Arts Clayton named state art tour stop

Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal


Linda Summerlin


Jeanell Bridges

ATLANTA — Georgia’s art history is coming to Jonesboro.

Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife, First Lady Sandra Deal, announced the Arts Clayton Gallery will be one of the stops on the State Art Collection Tour on Wednesday. The collection is made up of work created by Georgia artists and gathered up by the Georgia Council for the Arts over the years.

Twenty-eight pieces from the collection will be sent on a 14-month tour of nine galleries across the state.

Arts Clayton Executive Director Linda Summerlin was giddy about the news after it was announced.

“It’s fabulous and we’re just thrilled to be chosen,” she said.

Arts Clayton didn’t win a spot on the tour by itself. Galleries participating in the tour had to partner with a downtown development authority to be chosen. Although the gallery is located in Jonesboro, the city disbanded its DDA nearly seven years ago so it wasn’t in a position to help.

But, the city of Morrow does have a DDA, and was in a position to assist Arts Clayton, so it stepped forward and filled the gap. Its DDA partnered with the arts group to bring the collection to Clayton County.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Morrow had a DDA and was willing to work with us to bring the tour down here,” said Summerlin. “We’re looking forward to showcasing the city and the gallery when the tour arrives.”

Morrow City Councilwoman Jeanell Bridges said the tour will be a positive tool to promote the county and all of its seven cities. Bridges is Arts Clayton’s liaison with the city and the DDA.

“It’s a great way to bring people to Clayton County and it’s an exciting time for us to be able to partner with Arts Clayton,” said Bridges.

Bridges pointed to a new spirit of cooperation between the cities and the county as a sign of how the efforts of one city or organization can help the entire community. She said Summerlin came to her months ago and asked for help getting the DDA on board with the request.

“After talking with our city leaders about it, we all thought it would be a good idea to do this because it benefits the entire community, not just in Morrow, but throughout Clayton County,” said Bridges.

There are still some details to be hashed out. Chief among them is when the tour will come to Arts Clayton. Summerlin said representatives of the chosen galleries are required to meet with state officials next week to discuss the tour.

“That’s when we’ll all receive our marching orders,” she said.

The State Art Collection is made up of artwork the Georgia Council for the Arts collected between the 1970s and the 1990s. The work crosses a multitude of artistic styles and mediums, and the artists whose work is in the collection includes Benny Andrews, Lucinda Bunnen, Herbert Creecy, Howard Finster, Ruth Laxson and Nellie Mae Rowe, according to a statement from Deal’s office.

“The traveling exhibit is an opportunity to use the state art collection as a springboard for additional arts and culture activities that serve to celebrate and increase awareness for the local cultural community and to increase tourism,” said Deal in the statement.

“Sandra and I hope that this collection will inspire visitors and local citizens to learn more about Georgia’s artistic heritage and current artists, and to ‘Explore Georgia,’” he said.