Through the eyes of the artist

By Greg Gelpi

From serene pastoral oil paintings to dramatic photographs of the reenactment of the Battle of Jonesboro, images of Georgia fill the gallery of Arts Clayton.

Arts Clayton opened its annual show entitled "Georgia" Tuesday, displaying what is on local artists' minds when they think of the state.

"Beauty," Bill Evans said, looking over his oil paintings. "I love the Southern landscape. The Southern landscape is really my inspiration everywhere I look."

Evans, who has been an artist since he was 11, said that he has worked fulltime as an artist for the past three years.

"I have never had a desire to do anything, but be an artist," he said. "I'm starving, but I'm doing it."

Gazing at the images of tubing in the Georgia waterways, a Tybee Island lighthouse and other artwork in the gallery, 10-year old Hamilton Paul said his favorite piece was a collection of photographs of a reenactment of the Battle of Jonesboro.

Asked about what comes to mind when he thinks of Georgia, he didn't know, but he did know that he liked the reenactment photographs.

"I'm not sure if you would call me a Georgian or not," Jonesboro artist Hermon Woodall said. "I have been here 13 years and love it."

Talking with Georgians and discovering what they like, Woodall, a tractor-trailer driver for the United States Postal Service, said he paints the images they bring to his mind, including magnolias, wine and Bible verses.

"I don't know much of anything I don't like about Georgia," Woodall said.

About 25 artists showcased their work at the exhibit, Teri Williamson of Arts Clayton said. The artists range from those who do it on the side to those who are internationally known.

Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day called the gallery an "anchor in the downtown area" during the opening reception.

"They're sticking with us through thick and thin with redevelopment in the downtown area," Day said.

The Arts Clayton gallery is at 106 N. McDonough St. in Jonesboro. The gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The Georgia exhibit will remain on display until June 1. The gallery changes its monthly exhibits on the first Tuesday of each month and opens each exhibit with a reception. For more information, call (770) 473-9986.