Locals 'relax, take an arts break'

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Joel Hall


While many people were busy fighting Monday-afternoon traffic, several at the Clayton County Headquarters Library broke from their normal routines to learn the art of making jewelry from stained glass.

Monday's class was just one of several the library system has planned over the summer to get adults to slow down, relax, and appreciate reading and the arts.

"Relax ... Take an Arts Break," a series sponsored by a Grassroots Arts Program (GAP) grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts, will offer a number of free programs, aimed at getting adults into the library to learn new skills, and gain valuable information.

Traditionally, said Headquarters Managing Librarian Sherry Turner, the library has had little, to no funding, for programming geared toward adults. She said a $500 GAP grant, matched by another $500 from Friends of the Clayton County Library System, would supply the library with enough resources to provide free arts, dance and craft programming from now until the end of June.

"We basically have no budget for adult activities, so when we want to do adult programming, we have to write a grant for it," Turner said. "The whole idea [of "Relax ... Take an Arts Break] is to introduce the community to different art, whether it be fine arts, crafts or performing arts. A lot of people may not have the funding to start a new craft. These classes allow them to try something, and decide if they want to do this seriously. [Our] library supplies, as well as the grant, provide all the materials for the class."

Upcoming "Relax ... Take an Arts Break" events at the library include:

* Free crochet classes every Tuesday, at 10 a.m., with instructor Cookie Blakenship; scrapbooking class with instructor Marta Griffiths on May 19, at 10 a.m.

* A book discussion group on Wednesday, June 2, at 4 p.m., in which adults will be able to share books they are currently reading.

* A book signing and discussion of "Till You Hear From Me," with acclaimed author, Pearl Cleage, on Thursday, June 3, at 6 p.m.

* A Summer Reading Kick-off on Saturday, June 5, from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., featuring an art show, writer's workshops, and antiques appraising.

* Beginner's drawing classes with instructor Diana Acquaye on Tuesday, June 8, starting at 7 p.m.

* A Health Fair on the Headquarters Library grounds on Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m.

* "The History of Tap," a discussion and performance presented by local artist, Terrence "Taps," on Thursday, June 24, at 7 p.m.

* Beginner's watercolor painting classes with instructor Diana Acquaye.

Mary Anne Maslanka, who taught Monday's stained-glass, jewelry-making class, has worked with stained glass for 20 years, and been an instructor for 15. The Locust Grove native said she believes the series will provide enriching experiences for adults, as well as their children.

"I believe very strongly in arts education," Maslanka said. "The clothes you wear, the car your parents drive, your textbooks, they all start out as art. Especially in a disadvantaged area where the adults may have not been exposed to the arts as much, it opens up doors.

"Even though they [the activities] are advertised to adults, we expect for some of them to bring their kids, and we are happy when they do that," she added. "If they can do something together, that is a skill that the child will have that the parent can cultivate."

For more information about "Relax ... Take and Arts Break," visit www.claytonpl.org.