Artist's work draws on past encounters

Whether it is a homeless man in the Ansley Park neighborhood of Atlanta, a metal sculptor in Fabriano, Italy, or a family pet, 2010 Arts Clayton Juried Art Show and Competition winner Teresa Thurston takes time to appreciate the people and things that have made a deep impact on her life.

Through watercolor paintings, drawings, and sculpture, Thurston attempts to draw viewers into an intimate conversation with her subjects, many of whom have touched her life one way or another. From now until Sept. 24, 30 of Thurston's pieces will be featured at the Arts Clayton gallery in an exhibit entitled, "If Not For You: The Artwork of Teresa Thurston."

A native of Hall County, Ga. and a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., Thurston took "Best of Show" in February during the Arts Clayton Juried Art Show and Competition for her watercolor painting, "Enoch." Her exhibit at Arts Clayton features a wide array of intimate portraits and abstract art, utilizing mediums as rare as Fabriano paper imported from Italy, and as common as cardboard.

"I really like combing mediums," said Thurston, who resides in Griffin. "I've been doing a lot of watercolor pieces lately, but just last year, I got into [using] house paint. Whether it's painting, drawing, or sculpting, I'm open to a lot of things."

Several of the pieces in "If Not For You" are inspired from Thurston's 2007 trip to Fabriano, a Mecca of modern paper-making, where she spent time as an artist-in-residence at the Museo della Carta e della Filigrana. "Carlos Barbados from Urbino" is a portrait of a peculiarly-dressed metal sculptor with stark resemblance to the Gorton's Fisherman. "Calm Before the Storm," is a house-paint-on-cardboard painting of women sunbathing along the Adriatic Sea; and "In Ruins" portrays a couple sharing a quiet moment near the ruins of Rome, Italy.

Other pieces, such as Thurston's sculpture "Look Inside" explores the impact of domestic abuse. "Symphony" is a watercolor portrait of a performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers said that Thurston's work tends to draw in the viewer.

"Her passion about the craft is able to come through, no matter what subject or medium she chooses," Powers said. "Her subjects are really interesting people ... not always people you would anticipate. The person's energy and essence really comes through," she said.

"There's a lot of life, and she translates that in the brush strokes she uses."

Thurston said that in all of her works, she is more interested in making the viewer stop and think, rather than creating a mirror image.

"You never know when you meet somebody, what kind of impact that person will have on your life," she said. "Some people we meet only for a few minutes, but we never forget them. We lead busy lives and we miss out on a lot.

"There are many people in this world who we miss all the time ... I don't want to miss anything," Thurston said.

A free, opening reception for Thurston's work will take place on Thursday, Sept. 2, from 5:30 p.m., to 7:30 p.m., at the Arts Clayton gallery, located at 136 South Main Street. The gallery is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m.

For more information, call (770) 473-5457.