Jonesboro resident Darryll Hand (from left) and city Councilwoman Pat Sebo check out a custom-built 1930s-style car made by automobile artist Tony Monroy at the opening of Arts Clayton's new ‘Travel’ exhibit.
JONESBORO As the featured exhibitor, Friday was Dale Niles’ night to shine at the Arts Clayton Gallery but one of automobile artist Tony Monroy’s creations stole a bit of her thunder.
Niles’s one-month photography exhibit, titled “Then and Now,” was one of two exhibits which opened the gallery last week. The other was a two-month exhibit titled “Travel.”
A black, custom-built, 1930s-influenced car built by Monroy was parked on South Main Street for one night only to promote the opening of the exhibits and it gained almost as much attention outdoors as Niles’ exhibit got inside.
But that’s OK because it’s what Arts Clayton officials and Monroy had planned all along.
“We put it out there to get people’s attention and to bring them in to the gallery to see the exhibits,” said Monroy.
Niles’ work is the featured exhibit at the gallery this month. She earned the right to have the exhibit by winning Arts Clayton’s juried photography competition last fall. Next month, an exhibit by juried art competition winner Ginger Lou Fulton will take its place.
Her photography focuses on capturing life’s moments, such as a bride getting ready for her wedding, a little girl walking toward her sister, a child playing along the edge of a pool and an old man sitting alone in a restaurant.
“There are so many facets of life that I like capturing,” said Niles, a resident of Fayetteville. “A lot of them are memories that I think are worth holding onto.”
Niles said she has had her photography put on display a few times before, including a few times at the Arts Clayton Gallery, but this is her first solo exhibit at the gallery.
Debbie Osborne, the mother of the female models in many of Niles’ photos, said her family was excited to see the exhibit go on display. Osborne said she and Niles have been friends for years.
“It is really exciting because, for one, Dale is one of my closest friends and also because she’s really talented,” said Osborne. “We’re so proud of her.”
Another one of Niles’ friends, Peachtree City resident Shelly Jones, shared Osborne’s excitement.
“I’ve seen them before so I knew she was a good photographer but it’s great to see her get an exhibit of her own,” Jones said.
But Monroy’s car also generated plenty of excitement. Much of the attention and activity inside the gallery were centered around Niles’ exhibit but many of the attendees came out to marvel at the automobile. That brought more attention to the “Travel” exhibit.
“It’s just cool,” said Jonesboro resident Darryl Hand.
Monroy said he converted the engine of a Chevrolet truck to fit a small two-seater sports car, and built the rest of the vehicle by hand. He made the steering wheel himself, which he said is the way automobile steering wheels were made in the 1930s and 1940s. He said he welded pieces of scrap metal together to make the body.
Monroy said he began rebuilding cars in 1995 and this is the third car he has built from scratch. Each car is drivable, is state-certified and costs about $5,000 to make. He said he finds his inspiration in the concept cars of the 1930s.
“Cars from that time period were bigger and they were very stylish with this art deco look,” Monroy said.
The gallery has some upcoming workshops designed to tie into its exhibits this summer as part of Arts Clayton’s Corks and Canvas program. Niles will teach a workshop on photography June 28 at 6:30 p.m. and Fulton will teach a class on mixed media artwork July 26 at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in participating in the workshops is asked to call 770-473-5410 to register. The classes cost $35.