THOM 7 | Fall / Winter 2016


Volume 4 | issue 2


Volume 4 | Issue 2

Fall/Winter 2016

Editor & Publisher

Michele Arwood


Haile McCollum

Associate Editor

Callie Sewell

Production Manager

Margret Brinson

Development ManagerS

Jenny Dell

Mallory Jones


copy Editor

Jennifer Westfield


Lindsey Strippoli


Kelli Boyd

Paul Costello

Stephen Elliot

Abby Mims Faircloth

Gabe Hanway

Sangsouvanh Khounvichit

Alicia Osborne

Daniel Shippey

Lyn St. Clair



Alison Abbey

Scott Doyon

Sarah Gleim

Andrea Goto

Annie B. Jones

Susan Ray

Anne Royan

Todd Wilkinson


Catharine Fennell

Ronnie Stripling

600 E. Washington St.

Thomasville, GA


Cover photo by: Sangsouvahn Khouncichit



Fall/Winter 2016


5 The (Not-So) Bitter Southerner

Chuck Reece

The Bitter Southerner



11 The Plains, The Parties

and The Pimento Cheese

Julia Reed

Author & Columnist


17 Gone But Not Forgetting

Christopher Coes

Smart Growth America & LOCUS


21 Woman of the West

Lyn St. Clair

Featured Painter

2016 Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival



91 Fashioning a Love Story

Ann & Sid Mashburn



97 The Culinary Dance

Jonathan Jerusalemy

Executive Chef & Culinary Director

Sea Island Resort


103 Upward and Onward

Katie Chastain

Scholars Academy, City of Thomasville



107 Boxwood Meets Driftwood

Bryce Vann Brock & Kelly Revels

The Vine

113 Featured Artists

Letter From

the Editor

“So, what’s your story?” It’s a guy this time.

He chuckles. He’s really nervous. And rightfully

so — a total stranger just plopped down across

the table from him, baiting him with her Southern


She presses him. “No. Really!” What happens next

defies all probability for me. He actually starts to

form words.

There was a time when I dreaded dinner with this

particular friend because, well, you know, she just

shouldn’t do things like that. But, over time, I grew

curious. Envious, really. Their faces were always

intense with emotion, but she’d return to our table

to share captivating stories of crazy coincidences,

young lovers or tragedies of lives gone wrong. It was

always an interrupt to the expected and led to deep

and meaningful conversations between us.

Now that we are cities apart, I miss being a part

of the powerful connections she creates with total

strangers. And, sidebar, she is one of the most

fascinating people I know, mostly because of the

stories she carries with her.

One of my favorite story collectors, Ira Glass, says,

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” I

think that’s the reason we are so passionate about

the work we do through THOM. Every new story we

hear shapes us and adds a new layer of meaning

to our lives. As we continue to uncover the hidden,

creative life of Thomasville, we’re committed to

sharing stories to add meaning to the life of our


way with life and words. Ann and Sid are practically

walking stories, as their fashion is woven into every

fiber of their life together.

Your thoughts about the impact you are having

on the children in your life will become far more

significant when you get to know Katie Chastain.

Christopher Coes? He’s the guy I want to spend

hours with, listening to his tales about great


As we move through 2016, we’re continuing to

celebrate Thomasville Center for the Arts’ 30th

anniversary. A highlight is the design of a new

strategic plan with a bold vision for the next decade.

To bring this vision to life, we’re crafting the story of

how we started, how we narrowly escaped disaster,

our triumph through reinvention and what we see

for the future of our city. Keep your eye out for it!

The partners who support THOM make our story

even richer. The people behind these businesses and

organizations are true partners – friends – working

with us to create a compelling, visual story of our

life in Thomasville. Powering our efforts together

is our presenting partner, Archbold Medical Center.

They are committed to strengthening the people

who live here and our story intersects with a shared

vision to connect people to one another.

So, what’s your story? We hope a part of our story is

part of yours. Come share your tale with us and be a

part of all that’s happening at the Center of it all in


It’s been a bit of a “pinch me, I’m dreaming”

experience to get up close to the creatives in this

issue. Chuck Reece, our favorite bitter Southerner, is

a force to be reckoned with – determined to throw

dishonorable Southern traditions out the window by

sharing stories about the duality of the South. Julia

Reed, well, she has a simply fabulous, often amusing


Instagram Influencers

Nine Instagram feeds that keep us inspired and connected


Original thinkers revealing Kentucky

one page and one event at a time.


A photographic celebration of all

of our favorite panhandle spots.

We can hear the gulf calling.


Sometimes looking deeply into our

collective past inspires the future.


We want to try making a new

recipe every day because she

keeps it real in the kitchen.


Stunning eye candy inspired by

botanical traditions and the gravity

of intense color.


Rumor has it that these guys

want to brew beer in Thomasville.

We’re in favor!


This arts center is a collection of

exploratory and innovative works.

It’s way out there and we love it!


We can’t get enough of her editor’s

eye and southern inspiration.


A collection of great interiors

and color inspiration plus the

occasional cute kid photo.


The ( not so)

If you ask Chuck Reece what makes for a good story, chances are he will

answer you with a story. Chuck is a collector of stories. He is discovering

new voices and old tales and threading them together into a growing

compendium of culture to create an ever-expanding portrait of the

American South.

The Bitter Southerner, the online magazine Chuck helped found in 2013,

began as a project to promote the idea that stories can create a perception

of a place and they can also challenge and change that perception.

Chuck believes in the power of stories. He spends his time wading through

the tides of our modern culture, pondering answers to the questions: What

is the South now? What does it mean to be Southern today?

Written by

Anne Royan

All photo captions by

Chuck Reece



“The most difficult question we have

gotten, consistently, since we started is:

How do you define the South?” Chuck says.

“And, well, that’s not easy.”

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama. Fernando DeCillis shot this photograph on the 50th

anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ when Alabama state patrolmen beat down the peaceful protestors

who were marching for civil and voting rights. To see that bridge, where one of the greatest evils in

the history of the South occurred, filled with people of all colors, was very inspiring to me.



“We are always looking

behind things and under

things,” Chuck says.

“The most difficult question we have gotten,

consistently, since we started is: How do you define

the South?” Chuck says. “And, well, that’s not easy.”

What defines a culture? Well, basically, it’s what

always defines a group of people: their stories.

Southern stories, like Southern culture, go beyond

a simple definition of geography and the boundary

of the Mason-Dixon line. The heartbeat of the story

must pulse as one with the collective heartbeat

of the South. As the editor of The Bitter Southerner,

Chuck is always seeking

to capture this elusive

thing, this pulse.

“People want to be

proud of where they

live and in a place like

the South, that requires

Photo by Whitney Ott

some acknowledgement

of some less-thansavory

parts of our past,” he explains. “We don’t

shy away from that, but we don’t wade into the

politics of things, either. We are just storytellers.

What makes a good story for us is if it’s told well

and is defined in a certain way by the negative space

between the stereotypes you see in the national

media about the South.”

It is not all just stories about grits and biscuits,

bluegrass, banjo and bourbon, low country and

backwater, hunting dogs and ghosts that linger,

oysters and hot summer nights, Sunday school and

segregation, front porches and lush gardens, fishing

stories and drinking stories. Not all race relations

and reconciliation, civility and hospitality, progress

and tradition. Although — sometimes it is, except,

turned inside out and from a new angle, a fresh

perspective. “We are always looking behind things

and under things,” Chuck says.

“There is no way that someone can read one story

published in The Bitter Southerner and get anywhere

close to a complete sense of what the South is

actually like, today, in 2016,” Chuck says. “But my

hope is that over time, a reader can read a collection

and get a more complete sense of what this place

is like… and really get a sense for how it doesn’t

always fit those stereotypes that most people have

about the American South.”

'This past July marked the anniversary of

three years’ worth of weekly features for The

Bitter Southerner. Which puts Chuck’s collection

somewhere in the neighborhood of 155 stories: an

impressive archive of memories, mythologies, voices,

textures, tones and traditions of what we invoke

when we talk about the South. Each story shines

the light on a different aspect of Southern life. It is a

living, breathing, growing archive.

“Our point of view from the very beginning was

that we are not going to feed you the stuff that you

are always fed about the South. We are going to

tell the stories about people who are doing cool or

interesting or innovative things in the South that

maybe the world doesn’t know about,” Chuck says.

The Bitter Southerner was originally created by four

founding partners and began as an idea for a

cocktail blog, for recounting stories about bars and

bartenders and Southern cocktail culture. Yet, it

quickly grew to embrace a much more expansive

portrayal of life in the South.

In the beginning, writers simply gave them stories

for free. Journalists kept approaching them with

stories about the South and a feeling like there was

no place to put them. “I used to joke that during our

first year, we had become the home of lost stories,”

says Chuck, with laughter.

“Every writer who has been at it for a while, has

tucked away in a notebook somewhere, a story that



Doug Seegers, Nashville, Tennessee. I dearly love the

work of Tamara Reynolds, who shot this photograph.

Tamara has this remarkable ability to make anyone

who is in front of her camera comfortable. I almost

feel like she can photograph people’s hearts and

souls. This photo is of Doug Seegers, a country singer

and songwriter who got a record deal after many

years of being homeless, and it shows Doug visiting

old friends at the homeless encampment where he

once had to live.

Sweetheart Skating Rink, Tampa, Florida, 1973. Bill

Yates, a Florida photographer, spent three months

photographing kids at the Sweetheart Skating Rink,

and the first time those photographs were published

was in The Bitter Southerner last year. It’s a remarkable

collection, and it’s touring museums. But this

photograph is my favorite. It shows the attitude that

Southern kids had in the years when all the cultural

changes brought on by the hippies in the 1960s were

finally filtering into the South.

“Cancer Alley” on the Mississippi River, Baton Rouge,

Louisiana. This photograph by David Hanson probably

shows the clash of nature and industry — which has been

part of the Southern condition for centuries now — right

on the banks of the Mississippi. His story focused on the

problems faced by people who live adjacent to all these

chemical plants and oil refineries, but who cannot afford to

move away.

City Market, Luling, Texas. This image is from a series

that writer and photographer Robert Jacob Lerma did for

us about the greatest barbecue places in Texas. Something

about this picture says a lot to me: about the gratitude

Southerners show at the table, about our region’s

reverence for its foodways and so much more.



André 3000 of Outkast, the back room at Wax ’n’ Facts record store, Atlanta, Georgia. Outkast was part of a wave of

young, African-American musicians and rappers who literally changed the world of music starting in the 1990s. He is a

much revered — and properly so — figure in Atlanta, and this picture shows him sitting happily surrounded by stacks of

records, and I love that Zach Wolfe, the photographer, caught him with an old country record by Merle Travis on top of

the stack behind him. This picture captures almost the entire sweep of Southern music over the last century.



they had always wanted to write in a certain way

and that no one else would publish,” he says. “And

those things all seemed to gravitate toward us in

the first year.”

The founders began with the platform of creating

a group of stories about the South and have been

trying to slowly build a business model under it

ever since.

“I am so well aware of, and so concerned about the

weight that the history of the South has on us and

of all of the reconciliation — not just between races,

but between all different cultures in the South —

that still remains to be done.” He pauses a long

moment to consider this and continues in his warm,

Southern drawl. “But I’m old enough now where I am

smart enough to know that nothing ever changes

that but time and the stories we tell each other.”

Today, The Bitter Southerner has a staff of two and

a half. They have recently added a fifth partner,

Eric NeSmith, a vice president of development at

Community Newspapers, Incorporated, who will

hold the title of publisher and help the brand to

navigate the next phase of business development.

Of the four original founding members, only Chuck

Reece is employed full time with the project.

At 55 and three years into The Bitter Southerner

project, Chuck says, “I feel like at age 52, I kind

of stumbled into, ‘Oh, this is what you were put

here to do.’” He is thoughtful, focused, passionate

and describes himself as “persistent as hell.” The

arc of his career has spanned from journalism to

politics to corporate communications and back to


He began as a sports writer and photographer

for his hometown newspaper, the Times-Courier

in Ellijay, Georgia, when he was 15 years old. He

followed that path to the University of Georgia to

study journalism and served as the editor-in-chief

of the UGA newspaper, of which he is still on the

board today. He wrote about the media business

for AdWeek in Atlanta and then, in New York.

Impressive titles followed: political press secretary,

director of communications, freelance writer,

creative director and now, founder and editor.

Over time, he has come to believe that stories

told from a particular point of view can build a

community, a coming together of different voices, a

sharing of experiences. The success and continued

growth of The Bitter Southerner is proving him right.

Georgia State Sacred Harp Singing Convention,

Barnesville, Georgia. Johnathon Kelso shot this

picture for an audio-visual story we did about the

Sacred Harp musical tradition, which is intensely

primitive and powerful. So powerful, in fact, that if

you go to a convention like this in the South, you

will see people there literally from all over the world.

On the day this picture was shot, I met Germans,

Irishmen, Asians, all kinds of folks. A lot of Europeans

call Sacred Harp ‘a cappella heavy metal.’ I just love

how a Southern tradition like this one can attract

people from all over the world.

Chuck Reece

The Bitter Southerner


the plains,

the parties

Written by

Andrea Goto

Photographed by

Paul Costello


and the pimento





Julia Reed’s

Deviled Eggs

Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns,

and Other Southern Specialties (2008)

Yield: 24 deviled eggs

1 dozen eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt & freshly ground white pepper

Finely snipped fresh chives for garnish

Place the eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold

them in a single layer and cover with tap water. Bring

to a boil, cover, turn off the heat and let sit for 15

minutes. Drain and run under cold water until the

eggs are completely cold. Peel eggs and cut in half

lengthwise. Remove the yolks and rub through a

fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise,

mustard and butter; mix until smooth. Stir in the

lemon juice, cayenne, salt and white pepper to taste.

Place in a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with a cut-off

corner. Neatly pipe the mixture into the egg whites by

pressing on the bag. Sprinkle the eggs with the chives.

I want Julia Reed to talk about the

spirit of the South, but all she wants

to talk about is food.

I get it. Hot off a book tour of her

most recent collection of recipes and

stories, Julia Reed’s South, the former

New York Times food writer clearly

has cuisine on the brain. When

I press my editorial agenda, she

expertly presses back with her vastly

larger editorial experience.

“What we always have to explain

to the Yankees,” she begins, having

just learned I hail from the Pacific

Northwest, “is that the South in not

a monolithic place. Even in my home

state of Mississippi, if you go from

the Delta to the hills to the coast,

you’re in three different countries.

It’s like Bosnia. That’s the reason why

my book is called Julia Reed’s South,

because it’s my personal take on it.”

Food is Love

Outside of her Mississippi Deltan

accent and palpable authenticity,

Julia best reflects her regional

sensibilities as most Southerners

do, through story. The Greenville,

Mississippi, native recalls how she

was living in Manhattan when the

two planes crashed into the Twin

Towers. “I was in Midtown and I saw

the tower fall and I immediately

turned around and started walking

about as fast as I could back

uptown,” she explains. “I went to

my butcher because I was scared

he was going to close. My mother

taught me that every time something

bad happens, you’ve got to get a




And sure enough, for two or three days in a row,

friends camped out in her living room trying to

make sense of complete senselessness. “In a time of

great mourning, you want to be with people you feel

safe with and who you can break bread with,” Julia

notes. “It’s pretty basic stuff. Feeding people is the

most intimate and generous thing you can do.”

The central role food plays in both times of tragedy

and celebration is nothing new and certainly not

particular to the South, yet when you string together

Julia’s anecdotes and recipes from her seven books

and numerous columns, it’s hard to imagine that

other regions do it better.

Perhaps it’s because the South has been doing it

longer. “Food was always such an integral part

of Southern culture in a way I don’t think it was

anywhere else until now,” she suggests. “It was

always a way to connect diverse cultures.”

Life on the Plains

The Delta is the richest alluvial flood plain in the

world, but it’s also an unforgiving region, once

populated by rattlesnakes and alligators and

devastated by floods. To put it simply, you had to

be a little crazy to come to a place where there was

little to do and miles between neighbors. “When

you’re in the middle of no place, you learn early

on to make your own fun,” Julia says. “The art of

entertaining yourself is a fine art in the Delta.”

Even floodwaters don’t get in the way of a party. She

remembers a story where men had to carry a piano

up to the second floor just so the music wouldn’t

have to stop. Julia sees the remnants of those

spirited beginnings as informing the generations

that followed. Her mother threw parties nearly every

night and played hostess to many a distinguished

guest, including William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald


The people of the Delta were not precious about

their celebrations. “There’s a certain generosity of



spirit,” notes Julia, “but a generous

host doesn’t have to mean that

they’re buying champagne or lump

crab meat for everyone at the table.”

In fact, there was — and is still — an

effortless blend of high and low

culture (to borrow from the title of

Julia’s Garden & Gun column, “The

High & The Low”).

Southerners like Julia pair

champagne with store-bought fried

chicken, serve marinated shrimp

on Saltines and are unapologetic

about cooking up a box of Uncle

Ben’s rice for New York editors. The

point isn’t to impress; for every time

Julia serves roast lamb at a table set

with sterling, she’s just as likely to

fill a boat with her friends, a bucket

of KFC and a cooler of beer, to head

out for an impromptu picnic on the

“beach”— the biggest sandbar in the

middle of the Mississippi River.

“It’s pretty

basic stuff.

Feeding people

is the most

intimate and

generous thing

you can do.”

Such playful pliability is

characteristic of Julia’s South.

“There was a spontaneity,” she

recalls. “Everybody had little planes

on their farms and you’d say, ‘If

we leave right now we can land in

Memphis in time to go to Justine’s,

this great restaurant on the banks

of the river.’”

Adventure Time

That sense of adventure kept Julia

from ever feeling hemmed in by

her hometown. “People from the

Delta were always travelers,” she

enthuses. “There’s always a sense

of the world being a wide-open

place.” Perhaps this is why Julia

never considered her small-town



Southern roots as a disadvantage, whether she was

attending the prestigious Madeira boarding school for

girls in Virginia, joining the ranks at Vogue and Elle or

breaking into the New York Times Magazine’s editorial

empire — an opportunity she was given after an editor

sampled her food at a party in New York City.

“These people were chasing the freaking trays

around,” she laughs. “It was like they’d never seen a

deviled egg or a pimento cheese sandwich or a ham

biscuit.” The next day she accepted the position as a

food writer for the Times. Subsequently, Julia has spent

nearly two decades scribing sharp and witty tales

from her South, casting the region as both a strange

and magical place laced with spirited ruggedness.

The day she and I talk, she’s driving home to New

Orleans from a brief stay in Greenville where in one

day she attended both a funeral and an outdoor

wedding — in the midst of a storm. During that same

stay, an attempt to quickly return something to a

friend turned into an impromptu adventure. “He said,

‘We’re out on the raft. Come to the dock and I’ll pick

you up,’” Julia says. “The next thing I know I’m on a

three-hour boat ride that I didn’t mean to go on. And

we’re eating hamburgers made of deer meat that this

guy had shot and drinking ourselves drunk.”

“Just another day on the Delta,” she laughs.

And that’s when it hits my Northern sensibilities like

a cast-iron skillet: When Julia talks about the Delta

soil, sandbar picnics and pimento cheese sandwiches,

she’s actually describing something much bigger.

The Southern identity, as diverse as it may be, is

collectively defined by the land, the adventurous spirit

of the people who inhabit it, and yes, even the food.

Especially the food.

Julia Reed

Garden & Gun magazine



There’s one thing that small, rural communities, slowly fading from heydays

long past, seem to understand equally. Brain drain. That discomforting certainty

that their best and brightest are destined to leave and not come back.

It’s an inevitability felt so strongly that according to Patrick Carr and Maria

Kefalas in their book, Hollowing Out the Middle, we actually help it along. We

actively encourage our youth with the greatest potential to seek their fortunes


There is perhaps no better argument for why place matters. And as Christopher

Coes has come to realize, that puts livability — those community attributes

that add up to an envious quality of life — at the center of importance for


Christopher himself was viewed as a foreseeable case of brain drain. Brought

up in a family with more than a century’s worth of history in the area, through

Harper Elementary, MacIntyre Park Middle and Thomasville High. He was a

student of government and international relations, active with Providence


Written by

Scott Doyon

Photographed by

Stephen Elliott



Missionary Baptist

Church — and not

just biding time.

An enthusiastic

Young Democrat,

active in sports,

missions and

student council,

he was someone

you’d reasonably

characterize as

being among that

coveted cohort of

people who were

“going places.”

Thus, when

presented with


beyond the borders

of Thomasville, he


In the usual telling, this is where the story ends.

Fortunes are followed, lives get built and potential

hometown contributions disappear. A return visit is

made, but by a person valued by others, somewhere


It didn’t quite happen that way with Christopher.

His journey led him to St. John’s University in New

York City, just days before the 9/11 attacks. That

experience, coupled with the context in which it

occurred, became the foundation for his emerging

awareness of the world.

What he began to discover was that increasing

connections, both physical and virtual, are

reordering global commerce and challenging

many long-held notions, for good and bad. The

customer service agent working a phone bank in

India; produce from South America; the shirt you’re

wearing, made in a Bangladeshi factory; and sadly,

the dispersed nature of terrorism all demonstrate a

broad but interconnected system of production and

distribution, presenting tremendous implications for

diaspora back into smaller cities like Thomasville.

“We’re in a smaller world now,” Christopher says.

“And we need to be better prepared for that.”

When geographical barriers crumble and business

is conducted with the rapidity of bits and bytes,

the playing field gets leveled. In a world of greatly

expanded potential markets, you need not be a big

player to enter the game. When fast and reliable

shipping routes can get your products out in

short order, where your goods originate becomes

considerably less critical.

As this happens, the larger players can no longer

monopolize markets or the fresh talent that they

typically lure into major metropolitan areas with

job opportunities. Today’s graduates can work from

anywhere and thus live where they choose.

For communities looking to prosper, the challenge

comes in turning themselves into appealing choices.

More and more, cities are looking to keep or call

back their talent by building places with the ability

to compete into the next century, where strong local

economies emerge from a deeply interconnected

sense of community.

Coming to this realization is what ultimately

led Christopher to the directorship at LOCUS, a

network of future-focused real estate developers

and investors, chasing the promise of more lasting,

livable, lovable places.

LOCUS — the Latin for “place” — works to remove

the bureaucratic barriers preventing the compact,

walkable development that people increasingly seem

to want, which supports strong, local economies — a

Herculean task of sorts, and one where Coes finds

himself driving change in places all around the


Places like Thomasville.

Through his work, which includes Congressional

lobbying, he creates bridges to Federal resources —



he has lobbied for $28 billion thus far for bike

lanes and walkable neighborhoods throughout the


That funding fuels the implementation of broader

national policies that Coes also works to create,

policies that help communities like Thomasville

foster the kind of mobility choices and accessibility

options that keep people safely on the move.

Or, as he puts it, “that take into account

grandmothers and children who have to cross the


Taken collectively, these types of efforts add up to

the kind of human-centric environments that allow

folks to do the things they need to do — or want to

do — in the easiest, most enjoyable and productive

ways. These things are increasingly in demand and

necessary for communities like Thomasville to

thrive and compete in the future.

Not only is such demand evidenced by Coes’

working network of over 300 mayors and city

council officials seeking assistance, it’s one

presently being answered by his other network:

250 developers looking for the next great place to


“I have the ability to pick up the phone and bring

millions of dollars to a community,” he says.

For Thomasville, where bountiful vision remains

subject to the constraints of limited resources,

friends in high places such as Coes represent a

valuable resource indeed.

Perhaps it is inevitable that our youth will continue

to leave, with the allure of new experiences too

strong to temper. But maybe our increasingly

connected and mobile world means their departure

will no longer equal the loss of ideas, contributions

and skills they’d otherwise have to offer.

Perhaps instead, they’ll remain tethered to their

roots, bound by their affection for the special

places from which they’ve emerged and, like Coes,

pursue agendas that ultimately trickle back down in

support of the communities they’ve physically left


Once they’ve made their mark on the bigger picture,

maybe that affection will lure them back home

for good, to once again walk familiar streets with

neighbors old and new, united in a mutual love for

what they share and what they’ve built.

For Christopher Coes, that’s not too much of a

stretch for a place like Thomasville.

“As southerners,” he reminds me, “we’re a loving



Smart Growth America & LOCUS


Written by

Todd Wilkinson

Photographed by

Alicia Osborne

& Lyn St. Clair

A near life-sized black bear, maybe 500 pounds, rises from her easel on its hinds.

Nearby, the vision of a red fox, peering through a wild bouquet of Carolina

Jasmine, appears to hold the light of Old World masters. Soon, the bruin will be

bound for a collector’s wall and the vixen headed to Thomasville, where painter

Lyn St. Clair is the featured painter at the 2016 Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.

I ask Lyn where the inspiration for her animal paintings comes from.

“Get in,” she says. “Let’s go for a ride.”

As I climb into the cab of Lyn’s pickup, I take note of the special Montana license

plate on the bumper, with the letters “T-R-U-E” perched above “Women of the

West.” Lyn has on pointy cowboy boots, blue jeans and a flannel shirt. She has a

pile of saddle tack in the truck bed and her painting hands are firm and slightly





calloused from holding ropes and reins.

A native daughter of Tennessee, she is a

consummate horse and dog person — a naturalist

never far from her sketchpad, camera and

binoculars. Hundreds of intricate ink drawings of

riding horses and dog breeds fill her file drawers.

These drawings are the ones that first brought her

acclaim — way back, when it wasn’t clear yet that

Lyn St. Clair would, in a few decades, become one of

the quiet rising stars of contemporary wildlife art.

Before the truck reaches a distant timbered

ridgeline, she points to game trails where she’s

seen black bears and mountain lions feeding on

elk and deer carcasses, hills where she’s heard

wolves howl. Along the way, she calls my attention

to soaring golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and

harriers dive-bombing prey. I am a Montanan and

it quickly becomes clear that one of the reasons

Lyn’s work exudes such vitality is the years of direct

observation infused into her brushstrokes.

Born in 1963, to artist parents Betty and Dean St.

Clair, Lyn grew up on a farm outside of Nashville.

“I truly wanted to be an artist from the time I

could hold a crayon,” she says, standing beneath a

wonderfully contemporary horse painting completed

by her father, who was a successful commercial


“I live what I paint,” she says, noting that she doesn’t

buy photographs to use as reference or take pictures

of animals at game farms and zoos. “I want to be

authentic. I believe in painting what I know and if

I’m going to paint it, I better know it.” Her fans say

that conveying the spirit of her subjects, based upon

firsthand contact, is what gives her work integrity.

Debbie Gaskins of Thomasville owns several original

works by St. Clair. Her daughter has a grizzly bear

painting that she received as a wedding present,

hanging above her mantel. The work emerged after

Lyn staked out a venue and hunched at water level

in order to observe the Great Bear fording a river.



“The thing I love most about art is that you never get

‘there.’ No matter how hard you work, there is always

more to learn, a different direction to explore, another

edge to push your envelope toward and something new

to discover about what you are capable of."

“Lyn’s work is a combination of real life with just a

hint of impressionism,” Gaskins says, noting that it

serves as a counterpoint to hyper photorealism.

“She’s an inspiration — and it’s not just her painting.

She’s inspiring in terms of the battles she’s fought

and has come out the other side with an upbeat,

cherishing-of-life attitude,” Gaskins says.

A cancer survivor, Lyn has overcome tragedy and

adversity. The zest of her painting, which has

served as her lifeline, is an expression of pure

gratitude — and fearlessness. She credits a move

to the Greater Yellowstone region decades ago as a

pivotal step in the evolution of her work. She landed

near Yellowstone’s wildlife-rich Lamar and Hayden

valleys, little American Serengetis, where grizzly

bears and wolves intermix with elk, bison, moose

and deer in a dynamic interaction of predators and


Lyn wears her conservation ethic on her sleeve. She’s

donated works to raise money for a wide variety of

wildlife protection programs. Among the diehard





“It helps keep my sense of

wonder intact and, to me,

that is essential to art.”

cast of professional photographers and wildlife

watchers in Greater Yellowstone, she is embraced as

a devoted member of the tribe. Such comradeship

has its perks, for the group is a hub of intelligence,

gathering on the whereabouts of bears, lobos and

other animals throughout different seasons of the


Most of the time, Lyn hikes or hoofs her way on

horseback to spots vehicles cannot go. “I constantly

see animal behavior that is new to me. There are

countless little discoveries and amazing things that I

have seen while spending time in the wild,” she says.

Lyn immerses herself in the landscape, traveling

rhythmically and softly, studying the way wild

things — including grass, trees and rocks — interact

with their environment. “It constantly reminds

me that the world is full of mystery, that there are

infinite things yet to be learned,” she explains. “It

helps keep my sense of wonder intact and, to me,

that is essential to art.”

They swoon at the big, expansive vistas of the

West because they’re thinking about spaces where

imagination and creativity can wander, just as she


“The thing I love most about art is that you never

get ‘there.’ No matter how hard you work, there

is always more to learn, a different direction to

explore, another edge to push your envelope toward

and something new to discover about what you are

capable of. Each painting inspires the next one,” Lyn


That may be — that it’s really about the journey

and not the destination. But one thing is certain:

Lyn’s work transports us. She takes us to the wildest

outbacks in the Lower 48, to the understories of

tall timberlands, across rivers and tarns, to haunts

where real wildlife dwells.

After our interview, I received a note from Lyn. It

read, “Was up on top of the ranch today. Noticed

a lot of recently flipped-over rocks, then saw a

cinnamon sow with two coy [cubs of the year] that I

hadn’t seen yet this year. They headed up over a hill

that has the old Indian fire circle on top. There’s a

painting in there.”

My reply: “Can’t wait.”

It isn’t just about watching wildlife, but also

humans. “These new works, which I plan to premiere

in Thomasville, are about the different types of

connections between wild things and people.”

She loves the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, she

says, because at a time when the art world is in

flux, the atmosphere in Thomasville represents a

centrifugal force of community. The show is a yearly

affirmation of the value of having nature in our lives

and celebrating its magic. She has an affinity for the

region and feels like she’s coming home to her roots

when she’s there.

Southerners, she says, have a way of relating to

nature that is an extension of regional identity.

Lyn St. Clair

Featured Painter

2016 Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival



Save the Date!

21st Plantation Wildlife Artists Festival

November 10 – 20, 2016

Written by:

Callie Sewell

Photography by:

Abby Mims Faircloth & Alicia Osborne

It started as an idea, sparked at a dinner party

conversation between Margo Bindhardt and Bob

Crozer. The two, along with Louise Humphrey

and the Thomasville Center for the Arts board,

were inspired by the rich history of Thomasville’s

sporting plantations and had a vision of bringing

great wildlife artists to the Red Hills region. Their

idea is what we now call the Plantation Wildlife

Arts Festival, and it represents what Thomasville

does best, both then and now: jumping onboard,

collaborating with one another and creating a

cultural and economic success that we celebrate

today, 21 years later.

PWAF is a week-long celebration that brings over

sixty wildlife artists to the Thomasville community...

and so much more. This year, meet some of the men

and women woven in the pages of this issue. Learn

painting techniques from Lyn St. Clair at the Women

of Wildlife Painting Workshop, get inspired for Fall by

Julia Reed, Ann & Sid Mashburn and James Farmer

at Out of the Woods Cocktails & Conversations and

create a seasonal arrangement with expert floral

designers Bryce Vann Brock and Kelly Revels from

The Vine. Expect to see woodland creatures in the

trees of West Jackson Street, all designed by local

fiber artists participating in the Wildlife Yarn Bomb.

Back by demand, JJ Grey & Mofro will be jamming on

Pebble Hill’s grounds after Afternoon in the Field.

There is truly something for everyone and it all

comes together with a giving spirit. All Plantation

Wildlife Arts Festival proceeds benefit Thomasville

Center for the Arts, which is dedicated to enriching

the creative life of the Red Hills Region through

visual, performing, literary and applied arts.

We can’t wait to celebrate with you!




not to miss!

November 10:

Art in the Open Public Art

Walk: Furry and Feathered

Wildlife Yarn Bomb, “Uncaged”

Installation and The Little Bird

Project Unveilings, Linda Hall

Exhibition Opening and Fiber

Art Demonstrations, all on West

Jackson Street. Powered by Hurst


November 11:

The Longleaf Affair Dinner with

Master French Chefs Jonathan

Jerusalmy of Sea Island & Nico

Romo of Charleston. A black tie evening in Pebble

Hill’s exclusive main dining room, capped off with

a Game of Chance. Presented by Wellington Shields

& Co.

November 13:

Afternoon in the Field & Concert with wildlife shows

and live demonstrations, followed by an outdoor

concert featuring JJ Grey & Mofro, all on the

grounds at Pebble Hill Plantation. Presented by

Thomas County Federal.

Red Hills Rover Rally, a backroad driving experience

through historic plantations and rally at Afternoon

in the Field. Presented by The Wright Group.

November 16:

Dedication of a bronze sculpture created by

Sandy Proctor in memory of PWAF founders

Margo Bindhardt and Bob Crozer in downtown


November 17:

Women of Wildlife Painting Workshop with 2016

Featured Painter Lyn St. Clair and South African

artist Michelle Decker at Studio 209.

On the Hunt Floral Composition

Workshop with St. Simons Island’s

The Vine event designers Bryce

Vann Brock and Kelly Revels at

Studio 209.

Out of the Woods Cocktails &

Conversations with Julia Reed,

James Farmer and Ann and Sid

Mashburn at Ten Oaks, home of

Dr. and Mrs. Charles Hancock.

Presented by Arcus Capital


November 18:

Book signings in downtown

Thomasville, with James Farmer

at Relish and Julia Reed at Firefly.

Opening Night Fine Art Show Party at Thomasville

Center for the Arts. Get a first glance at the show

with catering by Southern Jubilee and libations by J’s

Wine & Spirits. Presented by Commercial Bank.

November 19:

Shotgun Supper Club with a PWAF Twist! Nan Myers

and Carol Whitney are partnering with Southern

culinary genius Lee Epting for a fall dinner at a

secret location. Presented by Schermer Pecans.

Bird Dog Bash at Pebble Hill Plantation’s Sugar

Hill Barn. Live music with the Groove Merchants,

Southern fare by Southern Bleu Catering and

libations by Bird Dog Bottle Co. Presented by

Commercial Bank.

November 19 & 20:

Sporting & Wildlife Fine Art Show & Sale at Thomasville

Center for the Arts.


November 10-20, 2016

For tickets and more info, head to

or call 229.226.0588


“There is nothing like looking,

if you want to find something.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit




a Love


Written by

Alison Abbey

Photographed by







Ann and Sid Mashburn are the sartorial spouses you need in your


Sitting across from Ann and Sid Mashburn, proprietors of the

uber-successful men’s and women’s stores of the same names, it’s

easy to find yourself wishing they were the best friends you had at

your dinner party—complete with the ability to tell a great story,

punctuated with the light-hearted corrections and shared sentencefinishing

that can only come from a long and loving union. Like the

story of their first meeting.

“We met on the beach in Long Island. On Long Beach,” Ann says.

“It’s not even Jones Beach. It’s certainly not the Hamptons,” Sid says.

“I said, 'They offered me the job —

can I take it?' She said, ‘I already

said yes,’ and I said, ‘When was

that?’ She said, ‘The day I said I

do.’ It was like a Hallmark card.”

“We’d both been in New York just a little over a year,” Ann continues.

“I got there in January of 1984,” Sid offers. “You got there in February

or March of ‘84. We met on June 2, 1985.”

The following week, Ann, then assistant to Vogue fashion editor

Polly Mellen, waited anxiously for Sid, a wannabe fashion designer

working for British Khaki, to call. She was so anxious, in fact,

that she begged the receptionist to answer the phone of a lowly


“I said, 'The man I’m going to marry is going to call me this week,

you’ve got to answer my phone,'” she laughs.

He did (and she did) and the two began their courtship as their high

fashion careers kicked into high gear.

Ann worked her way through the ranks at Vogue and later, Glamour,

while Sid was hired as the first men’s designer at J.Crew (known

then as a “nameless catalog in New Jersey”) before going on to head

accessories design for Ralph Lauren. A lengthy stint at Lands’ End

followed for Mr. Mashburn, much to the chagrin of his wife.



“I asked her if she wanted to go out to Wisconsin [for the

interview] with me and she said, ‘I don’t have to see it to know I

don’t want to move there.’”

When that interview turned into a job offer, Sid again asked his

wife’s permission.

“I said, ‘They offered me the job—can I take it?’ She said, ‘I

already said yes,’ and I said, ‘When was that?’ She said, ‘The day

I said I do.’ It was like a Hallmark card.”

“You need to hear the resentment in my voice,” Ann says,


After several years in Wisconsin, the couple and their five

daughters were ready to make a big move. And take a big leap.

No strangers to setting their own course, the Mashburns decided

it was time to start a long-envisioned business: a retail store that

would sell Sid’s designs.

“Ever since I met him, he’s wanted to make his own clothing, but

he’s also wanted a cool place to show it. He really is very retailcentric,”

says Ann. “Sid is the definition of an entrepreneur—he’s

no fear, he’s creative and he always has something he’s working

on in the future. I’m more cautious, but we’d been together for

20 years by this time and I knew I had to let him do this. We had

to try.”

True to his pioneering ways, Sid hit the ground running to find

the perfect location. That’s when Ann suggested Atlanta.

“She’s a Yankee,” says the Mississippi-born Sid. “She said, ‘How

about Atlanta?’ and I was like, praise God, a chance to go back to

the South!”

After a week in the city, he picked a surprising location—in the

burgeoning West Side Provisions District.

“I drove from Underground Atlanta to Lenox for a week,” he

says. “I was discouraged and decided to get a taco [at future

neighboring Taqueria del Sol] and the parking lot was full.”

“I looked at the space and I went into Star Provisions [next door]

which looked like Dean & DeLuca, and I thought, ‘okay, I can

make this look cool.’ It was a very design-oriented decision,” says

Ann. “It just felt right.”



“We offer you a cold or a hot drink, we’re playing

music, you can play ping pong — none of that’s for

show, this is who we are.”

As for setting up shop (literally) in a neighborhood

that had yet to establish itself, Ann says it made the

adventure even more exciting: “There’s an element

of being a pioneer.”

It’s a mindset that Sid likens to that of his

Thomasville-based customers. “In Thomasville, it’s a

little bit of a self-sufficiency thing,” he explains. “We

can go anywhere in the world and accomplish what

we need to do, but we like being here. I think it’s a

little bit like us.”

In 2007, Sid Mashburn opened its doors and the

store's success has been constant ever since.

Three years later, opportunity came knocking when

West Side Provisions co-developer Michael Phillips

approached Ann to open her own eponymous


“He said, ‘I need you to do a women’s store and he

really pushed me to do it,’” she says, adding that her

daughters were also a driving force. “My girls were so

sweet. They said we would love to work for a woman

and we like women’s clothes more. Sid was smart

enough to say there’s an opportunity here, let’s take

it. I just wanted to make sure that it didn’t detract

from the brand that we’d already built, but business

was fantastic straight out of the gate for my brand.”

“She did more dollars per square foot in her first

year than we were doing in year three or four in

men’s,” Sid says proudly. “It was incredible.”

Even more incredible is the growth of the Mashburn

fashion empire. With locations in Atlanta, Houston,

D.C. and Dallas (and more in the works), the

designing duo are careful to curate their fashion

footprint step by step.

“We’re trying to grow at a thoughtful pace,” explains


“It’s a very sophisticated growth strategy: Wherever

there’s a professional sports team, we’ll probably go

there,” adds Sid. “And I’m only half kidding.”


The Mashburns, who pride themselves not only

on the clothing they sell, but also on the space in

which they sell it, put a point on finding just the

right locations. They recently walked away from an

opportunity in a new city because the space didn’t

fit their needs.

“Ann’s forte in putting design touches on the shop

makes it feel like our house, and really makes people

feel welcome,” says Sid. “We offer you a cold or a hot

drink, we’re playing music, you can play ping pong—

none of that’s for show, this is who we are.” We have

the open air tailor shop, which is meant to foster

this sense that we’re not just a clothing store, we

actually know how to build stuff. There’s a makers’

mentality, which kind of permeates the place.”

“Our stores are a history of who we are,” adds Ann.

“Sid is the proudest Mississippian you’d ever want to

meet, but we also want people to understand that

fashion is global. We take a lot of pride knowing we

are equally comfortable in Mississippi, Manhattan or


They believe that brand of understated luxury suits

their Thomasville-based clientele.

“The people are sophisticated, but accessible,” says

Sid. “They’ve seen it all, they’ve tasted it all, they’ve

done it all, but they also are very grounded and


Ann points to a common thread in the desire to

discover and create—both traits the Mashburns

bring to the design table in different ways. For

better or worse. “Working with a spouse is incredibly

difficult,” she says. “It helps that we are good at

different things: Sid is very detail-oriented whereas

I’m more 80/20. I like to do more that’s not perfect.

Sid sees things that I don’t see, and as a designer you

have to be like that.”

“But she can make something out of nothing,” he

says. “Which is me. I needed somebody to make me

something out of nothing!”

“I don’t think you’ve ever said that before,” says Ann,

“but it’s an excellent analogy.”

Sid Mashburn

Ann Mashburn


Written by

Sarah Written Gleim by

Sarah Gleim


Photographed Kelli Boyd by

Kelli Boyd



“Cooking comes very easily if

you’re passionate about it,” Jonathan says,

“but travel makes you a better chef.”



“In France it’s about yelling; in the United States, it

doesn’t work that way,” Jonathan says. “I have had to

look at my leadership style and figure out what works

and that has been the most fascinating thing.”

It doesn’t take me long to realize that French Master

Chef Jonathan Jerusalmy isn’t like other French

chefs I’ve interviewed. He’s not reserved or aloof

or arrogant. Nor is his view on cuisine, that it’s the

French way or the highway.

Jonathan is energetic, funny and proud. Proud of

his French heritage, definitely proud of his culinary

prowess (as he should be) and proud of his hard

work and where it’s landed him. The 42-years-young

chef is now culinary director at Sea Island off the

coast of Georgia. From his humble origins in small

town France, Jonathan spent many valuable years

crisscrossing the United States, where he learned

much on the long road that led to coastal Georgia.

took him to St. Louis and San Francisco; then to

Hershey, Pennsylvania; Atlanta and Miami — eight

cities in 12 years.

“Cooking comes very easily if you’re passionate

about it,” Jonathan says, “but travel makes you a

better chef.”

And a better chef he became, learning different

techniques and styles from chefs around the

country and being named a French Master Chef

along the way. In 2011, at the age of 37, Jonathan

was honored by the prestigious Maîtres Cuisiniers de

France organization when he was distinguished as

one of 350 French Master Chefs in the world.

Jonathan remembers working at his grandfather’s

restaurant as a server when he was only 14.

“That lasted just two weeks because I wasn’t

being challenged creatively,” he says. “I was very

introverted and had a hard time expressing myself.”

So he turned his attention to the kitchen, instead,

and began to blossom. “I was able to express myself

and be creative with the food. That’s when I knew I

wanted to be a chef.”

The Lure of Travel

Jonathan earned his Bachelor of Arts in food service,

wine technology and hospitality management

from the Institute Technique des Métiers de

L’Alimentation in Tournai, Belgium, where he

interned under famed French Master Chefs Paul

Bocuse and Gerard Boyer.

But something else burned inside of him — travel.

And it was the lure of the United States that finally

Jonathan picked up cooking tips and techniques

while traveling the United States, but something

else he attributes to his travels is his newfound style

of leadership. “In France it’s about yelling; in the

United States, it doesn’t work that way,” Jonathan

says. “I have had to look at my leadership style and

figure out what works and that has been the most

fascinating thing.”

He has clearly figured out how to lead a kitchen.

Currently, as the culinary director at Sea Island, he’s

in charge of 900 people, and regularly represents the

resort at culinary events in Georgia and across the


The French Dance

Jonathan has been asked to prepare the six-course

dinner at this year’s Longleaf Affair at the Plantation

Wildlife Arts Festival in Thomasville. This will

actually be his third year returning to the intimate



Longleaf Affair dinner.

This year, though, he’s

coming with a secret

weapon: his friend,

French Master Chef Nico

Romo, executive chef

at FISH restaurant in


Nico, who is just 37 and

the youngest French

Master Chef in the world,

also says that travel and

events like the Longleaf

Affair have helped make

him a better chef.

“Every time you do

an event like this, you

get to see what other

chefs do,” he says. “It’s

not just working with

chefs like Jonathan or

on new equipment; you

go out afterward and

eat at other restaurants

and learn from those

experiences. I always try

to take something back

with me when I visit

other cities.”

This isn’t Nico and

Jonathan’s first dance

together. Even though

Jonathan is on Sea

Island and Nico is in

Charleston, they share

similar philosophies —

they focus on Southern

cuisine that utilizes

fresh, local ingredients.

In 2013, along with

chefs Didier Lailheuge





and Olivier Gaupin, Nico and Jonathan prepared a

six-course dinner at Lowndes Grove Plantation in

Charleston for more than 100 French Master Chefs.

Talk about pressure. And, just this June, they hosted

a private dinner at Sea Island for Garden & Gun

magazine’s second annual Southern Grown Festival.

But don’t expect the Longleaf dinner to be a

Southern-fried affair. Jonathan says he asked Nico

to partner with him because he wants to make this

year’s dinner “very French.”

“Nico and I have very different styles. Not that one

is better, but we come together very well,” he says.

“Nico will bring fresh ideas to the menu.”

Fresh and French, indeed. A menu sneak peek shows

bites like foie gras, braised sweet breads in Périgord

truffle essence, Sunburst trout with roasted grapes

and bordelaise winter mushrooms and a chocolate

mousse that I am actively daydreaming about.

Collaborating on and creating a menu of this caliber

takes several weeks. Everyone involved, including

the host, agrees on the direction of the dinner, but

Jonathan takes the lead.

The good news for Jonathan and Nico is that they

come into this third dinner together with a proven

track record. “No matter where you are and what

you do, at the end of the day you want to cook

good food,” Nico says. “It’s not about you. It’s about

satisfying your guests. And you can always cook

food, no matter where you are, no matter what you

have, as long as you’re prepared and organized.”

Jonathan couldn’t agree more. “We want to make

this a very French dinner, but we aren’t going to go

too outside of the box,” he says. “That’s always the

challenge. You want to create a menu that is fresh,

but also one where every dish can be enjoyed by

every guest. This will be like a dance, and Nico and I

will take the first step.”

Jonathan Jerusalmy

Sea Island

Nico Romo







Written by

Annie B. Jones

Photographed by

Abby Mims Faircloth

Five-year-old Reece Chastain is bouncing around on

her tiptoes, looking for her shoes, when I open the

screen door.

“Did you hide them somewhere?” I hear her mom ask.

A mischievous grin gives Katie Chastain the answer

she’s looking for, and a few minutes later, Reece

and her little sister Perry are both in cowboy boots,

headed across the street for an afternoon with their


It’s just the introduction I would have needed,

had I not already known Katie, an educator and

entrepreneur here in Thomasville.

Katie and I have been friends and business partners

at The Bookshelf for going on four years, and every

time I enter her home, it always feels like the best

kind of creative chaos. It’s a house where little ones’

imaginations grow. That’s not surprising, since

Katie spends her days surrounded by the innovative

students at Thomasville’s Scholars Academy, an

accelerated college prep magnet program, attracting

students from across the community. There, Katie

teaches both Design Thinking and Odyssey of the



Mind, classes dedicated

to helping students solve

real-world problems with

creativity. The classes are

a natural fit for Katie, who

owned The Bookshelf,

Thomasville’s local

bookstore, for seven years

before selling it in 2013.

“An independent bookstore

can be the mind of a town,”

says Katie, “and it’s been

a hard gap for me to fill. It

felt like my own personal


is huge and

impacts all

parts of our


playground. Where else

could I play with all of these

ideas I have?”

The answer, it turns out,

was right down the street

at Scholars. Katie’s years

running The Bookshelf made

her an expert in creative

problem solving, and her

passion for Thomasville

meant she already had the

perfect project for her new

students to tackle.

Enter MacIntyre Park, a

12-acre green space in the

heart of town, which already

boasts a creek, a children’s

playground and a disc golf

course. But Katie insists

there’s more undiscovered

potential there.

“It’s next to all of these

Thomasville institutions—

MacIntyre Park Middle

School, the Center for the

Arts, Scott Elementary—and



walkways. They took their

ideas and presented a

Park Improvement Plan to

Thomasville’s city council.

Fast forward a few weeks, and

city planner Brian Herrmann

adapted the students’ plans

into a grant proposal for the

Citizens’ Institute on Rural

Design (CIRD), and earlier

this spring, Thomasville was

selected as one of six cities to

host a rural design workshop.

Thanks to the work of Brian,

that creates so much synergy. I just kind of dream

about the space a lot.”

Katie took those dreams and encouraged fifth

grade students from area schools to tackle the

project. The students met with the city planner, city

engineers, landscape architects and artists; they

led community surveys and brainstormed ways to

make the park better and more accessible for area

residents. They learned about native plants and

storm water management, and all the while, Katie

eased her way back into education, trying to balance

what she had learned as a small business owner

with her new role as a teacher.

“I think education is huge and impacts all parts

of our town,” says Katie. “So this was my way of

stepping in slowly.”

Katie and an inspired group

of fifth graders, Thomasville received a $10,000

grant to support the CIRD-sponsored workshop and

follow-up planning sessions.

The workshop, set for October, will bring together

local leaders, non-profits, community organizations

and citizens with a team of rural planning and

creative placemaking professionals. Together, they’ll

develop actionable solutions to make MacIntyre Park

a more vibrant public space. Basically, they’ll do for

MacIntyre Park what Scholars Academy has already

started to do.

For Katie, the grant and the work of her students

are reminders of the role education can play in a

city’s success, and she’s already brainstorming ways

Katie’s methods worked. Her students divided

their findings into seven components: park

entrances, amphitheater, art and sculpture,

pavilions and restrooms, creek, playground and

“Your good ideas feed my

good ideas, and they make

a better place for all of us.”



for this fall’s workshop to

make the biggest long-term

impact. She’s partnering with

Thomasville Entertainment

Foundation (TEF) and the

Center for the Arts to start

The Family Series, with free

admission for all children.

“I love how things line up in

this town,” says Katie. “Any

time we’ve had an idea,

there’s always been somebody

who’s been willing to say, ‘Yes,

let’s work on that,’ or, ‘Let me

help you with that.’

“That’s always been the

case. Sometimes it takes

persistence to find that

person, but I do think there

are networks of people in

Thomasville wanting to do

cool stuff. Every city has these

pipe dreams, but Thomasville

is uniquely resourced to get

them done.”

And although Scholars

Academy is where Katie has

allotted a big chunk of her

time and resources, she’s also been busy integrating

entrepreneurship and education in her work at

the Thomasville Center for the Arts. As a member

of the Center’s Youth Arts Education committee,

Katie is helping to bring new programming to Scott

Elementary School, where her daughter Reece

started first grade this fall. The school is the site of

a new arts-integrated education program, designed

to teach general curriculum using the visual arts,

music, theatre and dance.

Each teacher at Scott Elementary has undergone

ArtsNow training, helping them to develop

innovative practices that reach students and get

them actively involved in the

learning process.

“It’s just a cool model of

education, and it’s been neat

to see the city schools take

some leaps and be willing

to try something different,”

Katie says.

As an entrepreneur and as

an educator, Katie knows

making things happen in a

town or in a classroom is

all about prioritizing great

ideas. She and her husband

Scott spend a lot of time

with other entrepreneurs

and artists, talking

about ways to make this

community a better place to

live and work.

This past summer, Scott and

Katie spent two weeks with

their children in Montreal,

soaking up inspiration in

different neighborhoods

and innovation districts,

all in the hopes of bringing

some of those ideas back

to Thomasville. It’s Katie’s vision for her city to be

in the business of attracting new faces, constantly

growing and offering families a uniquely Southern,

small town experience.

“Great businesses, great parks, great schools,” she

says, “all of those systems feed off one another. Your

good ideas feed my good ideas, and they make a

better place for all of us.”

Katie Chastain

Scholars Academy





Written by

Susan Ray

Photographed by

Kelli Boyd

When I envision Bryce Vann Brock at eight years old, answering the age-old

question of what she wants to be when she grows up, I see her answering

casually — but with forethought, and giving what must have been a surprising

answer, coming from a third grader.

"A landscape architect."

Bryce hasn’t lost that casual spirit about her. Now, she’s all blue jeans and white

and black tops. What she does with these simple closet staples seems to embody

her designs, from her wardrobe to her architectural landscapes — always with a

pop of surprise, a slice of something unexpected. Studded cuff bracelets mixed

with a statement, chunky necklace. Agave mixed with boxwoods.

“I decided I wanted to be a landscape architect when my parents hired one for

the house we were building,” says Bryce. “I loved it and started to notice things

like arrival sequences.”

“We feel like we’re leaving our mark all

over the island,” says Bryce.

Bryce and her business partner Kelly Revels are owners of the landscape,

flower market and event design company in Saint Simons Island, Georgia,

called The Vine. When I talk to them, I am quickly taken by their passion and

determination — but there’s something else. I’m always a bit of a sucker for

the power of serendipity, how sharp minds can twist happenstance to their

advantage. That’s there, too.




Planting Seeds

Bryce, who grew up in Thomasville, first came to the island as a

graduate of the University of Georgia. She took a job with the Sea

Island Company as the director of landscape. She reflects on this

as if landing such a position with one of Georgia’s most beautiful

outdoor spaces, right out of college, was no big deal.

“While I was at Sea Island, I did a lot of residential projects and

worked on the Cloister and the spa,” she explains. “When the hotel

opened in 2006, Sea Island also put the container gardening and

flower shop under me.”

Like any strong creative, Bryce knew her limits. To continue doing

good work, she’d need some major help. One night at a party she

happened to have a conversation about it with Kelly, who had grown

weary of her longtime corporate job. As a child growing up in small

town South Georgia, Kelly’s creativity had been sparked by the 25

to 30 hours she spent in the dance studio and from watching her

family work in their garden.

It sounded like a dream to actually get paid to work with Bryce at

Sea Island.

“After a while, Bryce and I started to notice that the Sea Island

residents were bringing in designers from other markets to pull the

flowers, landscapes and events together in their homes,” says Kelly.

“We saw them struggle with having to outsource all these different


That’s when Bryce and Kelly went around the South, searching

for a nursery or garden market to serve as a one-stop-shop. When

they couldn’t find one, they knew that they were on to a big idea

“People will see a project or a

wedding and say that they can tell

The Vine did it. Not because it’s

overly extravagant, but because

it’s simple and attainable. That’s

our identity, which came about

more naturally than intentionally.”





and started to write the story of their business.

Originally, they took their plan to Sea Island to

put it all under one roof. But in a twist of fate,

the economy crashed, making Sea Island unable

to support the venture. Thus, The Vine in St.

Simons was born.

Listening to them tell the tale of how they

started out on their own, without any hesitation,

I can see how well their business and creative

sides connect. While The Vine began as a

landscape company and garden market, they

knew they wanted to add events. They didn’t

let the fact that neither had any experience in

events or floral arranging stop them.

“I’ll never forget our first wedding event, when

the mom kept asking us to see photos of our

work,” Kelly says. “Of course, we didn’t have any

so we kept referencing photos we liked from

all the big magazines.” Thanks to that simple

strategy, they snagged their first event client and

surpassed their original goal of planning one

wedding a month within six months.

Growing Roots

Bryce and Kelly’s instinct to enhance the natural

surroundings of their landscapes and events

is just one trait that adds to the charm of their

designs. They effortlessly mix the Southern:

boxwoods, ferns and hydrangeas, with the

tropical: palm trees, paradise plants and banana

trees, that their area provides. You might find

them on the shore, shelling or foraging for

driftwood, to provide just the right elements for

an arrangement.

“We feel like we’re leaving our mark all over the

island,” says Bryce. “People will see a project or

a wedding and say that they can tell The Vine

did it. Not because it’s overly extravagant, but

because it’s simple and attainable. That’s our

identity, which came about more naturally than




Bryce traces that design sense back to her

hometown. “I grew up around a lot of beauty,” she

says. “The Thomasville community has done such

a good job of embracing the arts and architecture.”

Kelly and Bryce always joke that oxygen must’ve

been developed in Thomasville because wherever

they go, they meet someone with ties to the


Kelly adds, “As someone who did not grow up in

Thomasville, I’m in awe, walking into Thomasville

Center for the Arts. At a time when many schools

aren’t getting funding for creative arts, it’s

inspiring to see all of the kids painting and taking

ballet. If I hadn’t had that type of arts support in

my childhood, I would never have had the courage

to do what Bryce and I are doing now.”

What strikes me the most about Bryce and Kelly

is that their compatibility appears to be as rich as

their designs. Such ease is no doubt another part

of their charm. Not only do they work together, but

they also travel together on family vacations.

When I ask them about this, Kelly replies, “We

get asked that a lot and the answer is always so

simple to us. Respect. She and I truly believe that

individually, we are the best in our field. Not in a

sense that we are better than others, but more so

that I absolutely know that beyond Bryce’s extreme

talent in landscape design, she is a hard worker,

people respect her decision-making and employees

working for her do too. And without a doubt, she

would say the same about me.”

Bryce Vann Brock

AND Kelly Revels

The Vine



Kelli Boyd Capturing

moments and memories for

more than a decade, Kelli is a

skilled photographer preserving

a variety of wedding, food,

lifestyle and commercial

moments. Kelli’s work has

been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Knot and

Southern Living. Brands like Pottery Barn, West Elm,

Godiva, Wayfair, Draper James and World Market

partner with her to bring their visions to life. Kelli

is the photographer behind lifestyle blogger and

tastemaker Lavin Label.

Annie B. Jones After five

years as a corporate writer

and editor, Annie began living

her very own You’ve Got Mailinspired

dream, becoming

owner and managing partner

of The Bookshelf in 2013. Annie

loves chatting with fellow readers about what book

currently resides on their nightstands and gives

reading recommendations in a weekly newsletter

and on the store’s podcast, From the Front Porch. She

and her husband Jordan and their dog Junie B. call

downtown Thomasville home.

Stephen Elliot Stephen

is a professional high-fiver with

a knack for shooting photos.

After moving from Texas, he

attended the University of

Barnes and Noble, studying

filmmaking and visual art

before launching his production company. He’s had

the good fortune of traveling to places like South

Africa, the Cayman Islands, Egypt and Yosemite to

capture memories of fellow adventurers. His love

for Chipotle is matched only by that of his La-Z-Boy

rocking chair.

Sarah Gleim An Atlanta

native (yes, they do exist), Sarah

has spent almost half of her

life writing about what makes

the heartbeat of her hometown

tick. She’s a diehard foodie and

even went to culinary school

to further explore her love of food. When she’s not

writing about the latest culinary trends and hottest

restaurants, she’s probably chilling out in Decatur,

where she lives with her two hound dogs, Redford

and Daisy.


Please contact Thomasville Center for the Arts

(229) 226-0588 |

Anne Royan Anne

studied at Brown University,

attended the publishing

program at Columbia

University, worked in the

fashion department at

Harper’s Bazaar and then as a

PR Director for various fashion brands. She spent

months traveling solo through the Himalayas,

teaching English to monks in the Dalai Lama’s

temple and Tibetan refugee children. She is

completing a memoir and is working towards an

MFA in writing at Savannah College of Art & Design.

She concurs with writer Tom Robbins on Julia

Child’s advice: “Learn how to handle hot things.

Keep your knives sharp. Above all, have a good


Todd Wilkinson Todd

has been writing about art

and nature for 30 years and

is a Western correspondent

for National Geographic.

Among his several books

is Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek,

which explores the life of Greater Yellowstone

Grizzly Bear 399 and features remarkable images

by American photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.

Todd also wrote Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save

a Troubled Planet, which includes a chapter about

Turner’s Avalon Plantation in Lamont, Florida.


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