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Alfredia Scott, Arts Clayton present First Lady's Luncheon

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Alfredia Scott, wife of Congressman David Scott (D-GA), will become the first African American ever to host the "First Lady's Luncheon," a 100-year-old tradition honoring the First Lady of the United States.

On April 17, in Washington, D.C., wives of members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, members of the president's cabinet, and Laura Bush, herself, will be adorned with art and jewelry commissioned by the Arts Clayton gallery.

The Congressional Club -- a non-partisan service club for the spouses of House and Senate Members -- selected Arts Clayton to supply unique art pieces to be presented as gifts to attendees of the club's largest and most prestigious social affair.

Arts Clayton commissioned Snellville artist ,Theresa Fontes-Black, to create 2,100 glass-bead necklaces of various shapes and designs to be given to the attendees as party favors. The gallery also commissioned Alpharetta artist, Debra Svitil, to design a personalized, handmade quilt, which will be presented to Bush at the luncheon.

Scott currently serves as chair of the Congressional Club and, for the past year, has overseen the organizational details of the First Lady's Luncheon. She has coordinated committees charged with securing guests, entertainment, food, gift packages, program design, and creating the famous "Congressional Club Cookbook," featuring various recipes of congressional wives.

Scott said not only is she proud to be the first African American to host the historic event, but she is proud Arts Clayton was chosen to facilitate the commission.

"I thought that it was an honor that after 100 years, they would have an African American at the helm of one of the most important events planned for the First Lady," said Scott. "With such a large project, you have to be really concerned that you get a quality product. From what I've seen, Arts Clayton has a lot of talented artists that you can depend on."

Svitil, a portrait artist by trade, painted a portrait of Bush and enhanced it using over 30 different colors of thread. Hand stitched into the background of the six-and-a-half-foot-by-seven-and-a-quarter-foot quilt are several subtle Texas motifs, including bluebonnets, long horns, pecans, armadillos, and monarch butterflies.

Stitched into the bottom of the quilt is a quote from Bush, expressing her love of learning and books.

Svitil said she "wanted a design that would represent Laura Bush, not just as the president's wife, but the woman herself.

"It's amazing to be able to do something like this," Svitil continued. "I have several friends who have to keep reminding me this is real. None of us are big names, so its tremendous for us and the gallery."

Fontes-Black, who was commissioned to create over $100,000 worth of jewelry for the project, feels "honored" and "overwhelmed."

"It was a blessing to be able to do something of this magnitude," said Fontes-Black. "This is my big break ... my first huge commission. It's a great compliment to Arts Clayton, because they could have gone anywhere and chose any artist. There's a wealth of talent in that gallery."

Scott, who like Bush, is a former librarian, described Bush as a friend who "has always cooperated with any and everything that I have asked her to do." She looked forward to presenting the quilt to Bush in April.

"[Bush] has gotten gifts from all over the world," said Scott. "Because it's her last term, I wanted to give her something that is more personal. Part of this quilt is the love and talent of a person. It's something that Laura Bush will be able to pass down and not just have it sit on a mantle."

Congressman Scott said the event will be "history-making, not just for my wife, but for Clayton County.

"All of these people will be receiving a piece of artwork from Clayton County, Georgia," said Scott. "The first lady of the United States will see the work of Clayton County and have a piece of it forever. I think everybody can be very proud of this."