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Washington, Georgia Arts Scene

by Anne Jenkins American Roads Travel Magazine

Art Gallery la Place Washington GA.JPG (133326 bytes)

Washington tourist folks promote their charming rural Georgia town as, “Visit Washington and you visit another era,” and atmospherically that rings true. There is the historic square, antebellum homes, an unusual library founded in 1888 and Georgia's first free public library and the Robert Toombs home - not to mention the lure of the fabled hidden Confederate gold. So, lots of history but, as far as the arts go, Washington is very up to date and modern. There’s a concerted movement to promote the arts and energize the town by building on its arts scene.





Interior of Art Gallery La Place.JPG (118647 bytes)

Interior of La Place.

Over the past few years Washington has enjoyed a boom and is a bustling interesting place to visit and spend a weekend. Places to stay are plenty – from a restored boutique hotel to antebellum B&B’s and a good choice of restaurants from a sandwich shop to an upscale restaurant. The twice-a-year Tour of Homes is a very popular event but Washington has something to offer any time of the year. As with many historic towns, life revolves around the Square dominated by the courthouse, and it’s a good place to start.

View of the Fitzpatrick Hotel from Laura Connely's loft.JPG (141944 bytes)

Fitzpatrick Hotel from  from Laura Connely's loft.

The historic Fitzpatrick Hotel has a prominent place on the square and is a popular destination since it’s restoration a couple of years ago. The square is also home to the Art Gallery La Place, the Christmas Shop (really folks!, Christmas every day) Restore Galore, Petal Pushers and a number of restaurants like the upscale Washington Jockey Club, The Talk of the Town, Alfred’s on the Square, Sophie’s, Down Under and The Sandwich Shop. There’s a fabulous array of B&B’s in historic homes not too far from the square. A Retro Cinema opened recently - and also a book store -  just off the square and live theater is featured regularly in the theater a couple of streets from the center of town.

Laura Connely at her easel in the loft studio.JPG (109820 bytes)

Laura Connely at her easel in the loft studio

Add to these delights the fact artists are moving in to the town square. Two local artists have loft studios - one a live and work loft space. Plans are underway to restore a couple of the historic buildings for more studio, gallery and living space for artists.

The Art Gallery La Place showcases local Georgia artists and presents themed exhibits every six weeks or so. Anne Jenkins, the managing artist, said there is such a wealth of talent in their own backyard, they don't need to look far a-field. The current exhibit has four Washington artists, with others from neighboring towns such as Lincolnton, Lexington, Union Point, Greensboro, Athens, Winder and Madison.

Gourdian Angels by Diana Smith & A Barn scene by Dolores McAvoy.JPG (96978 bytes)

Gourdian Angels by Diana Smith &
A Barn scene by Dolores McAvoy.


Artist Laura Connely has just set up her home and studio in a dreamy loft above Alfred's on the Square restaurant.  The daughter of two artists, she is one of the exciting emerging artists in the area. Her work is vibrant and fluid and she is finding her voice with strength and vivid color. Her loft has a large passageway gallery for display and her studio overlooks the square.

“It’s inspirational just to look out the window,” Connely said. “My creative spirit soars in this loft. I’m excited just being here painting and creating more and more.”

Dolores McAvoy has had her studio above the Art Gallery La Place for a few years. She teaches art lessons here twice a week and produces her own paintings for sale at shows and the gallery. Her daughter-in-law, Janice McAvoy, is an accomplished artist as well, specializing in portraits, and  works as the gallery assistant, which she describes as “it’s my dream job - working around all this great art!”


Katherine Stolz Barber  Vignette at Raytown.jpg (99897 bytes)

Katherine Stolz Barber Vignette at Raytown

A newly arrived and devoted Washington fan is photographer and artist, Katherine Stolz Barber. She also makes documentaries and wonderful television adverts for the town together with her husband, Bradley Barber.  She said there is so much of interest to photograph around Washington, it’s a pleasure building up her portfolio. She focuses on small details of old buildings or unusual details of natural elements. Her dog, Hannah, is rapidly becoming the town mascot.


Wendy Wiggins at work in her studio.JPG (125687 bytes)

Wendy Wiggins at work in her studio

Glass artist and jeweler, Wendy Wiggins, is a Georgian native but a recent arrival to the area. She lives in neighboring Lexington and operates out of her studio there. She creates the exquisite glass beads using a very old glass technique and then wraps them in sterling silver resulting in unique earrings and rings. Self-taught and bursting with ideas, Wiggins is a welcome addition to the arts scene in Washington.



Display of Gil Glass art in the gallery.JPG (145640 bytes)

Display of Gil Glass art in the gallery.

Diana Smith was blown in to town courtesy of Hurricane Katrina and for Washington it has been a plus. Her painted “Gourdian Angels” were an instant hit. There is gourd painting and then there is really good gourd painting - Smith’s work is sublime and reminiscent of detailed Russian art. 


All the artists co-operate closely with the Art Gallery La Place and their art is on display in the gallery. 



Robert Geiger's art on the walls of his Talk of the Town.JPG (119560 bytes)
Robert Geiger's art on the walls of his Talk of the Town.

Robert Geiger and his partner, Ed Franklin, left Florida seeking a more peaceful spot to live and instantly became a driving force in the business life, and an integral part of the social life, in Washington. Their Talk of the Town bistro is always filled at lunch time and a regular meeting spot for locals. Geiger's personal art - photography and prints - are on the walls for sale and on the far side they sell all manner of interesting things.


Washington buzzes along at it’s own special pace and is rapidly filling with exciting new talents and entrepreneurs. There’s so much to explore you’ll need to visit a few times to see it all - and don’t forget those special events, like the Spring Tour of Homes in the first weekend of April or Mule Days in October, and the fireworks on the 4th of July. Just beware - you visit once and you might just want to stay for ever.

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.

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