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Arte Gras a hit with arts supporters

Roslyn Jones, executive director at Summer’s Landing Senior Living, throws the dice at a faux craps table to raise money for Arts Clayton’s “Read to Succeed Learning Through the Arts” program during the group’s Arte Gras fundraiser Saturday night.

Roslyn Jones, executive director at Summer’s Landing Senior Living, throws the dice at a faux craps table to raise money for Arts Clayton’s “Read to Succeed Learning Through the Arts” program during the group’s Arte Gras fundraiser Saturday night.

— Roslyn Jones was the “Lady in Red” Saturday night.

Wearing a red evening gown, Jones stood at the end of a craps table watching the dealer collect chips from other players. Then he turned to Jones, the executive director of Summer’s Landing Senior Living, and pushed a pair of dice toward her in a small wooden box.

“The lady in red has the dice,” the dealer announced as Jones took the dice in her hand.

She then shook them in her hand and tossed them town the table.

It was the first time Jones had attended Arts Clayton’s annual Arte Gras fundraiser, which raises money for the group’s “Reading to Succeed Learning Through The Arts” program. Jones said she is in the process of becoming an Arts Clayton member and has known the organization’s executive director, Linda Summerlin, for several years.

“Oh my gosh, this is such a great event,” Jones said. “I loved the dancing and meeting all of these people.”

The general consensus among Arte Gras attendees was that Arts Clayton had outdone itself this year. The event had a Monte Carlo-esque atmosphere with a “Night on the French Riviera” theme. It was also the first year the event was held at the Morrow Center, and it was the first time faux gaming tables were included in the celebration.

Attendees could participate in fake gambling at the tables with the proceeds going to Arts Clayton’s children’s art programs.

“This was the best one they’ve ever done,” said Morrow Business and Tourism Association President Mike Twomey.

Summerlin said the gaming tables proved to be a big enough hit with attendees that they will be incorporated into future Arte Gras celebrations.

“From all accounts, it was the thing to do,” she said.

Arte Gras planning committee member Debbie Walker called the event — which is done more as a party than a rubber chicken banquet — “fabulous” as it wound down after midnight.

“It was virtually a sellout with in a week of when tickets went on sale,” she said. “We still had some tickets left as we got closer to the event but they were just individual tickets at this table and that table. It was just so great to see the community come together for a good cause.”

Brook Medley, co-owner of Wilson Pharmacy in Forest Park, said she thought the event was “wonderful.” She and her husband, David, were first-time Arte Gras attendees.

“There were just a ton of great people here,” Brook Medley said.

The Medleys were just two of the many attendees who said it was the general atmosphere of the event that they enjoyed most.

In addition to the gaming tables, the Infinity Show Band performed throughout the night. At point the band brought a half dozen women from the audience on stage to lead dances to a Tina Turner-inspired version of “Proud Mary.”

“It’s a great party,” said Heritage Bank Group Vice-President Cindy Kelley, who was among the “Proud Mary” dancers.

“It’s a fun atmosphere and I really like that Clayton County does something for the arts,” said Atlanta resident Lisa Sharp, who attends Arte Gras every year.

Summerlin said it will take Arts Clayton at least a month to tabulate the amount of money that will go to arts education programs because of Arte Gras. She said money is still coming in and bills for the event have to be paid before she will know how much money was raised.

“It seems to be a great success though,” Summerlin said. “Next year, we’re going to add to what we did this year.”