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McDuffie Arts Council increases membership, makes plans for upcoming local shows

What began last fall as an idea to promote arts in the community has grown into a full-fledged council abuzz with activity. The McDuffie Arts Council meets monthly at the local library and has a membership list that includes visual artists, performing artists, student members, patrons and benefactors.

"We used to go and sit there for an hour and visit with each other, but now we've got to take care of business," member Charlene Montgomery said with a laugh. Mrs. Montgomery also is an art teacher.

Marion Ivey heads up the council and meetings, which are organized, follow a pre-set agenda and has sub-committees for projects.

"Every time I leave the art council meeting and I come home, I'm like renewed, and excited to go in there and paint something," Mrs. Montgomery said.

Melanie Stokes credits the art council as one of the drawing cards that relocated her to Thomson. She used to belong to the art council in Wayne County, and was searching for another art council when she had to move.

"I found the MAC on the internet, and was very pleased that one was being organized. It's really fun being in at the ground level, so to speak," the Glascock County educator said. "It makes me paint. Because a lot of times, artists who have other jobs get so busy with life that they don't have time to paint. So, being in an arts council makes you remember that you are indeed an artist."

After working 20 years as a military artist and another 10 years on his own with published art and successful shows, Roel Wielinga is "indeed an artist." Although he does work for publishing companies in Europe and Australia, Mr. Wielinga said the art council has enabled him to branch out locally.

"Since I've been in the council, I've been getting much more involved with the arts in the area, including designing things for the YMCA. And I'm beginning to do some schooling, too, and so this has all had to do with the council itself. And Marion Ivey is a very good individual to represent us. It's really nice to find all the different artists and find who does what in this area," he said.

A non-profit organization, MAC's goal is to improve the local art scene and exhibit the works of resident artists, as well as educate the community about the arts, according to the website.

Each artist and their works are featured on the website at Presently, there are 21 artists featured, with works including pen and ink drawings, hand forged metal sculpture, colored pencil fantasy, photography, paint, pottery, folk, fantasy and digital, and performing arts. The performing artists include dance and musicianship.

Mr. Ivey said the council was first introduced with a visual arts focus but the affiliation of performance art gives them an entirely different depth and much broader versatility.

"Some do different work. Some are performers, some are painters. So, we are all going to slowly but surely get more and more exposure and also help the community with what our goal is. ... to really get the community to be exposed to the arts and be more aware that we are in the area," Mr. Wielinga said.

The MAC has been invited to be one of the few vendors at the annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in May in Thomson. They will showcase and sell art with a Southern or musical theme.

Also in May, the council will host an arts festival/art show, "Arts in the Alley" in downtown Thomson. For more information about the council or the festival, visit the website or call Mr. Ivey at 706-699-1804.

Web posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009

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