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Arts council gets downtown space for gallery, studio

After two years, they've finally found a place to call home.

The McDuffie Arts Council has made an arrangement with Camellia Partners, Inc. to set up shop in one of the empty buildings close to the railroad tracks on Main Street.

"It's going to be different in the respect that a lot of galleries are owned by art enthusiasts who take on different artists' work. This one's going to be run by the council and take work only from the council members," said Marion Ivey, chairman of McDuffie Arts Council. "For at least the time being, it will be our true home."

Their home will be both a display gallery and a studio.

"We'd like for it to be a working studio, where we have some artists that are on the council actually working out of it somewhat," Mr. Ivey added.

Renovation of the exterior of the building was completed this week with help from the City of Thomson's façade grant. But the interior still needs a lot of work. Mr. Ivey said he hopes they can move in by Christmas.

"I don't know if there's a whole lot to tell except our plans are grandiose and we just hope they come to fruition," he said. "We're really excited about it. But, it's a work in progress."

To save money, the council members are doing the interior renovation themselves. Mr. Ivey said they welcome any volunteers who would like to help with the project.

He'd also like to hear from anyone who knows the history of the building, which is next door to what is now H&R Block. Although the last occupant was the Sports Palace Pool Hall, the building has been empty for more than a decade. Mr. Ivey said he knows it was the Eagle Café in the 1920s.

His curiosity was aroused when a door was discovered during demolition inside the building. The door was located behind a layer of paneling and another layer of plywood.

"And you open the door, and there's the brick wall to the building next to it," Mr. Ivey said with a laugh. "We're going to actually leave the door there, so you can open it and see the brick wall."

Once renovation is complete and the artists set up their works for exhibit, Mr. Ivey predicts the council will experience growth.

"There's really, really a vast amount of artwork if everybody that's in the council were to bring their stuff," he said. "It's probably an overwhelming amount. It will really add another dimension to what the council is when you can walk in and see everything at once."

According to their website, the McDuffie Arts Council is a non-profit organization  established in 2008, as a vehicle for artisans of the McDuffie County area to showcase their work, and for patrons to  celebrate the local wealth of talent.  There are bios and pictures of works of 24 artist members on the website. For more information, visit www.

Web posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010

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