Washington, Georgia Arts Scene
American Roads Travel Magazine
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
So, lots of history but, as far as the arts go, Washington is very up to date and modern.
Theres a concerted movement to promote the arts and energize the town by building on
its arts scene.
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&Bs 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 its a good place to start.
Fitzpatrick Hotel from from Laura Connely's loft.
Fitzpatrick Hotel has a prominent place on the square and is a popular destination since
its 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, Alfreds on the Square, Sophies, Down Under and The Sandwich Shop.
Theres a fabulous array of B&Bs 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
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.
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.
inspirational just to look out the window, Connely said. My creative spirit
soars in this loft. Im excited just being here painting and creating more and
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 its my dream job - working around all this great art!
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, its 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
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.
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 - Smiths 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.
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 its own
special pace and is rapidly filling with exciting new talents and entrepreneurs.
Theres so much to explore youll need to visit a few times to see it all - and
dont 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.
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