits David and his wife, Dr. Charlene Parrish, with beginning her education in mentorship, merely by being great examples. While at the school, she was able to travel to Italy and Switzerland, mentor children in orphanages and jam on the streets of Rome. I interviewed Hananel on a rare Friday afternoon when TCA was quiet — the students were on spring break. We sat on bean bag cushions arranged in a circle and discussed Hananel’s accidental teaching career, from her first class called Vocal Imagination, which consisted of two students, to the full-scale revue of Cats under her direction at the time. The production incorporated students from across TCA, harnessing their creative spirit to create costumes, design the set, plan the make-up, sing, dance and act. She mentioned her students’ names frequently, becoming excited with each one. Though she tried to keep it reined in, her enthusiasm implied that she could talk for hours about each one. This passion and excitement for her students can be seen in her studio, which is covered in their pictures and artwork. Her phone is another archive dedicated to her students’ achievements, performances, practices, and her students hanging out. It is easy to see this is more than just a job to her. As we sat on the bean bag cushions talking, her phone buzzed: “Your child prodigies have arrived.” She laughed. Three of her students came in on their spring break to perform for us. That’s dedication to art and also to their mentor. Before the kids came in, I asked Hananel about her background. Her family moved to Thomasville from Vermont when she was two years old and brought with them a love of all things artistic: theater, music, art, writing. Her mother, who studied theater and performed in college, sometimes did shows at the then Cultural Center (now TCA) and taught classes there when Hananel was young. Hananel performed alongside her mother in the auditorium, never knowing that one day she would direct large groups of students on the same stage to packed houses. She credits her family’s support and “creative household” 8
Hananel, 24, embodies a profound sense of practicality mixed with a visionaryâ€™s eye.
She loves being able to set people up for success naturally. Put them in a group, give them the right framework and then watch them do their thing.
with her love of the arts, and hopes to provide her
is mostly an a cappella group focused on teaching
students with a similar atmosphere. I’d say she
harmony. Several of the members are musicians,
including Trey Garland, a talented pianist who entertained me in the red-walled room of bean
During her first year teaching at TCA, Hananel
lived in Tallahassee where she performed music at local venues, participated in community theater,
“Trey is amazing,” Hananel said. Again she never
and took classes at the community college. But she
missed an opportunity to brag about her students.
needed more. “A big part of me, as an artist and as an
Trey came to TCA as part of the after-school arts
educator, is that there are lot of things I love, and I do
enrichment program which TCA created for the
them all.” She has been composing songs since she
Thomasville Community Resource Center, but he
was 15, and she is a writer and a director, as well as an
excelled so quickly that it was better for him to be off
actor and singer.
on his own. Trey’s talent has flourished in the hands of these organizations. He takes piano lessons with
Hananel, who teaches students of all backgrounds
the director of the music academy and is a member
from ages 4-15, is inspired to follow her passions as
of Glee. Trey is also a part of Hananel’s new endeavor,
well. For her first album, released this summer with
Ignite, which is a group of young professional artists.
the regional label Gaterbone Records, she pulled
He wants to produce music.
from the creative talent around her to form her band. “Part of what made me realize that I needed to start
“One thing I’m really passionate about is getting
making my music again was my work with Glee Club
to know a kid, or any person, and finding out what
for Thomasville Music Academy, one of TCA’s many
they show interest in and where they show skill and
partners. It inspired me to sing again, not just in
going ‘oh, do that, really, do that, it’ll work.’” She loves
theater.” Glee lets the kids choose the songs they want
to recognize and encourage talent, instilling in her
to sing. Top 40 hits are common choices. The club
students early that “making it” requires a lot of hard
work. “I feel like that whole thing about being an artist
find themselves in the same position, whether they
and being totally broke doesn’t happen to people who
choose careers in the arts or become veterinarians.
learn early how to work hard.” She goes on to say this
Her teaching philosophy is about encouragement,
can mean either knowing that you need a full-time
support. She loves being able to set people up for
job on top of your art or learning to promote yourself
success naturally. Put them in a group, give them the
well and placing yourself in the right situations for
right framework and then watch them do their thing.
success, or most likely both. “I’m not worried about
She herself has reaped the benefits of finding the right
crushing their dreams,” she laughed.
framework. And she has the vision, which is much harder to be taught. It has to be intuited. Inspired.
Just the opposite, in fact. She teaches them that they can have their dreams if they’re willing to work, and
Lucky for her kids, they have Hananel as an example.
she gives them the practical methods to make these dreams come true. Her young professional artists work on résumés, business cards, and finding local or regional places to perform. “We play a much bigger part in their lives than just teaching them art. We’re here to mentor these kids, to be their friend and their teacher. With the arts, you want them to be able to express what’s going on inside them,” said Hananel. She says she is lucky to have found herself on this career path that is both her job and her art. Hananel wants her kids to be driven and passionate enough to
Thomasville center for the arts 600 East Washington Street Thomasville, GA thomasvillearts.org
I n the latter part of my life, I decided to do what I really wanted to do. I am kind of a late bloomer.
Written by Jennifer Jefferson Photographed by Mia Yakel and Jay Bowman
CHARLIE I LIKE OPEN ROADS. I always have. There is something thrilling about zipping down wide expanses of asphalt. With Charlie Whitney as my guide, it is easy to get lost in this moment. Handsome man, vintage car, a buttery voice guiding me through the world, showing me things Iâ€™ve never seen before: art, antiques, architecture. I imagine in his younger years he looked like a savvy James Bond, smooth as fine silk, speeding down country, canopied roads. In his 60s, Charlie is tall and debonair. His tortoise-shell, round-frame glasses are as much a part of his signature as his love for vintage Land Rovers. Heâ€™s owned a couple. The one parked in front of his home is red, restored and rebellious. Charlie can own any room, but to see him in his home is magical. Here he is the master of ceremonies, and this is his palace. The high ceilings allow for ample space for his antler collection. The golden walls highlight his interests. This place suggests that heâ€™s been to many corners of the world. Dutch ceramics, taxidermy and arrowheads are meticulously arranged throughout his house with hundreds of books revealing a man of sophisticated taste. French wine and moonshine pepper nooks. This setup provides a chic playground for a pug named Mango Delicious and an elusive cat. This day, Charlie sits in a corner chair. He crosses his legs, furrows his brow and clasps his hands. His platinum hair glints as slivers of light peek through the shutters and dance on his head. This is when I realize that Charlie is charming, but also shy. When pressed about his specific expertise, he defines his business, C.H. Whitney, in broad strokes: part interior designer, part renovator, part preserver, part real estate broker, part antiques dealer. In 1996, the charismatic entrepreneur moved from Moultrie to Thomasville, where he was raised. After three decades of working solely in real estate and as a fast-talking auctioneer, he opened an antiques shop and began renovating and preserving historic buildings. In his home, I stop at a painting of a fox in the woods on the floor in a corner of his living room. Charlie has also taken a liking to painting. The lines are thick and 13
the colors are saturated. The works are mostly scenes
describing Charlie’s genteel nature. “That’s a good guy
from life in Thomasville. The self-taught artist has
you’re with,” says Dwayne Hoven. Charlie and Dwayne
sold about 40 of his works through his antiques shop
became fast friends while shooting quail together.
where every minute detail has been well-curated. He’s
Dwayne shows me the custom case that houses his
an avid collector and seller of 18th century antiques.
guns during hunting season. Charlie restored an
“The shop supports my habit,” he says.
old service station counter and reworked it into a towering gun case. This is the genius of Charlie. He
In C.H. Whitney you will find a wolf hide, $875. The
can see the beauty in the discarded.
ivory tag reads “For the woman who runs with wolves” in Charlie’s tiny cursive handwriting. Dutch Delft
Charlie has become a reflection of the city itself. He’s
Chargers, circa 1760–1780, $1375. Queen Anne Maple
a man who can be lured by the history of the area, but
Chest, $4,800. “It’s pretty amazing once you think
he is also a supporter of art and revitalization. Simply
about it. Some of these have been around for 200
put, he knows something of value when he sees it.
years. They’re masterpieces.” His shop has become
He has long loved Savannah, and his two sons have
a go-to for fabulous finds. “Thomasville is a big art
planted their roots in Atlanta, but Thomasville is the
community,” Charlie says. “A community that is open
best fit for him. “I like the sense of community and
to art is generally more accepting of new ideas.”
being wherever you want to be in 5 to 10 minutes,” Charlie says.
Later, I will discover that Charlie seems to know everyone by first and family name. Part of his vast
You can find Charlie partaking in the wave of
reach into the community is tied to two things:
businesses budding downtown. After hours you may
he’s the fourth generation of his family to live in
see him having a glass of wine with his wife Carol at
Thomasville and he is on the board of directors for
Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop. People constantly
Thomasville Landmarks. From street to street, he can
interrupt him to say “hi,” and you can’t miss that
point out homes the organization has worked hard to
unmistakable quack coming from his phone. Charlie
save and provide a little history on the Victorian and
is entertaining to watch. He enjoys conversation, but
antebellum style homes from Thomasville to Boston,
most people don’t notice that they are talking more
Georgia. I am impressed I’ve spent 25 years just south
than he is. He never interrupts in a conversation and
of here, in Tallahassee, and could not tell anyone a
answers each and every question with care, filling
thing about the architecture or the history of the
awkward moments with a raspy laugh.
place. I do have a pretty good eye for anything new or innovative. Maybe that says something about my
His phone’s quack reminds me of the Chattahoochee
River. It whips through the South with grace and ease. People are drawn to the serenity of it. It’s peaceful, but
Charlie’s vision can be seen at the private properties
people are attracted to its wildness of spirit. I think
of his clients and friends, as well as in public buildings
the same can be said of Charlie. What he brings to
from courthouses to clock towers. He explains to
Thomasville is a worldview that’s filled with heritage
me the work that went into each building to unveil
and a constantly renewed spirit. Much like Paul
its innate beauty. He does so with the enthusiasm
Newman said to Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and
of a shy boy showing off a model airplane; Charlie
the Sundance Kid, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of
seems to be both proud of his work and in awe of
the world wears bifocals.” In our last conversation he
his creations. “In the latter part of my life, I decided
says that many women describe him as a “renaissance
to do what I really wanted to do. I am kind of a late
man.” I would describe him as the consummate
southern gentleman. When I ask him to describe himself, he says, “just a little bit of a rascal.”
Although, it often makes him uncomfortable to talk about himself, his friends take no issue with 14
Heâ€™s a man who can be lured by the history of the area, but he is also a supporter of art and revitalization. Simply put, he knows something of value when he sees it.
C.H. Whitney Antiques 118 Remington Avenue Thomasville, GA chwhitney.com
Written by ALLY WRIGHT Photographed by EMILY SCHULTZ AND EVAN JANG
I BELIEVE IN GHOSTS. Let me rephrase that. I believe
Brandy and Gates’ home is like this. It’s full of the
in spirits, a certain perpetuation of soul. There are
history they’ve inherited, the past they’re building
things that remind me of this: wisteria, a cool wind,
onto. The house itself was built in the early 1980s, but
the smell of sawdust, the air in an old building, the
built to look like an old-fashioned farmhouse, one
mustiness of an old book. Large expanses of land do
that would have been added to as the need arose, as
the same, cornfields and cow pastures, woods. Lakes
new generations were born. It is part of the land the
too. There is a hint of ancestry in the smell of the
Kirkhams love and is full of artistic portrayals of it.
water, the appeal of the sun peeking out from the
Brandy remarked on the power of art to convey our
clouds, imprinting my skin.
shared experiences, how two people looking at a piece can have completely different emotional reactions,
Some people possess this quality. The quality of
both equally strong. She was talking about landscapes,
permanence, substance, certainty. Brandy and Gates
bringing your own memories of them to a painting of
Kirkham shone with it from the first moment I
one, but I think it’s a bigger thing too.
met them. I saw it even as I was driven onto their plantation in Thomasville, before I was welcomed
I wandered around their house, examined the
into their home. We passed lodges and pastures
collection of owls inherited from Gates’ grandmother,
and a black iron sign that read “Owls Nest Sinkola
the original owner. I found the hidden quail in the wallpaper (“She loved wallpaper,” Brandy laughs), and
Wh at we b r i n g to PWA F is ou r passio n fo r th e l a n d, th e l i fe st y le .
the horses, another inherited thing, galloping over bookshelves and propping open doors. Everything was in its place. One generation building on another. My initial reaction was emotional — a memory of something that hasn’t happened yet, a simulated
Plantation.” I could feel history in the air, the sense
wholeness, a hope. Later, Gates drove us around the
that this place, and these people, knew their role in
land, the lake, the barns, the sawmill. The feeling
the bigger picture and weren’t afraid to stake their
claim to it. In the sunroom, surrounded by large open windows My personal ancestry is a shaky thing; family
revealing the forested landscape, Brandy and Gates
branches have been burned, connections forgotten
talk about the history of Thomasville — “don’t take
from lack of interest. But I was born and raised in the
my word as gospel by any means.” Gates laughs at
South, and the land itself feels alive. I am a part of it.
this, but I think I could take his word. They talk of
Photographs and paintings of Southern landscapes
their love of art, music, hunting, and the Plantation
remind me of the framed sun setting over woods in
Wildlife Arts Festival (PWAF), which they co-lead
my parents’ den — painted by my grandmother — or
with Gates as chairman and Brandy as festival
the boxes of curling black and white photographs in
coordinator. They tell of Gates’ first turkey (stuffed
my mother’s office. Yet these pictures, and the lives
and preserved on the wall in their foyer, complete
and memories they represent, stay in those boxes. I
with teeth marks in the neck from Gates’ overeager
have added my own over the years. Memory put away
dog). They talk of Avery, their nine-year-old daughter,
for later, not permanently discarded, but also not
who had been walking through the house as a cat
celebrated. It has been suggested that those boxes are
that week, practicing for a production of Cats with
the beginning of hoarding. It’s an urge I understand.
Thomasville Center for the Arts. “The center is alive,”
But then there is tradition. There is living history.
Brandy says, acknowledging that, as a leader of PWAF,
There is looking into an old picture and seeing myself
she is supporting the classes her daughters adore and
attend consistently. Both Avery and Lexi love to ride horses when outside the classroom. They are home
on spring break, and their straight blond hair is on the periphery, entering every now and then to whisper in their mother’s ear, pushing back Brandy’s own smooth blond hair to do so. The Kirkhams love to go to the Bradfordville Blues Club, on the outskirts of Tallahassee, any night they can get out, dancing to the blues and jazz music they favor. “You have to go,” said Gates, texting me the address. “When you drive up, it won’t look like a place you’ll want to go in,” he adds laughing. “But it’s great.” Gates pulls out his iPad, showing pictures of himself at music festivals, with several musicians he’s had the privilege to meet. He plays a little guitar too but, as with most casual musicians, he swears he isn’t any good. Brandy laughs about her eldest daughter Lexi’s inevitable rise to the level of a groupie like her husband. Lexi is addicted to her Kindle — reading is her means of escape — claiming she’d have to give that up for Lent if she were Catholic. The 11-yearold loves gardening, too. Brandy lets the music thing exist as something Gates and her daughter share, though she is an admirer. She is excited about the amphitheater coming to downtown Thomasville. “Music can really bring a community together, ” says Brandy. Gates’ tour of the plantation’s land includes descriptions of the scenery as he points to longleaf pines that, when struck by lightning, are harvested for heart pine in the Sinkola Sawmill. He is a tall man, wearing jeans and a long-sleeve button-down shirt with a vest, boots. He seems at home here. He jokes that he is always searching the skies, ready for any hint or echo of a bird. Gates and the others who work on Sinkola maintain the land carefully, creating the ideal habitat for the Bobwhite quail, which is what the region is known for, hunting-wise. Thomasville has one of the highest densities of wild northern Bobwhite quail left in the United States. Gates points out the old, preserved things: the wagon they use for hunting, the electricity-free picnic house where they often have parties. He shows off the new: the repurposed shack that is his Monday night poker hall, the truck 20
they use for rainy day hunts. Owls Nest (a name
children are immersed in the hunting lifestyle, but the
taken from his grandmother’s previous home) is now
parents don’t force this tradition on them, hoping an
the main house on Sinkola, but it wasn’t originally.
interest will develop naturally as they get older.
The original structure is now the main house on a different plantation, as the land has been divided into
The kids’ love of art, however, is encouraged, as Gates
smaller units over time, and is now owned by a family
admits taking it for granted when he was a child. At
PWAF last year, each daughter was allowed to pick one painting to purchase. Lexi’s sold before they were able
Before meeting Gates, Brandy had never been on a
to buy it, but the artist, Amy Poor, sent her another
shoot, but she received a shotgun their first Christmas
version of it for Christmas. This gift, a small painting
together and has since learned how to use it. Gates
of a wren, is indicative of the relationships Brandy
grew up in Cleveland, coming to Sinkola every year
and Gates form with the artists who participate in the
to shoot, and is now the fifth generation of his family
festival, many of whom have become close friends.
to live here. Brandy grew up in Thomasville, but
Gates, as PWAF chairman, has a strong, dedicated
knew little of the plantations framing the town. Their
team of volunteers, so by the time the weekend comes
was like a mother to Gates. She passed away in 2009,
around in November, he can be a relaxed host, putting
and much of Gates’ passion for the festival is about
out fires where necessary, but mostly making sure
continuing her legacy and honoring this woman who
everyone feels welcome.
Brandy describes as a “real mover and shaker.” Brandy and Gates bring in as many people and companies as
Brandy and Gates are Thomasville. Their passion for
they can to help, both locally and from Tallahassee.
its history and its future are evident in everything
They know that the more people are involved—who
they do for it, and in how excited they are talking
feel a part of the festival — the better it will be, and
about it. The community is one they want to help
the better Thomasville will be for it. Brandy says,
A rt is a r e flect io n o f ou r m e m o r i e s bac k to u s, a r e m i n d e r th at h u m a n i t y fe e ls th e s e d e e pe r co n n ect io n s .
“What we bring to PWAF is our passion for the land, the lifestyle. We want to preserve that, continue it, expose more people to it.” They expose this passion in themselves with their descriptions of the work of Tallahassee paper artist Lucrezia Bieler. On an end table in the sunroom, they have a small framed cutout of a bird, entirely made from one sheet of paper and a tiny pair of scissors. Gates says he discovered her work
preserve and to stimulate. They embody the living
toward the end of last year’s festival and proceeded to
history, the past as useful, harvested, built upon.
show it off to everybody: “If you see the stuff she does
Thomasville has always had a creative edge from the
up close, it’s unreal.”
early days of the northern settlers who came down for the winter. Today that edge is keeping the town
Their mix of old and new expands to the art they
moving forward. The Kirkhams encourage this, while
feature at the festival. They are, again, focused
preserving the past.
on preserving the tradition of wildlife art, which is what they grew up with, and inviting in newer
Their roles as leaders for PWAF let them do that. They
interpretations of it. Brandy offers Curt Butler’s
work to combine the history of the festival, which
The Family Tree as an example of the different
was started 18 years ago by Gates’ second cousin
interpretation of wildlife art. It hangs in their
Margo Bindhardt, with modern Thomasville. Margo
children’s playroom/office, art amidst the life it was
created to represent. The Kirkhams want there to be something for everyone to connect with at PWAF. They want the art to create conversations — to inspire buyers, yes, but also to inspire passion for the art, for the land, for the lifestyle that wildlife art is preserving. The one they love so much. It is hard to capture the exact feeling of knowing, on some larger scale, that we are not alone, that we are a part of the earth and the earth is a part of us. And we are all a part of each other. Yet that’s what art is about. Art is a reflection of our memories back to us, a reminder that humanity feels these deeper connections. When we connect with a piece, it is our memories matching up or squaring off with the artist’s memories. It is us connecting with others who are observing, questioning, discussing the art. It is me, looking at a painting of a land I have never seen before and being confronted with my own feelings of longing. It is me, inhaling the dusty smell of Gates’ sawmill and picturing my uncles’ cabinet shop, the bookshelves they built for me. It is the collections of owl figurines and lamps and plates that remind me of my mother’s classroom where she teaches second grade, always full of stuffed animals and posters and erasers and timers, all in the shape of pigs. The same thing is true of the land; it is a reflection. Maybe this is obvious. Maybe those of you reading this know and understand how the land itself is art. But maybe you forget sometimes. The land is art. Nature is art. We are nature. In the dining room of Owls Nest, an artist painted a mural covering one entire wall. The mural actually hides cabinet doors that, when opened, reveal dishes and serving ware. But when the doors are closed, they show the woods around Sinkola, bringing them into the house. In the middle, off at a distance, is a hunting wagon with a family of four painted onto it: Brandy, Gates, Lexi and Avery. The mural was first, then Brandy and Gates added by an artist friend, and then Lexi and Avery added by another.
sinkola.com Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival
A perpetuation of spirit. A work of art.
PLANTATION WILDLIFE ARTS FESTIVAL FEATURED PAINTER
IN A PAINTING CAREER that has spanned more than 30 years and produced a body of work bearing comparison to the likes of A.B. Frost and Ogden Pleissner, Peter Corbin has established himself as one of the finest American sporting artists of his generation. But while his reputation is based primarily on his meticulously composed scenes of sport — fly fishing and wing shooting in particular — the paintings collected in his portfolio reveal the full range of his talent, the stunning breadth of his reach and vision. Landscapes, portraits of people and dogs, depictions of birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat, equestrian art: these too are realms in which Corbin’s classic style and respectful sensibility have made a lasting mark.
PUBLIC COLLECTIONS The American Museum of Fly Fishing / Manchester, Vermont; Cascade Mountain Winery and Restaurant / Amenia, New York; The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum / Livingston Manor, New York; Dana Corporation / St. Paul, Minnesota; Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History / Jackson, Michigan; Frazer Paper Company/ Bridgeport, Connecticut; John Treiber Agency, Inc. / Mineola, New York; L. L. Bean Inc. / Freeport, Maine; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum / Wausau, Wisconsin; The National Art Museum of Sport / Indianapolis, Indiana; The Prudential, Giralda Farms / Madison, New Jersey
PETER CORBIN / Fine Sporting Art
81 Fraleigh Hill Road, Millbrook, NY 12545 firstname.lastname@example.org 845-677-5020 www.petercorbin.com 24
C E L E B R AT I N G T H E S P O R T I N G L I F E T H R O U G H A R T IN THOMASVILLE, GEORGIA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES GUTHRIE
We are really protective of what this is and what we all need as individuals for the Treehouse to be.
A PEEK INSIDE THE TREEHOUSE
WHETHER IT IS A blanket fort in the living room or a wooden treehouse buried
in the branches of a magnolia, children create a secret place for themselves and
their friends. The makeshift play area becomes a symbol of innocence, a place
Anna Bader and
where anything can be imagined, with nobody to say that imaginations are too big.
Too often, however, the blanket fort is cleaned up, and the treehouse is filled with leaves. We all grow up and leave those intimate, safe spaces for bigger and more competitive spheres. Sometimes, in those spheres, I meet someone who sees my vision or shares my passion. It’s a light bulb moment, and I wish to pull that person into the same kind of space so we can talk for hours. Though for me it is only a desire, Bunny Byrne, Brent Runyon, Haile McCollum, and Michele Arwood make it their reality. They haven’t let that safe space disappear. These Thomasville movers and shakers carve out time every Wednesday to sit next to each other and talk in an old Coca-Cola bottling building that is now Haile’s office space. During their time together, which Haile aptly named the “Idea Treehouse,” they discuss ideas that intrigue them, and their visions for Thomasville. When I get to sit and talk with them, I can’t help but notice the positive dynamics. Their openness and respect for one another is infectious; their confidence and progressive energy, palpable. Haile, an entrepreneur with several successful business ventures under her belt, is the instigator of this creative collective. Haile’s office space seems to mimic an actual treehouse with its warm and secluded atmosphere. She explains that the Idea Treehouse came out of her desire to connect people. “I knew all these people individually and thought that something cool could happen if they were brought together to talk.” Haile wanted to create a space for ideas to flourish without demanding an outcome. There is no agenda. No note taking. Just a sacred space where, for an hour, each individual sheds their work persona and simply gets to be. Listening to them makes me a bit jealous. I want to watch their brains work together because, in the midst of this data and outcome driven world, the
opportunity to sit with like-minded people for a bit of
Brent explains that most of the furnishings came
time and just ruminate feels like a luxury. These four
from his grandmother, but the artwork is more his
individuals, however, have made it a necessity.
taste. I comment that somehow it all flows together. He shrugs. “This house is all over the place, like I
“We are really protective of what this is and what
am.” It’s this ability to gather the old and the new,
we all need as individuals for the Idea Treehouse to
and produce something distinctive, that really sets
be,” Bunny explains. “We don’t find this anywhere
Brent apart in the Idea Treehouse. He is effective and
else.” She isn’t a native of Thomasville, but I would
forward moving, but with a special reverence for
never have known that from her intense loyalty to
the town. The creator of the local creative paper Thomasville Townie, Bunny looks like she stepped right
If Haile brings her desire to connect people to the
out of the 1940s, complete with her bouncy blond
Treehouse, Bunny brings her loyalty, Brent brings
bob and sassy talk. When I ask what she writes about
his reverence and effectiveness, then Michele brings
in the Townie, she looks at me with her sharp blue-
the momentum. Executive Director of Thomasville
green eyes and unabashedly says, “I only cover what
Center for the Arts, Michele is passionate about
the cool people should be doing.” When I laugh she
connecting the community and forming a creative
explains, “No really. If I think it’s cool then I will put
web of people. She and I share a nerd moment as
it in there.”
we discover our mutual fascination with creative placemaking and using the arts to improve
When she moved to Thomasville, Bunny found it
was easy for her to get a sense of who the people of Thomasville are, and what they value. “I think in my
Though for me it is a recent passion, Michele’s strong
paper and my blog I can distill that and make it into
love of community and connections started from a
little edible chunks for people who are not from here.
young age. She remembers being 9 or 10 and playing
I think that there is a perception that everyone here
in the orange grove in her backyard. “I would create
is landed gentry from way back when, and the truth
cities and towns. I’ve always been intrigued by the
is, nobody here cares and that’s why they live here.” I
idea of community. So somehow, I guess I’ve come
realize that Bunny doesn’t care either, and she brings
full circle.” It is that lifelong passion that inspires her
her free spirit, matched by her strong loyalty to
to nurture this Thomasville collective.
Thomasville, into the Idea Treehouse. As I listen to these four creative leaders talk and toss Brent Runyon shares that loyalty to Thomasville,
around ideas, I am reminded of the easy, uninhibited
though he might not voice it as often or as loudly.
conversations of childhood. Idea Treehouse is
Brent, in his position as director of Thomasville
the grown up and realizable version of “playing
Landmarks, preserves the old Thomasville while
community.” I love getting to peek into this space
championing the new. I quickly grasp that this
they have created, to get a glimpse of these creative
juxtaposition of old and new permeates Brent’s
minds and what they each bring to the table.
life. When I walk into his living room, I can’t help but notice the plush Victorian-style couch placed
But the Idea Treehouse is their space. In a
below a piece of artwork painted in primary colors
minute, I’ll get up. I’ll duck out and climb down
with children’s building blocks and sequins. Or
the metaphorical ladder and leave them to their
the arts-and-crafts rocking chair near the pop art
musings. In just a minute I’ll stop listening to them
poster. Or the framed photograph of his great, great
inspire and enjoy the ideas of each other.
grandfather and a mule caravan at the entrance to his Ikea-like kitchen.
I promise I’ll leave. In just a minute.
I knew all these people individually and thought that something really cool could happen if they were brought together.
Discovery is not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes. â€“ Marcel Proust 30
“I like to think I’m just the curator of what the people before me began. The books, music, and art we sell reflect our passion for good stories and meaningful conversations.” Annie Jones, Owner
bookshelf a thomasville bookstore
126 S. Broad St • Thomasville, GA • 229.228.7767 bookshelfandgallery.com • Annie Jones, Owner 32
relish 107 S. Broad St. â€˘ Thomasville, GA 229.227.0024 relishingdash.com
run.walk.lounge 107 S. Broad St. • Thomasville, GA 229.227.0024 • relishingdash.com
Celebrating the Individual, One Cupcake at a Time
36 Broad St., Thomasville, GA | 1123 Thomasville Rd., Tallahassee, FL | 631 West Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 126 South
Mode 128 S. Broad St. â€˘ Thomasville, GA 229.226.8861
209 S. Broad St. thomaSville, GeorGia •••
Deana Ponder, Owner Toscoga 39
corne rstone builders llc 239 S Madison Street Thomasville, GA 31792 229.672.1334 229.672.1346
118 South Broad Street, Downtown Thomasville 229-226-3388 grassrootscoffee.com 42
DOWNTOWN THOMASVILLE | LUNCH SERVED WED-FRI 11-2 & DINNER 5-9 | SAT. OPEN ALL DAY 11-9
102 E. JACKSON STREET THOMASVILLE, GEORGIA 229.228.9244
rel i c s a creative haven for salvage design and vintage collections
138 South Madison Street | relicsthomasville.com | 229.228.4181
Lambrodila rutilans (Pretty, but not your friend)
A s s o c i at e b b u s Ch Fine Real Estate Investments
304 Gordon Avenue Thomasville, GA 31792 ••• 229.226.7916 | www.chubbrealty.com 49
111 S. Broad St., Thomasville, Georgia | 229.226.7766 3350 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee, Fl | 850.386.5544 www.kevinscatalog.com 51
CHASE A DREAM WITH US.
SAFARIS UNLIMITED, LLC
P E B B L E H I L L P L A N TAT I O N PEBBLEHILL.COM
YOUR EVENT . . . OUR BACKDROP
304 Smith Ave., Thomasville, GA 31792 | 229-226-5880 | singletarysflowers.com
Sewell, Morgan & Hilliard, PC certified
121 North Love Street • Thomasville, GA • 229.226.2001
2 0 1 8 E a s t P i n e t r e e B l v d . , T h o m a s v i l l e , G A 2 2 9 . 2 2 8 . 6 7 0 2 • M o n - S a t 1 0 - 7 • S u n d a y 1- 5 11 9 0 C a p i t a l C i r c l e S E , T a l l a h a s s e e , F L 8 5 0 . 8 7 8 . 3 0 9 5 • M o n - S a t 10 - 8 • S u n d a y 12- 6 58
THE NUTCRACKER Saturday, November 29 • 7:30 pm Sunday, November 30 • 2:30 pm Thomasville Municipal Auditorium
HOT HAVANA NIGHTS An Evening of Music, Dance and Art Saturday, January 25 Thomasville Center for the Arts southgeorgiaballet.org • 229.228.9420
Classic Land Rovers available for purchase 229.224.2023
C.H. Whitney 18th and 19th century furniture and accessories, Chinese export porcelains, works of art, neat pieces and items of curiosity • • •
residential restoration consultants
www.chwhitney.com 118 Remington Avenue, Thomasville, Georgia 31792 229.224.2023
A nne H. B icknell
www . theonpointcollection . com
D ecember 6 th
H olidAy S How And S Ale • U no h ill b arn • P ebble h ill P lantation , t homasville , G a for more information : 229.228.0820
140 north broad stree t thomasville, georgia 229 -226 - 0 0 2 0 wellingtonshields.com
Ben W. McCollum, Broker On Rosewood Plantation
THE WRIGHT GROUP
Real Estate Brokerage & Advisory Services
El Destino Plantation 4138 +/- Acres Jefferson/Leon County, Florida
Hickory Head Plantation 2388 +/- Acres Brooks County, Georgia
Rosewood Plantation 1050 +/- Acres Thomas County, Georgia
229.226.2564 wrightbroker.com 67
W W W. T H O M A S V I L L E A S S I S T E D L I V I N G . C O M
1630 E. Jackson Street, Thomasville, GA
Thomasville Antiques Show& Sale Febr uar y 20-23, 2014 T H O M A S V I LLE A N T I Q U ES S H OW. CO M
Piece by DR Grissom Collection 72
T homasville e nTerTainmenT F oundaTion
Alexander & Vann, LLP 411 Gordon Avenue, Thomasville, Georgia 229.226.2565 â€˘ alexandervann.com 74
Nancy Moody, Owner
114 West Jackson Street, Thomasville, Georgia 229.227.0079 lavishthomasvillega.com â€˘
229.228.9169 | wghamil.com
MILLS HERNDON B O B B Y D . B ROW N SUSAN BENNETT L I N D A C H A S TA I N PAT G L E N N D AY N A H A R D Y DONNA JENKINS JACKIE JOHNSON B RY A N K N OX F R A N M I L B E RG K AT H Y H . PA L M E R COLLEEN PHELPS DEBORAH PHILLIPS L E N P OW E L L JENNIE RICH CAREY SEWELL PA M M A X W E L L W R I G H T
IT’S A RAINY SUMMER day when the big bungalow door swings open and my travel
companion, Nan Myers, and I are greeted by a petite blond rockin’ a pair of gym
shorts, T-shirt, and a pony tail tinted with slight traces of pink. One enthusiastic
“Hey, y’all!” and we find ourselves inside the home of Susan Hable Smith. She’s the creative force behind Hable Construction, a NYC based textile design business she co-founded with her sister, Katharine Hable Sweeney, almost 15 years ago. It’s a company that has evolved with the times and continued to grow on the founding principles of practicality, sophistication and timelessness. Their fabric lines are represented in interior design showrooms around the world with home and personal accessories marketed through an online shop. The idea of visiting with a design leader who you’ve followed for more than a decade is one thing, but getting to spend a few days living the Hable life is another. She’s at the top of her field in textile design, so we expected her home to be fabulous, of course. But what we really found was an artist living an authentic life in a home layered with the things she loves deeply: her family, an eclectic art collection, trinkets from her travels, nubby textiles, lots of friends, and a garden that’s to die for. She’s known for the bold, hand-drawn abstract patterns that anchor the Hable line, but has started blazing a new trail as a notable watercolorist. Ask her what inspired her to take this new path and she’ll share the story of an unlikely shift from life in the Big Apple to small town life in Athens, Georgia. It was a little more than three years ago when she followed her longtime photographer friend, Rinne Allen, to Athens to shoot photography for the product line. That visit left her charmed by the south and led to a big move for her family. On the second day of our visit, I take a walk through her garden to the historic cottage at the back of her property. It houses her design studio. Painted a deep
slate grey, it feels like a work of art itself. I arrive before she does and get a private peek at the layers of large watercolors placed about the room. I’m taken with the simplicity of the space. Rustic whitewashed walls, pops of color from her ink bottles, and scraps of memories pinned to boards. With this visit to the studio I find a space that I’m sure has inspired her new work, but my mind is more on her friends. I’ve met quite a few since I arrived. All seemingly remarkable artists, of one sort or another, who are shaping the Athens art scene and having a certain impact on Susan’s new life and work. We sit in the corner, near a window with a view to the garden. No deep burning questions from me. I’m just looking forward to hearing more about what makes her simply inspiring.
Susan: Let’s sit here. Rinne’s going to join us in a bit. Michele: You two seem so close. Do you know how fortunate you are to have so many amazing friends?
S: I definitely do. When I lived in New York, I had a small group of talented friends who had careers in the decorative arts. None of them were painters. My group of friends here is much wider and more diverse. Here, product developers hang with painters. Photographers hang with musicians. We’re very grateful for one another.
M: So who are some of the people influencing you now?
S: One of my favorite people, Didi Dunphy, lives in Five Points and has a design company called Modern Convenience. She designs cool indoor skateboards. She is just so fabulous! She also works with my friends Carl Martin and Carol John of D.O.C. Unlimited. They run a design-build firm here in Athens. When you meet Carol, you’ll see why she’s a big part of my creative life.
M: For a big city transplant, you seem to have 80
M: So when did you decide to venture out on your own?
S: I started our company when I was in San Francisco. I worked with a woman who had a lot of resources, but no clear direction. I knew I could do what she was doing, but chart a better course for my life. I thought, “I’m easy to be around. I want to create my own environment, and be who I am, and I know there are other people who want that too.” So, honestly that was the driving force. It wasn’t to get my art out into the world. I just wanted to create a wonderful working environment for people who wanted to be there. To show off their talent, do their thing, and then go home at the end of the day without their stomach in knots. adapted well to small town life. You were raised in a
So it happened that I was invited to India with a
small town, did you feel a connection to your creative
friend’s mother. I went for a month and it was life
side when you were young?
changing. I’ve always enjoyed going to places where I don’t know anyone. I think I like the challenge.
S: I’m from a little town, Corsicana, Texas. Throughout my childhood I had great creative
M: India is known for beautiful fabrics, is that when
experiences. I remember two really fabulous artists
your affair with fabric design started?
in town. One was a watercolorist and another was a color specialist who worked in oils. When I was in
S: Yes, right after my trip to India. My sister,
high school a teacher said, “Susan I want to talk with
Katharine, had been at home with twins. They were
your parents about you going to Parsons.” I have
two and a half at the time. She had had too much
really great parents, but when I was ready to fly my
Sesame Street and was also ready to do something.
Dad said, “Forget it, you are not going to New York”.
She’s a dynamic sales person and, when I say that is
He drew a line on the map and said you can’t go to
her thing, I mean that is her THING. When I called
the east coast or the west coast, so what did I do? I
her and said I have this business idea and this is
went to New York to California and back to New York!
what I want to do, she said great, it’s time for me too.
M: When did you get the gumption to fly the coop?
M: Does she share your artistic talent?
S: The minute I graduated from college. I moved
S: No, but she is amazing. We probably wouldn’t
to New York and went to Parsons. It wasn’t entirely
have our company if it wasn’t for her. No matter
what I expected, but I’m glad I had the experience.
what I’ve done, she’s always supported me. She’s the
Then I moved to San Francisco and I went to work.
dream partner. She’s never said “don’t do that” or
For a while I worked in sales because I guess I knew
“I think that’s ugly” or “I don’t think that’s going to
I needed to learn that. I’m super confident, but I
work”. Never. In a way, I’ve had carte blanche. She’s
didn’t have the confidence to pay my rent off of
been open to whatever I wanted to do. That never
my art. At some point I started looking for a new
happens in business and I know how fortunate we
direction and ended up working for really interesting
are. We created our business on a pure kind of love
women who all happened to be entrepreneurs.
for each other. She thought I could do anything, 81
and she gave me the confidence to do it. You know,
something from the Brothers Grimm. It was REALLY
on second thought, I said Katharine’s not artistic,
dark. I walked to the back and there was an area full
but what am I thinking? She’s very artistic, just in a
of old mattresses and junk. It was beautiful to me.
different way. She was in a hospital room giving birth to her son and doing some of our beading from her
M: Manhattan to Brooklyn. That was a leap!
bed. That was crazy! I’m sure anyone who has their own business knows you’ve got to be a little bit crazy
S: It was, but, how else was I going to learn to screen
to do your own thing.
print? I didn’t know how to do that, so I thought let’s go work in a factory. If I wanted to learn how to
M: COMPLETELY. I have a few crazy stories myself!
make chocolate, I’d go work in a chocolate factory. Oh my goodness, it was the craziest two years! No heat,
S: (Laugh) It’s really not normal! There is this burn
no air. Gunshot holes in the windows. Katharine
in you and whatever it is just has to get done. Over
and I looked like old men in the winter wearing long
the years, whenever we would make a little money
sleeves and baggy pants to work. It was great though.
we would upgrade a bit and move to a new space.
We were LEARNING. Eventually, it got to be a bit
For the first two years we did all of the printing by
much. We were ready to learn the next steps for our
hand and made everything ourselves. Eventually,
business, so we moved our printing to Rhode Island.
we moved our business from Manhattan to Brooklyn
During that time we also had two retail stores. Our
because I had a couple of dreams about screen
company is 14 years old. I would say in the first ten
printing. In my dreams I’m hearing, “you know how
years, it was like going to school. We tried new things
to paint, Susan. Why aren’t you screen printing,
and did everything we thought we should.
M: 10 years is a long time to be schooled. It’s also M: In a dream?
rare for a new creative business to survive that long. What do you think made the difference?
S: Yes, in a dream! I told my sister, “Don’t think I’m crazy. I had this dream and we’ve got to start screen
S: During that time, business was really good. It
printing. My back hurts from ironing so we’ve got to
wasn’t until the economy took a turn that we saw
do something else.” So I went to visit this factory in
how fortunate we were. We were in New York, we
Redhook. There was this old curmudgeon of a guy -
had cash flow, we had retail stores, and the internet
short, big ears, cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
hadn’t taken off yet. At that time, it really wasn’t a
His name was Bob. The factory would remind you of
business element for us. Five years ago we had a web
site, but even then we didn’t rely on it for sales. Then
our visit, I would paint or draw and Rinne would
when everything crashed around us, other people
take pictures. Everything we did there seemed to be
had web sites and we had retail overhead.
about color. We didn’t expect it to become anything in particular. We ended up publishing our images in a
M: So it was the “crash” that inspired your next step?
little limited edition book that is actually a collection of tear away posters. One side is her work, the other
S: It was. That was when we decided to rethink our
side is mine. Some people have framed them. Others
business and we moved our family to Athens. I think
have kept the book together. It’s very quiet on the
it’s also how I finally came into my own as an artist.
outside with lots of color on the inside. We plan to do
Sort of like Phoenix rising. I believe fate happens. The
more, but every time it will be a little different. We’re
Hable business has always followed an unexpected,
building up our coffers now. We decided we would
but timely path. It’s bizarre how it has all turned out.
put our money in a pot and whatever profits we
When I moved here, I was scared half to death. But
make we will set aside to print another book.
it was energizing and I got on the phone and started making new things happen for Hable. We partnered
Like all great conversations, this one took a big turn
with Hickory Chair on an exclusive fabric collection
when I asked what could possibly be next for her.
and I started learning what the fabric mills were
Not a second of a pause and I learn the answer.
about. They started asking us to design collections
SUPER EXCITING! I can’t tell you here though. It
for them. Then we did another exclusive branded
might spoil it for her. Let’s just say it’s a natural next
design for one mill, and then another, and then we
step and she’ll be blazing another new trail by doing
entered this new world in the contract industry and
something she simply loves. With creative friends
the hospitality field. We’ve gone from selling fabrics
around her, I’m sure.
to designers and decorators for residential use to licensing our designs.
M: So do you still screen print your textile designs? S: Yes, our Hable line is now exclusively hand silk screened. We may digitally print one day, but we plan to continue to do what we are doing for a while. We also have our fabric by-the-yard business, products that are all made in the U.S., a partnership with Fabricut, and a contract line of outdoor endurance fabrics with Momentum.
M: Not much going on. Is that it?!?! S: NOOOOO! My friend, Rinne Allen, and I have a project called Colorset 3. We’re developing a book that we’ve been working on for 800 years! She started shooting the photography for the Hable line about eight years ago when my daughter, Bird, was in my belly. We’ve always wanted to do something for ourselves, together. Something fun that isn’t tied to a paycheck. Colorset started when we went to visit Tate Mountain. It’s so natural and beautiful there. During 83
Lust is blind early this week and might come masquerading as true love. Wait until Friday
Lawren Gabrielle McCord
(at least!) before tweeting that youâ€™ve just met The One.
Photographed by Rinne Allen
THIS LINE FROM MY horoscope had me looking forward to the weekend. I was
extra friendly to everyone I encountered, leaving no phone call unanswered or text
message unseen. I did find love that weekend. It was a love that I had been denying,
right in front of my face for the last 26 years. I fell in love with the South. With oldfashioned Southern traditions, agriculture, rustic beauty, a close-knit community and the simplicity of a region that is both preserved and adapted.
A SWEET SOUTHERN START Homemade creamy grits, buttery cake-like blueberry muffins, frittatas bursting with the flavor of charred garden veggies, juicy fresh-cut strawberries and cups of Colorado coffee. All spread on an antique butcher block table. Brunch is served.
Carol Whitney looks over, “Aren’t you glad you’re
go outside. She thought it was dangerous.” Outgoing
not covering a fitness story?” There I was sitting
Carol immediately made friendly connections and
at one of the best breakfasts in town with the two
fell in love with the natural beauty of the red hills
women who have been known to stir up a feverish
region and the longleaf pines. Not only did her new
excitement when it comes to securing seats around a
hometown provide stunning riding trails, she was also
dinner table: Nan Myers and Carol Whitney, creators
an hour and a half away from kayaking on the coast.
of Thomasville’s Shotgun Supper Club. These two
Carol was also taken with the convenient high quality
women have come together to create a unique dining
sources of food in the community. “Our growing
experience — one that supports local farmers and
season is year round. I can grow summer vegetables
food artisans — all from the foundation of a
‘til Thanksgiving in my backyard.”
friendship centered around their love of homegrown and handmade.
Carol knows about fresh foods, having been raised on the coast and in a family immersed in cuisine.
Nan welcomes us into her home and pours us rounds
While growing up, she regularly caught seafood and
of coffee. Carol tells us about the frittatas in the oven
rarely experienced a day that didn’t end with family
and the ingredients she has grown and gathered. The
dinner around the table. Yet Carol was amazed by
sweet, grassy taste of the spring artichokes made
Thomasville’s natural resources and outstanding
them the best I have ever had.
agriculture. She will tell you that she was once showered with fresh red bell peppers and peanuts
Carol, born in Savannah, moved to Thomasville 15
while driving down the road in her old convertible.
years ago. Her friends joked that she was moving
Then she will admit the experience was the result of
to the equator. “It might as well have been. It was
driving behind a produce truck. Nevertheless, while
July and 100 degrees. My corgi, Adeline, would not
in pursuit, she thought, “Where is it going? I want it.”
Carol keeps me in stitches with her witty Whitney
home. “Every meal was at that table—breakfast,
one-liners. Every word comes out of her mouth with
lunch and dinner—unless my dad packed my lunch.
a smile. She looks into the distance as she recalls a
He would write ‘Nan 10th grade’ on the bag.” As a
memory. I can see her revisiting that moment in
teenager in high school she would remind him, “You
don’t have to write my name. That is so not cool. I
PLEASED TO BE SEATED
have a locker.” Her father’s so invested in this table that everyone in the family can perfectly mimic the
Born and raised in Thomasville, Nan Myers is a part
face he made whenever milk was accidentally spilled
of the fifth generation of McCollums in town. Nan is
on it. “We are lucky we didn’t carve our names in it.”
ridiculously friendly and soft spoken. She is modest when it comes to speaking of her own creativity but
The table is an excellent example of Nan’s father’s
can share family stories for hours. A vegetarian for
love for antiques, a passion the two share, which
seven years, she had a change of heart when it came
led to the opening of Firefly in 1996. “I was young,
to her grandmother Weezie’s (“Louise, my cousin
ignorant and blissful, and it didn’t even occur to me
could not say his L’s”) cornbread stuffing. Today, in
that I couldn’t do it. What I didn’t realize at the tender
her home, every meal with her sons and husband
age of 24 was that it was really a clever ploy on my
is around their table — unless they are out at a ball
dad’s part to get his youngest daughter on this side of
game. Memories of her family around the dinner table
the world again.”
and the personalized school lunches from her father, Paul, are clear in her mind.
Nan’s father’s response to Shotgun Supper Club was, “What? How much? No one will ever pay that.” He
The family dinner table, a late 17th century walnut
went. He loved it. “He was borderline giddy for days
table, is the oldest piece of furniture in Nan’s parent’s
after and now likes to conjure up locations for the
next one.” Nan has received letters from neighbors
mixture of people tied together by good food. After
grateful for the best experience in Thomasville and
guests purchase tickets online, the dinner location
she has been stopped while grocery shopping to hear,
is announced only to those ticket holders in order to
“We are still talking about Shotgun Supper Club. But
protect the privacy of the host and maintain a certain
we don’t want to talk too much in fear of missing out
air of mystery.
on a ticket.”
OH TASTE AND SEE
Any day of the week, you can find Thomasville locals
While enjoying lunch in town, I am not shocked to
at each other’s homes, gathering for dinner and
find myself seated next to Nan Myers’ neighbor, Clay
coffee, or enjoying wine and cheese together. I
Campbell. Clay has had tickets to all of the dinners.
witnessed firsthand, downtown passersby greeting
Predicting the longevity of the club, Clay assures me
one another by first name. Shotgun Supper Club is
that the Pebble Hill dinner will go down in the top 10.
SHOTGUN SUPPER CLUB IS ABOUT GATHERING FOLKS WHO APPRECIATE LOCALLY-SOURCED FOOD PREPARED BY INCREDIBLY TALENTED SOUTHERN CHEFS IN A BEAUTIFUL SETTING. about gathering folks who appreciate locally-sourced
“It was the best meal ever, a phenomenal meal, one
food prepared by incredibly talented Southern chefs in
you could not find anywhere. Carol and Nan stepped
a beautiful setting.
it up with this one. It was fun being out in the woods eating grass-fed beef.” His favorite dish was the
“We wanted to do something different and embrace
Sweet Grass Dairy Farm egg with potato purée, and
home. There is so much to highlight. We are
mushrooms layered and served in a mason jar.
surrounded by food and beautiful settings. Sometimes we forget – even when we are tuned in – how
Once, Clay was driving down the road and
tremendous our own backyards are.” Carol works
immediately pulled over when he received a Supper
the logistics of the events while Nan carries out the
Club alert on his phone. The number of available
presentations. At the drop of a dime, Nan can list out
tickets trickled down from 40 to 30 to 9 as he tapped
a range of blooms. “I just assumed everyone knew
away at his phone. I joke with him, thinking what
their plant material like maidenhair fern and Ville de
a sight it would have been if he looked through his
Nantes camellias. My mom has always had a beautiful
windshield, after pulling over, to see two other cars
garden. So did my grandmother. She had the most
idling in front of him, phones in hand, doing the same.
charming, beautiful backyard arrangements you’ve ever seen.”
Clay explains another time. “I was sitting on my sofa. My friend called me. It must have sold out in
Forty ticket-holders gather around a table illuminated
15 minutes. I bought four tickets.” Clay made a fist
by candlelight — a unique treasured setting to
and playfully tapped it on the counter, “I would fight
which most do not normally have access. It is a
somebody over a ticket to the Shotgun Supper Club.” 87
Nan is confident about what makes the Supper Club
Pastures’ grass-fed beef; two-and-a–half-inch rib eyes;
so special. “Visiting chefs are treated like rock stars
and vegetables gathered from local farmers. Meals
(nice rock stars) with the hope that these weekends
were paired with wines from Sweet Grass Dairy. A
will be as much fun for them as they are for Supper
spring supper focused on the Gulf Coast with a menu
Club attendees. The idea is to work hard but play
of deviled farm eggs, chicken liver mousse, pickled
even harder with activities like skeet shooting, a
shrimp and Louisiana crawfish. Future dinners trigger
visit to the favorite local watering hole, and private
a great deal of excitement.
accommodations and entertainment in our homes.”
GOOD FOOD. BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.
Following the first dinner, Nan and Carol quickly
The dinner bell is the distinct sound of the racking
realized they had neither the time nor the will to cook
and firing of a shotgun by the host of the private
the meals themselves. Hence the ladies, who work full
dinner location. Carol hopes “people go home with
time jobs, feel fortunate to have been in the company
information and we like to think that they are
of such amazing talents as Chef Whitney Otawka,
ordering beef from White Oaks, appreciating wine
formerly of Farm 255 and now with Hugh Acheson
at Sweet Grass Dairy, picking up spring lettuce,
at Cinco y Diez, and Chefs Sarah O’Kelley and Chris
increasing bonds with farmers. Sweet Grass Dairy
Stewart of Charleston’s Glass Onion. These chefs have
Farm is a huge contributor to the community and the
set a deliciously high standard.
food movement in this part of the state; the owners and staff are so modest and talented.”
Past menus of Shotgun Supper Club have included free range heirloom pigs (fed cheese whey and oak
With two entrances to their secret supper location,
acorns) raised by Sweet Grass Dairy Farm; White Oak
Carol and Nan include directions on how to maneuver
WE ARE SURROUNDED BY FOOD AND BEAUTIFUL SETTINGS. SOMETIMES WE FORGET – EVEN WHEN WE ARE TUNED IN – HOW TREMENDOUS OUR OWN BACKYARDS ARE. down the mile-long drive on an unpaved mud road
With folk cooking things
into the plantation. Along the drive, guests observe
That melt in your mouth
one of the largest compositions of virgin longleaf pine. After days of rain, riding down this mud road
I realized that a connection to Southern tradition was
we experienced some hair-raising slipping and
what was missing from my own life these last few
sliding. Misty fog lingers in the air. The trees are a
years. I was missing the natural settings all around,
lush, vivid green, like a watercolor painting. “If we
in our own backyard — the ones that we tune out as
had a chef here we would be doing things like this,”
we focus on our advancement in our daily routine
showing them the preserved beauty of the habitable
and reach for bigger city success. What was missing
wilderness. Box Hall Plantation was once owned by
was addressing everyone by name as we pass each
Nan’s godmother. She remembers the dinner table
other on the sidewalk. What was missing was my
where she stepped on a buzzer beneath the table and
connection with the simplicity of nature, natural
wonderful food, like caramel cakes, would arrive.
growing vegetables from a vine, trees rooted for decades, plants that grow from a fire’s aftermath
Carol is quick to point out natural beauty. A leaf that
making the land just as beautiful as it was in its
has fallen and collected small buds within its curls,
original state, flowers and bushes framing landscapes,
spring ferns rising from the ashes of a prescribed
and the inevitable sense of community that
burn. The knot in a tree that has been struck by
organically grows from gathering around a thoughtful
lightning and the pileated woodpecker now making
his home there. Firefly
So, here I am now, trying to share all of this with you
125 S Broad Street
— but not too much. Driving down Highway 33, I hear
the lyrics to Hoagie Carmichael’s Moon Country.
I long for that old country
Announcements for the Shotgun Supper Club are
That good for the soul country
posted in the Firefly newsletter. 89
Squa re A rt P ark
The G rain Hop / Yard All Sain ts Ferm e Loun ntation ge/C ider Lodg e
ing t ree
the s har
Rail roa d
FSU Mus eum of f ine arts
â€™s e e s s a h lla a ub T h d e n v i u t o Ar crea
W Call St
All Saints St
As a Georgian, I know that Southern life encompasses more than Sunday church, barbecue sandwiches, sweet tea and antiquing. Yet, I still wasn’t prepared for what I found just an hour’s drive from downtown Thomasville in Tallahassee’s arts and culture center. There I discovered a mix of Soho’s art scene, Berkeley’s diversity and Sesame Street’s attitude. Boom went the sound of my mind being blown. Fauvism jungle
Red, blue and purple stairs lead to Tony Demaria’s office where a seasoned Venice Beach-esque hippie is eating mustard leaves from a baggie. Though this isn’t Tony, he does give me a leaf, which tastes like mild arugula. The actual Tony, Railroad Square Art Park’s manager, with polo shirt tucked into belted jeans, beckons me to see blueprints for the park’s future. Sounding like an electric typewriter, he rattles off the 10-year history behind stimulus dollars that will fund Written by Nikki Igbo
new traffic roundabouts, high end studio space, a dog
Photographed by Meghan Davis and Jay Bowman
park, interactive water fountains and more. My eyes 91
cross a little, but I don’t think Tony notices. He sees what I can’t, a masterpiece in the making. I ask Tony how he landed in this community of 90s day-glo tin buildings. He tells me about all of his years spent punching corporate clocks and collecting pay stubs. It was a familiar, dependable boredom that kept him from his lifelong romance with multi-colored portrait painting until he opened Right On! A Railroad Square Art Gallery. I’m shocked. I can’t believe he paints. He doesn’t even Facebook. But as he rushes me out the door, past tomato plants growing from red Dixie cups, to tour the grounds in his golf cart, I realize that this community has become his canvas. Instead of acrylics, Tony blends galleries, herbal shops, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Buddhists, belly dancers and classic arcades. Just as an artist promotes a subject with his creation, Tony coordinates events, attracts new tenants and organizes area improvements to promote Railroad Square. When I ask about his favorite activity, he tells me it’s riding around in his groovy golf cart. He says this with a bad boy grin and I catch a glimpse of the finger painter just below the surface. He sprinkles “right on” and “groovy” throughout his description of his community’s future. The population will boom. The golf cart will be painted a safari pattern of burnt
Combines in Blue and Green I stare at a sky blue sign in The Sharing Tree’s window
orange, olive, sepia and celeste opaco. Tony will
which states “Trash is the failure of imagination.” The
somehow supercharge the cart’s motor so that he can
sign features red and green soda can tops, yellow
successfully pop wheelies.
flowers with button centers and stems made of sheet music strips. My inner crafter turns back handsprings.
Railroad Square Art Park 694-2 Industrial Drive Tallahassee, FL railroadsquare.us
Carly Sinnadurai, executive director of The Sharing Tree, approaches with her gurgling 3-month-old baby boy in tow. She’s all smiles, slim frame and blond hair, fingernails painted to match the blues and greens of the shop’s walls. She speaks with an impossibly relaxed voice, as if she’s always prepared to hear a joke and laugh in response. We walk through The Sharing Tree’s front room past shelves of cardstock, buttons, ribbons, plastic bottles and cork as she talks about her youth in Minnesota. It’s easy to picture her as a little girl crafting board games out of cardboard, construction paper and wooden clothespins picked up at a similar reusable resource center in St. Paul. It’s funny how life mixes
like This work , ons, is i t a e r c ’s y l Car niting u f o t c u d o a pr urces o s e r t h g i r the ple . o e p t h g i r e with th
memory and experience into a personal constant. Two decades later, here Carly is in Railroad Square replaying her childhood and making a living doing it. As we stroll into the workshop, Carly recounts the long days spent studying how to build a business out of creating and teaching recycled art. She describes partnerships with local non-profits, businesses, Leon County and the school district as I notice two-liter bottle cap murals, toilet roll flowers and art tissue butterflies with paper clip antennae. Carly leads me outside to a mural of giant wildflowers along the shop’s outer wall. This work, like Carly’s creations, is a product of uniting the right resources with the right people. I imagine a combo of paint–spattered hands and brushes lacquering the tin metal wall in the Florida sun. the sharing tree 617 Industrial Drive Tallahassee, FL thesharingtreefl.org
Happenings on All Saints Street
Just around the corner from Railroad Square, All Saints Neighborhood is transforming. Old two and a half story wooden homes and masonry vernacular (a style of brickwork exclusive to Tallahassee circa 1930s) industrial spaces are being repurposed, revived. This creative shift is an effort where there is no audience, only willing participants in flux with a common spirit. This united energy says no to big box stores muscling in, and says yes to local artwork hanging in
I note a drive in Ely, perhaps a seed planted by his
its bars and restaurants. It gathers for evening drinks
Thomasville restaurateur parents or political science
at Fermentation Lounge, snacks on Irish nachos and
degree. He wants to leave the world better than he
chats with swoon-worthy Ely Mathes, The Grain co-
found it, build fellowship. He could be canoeing with
owner who has the audacity to be embarrassed by his
his girlfriend or navigating local bike trails but he’s
brief stint as a Tommy Hilfiger model.
not. He’s working with Will, and Tyler Thomas of Fermentation Lounge, on the restaurant, beer garden,
I feel this energy as I sample Chef (and The Grain co-
the neighborhood and the annual Oktoberfest and
owner) Will Thompson’s daily bruschetta and resist
the urge to bat my lashes at Ely. Ely, in turn, swipes renegade hair from his eye as he explains plans for All
After wandering around inside the Coca-Cola
Saints Hop Yard. The outdoor beer garden is located
building, I meet Tyler at Fermentation Lounge. Tyler
one block down from The Grain in what was once a
is the hipster movement personified and he’s got the
Coca-Cola distribution center and hosts a number
handlebar moustache to prove it. When I ask how he
of events including concerts, film screenings, voter
maintains his curved whiskers he gives me the skinny
rallies, fundraisers and sports promotions. As they
on his heat-resistant pomade preference. His ‘stache
expand the Hop Yard, they will convert the graffiti-
care is crucial because he often uses this accessory to
covered building into a 150-seat restaurant with a
express himself. When a patron is ready to settle up,
Tyler flips his mustache down into the “sad” position.
ron is When a pat ettle ready to s lips his f r e l y T , p u n into w o d e h c a must si t i o n . the sad po It’s been four and a half years since Tyler began barkeeping at Fermentation Lounge. He thought it would be a brief part-time gig. Now he operates both the bar and Cider Lodge, the bar’s exclusive nano brewery. He discusses the bar’s monthly events to benefit charities. He describes the way Bob Williams, owner of SRSLY Chocolate Bar in the rear of Cider Lodge, makes chocolate from cocoa beans. He speaks with a lift of his eyebrows. Excitement about All Saints Street, his business and his friends radiates off of him. I could easily down shots with this guy. Tyler takes me to Cider Lodge and we pass through the nano-brewery. I inhale the sticky-sweet scent of lemon as we discover Wes Railey in the midst of handmaking candy. Tyler and I watch with kindergarteners’ eyes as Wes, owner of Railey’s Confectionary, stretches the hot sugar into wedge-shaped treats. Along with taste testing the bar’s menu, watching Wes make candy is one of Tyler’s favorite activities. He often does both for hours on end. We hold out our hands to accept the warm sweets. Yes, that just happened. The Grain/All Saints Hop Yard 112 All Saints Street Tallahassee, FL allsaintshopyard.com Fermentation Lounge/Cider Lodge 113 All Saints Street Tallahassee, FL thefermentationlounge.com/blog 95
Large, Lush Color Fields Backpacked students amble down Call Street past FSU Museum of Fine Arts and I try to recall if my alma mater had an art museum on campus. Nope. I think of how these kids have no idea what they have as I introduce myself to Viki Thompson Wylder, the museum’s curator of education. The silver-haired lady has a motherly mystique about her and I can’t resist hugging her. She embraces me with a gentle yet firm squeeze before ushering me through the corridors of the 16,000-square-foot art space. Viki loves this place and it shows as she describes some of the 5,000+ pieces of contemporary Native American, South American, African and German art included in the museum’s permanent collection. For the past 25 years, since the museum’s exhibition of Judith Chicago’s Dinner Party, Viki has played a huge role in acquisition and setting the tone for visitors. She rejects the notion of the museum as some sterile sanctuary where it’s quiet enough to hear mice pee on cotton and security guards draw down on any visitor standing within a foot of the art. Rather, she believes that art is to be discussed, interacted with and absorbed into one’s thought process. We high-five in agreement. Viki continues to show me a Picasso lithograph, 1970s arpilleras, and a study drawn by her beloved Judith Chicago. Before my excursion ends, Viki explains Trevor Bell’s work. An immigrant from England, Bell was so impressed with Florida that he stayed on as an FSU professor. After watching space shuttles blast off at Cape Canaveral, Bell created Rising Heat and Light Pillar, two larger than life, trapezoidal color field paintings in tropical hues of orange, pink, periwinkle, yellow and green. As Viki recounts this with a sweep of her arms and laughing eyes, I recognize Tallahassee. Just like Bell’s rocket depictions, something huge is taking off here and it’s a beautiful thing to see. FSU Museum of fine arts 530 West Call Street Tallahassee, FL mofa.fsu.edu
es art v e i l e viki b s s e d, u c s i d e h and is to b t i w d ct e int era oneâ€™ s o t n i d e absorb process . t though
Written by Sybil McLain-Topel
Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration. — Marc Chagall
Photographed by Jay Bowman and Page von Roenn
LIGHT JUMPS IN AND out of the ripples of the pool. The diver ascends the platform steps, prepares for the precise plunge. Over and over, practice every day, twice a day, until muscle memory takes over and the Olympic trials of which he dreams feel as real as the gritty concrete edge of the pool. It’s the early 1970s — the Vietnam War invades every young man’s American dream and influences lifelong decisions early. For Kenn von Roenn, the ambitious Florida State University (FSU) diver on the platform, an injury and a coincidence conspire to take him from the diving pool to a very different place — a stained glass studio where he works to pay surgery bills from the injury. “All this hit when I was 21 years old. Everything came into focus and all the pieces fit together for the first part of my life at the beginning of my career,” Kenn says. Instead of a back-up plan to attend law school, he created a new career — fusing glass art with architecture. “I built 44 years on that very simple foundation.” Appointed as executive director for FSU’s Master Craftsman Studio earlier this year, Kenn von Roenn has embarked on a terrific opportunity. Leaving his studio in Louisville is bittersweet, but his life and business partner, Ursula Vourvoulis, encouraged him. Kenn’s overarching artistic philosophy was formed during an era of political protest, a time when many people questioned the status quo, including those who felt excluded from the insider world of fine art. During the Vietnam anti-war protests, the idea surfaced that art could not be owned, could not be resold, and should not be a collectible commodity. The time was right to reframe the artistic experience in terms of the individual viewer.
Over the years, Kenn has made a profound
1966. I inherited the painting and searched for several
commitment to increasing art in public spaces, not
years for its origin, finally uncovering that Stability,
tucking installations away in sterile museums and
1936, resides in a private collection in Germany.
private collections. Working with FSU students is
And here’s the most interesting fact that links this
a natural extension of this philosophy. “The most
to Kenn’s studio — the original is painted on glass.
fundamental aspect of what I do is really based on
Naturally, I wish I could see it, but it’s tucked away
the philosophy of art in built spaces, in community
in someone’s home. I zealously agree with Kenn’s
spaces,” Kenn says. “As artists, we do things that go
aspirations for more public art installations. In fact, I
far beyond ourselves and touch lives for many years
discovered I had often walked right past one of
“In the art world of the 70s, art became more about
As I pored over his website looking at hundreds of
the few people in the world who controlled the value
photographs, I was surprised to find there’s one in
of art. Public art is so completely different from that.
Nashville in front of the Davidson County Court
Its value is determined by what it means to people
House. This is a place I’ve been frequently — not for
and how it makes that environment more pleasant
traffic tickets — for business development visits and
downtown music festivals on the plaza.
Art has played a stronger role in my life than I
At any rate, I vaguely remember the work, Citizen,
realized — in just the terms Kenn describes. My father
2010, created controversy because it was “modern.” I
dabbled in oils and acrylics, once laboriously copying
read the description and realize for the first time the
a Kandinsky he saw in the Guggenheim Museum in
translucent pointing man can be lit up at night by
Glass is the most phenomenal material on the face of the earth...It’s almost like alchemy. It’s majestic.
passersby if they follow instructions at the sculpture’s
Kenn also directs FSU’s new public architectural
base. A crank turn causes LED lights inside the torso
art program. Both programs aim to broaden public
to burn bright blue, like electric veins. A nod to Alan
understanding of art that works in tandem with
Jackson’s neon lights on Broadway a few blocks
architecture. Now that I’ve gotten a feel for the fun
over, maybe? That’s pretty cool. But wait — I lived
and whimsy he can create, I’d like to see more.
in Nashville for more than 20 years and I just now find out about this? And how? By moving to Atlanta,
“Glass is the most phenomenal material on the face of
traveling to Thomasville, then to Tallahassee, and
the earth. It’s made from the most common material
talking to a man who lived in Louisville.
on earth, sand, through a very simple process of heat. By combining two or three other materials, this
Now that I understand how to turn on those lights,
new material is created. It’s almost like alchemy. It’s
trust me, next time I’m in Music City I’m planning to
majestic,” he says.
crank it up. The lights on the statue of course. This is exactly the type of interaction with art that’s Kenn’s
The installation I most want to see weighs 550,000
goal. “The value of public art is determined by how
pounds and is part of the structure of a high rise in
people relate to it. You should not have to wait for
Charlotte, North Carolina, at Three Wells Fargo Center.
some authority to tell you it’s a great work of art,” he
This fascinates me because of the size and because it
integrates completely with the structure.
In addition to joining the studio team at a nascent
Having worked with architects for five years, I can
time, as they make plans to build a new space that
only imagine the meetings they had during the design
will be six times larger than their current space,
document phase. The emphasis on collaboration 101
requires a leader with just the right amount of ego to guide the project forward and stay on schedule, but not the kind of “starchitect” that rubs people the wrong way. Kenn seems to have just the right blend of confidence and leadership. It’s easy to imagine him playing with his four grandchildren and letting them go to his studio to play. He becomes as enthusiastic as one of them as he describes the Charlotte installation. “It’s a glass sculpture integrated into the building. It rises 50 feet on all four sides then drops 20 feet. The glass has a kinetic quality that changes light as the sun changes position in the sky, as the viewer moves around”. “The glass sculpture is part of the fabric of the building. If you took that away, the building would be infinitely less. It’s the world’s largest glass sculpture and it came in two months ahead of schedule and 20 percent below budget. This is something every client wants to hear and valuable for students to learn early in their careers as artists,” he says.
new glass art techniques. They’re popular for commemorating historic moments. While we’re there,
Master Craftsman Studio serves as a professional
she takes a call about a future installation, which
atelier where work includes sculpture, statuary,
gives me a moment to ponder why cobalt blue always
ornamental work, stained glass, cast stone, cast
resonates with me. It’s the incredible Marc Chagall
metals, molding processes, advanced computer
stained glass windows at the Art Institute of Chicago,
technologies, and business processes.
which I’ve enjoyed on a number of trips to the city. Sarah and I return to her studio space where she tells
When I first met with Sarah Coakley, the studio’s
me how she came to be at the studio.
event coordinator for the past five years, she sported a necklace made from dark glass hearts held together
“I took a glass workshop, three days. I could see what I
with silver chains. Her mission is part business, part
was doing in painting could transfer to glass. You can
art — and she’s just as savvy about one as she is the
use powder to paint on glass — no more leaded lines
other. The center stone reads in bold white letters of
like in stained glass,” she says. “We had an iron pour
fused glass, “buy art.” Sarah is self-effacing about her
and I’m showing my friend Nancy what I’m doing in
role in convincing Kenn to return to his alma mater in
the glass workshop and she grabs my elbow, looks
a leadership role. “We’re going to be such a presence
me in the eyes and says, ‘It’s like the mother ship has
in large-scale, local art,” she says. “Kenn is a perfect
called you home at last.’” Now it’s time to put what
match for us.”
she’s learned into action at a higher level and she’s thrilled Kenn joined the studio.
When Sarah leads us to FSU’s historic Dodd Hall to view modern stained glass seals honoring alumni,
A lot has changed since Kenn von Roenn practiced
her enthusiasm takes over. She points to new seals
dives. For one thing, the pool he remembers is gone.
recently installed in the middle of each cobalt blue
But he’s still dreaming big dreams. And with his 44-
stained window, explaining how they incorporate
year track record of completing projects across the
country, it’s a safe prediction that FSU will win big in the long run. Kenn’s been explaining his vision for the studio when I ask him to talk more about his early career. He’s just told me the diving story and there’s an instant connection for me between light reflected in the water in the pool and light shining through colored glass. Water and glass. “They are both transparent, but also liquid. Light passes through them and yet they also have some characteristics of being a solid,” he says. “Subconsciously maybe there was a connection. I never thought about it that way before.” That’s the way great collaborations work. Ideas fuel one another as artists share their dreams. This time, not only will clients win, many students will get a crack at collaborating with a man who understands glass, light and how to create beautiful art that merges with architecture. Master Craftsman Studio
905 West Gaines Street Florida State University Tallahassee, FL craft.fsu.edu 103
SCAD–Atlanta Concept team
LISTEN. COLLABORATE. CREATE. For us, SCAD Atlanta photographers, designers and writers, art is everything. It is our tried and true form of personal expression. It is our pathway to clarity, our mode of finding meaning, our chance to relate on the world front. We can’t see ourselves being anything but the artists we aspire to be. We don’t want to either. That’s why we sought a university that not only promotes art, but also champions the notion of making a good living from art. SCAD offers the aggregate of professors, curriculum and unique experiences we need to be equipped for the road ahead. When collaborative projects like Thom come along, we see them as opportunities that echo all of the great things we’ve discovered during our academic journey. We listen, share, visualize and create with the understanding that our commitment to a job well-done, coupled with the chance to work with enthusiastic partners, is big, beautiful and promising. After all, we’re doing what we love and we don’t see anything hard about true love. Thom’s development was art in motion – combining the right elements to reach and inspire hearts. All it took was a little elbow grease, countless emails, thousands of shots of photography, 20 pimento cheese sandwiches, a handful of Skype sessions, a few edits, and some road trips to Thomasville. We’re proud of what we’ve created together and we hope you see why.
Contributing Artists Clay Byars is a southern art kid
Currently finishing his BFA in
fascinated by technical mastery
Graphic Design at SCAD-Atlanta,
and things that go vroom! During
Trey Veal sees his choice to become
the day he teaches branding and
a designer as more of a lifestyle
the subtle powers of serifs, and in
than a career. He feels the need to
the evenings likes to draw stick figures with glowsticks
make sure every aspect of life is well designed and
in front of his camera. He posts his work at byarsclay.
functioning properly. Architecture holds a special
place in his heart and he hopes to eventually return to SCAD and earn a second BFA in Interior Design. To see his work or get in touch, visit treysveal.com. Nikki Igbo is a freelance writer and editor who is currently enrolled in the MFA Writing program at
Gabriel Hanway, a native of
Savannah College of Art and
Tallahassee, was given his first
Design (SCAD). She serves as the
camera at the age of 12. He
Opinions Editor for The Connector, SCAD’s weekly online newspaper and SCAN, SCAD’s quarterly print
graduated from the University of Georgia and the International
magazine. She is also an on-air personality at SCAD
Center of Photography in New York City. He continued
Atlanta Radio. nikigbo.com
his training by assisting London and New Yorkbased celebrity photographer Jason Bell. Gabriel’s photographic interests vary, but he has always been
Jay Bowman is an Atlanta artist
fascinated with the unique landscape and culture of
who describes himself as “a writer
North Florida and South Georgia. gabrielhanway.com
who uses a camera to tell stories” which he has done for the last 10 years. Jay is presently on track to
Catherine Westerfield is a recent
earn a Masters of Fine Art in the Spring of 2014 from
SCAD Atlanta graphic design
Savannah College of Art and Design.
graduate. She was part of the SCAD Concept Team and continued with Thom as a freelance designer. She
Having a long-standing desire
is currently working as a graphic designer for an ad
to become a professional
agency in Columbus, Georgia. catwestdesign.com
photographer, Abby Caroline Mims obtained a degree in Commercial Photography in 2006. After
Amber Grim is a recent SCAD
beginning her entrepreneurial endeavor in the Atlanta
Atlanta graduate with a BFA in
area, she returned to her roots in South Georgia.
Graphic Design. She has been
Abby has a love for photographing architecture
passionate about design from a
and interiors as well as a passion for portraiture of
very young age, and continues to
children and families. She believes small businesses
follow that passion today as a freelance designer for
are the backbone to successful communities and
Cartoon Network in Atlanta, Georgia. ambergrim.com
takes pride in promoting her commercial clients through her photography. abbycaroline.com
Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery
Published on Oct 10, 2013
Thom is the personification of the creative life in Thomasville. Part magazine, part guide, part documentary, we have designed Thom for the...