Arts Clayton opens its 'new' doors

By Justin Boron

Waiting for an audience, artist depictions of Toccoa Falls and Tybee Island hang in the gallery of the new Arts Clayton facility in Jonesboro on the corner of Main Street and Church Street.

The paintings will be one of the exhibits on display when the community service arts agency opens the doors of its new location for the first time today.

Exterior work and renovations could be seen for months as the agency prepared to open the new gallery.

The new building will allow the group to expand its operations to include more artists, said Linda Summerlin, the executive director of Arts Clayton.

"It was very important for our next stage of growth," she said.

Almost twice the size of its previous gallery, the new building will allow for a more diverse collection of art to be displayed, said Teri Williamson, the gallery manager.

Williamson said she hopes the new location will increase foot traffic as well.

The new gallery sits on Main Street, the main thoroughfare through town.

Arts Clayton's previous location was tucked away across the railroad tracks behind the Road to Tara Museum.

"We'll have more visibility here," she said.

With extra office space, Williamson said the agency's five permanent employees also will be more comfortable. Each employee will have his or her own office.

"We're not tripping over each other," she said.

The new building was made possible primarily by $50,000 in grant money from the county's tourism budget, Summerlin said.

While today's events will mark a new era for the agency, it will only be a "soft opening," she said.

The grand opening will take place in February when the gallery will celebrate its fifth anniversary, Summerlin said.

This evening, the Georgia through Artists Eyes will be on display, which highlights some of the state's important landmarks, Williamson said.

The Southern Crescent Alliance of Visual Artists brings the collection to galleries throughout the state.

"Entry is free for anyone to visit," Williamson said. "Of course, bring your checkbook to buy art."