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Art festival fills city street

McDuffie Arts Council's inaugural exhibition, Arts in the Alley, was a big hit for all who participated Saturday. In fact, the only complaint came from people who wanted more of a good thing.

"I love it. I just wish it was a little bigger, but it's very good," said Michelle Stiles, who came from Augusta. "I hope one day, all the artists in Augusta and Washington and Thomson and all the places can get together for us. I'm impressed with all I see here."

Held on the nostalgic brick-paved Journal Street in downtown Thomson, the event featured works of 25 artists of different media, as well as performing artists of professional musicians, dancers and poets.

"I think we've made people aware of that part of town," said MAC Chairman, Marion Ivey. "It's a forgotten spot in town, and it very well may be one of the oldest parts of town. And people made positive comments about the brick paved street. So, we brought exposure to downtown Thomson."

Mr. Ivey said the crowd was small, but full of art-appreciators who purchased things, which made the artists happy. The response to the children's activities was good, too.

"I enjoyed it. There is a lot of neat things," said nine-year-old Macie Hunt. "I got a bracelet and a pig (clay sculpture). And there's pretty music and tie-dyed shirts."

Musical performances all day took place on the stage set up in the back of the alley, and ranged from bluegrass strings to jazz. Mr. Ivey said he was disappointed in the crowd for the music performances, and will change where the stage is located next year.

"We were hoping that the public would respond to the musical aspect of it. The people that didn't come really missed a great musical show," he said. "There was a jazz trio, and if there was a house to be brought down, they did it. ... All the musical acts were good, we were really pleased with that quality."

Even the response to the poetry recitations, held in the museum, were good, according to Mr. Ivey, who added that he knew they were being "ambitious" to bring that form of literary art in.

"We are finding that there is a real hunger for a more diverse cultural experience in Thomson, and that is something that MAC can help provide," he said in an email to the council members and media. "Culture is making a comeback in McDuffie County!"

The McDuffie Arts Council was formed in September for the purpose of promoting the artistic resources of the area, providing venues that encourage and promote education, public awareness, participation and appreciation of the arts. The arts are a key element in creating desirable places to work, live and visit in McDuffie County, according to their website at

And although they only had four months to plan Arts in the Alley, Mr. Ivey thinks they are well on the road to accomplishing their mission. In fact, he said the council is looking forward to next year.

"I've been losing sleep thinking how to make it better for next year," he said.

The council also is working with the local museum, schools and Family Y to educate the public about the arts. Monthly meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at the McDuffie Museum. For more information, visit the website or call Mr. Ivey at 706-699-1804.

Web posted on Thursday, June 04, 2009

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