THOM 1 | Fall / Winter 2013

ThomArts

THOM

Volume 1 | issue 1

Fall/Winter 2013

1


from the editor

What if we _______________?

Three very simple words with the power

to move mountains, but it’s really the

blank space that makes all the difference.

We were a few friends sitting around a

table musing about something a writer

from Asheville said after her first trip

here last fall, “there’s just something

about Thomasville.” We batted around

what we each thought that “something”

was. People. History. Architecture.

Art. Culture. Geography. Creativity.

Collaboration. And then, BAM! What if

we created something to document the

people and the ideas that are shaping

our community?

Part magazine, part guide, part

documentary, we have designed Thom for

the culturally curious, weaving together

the written word with images to express

and promote the creativity in our region.

We set out to design a special gift for our

community, so we wanted it to be very

different from anything else we have

seen. Naturally, we love working with the

uber creative, so we called on the hottest

young talent the south has to offer. Enter

SCAD Atlanta — and their team of 21

writers, designers, photographers and

professors — and Thom was born.

We were in the late stages of design

when I heard our Mayor, Max Beverly, tell

an audience that Thomasville’s success

is due in large part to a series of good

decisions made by good people over a

long period of time. I fancy the idea that

many of the decisions of yesterday were

made by people just like those we are

profiling today.

We see Thom as the personification

of a community rich in history and

visionary thinking. In each issue you’ll

see Thomasville through the eyes of

Thom and meet the thinkers, visionaries,

muses, artists, entrepreneurs and

professionals who share their talent to

shape our city. We believe in the power

of cross-pollination and collaboration,

so you will also enjoy meeting the

same kind of people who are shaping

communities much like ours. This

season, we traveled to Athens to spend

time with a New York designer who has

blazed new trails as a painter by finding

friendships among the artists who have

shaped their city’s art scene over the last

twenty years.

As the Center for the Arts, we strive to

enrich the creative life of our community

by elevating the literary, visual,

performing and applied arts. Thom is an

entirely new venture for us and we thank

the artists, and 40+ partners who have

helped bring it to life.

If you are a member of the Center, you’ll

receive Thom by mail twice a year with a

special gift from our presenting partner.

If you’re not a member, I encourage you

to become one so you don’t miss out on

the coolest happenings in town. But, you

can pick up a complimentary copy at any

of our partner locations.

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If you have a few minutes, drop me a line

and let us know what you think. Thinkers

make the world go ‘round!


contents

fall 2013

THOUGHT LEADER

2 THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THOM

The Honorable Max Beverly

Muse

6 A mentor & A Visionary

Hananel Mavity

Tastemaker

12 Charming Charlie

Charlie Whitney

Creators

16 Inside the owls nest

Brandy and Gates Kirkham

Artist

24 Peter Corbin

Featured Painter

Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival

26

12

Collaborators

26 Playing Community

A Peek Inside the Treehouse

30 THOM’s guide

Trailblazer

78 Simply Susan

Susan Hable Smith

Foodies

84 Riding Shotgun

Nan Myers and Carol Whitney

Placemakers

90 Jaunt

Around Tallahassee’s Creative Hub

Innovator

98 All About the light

Kenn von Roenn

104 Concept team

Savannah College of Art and Design – Atlanta

105 contributing artists


Thought Leader

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT

Written by

Bunny Byrne

and Nikki Igbo

Photographed by

Jay Bowman

THOM. TO PRONOUNCE THIS word correctly is a verbal exercise that uses every

muscle of the speech apparatus, sort of like an oratorical jumping jack. It feels

like an affirmation when spoken. Each time we utter a name, we invoke all of the

energy and meaning associated with it. (When citizens of Thomasville speak its

name, they reiterate an essence, an outlook, a truth.)

For us, Thom is an abbreviation of Thomas which is an awesome name in its own

right. Sure, it technically means “twin” but those who have been given the name

tend to have an uncommon way of touching the lives around them. Think Edison,

Paine, Jefferson, Blanchard or Wolfe. These namesakes didn’t mind undertaking

huge endeavors. They were visionaries who practiced truth, justice and discipline;

who went on to become charismatic leaders; who valued rich history while

pursuing a bright future.

Thom, although seemingly truncated, means much more. As all nicknames do, it

denotes a special recognition and familiarity. It means “I’ve gotten to know you and

you have become dear to me. So much so, that I can’t forget you.” Thom is up close

and personal. Thom is here among us. In lieu of a memorized, remote figure in a

history book, Thom is a neighbor who is alive and well, a call away.

Thom celebrates the many “Thoms” of Thomasville.

While these community champions may not bear the name Thom, they all share

a common characteristic. They shape the lives and experiences of this exceptional

Georgian community through their creative ideas and movements. They are a

reminder of all the original hopes and wishes for the town. One such notable goes

by the name of Max Beverly.

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3


thought leader

4


thought leader

Mayor Max Beverly is the kind of guy who gets more

sidewalk greetings than Google hits. He’s a sleeve

roller-upper who can be spotted at Grassroots Coffee

with Wells, his black Labrador. A grown up Boy Scout,

a fan of fly fishing, grilling and the crisp appeal of

craft beer. Though he has no ambitions of higher

political office, he does aspire to create and maintain

the best possible Thomasville for his wife, his three

sons and his 18,000 neighbors. So, each day, he

contributes his time and love of community to doing

just that.

Max is a member of a collective effort with a

longstanding tradition – a Thomasville tradition of

forward-thinking vision, pragmatism, and civic pride

on all levels. One that includes avoiding destruction

during the Civil War; efforts to heal and rebuild

during the Reconstruction era; an embrace of the

hunting, timber, and bread making industries, as well

as healthcare and higher education; and the 1889

introduction and ongoing expansion of electricity

services a mere seven years after Edison’s first electric

power plant was established in New York.

Today Max uses the same smart growth approach

of his forefathers to fulfill his personal commitment

to the town he loves. This innovation manifests

itself through various projects including the vision

of a convention center to accommodate events

for 500-700 people; conversion of the city’s fleet

of vehicles from diesel to compressed natural gas

(CNG) and the establishment of a publicly accessible

CNG filling station; true revitalization of the historic

neighborhood of Victoria Place; and a full embrace of

visual and performing arts throughout the community

via a partnership with Thomasville Center for the Arts.

of the city council to envision big picture plans for

the city while leaving the day-to-day operations to

a city manager. He’d talk about the desire to always

provide a place for his three sons to live and thrive

once they’ve gone off into the world to have their own

adventures.

After greeting a few passersby while admiring the

hustle and bustle of the downtown district on a bluesky

morning, Max would give Wells a pat on the head,

get back in his truck, and go back to the business of

being just another Thom. It’s kind of a Thomasville

thing.

The most amazing thing about what’s happening is

the interconnectedness of it all. If anyone were to

ask Max about these projects, he’d simply explain the

partnerships between residents, local government, the

plantations, private industry, non-profit organizations,

and local schools and universities with a shrug and

a smile. He’d talk about the will of the people to

reduce the negative and promote the positive. He’d

discuss the unique opportunity he has as a member

City of Thomasville

111 Victoria Place

Thomasville, GA

thomasville.org

5


MUSE

Written by

Ally Wright

Photographed by

Anna Bader

A MENTOR AND A VISIONARY

I HAVE A MEMO board — a homemade one, of fabric and ribbon — covered in

things that I want to do. Most of them are events. Most of them have already

happened. And most of them, well, I did not actually attend. My refrigerator

magnets hold up other reminders. Make this recipe! Write this person back! Visit

this town! I think I just like magnets.

Don’t get me wrong. I do things. But it’s mostly accidental. In the moment. Planning

something in advance and making it happen? Harder. I’m always shocked when

something works out. Hananel Mavity is not like that. She has a vision. She makes

it happen. Both her careers — singer/songwriter and teacher — prove this. And she

teaches her students to do the same.

Hananel, 24, embodies a profound sense of practicality mixed with a visionary’s

eye. She used this unique blend to envision herself as youth education coordinator

at Thomasville Center for the Arts (TCA). And she made it happen.

“Maybe I was too young to know I wasn’t qualified,” Hananel laughed. After a brief

but rewarding stint as a teacher for a summer camp at TCA, she went to Youth

Education and Outreach Director Mary Oglesby and said she wanted to teach in

the afternoons during the school year. “Oglesby was always open-minded, always

looking for the best and most creative way to do something good for the kids,” said

Hananel. TCA was in the process of launching the aptly titled Art in the Afternoon,

and she was hired to help teach it. Because of the program’s infancy, Hananel was

able to write and create a lot of her own curriculum. This began a career path that

quickly took over her life.

Hananel joked about it, but she definitely wasn’t unqualified. When she was hired

to teach at TCA, she had been practicing her mentoring skills for years, most

recently as a student at the International School of Theology and Leadership.

Hananel’s friend and lifelong mentor, David Parrish, encouraged her to apply.

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7


MUSE

Hananel credits David and his wife, Dr. Charlene

Parrish, with beginning her education in mentorship,

merely by being great examples. While at the school,

she was able to travel to Italy and Switzerland, mentor

children in orphanages and jam on the streets of

Rome.

I interviewed Hananel on a rare Friday afternoon

when TCA was quiet — the students were on spring

break. We sat on bean bag cushions arranged in a

circle and discussed Hananel’s accidental teaching

career, from her first class called Vocal Imagination,

which consisted of two students, to the full-scale

revue of Cats under her direction at the time. The

production incorporated students from across TCA,

harnessing their creative spirit to create costumes,

design the set, plan the make-up, sing, dance and

act. She mentioned her students’ names frequently,

becoming excited with each one. Though she tried

to keep it reined in, her enthusiasm implied that she

could talk for hours about each one.

This passion and excitement for her students can be

seen in her studio, which is covered in their pictures

and artwork. Her phone is another archive dedicated

to her students’ achievements, performances,

practices, and her students hanging out. It is easy to

see this is more than just a job to her. As we sat on the

bean bag cushions talking, her phone buzzed: “Your

child prodigies have arrived.” She laughed. Three of

her students came in on their spring break to

perform for us. That’s dedication to art and also

to their mentor.

Before the kids came in, I asked Hananel about her

background. Her family moved to Thomasville from

Vermont when she was two years old and brought

with them a love of all things artistic: theater, music,

art, writing. Her mother, who studied theater and

performed in college, sometimes did shows at the

then Cultural Center (now TCA) and taught classes

there when Hananel was young. Hananel performed

alongside her mother in the auditorium, never

knowing that one day she would direct large groups

of students on the same stage to packed houses. She

credits her family’s support and “creative household”

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Muse

Hananel, 24, embodies a

profound sense of practicality

mixed with a visionary’s eye.

9


MUSE

She loves being able to set people

up for success naturally. Put them

in a group, give them the right

framework and then watch them

do their thing.

with her love of the arts, and hopes to provide her

students with a similar atmosphere. I’d say she

does that.

During her first year teaching at TCA, Hananel

lived in Tallahassee where she performed music at

local venues, participated in community theater,

and took classes at the community college. But she

needed more. “A big part of me, as an artist and as an

educator, is that there are lot of things I love, and I do

them all.” She has been composing songs since she

was 15, and she is a writer and a director, as well as an

actor and singer.

Hananel, who teaches students of all backgrounds

from ages 4-15, is inspired to follow her passions as

well. For her first album, released this summer with

the regional label Gaterbone Records, she pulled

from the creative talent around her to form her band.

“Part of what made me realize that I needed to start

making my music again was my work with Glee Club

for Thomasville Music Academy, one of TCA’s many

partners. It inspired me to sing again, not just in

theater.” Glee lets the kids choose the songs they want

to sing. Top 40 hits are common choices. The club

is mostly an a cappella group focused on teaching

harmony. Several of the members are musicians,

including Trey Garland, a talented pianist who

entertained me in the red-walled room of bean

bag cushions.

“Trey is amazing,” Hananel said. Again she never

missed an opportunity to brag about her students.

Trey came to TCA as part of the after-school arts

enrichment program which TCA created for the

Thomasville Community Resource Center, but he

excelled so quickly that it was better for him to be off

on his own. Trey’s talent has flourished in the hands

of these organizations. He takes piano lessons with

the director of the music academy and is a member

of Glee. Trey is also a part of Hananel’s new endeavor,

Ignite, which is a group of young professional artists.

He wants to produce music.

“One thing I’m really passionate about is getting

to know a kid, or any person, and finding out what

they show interest in and where they show skill and

going ‘oh, do that, really, do that, it’ll work.’” She loves

to recognize and encourage talent, instilling in her

students early that “making it” requires a lot of hard

10


MUSE

work. “I feel like that whole thing about being an artist

and being totally broke doesn’t happen to people who

learn early how to work hard.” She goes on to say this

can mean either knowing that you need a full-time

job on top of your art or learning to promote yourself

well and placing yourself in the right situations for

success, or most likely both. “I’m not worried about

crushing their dreams,” she laughed.

Just the opposite, in fact. She teaches them that they

can have their dreams if they’re willing to work, and

she gives them the practical methods to make these

dreams come true. Her young professional artists

work on résumés, business cards, and finding local or

regional places to perform.

find themselves in the same position, whether they

choose careers in the arts or become veterinarians.

Her teaching philosophy is about encouragement,

support. She loves being able to set people up for

success naturally. Put them in a group, give them the

right framework and then watch them do their thing.

She herself has reaped the benefits of finding the right

framework. And she has the vision, which is much

harder to be taught. It has to be intuited. Inspired.

Lucky for her kids, they have Hananel as an example.

“We play a much bigger part in their lives than just

teaching them art. We’re here to mentor these kids,

to be their friend and their teacher. With the arts,

you want them to be able to express what’s going on

inside them,” said Hananel.

She says she is lucky to have found herself on this

career path that is both her job and her art. Hananel

wants her kids to be driven and passionate enough to

Thomasville center for the arts

600 East Washington Street

Thomasville, GA

thomasvillearts.org

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tastemaker

In the latter

part of my life,

I decided to do

what I really

wanted to do.

I am kind of a

late bloomer.

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tasteMaker

Written by

Jennifer Jefferson

Photographed by

Mia Yakel and

Jay Bowman

CHARLIE

I LIKE OPEN ROADS. I always have. There is something thrilling about zipping down

wide expanses of asphalt. With Charlie Whitney as my guide, it is easy to get lost

in this moment. Handsome man, vintage car, a buttery voice guiding me through

the world, showing me things I’ve never seen before: art, antiques, architecture. I

imagine in his younger years he looked like a savvy James Bond, smooth as fine

silk, speeding down country, canopied roads. In his 60s, Charlie is tall and debonair.

His tortoise-shell, round-frame glasses are as much a part of his signature as his

love for vintage Land Rovers. He’s owned a couple. The one parked in front of his

home is red, restored and rebellious.

Charlie can own any room, but to see him in his home is magical. Here he is the

master of ceremonies, and this is his palace. The high ceilings allow for ample

space for his antler collection. The golden walls highlight his interests. This place

suggests that he’s been to many corners of the world. Dutch ceramics, taxidermy

and arrowheads are meticulously arranged throughout his house with hundreds of

books revealing a man of sophisticated taste. French wine and moonshine pepper

nooks. This setup provides a chic playground for a pug named Mango Delicious and

an elusive cat. This day, Charlie sits in a corner chair. He crosses his legs, furrows

his brow and clasps his hands. His platinum hair glints as slivers of light peek

through the shutters and dance on his head. This is when I realize that Charlie is

charming, but also shy.

When pressed about his specific expertise, he defines his business, C.H. Whitney, in

broad strokes: part interior designer, part renovator, part preserver, part real estate

broker, part antiques dealer. In 1996, the charismatic entrepreneur moved from

Moultrie to Thomasville, where he was raised. After three decades of working solely

in real estate and as a fast-talking auctioneer, he opened an antiques shop and

began renovating and preserving historic buildings.

In his home, I stop at a painting of a fox in the woods on the floor in a corner of

his living room. Charlie has also taken a liking to painting. The lines are thick and

13


tastemaker

the colors are saturated. The works are mostly scenes

from life in Thomasville. The self-taught artist has

sold about 40 of his works through his antiques shop

where every minute detail has been well-curated. He’s

an avid collector and seller of 18th century antiques.

“The shop supports my habit,” he says.

In C.H. Whitney you will find a wolf hide, $875. The

ivory tag reads “For the woman who runs with wolves”

in Charlie’s tiny cursive handwriting. Dutch Delft

Chargers, circa 1760–1780, $1375. Queen Anne Maple

Chest, $4,800. “It’s pretty amazing once you think

about it. Some of these have been around for 200

years. They’re masterpieces.” His shop has become

a go-to for fabulous finds. “Thomasville is a big art

community,” Charlie says. “A community that is open

to art is generally more accepting of new ideas.”

Later, I will discover that Charlie seems to know

everyone by first and family name. Part of his vast

reach into the community is tied to two things:

he’s the fourth generation of his family to live in

Thomasville and he is on the board of directors for

Thomasville Landmarks. From street to street, he can

point out homes the organization has worked hard to

save and provide a little history on the Victorian and

antebellum style homes from Thomasville to Boston,

Georgia. I am impressed I’ve spent 25 years just south

of here, in Tallahassee, and could not tell anyone a

thing about the architecture or the history of the

place. I do have a pretty good eye for anything new

or innovative. Maybe that says something about my

generation.

Charlie’s vision can be seen at the private properties

of his clients and friends, as well as in public buildings

from courthouses to clock towers. He explains to

me the work that went into each building to unveil

its innate beauty. He does so with the enthusiasm

of a shy boy showing off a model airplane; Charlie

seems to be both proud of his work and in awe of

his creations. “In the latter part of my life, I decided

to do what I really wanted to do. I am kind of a late

bloomer.”

Although, it often makes him uncomfortable to

talk about himself, his friends take no issue with

describing Charlie’s genteel nature. “That’s a good guy

you’re with,” says Dwayne Hoven. Charlie and Dwayne

became fast friends while shooting quail together.

Dwayne shows me the custom case that houses his

guns during hunting season. Charlie restored an

old service station counter and reworked it into a

towering gun case. This is the genius of Charlie. He

can see the beauty in the discarded.

Charlie has become a reflection of the city itself. He’s

a man who can be lured by the history of the area, but

he is also a supporter of art and revitalization. Simply

put, he knows something of value when he sees it.

He has long loved Savannah, and his two sons have

planted their roots in Atlanta, but Thomasville is the

best fit for him. “I like the sense of community and

being wherever you want to be in 5 to 10 minutes,”

Charlie says.

You can find Charlie partaking in the wave of

businesses budding downtown. After hours you may

see him having a glass of wine with his wife Carol at

Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop. People constantly

interrupt him to say “hi,” and you can’t miss that

unmistakable quack coming from his phone. Charlie

is entertaining to watch. He enjoys conversation, but

most people don’t notice that they are talking more

than he is. He never interrupts in a conversation and

answers each and every question with care, filling

awkward moments with a raspy laugh.

His phone’s quack reminds me of the Chattahoochee

River. It whips through the South with grace and ease.

People are drawn to the serenity of it. It’s peaceful, but

people are attracted to its wildness of spirit. I think

the same can be said of Charlie. What he brings to

Thomasville is a worldview that’s filled with heritage

and a constantly renewed spirit. Much like Paul

Newman said to Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and

the Sundance Kid, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of

the world wears bifocals.” In our last conversation he

says that many women describe him as a “renaissance

man.” I would describe him as the consummate

southern gentleman. When I ask him to describe

himself, he says, “just a little bit of a rascal.”

14


tastemaker

He’s a man who can be lured

by the history of the area, but

he is also a supporter of art and

revitalization. Simply put, he

knows something of value when

he sees it.

C.H. Whitney Antiques

118 Remington Avenue

Thomasville, GA

chwhitney.com

15


Written by ALLY WRIGHT

Photographed by EMILY SCHULTZ AND EVAN JANG

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creators

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creators

I BELIEVE IN GHOSTS. Let me rephrase that. I believe

in spirits, a certain perpetuation of soul. There are

things that remind me of this: wisteria, a cool wind,

the smell of sawdust, the air in an old building, the

mustiness of an old book. Large expanses of land do

the same, cornfields and cow pastures, woods. Lakes

too. There is a hint of ancestry in the smell of the

water, the appeal of the sun peeking out from the

clouds, imprinting my skin.

Some people possess this quality. The quality of

permanence, substance, certainty. Brandy and Gates

Kirkham shone with it from the first moment I

met them. I saw it even as I was driven onto their

plantation in Thomasville, before I was welcomed

into their home. We passed lodges and pastures

and a black iron sign that read “Owls Nest Sinkola

What we bring to PWAF

is our passion for the

land, the lifestyle.

Plantation.” I could feel history in the air, the sense

that this place, and these people, knew their role in

the bigger picture and weren’t afraid to stake their

claim to it.

My personal ancestry is a shaky thing; family

branches have been burned, connections forgotten

from lack of interest. But I was born and raised in the

South, and the land itself feels alive. I am a part of it.

Photographs and paintings of Southern landscapes

remind me of the framed sun setting over woods in

my parents’ den — painted by my grandmother — or

the boxes of curling black and white photographs in

my mother’s office. Yet these pictures, and the lives

and memories they represent, stay in those boxes. I

have added my own over the years. Memory put away

for later, not permanently discarded, but also not

celebrated. It has been suggested that those boxes are

the beginning of hoarding. It’s an urge I understand.

But then there is tradition. There is living history.

There is looking into an old picture and seeing myself

reflected.

Brandy and Gates’ home is like this. It’s full of the

history they’ve inherited, the past they’re building

onto. The house itself was built in the early 1980s, but

built to look like an old-fashioned farmhouse, one

that would have been added to as the need arose, as

new generations were born. It is part of the land the

Kirkhams love and is full of artistic portrayals of it.

Brandy remarked on the power of art to convey our

shared experiences, how two people looking at a piece

can have completely different emotional reactions,

both equally strong. She was talking about landscapes,

bringing your own memories of them to a painting of

one, but I think it’s a bigger thing too.

I wandered around their house, examined the

collection of owls inherited from Gates’ grandmother,

the original owner. I found the hidden quail in the

wallpaper (“She loved wallpaper,” Brandy laughs), and

the horses, another inherited thing, galloping over

bookshelves and propping open doors. Everything

was in its place. One generation building on another.

My initial reaction was emotional — a memory of

something that hasn’t happened yet, a simulated

wholeness, a hope. Later, Gates drove us around the

land, the lake, the barns, the sawmill. The feeling

deepened.

In the sunroom, surrounded by large open windows

revealing the forested landscape, Brandy and Gates

talk about the history of Thomasville — “don’t take

my word as gospel by any means.” Gates laughs at

this, but I think I could take his word. They talk of

their love of art, music, hunting, and the Plantation

Wildlife Arts Festival (PWAF), which they co-lead

with Gates as chairman and Brandy as festival

coordinator. They tell of Gates’ first turkey (stuffed

and preserved on the wall in their foyer, complete

with teeth marks in the neck from Gates’ overeager

dog). They talk of Avery, their nine-year-old daughter,

who had been walking through the house as a cat

that week, practicing for a production of Cats with

Thomasville Center for the Arts. “The center is alive,”

Brandy says, acknowledging that, as a leader of PWAF,

she is supporting the classes her daughters adore and

attend consistently. Both Avery and Lexi love to ride

horses when outside the classroom. They are home

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creators

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creators

on spring break, and their straight blond hair is on the

periphery, entering every now and then to whisper in

their mother’s ear, pushing back Brandy’s own smooth

blond hair to do so.

The Kirkhams love to go to the Bradfordville Blues

Club, on the outskirts of Tallahassee, any night they

can get out, dancing to the blues and jazz music they

favor. “You have to go,” said Gates, texting me the

address. “When you drive up, it won’t look like a place

you’ll want to go in,” he adds laughing. “But it’s great.”

Gates pulls out his iPad, showing pictures of himself

at music festivals, with several musicians he’s had the

privilege to meet. He plays a little guitar too but, as

with most casual musicians, he swears he isn’t

any good.

Brandy laughs about her eldest daughter Lexi’s

inevitable rise to the level of a groupie like her

husband. Lexi is addicted to her Kindle — reading is

her means of escape — claiming she’d have to give

that up for Lent if she were Catholic. The 11-yearold

loves gardening, too. Brandy lets the music thing

exist as something Gates and her daughter share,

though she is an admirer. She is excited about the

amphitheater coming to downtown Thomasville.

“Music can really bring a community together, ”

says Brandy.

Gates’ tour of the plantation’s land includes

descriptions of the scenery as he points to longleaf

pines that, when struck by lightning, are harvested

for heart pine in the Sinkola Sawmill. He is a tall man,

wearing jeans and a long-sleeve button-down shirt

with a vest, boots. He seems at home here. He jokes

that he is always searching the skies, ready for any

hint or echo of a bird. Gates and the others who work

on Sinkola maintain the land carefully, creating the

ideal habitat for the Bobwhite quail, which is what the

region is known for, hunting-wise. Thomasville has

one of the highest densities of wild northern Bobwhite

quail left in the United States. Gates points out the

old, preserved things: the wagon they use for hunting,

the electricity-free picnic house where they often

have parties. He shows off the new: the repurposed

shack that is his Monday night poker hall, the truck

20


creators

they use for rainy day hunts. Owls Nest (a name

taken from his grandmother’s previous home) is now

the main house on Sinkola, but it wasn’t originally.

The original structure is now the main house on a

different plantation, as the land has been divided into

smaller units over time, and is now owned by a family

member.

Before meeting Gates, Brandy had never been on a

shoot, but she received a shotgun their first Christmas

together and has since learned how to use it. Gates

grew up in Cleveland, coming to Sinkola every year

to shoot, and is now the fifth generation of his family

to live here. Brandy grew up in Thomasville, but

knew little of the plantations framing the town. Their

children are immersed in the hunting lifestyle, but the

parents don’t force this tradition on them, hoping an

interest will develop naturally as they get older.

The kids’ love of art, however, is encouraged, as Gates

admits taking it for granted when he was a child. At

PWAF last year, each daughter was allowed to pick one

painting to purchase. Lexi’s sold before they were able

to buy it, but the artist, Amy Poor, sent her another

version of it for Christmas. This gift, a small painting

of a wren, is indicative of the relationships Brandy

and Gates form with the artists who participate in the

festival, many of whom have become close friends.

Gates, as PWAF chairman, has a strong, dedicated

21


creators

team of volunteers, so by the time the weekend comes

around in November, he can be a relaxed host, putting

out fires where necessary, but mostly making sure

everyone feels welcome.

Brandy and Gates are Thomasville. Their passion for

its history and its future are evident in everything

they do for it, and in how excited they are talking

about it. The community is one they want to help

Art is a reflection of

our memories back to

us, a reminder that

humanity feels these

deeper connections.

preserve and to stimulate. They embody the living

history, the past as useful, harvested, built upon.

Thomasville has always had a creative edge from the

early days of the northern settlers who came down

for the winter. Today that edge is keeping the town

moving forward. The Kirkhams encourage this, while

preserving the past.

Their roles as leaders for PWAF let them do that. They

work to combine the history of the festival, which

was started 18 years ago by Gates’ second cousin

Margo Bindhardt, with modern Thomasville. Margo

was like a mother to Gates. She passed away in 2009,

and much of Gates’ passion for the festival is about

continuing her legacy and honoring this woman who

Brandy describes as a “real mover and shaker.” Brandy

and Gates bring in as many people and companies as

they can to help, both locally and from Tallahassee.

They know that the more people are involved—who

feel a part of the festival — the better it will be, and

the better Thomasville will be for it. Brandy says,

“What we bring to PWAF is our passion for the land,

the lifestyle. We want to preserve that, continue it,

expose more people to it.” They expose this passion

in themselves with their descriptions of the work of

Tallahassee paper artist Lucrezia Bieler. On an end

table in the sunroom, they have a small framed cutout

of a bird, entirely made from one sheet of paper and a

tiny pair of scissors. Gates says he discovered her work

toward the end of last year’s festival and proceeded to

show it off to everybody: “If you see the stuff she does

up close, it’s unreal.”

Their mix of old and new expands to the art they

feature at the festival. They are, again, focused

on preserving the tradition of wildlife art, which

is what they grew up with, and inviting in newer

interpretations of it. Brandy offers Curt Butler’s

The Family Tree as an example of the different

interpretation of wildlife art. It hangs in their

children’s playroom/office, art amidst the life it was

22


Creators

created to represent. The Kirkhams want there to

be something for everyone to connect with at PWAF.

They want the art to create conversations — to inspire

buyers, yes, but also to inspire passion for the art, for

the land, for the lifestyle that wildlife art is preserving.

The one they love so much.

It is hard to capture the exact feeling of knowing,

on some larger scale, that we are not alone, that we

are a part of the earth and the earth is a part of us.

And we are all a part of each other. Yet that’s what

art is about. Art is a reflection of our memories back

to us, a reminder that humanity feels these deeper

connections. When we connect with a piece, it is

our memories matching up or squaring off with the

artist’s memories. It is us connecting with others who

are observing, questioning, discussing the art.

It is me, looking at a painting of a land I have never

seen before and being confronted with my own

feelings of longing. It is me, inhaling the dusty smell of

Gates’ sawmill and picturing my uncles’ cabinet shop,

the bookshelves they built for me. It is the collections

of owl figurines and lamps and plates that remind me

of my mother’s classroom where she teaches second

grade, always full of stuffed animals and posters and

erasers and timers, all in the shape of pigs.

The same thing is true of the land; it is a reflection.

Maybe this is obvious. Maybe those of you reading this

know and understand how the land itself is art. But

maybe you forget sometimes. The land is art. Nature is

art. We are nature.

In the dining room of Owls Nest, an artist painted a

mural covering one entire wall. The mural actually

hides cabinet doors that, when opened, reveal dishes

and serving ware. But when the doors are closed, they

show the woods around Sinkola, bringing them into

the house. In the middle, off at a distance, is a hunting

wagon with a family of four painted onto it: Brandy,

Gates, Lexi and Avery. The mural was first, then

Brandy and Gates added by an artist friend, and then

Lexi and Avery added by another.

A perpetuation of spirit. A work of art.

Sinkola plantation

sinkola.com

Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival

pwaf.org

23


PETER CORBIN

PLANTATION WILDLIFE ARTS FESTIVAL FEATURED PAINTER

IN A PAINTING CAREER that has spanned more than 30 years and produced a body

of work bearing comparison to the likes of A.B. Frost and Ogden Pleissner, Peter

Corbin has established himself as one of the finest American sporting artists of

his generation.

But while his reputation is based primarily on his meticulously composed scenes of

sport — fly fishing and wing shooting in particular — the paintings collected in his

portfolio reveal the full range of his talent, the stunning breadth of his reach and

vision. Landscapes, portraits of people and dogs, depictions of birds and other wildlife

in their natural habitat, equestrian art: these too are realms in which Corbin’s

classic style and respectful sensibility have made a lasting mark.

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

The American Museum of Fly Fishing / Manchester, Vermont; Cascade Mountain

Winery and Restaurant / Amenia, New York; The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and

Museum / Livingston Manor, New York; Dana Corporation / St. Paul, Minnesota;

Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History / Jackson, Michigan; Frazer Paper Company/

Bridgeport, Connecticut; John Treiber Agency, Inc. / Mineola, New York; L. L. Bean

Inc. / Freeport, Maine; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum / Wausau, Wisconsin;

The National Art Museum of Sport / Indianapolis, Indiana; The Prudential, Giralda

Farms / Madison, New Jersey

PETER CORBIN / Fine Sporting Art

81 Fraleigh Hill Road, Millbrook, NY 12545

peter@petercorbin.com

845-677-5020

www.petercorbin.com

24


CELEBRATING THE SPORTING LIFE THROUGH ART

IN THOMASVILLE, GEORGIA

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES GUTHRIE


We are really

protective of what

this is and what

we all need as

individuals for

the Treehouse

to be.

26


collaborators

A PEEK INSIDE THE TREEHOUSE

Written by

Madeleine Walker

Photographed by

Anna Bader and

Andrew Sisk

WHETHER IT IS A blanket fort in the living room or a wooden treehouse buried

in the branches of a magnolia, children create a secret place for themselves and

their friends. The makeshift play area becomes a symbol of innocence, a place

where anything can be imagined, with nobody to say that imaginations are too big.

Too often, however, the blanket fort is cleaned up, and the treehouse is filled with

leaves. We all grow up and leave those intimate, safe spaces for bigger and more

competitive spheres. Sometimes, in those spheres, I meet someone who sees my

vision or shares my passion. It’s a light bulb moment, and I wish to pull that person

into the same kind of space so we can talk for hours.

Though for me it is only a desire, Bunny Byrne, Brent Runyon, Haile McCollum,

and Michele Arwood make it their reality. They haven’t let that safe space

disappear. These Thomasville movers and shakers carve out time every

Wednesday to sit next to each other and talk in an old Coca-Cola bottling

building that is now Haile’s office space. During their time together, which Haile

aptly named the “Idea Treehouse,” they discuss ideas that intrigue them, and

their visions for Thomasville. When I get to sit and talk with them, I can’t help

but notice the positive dynamics. Their openness and respect for one another is

infectious; their confidence and progressive energy, palpable.

Haile, an entrepreneur with several successful business ventures under her belt,

is the instigator of this creative collective. Haile’s office space seems to mimic

an actual treehouse with its warm and secluded atmosphere. She explains that

the Idea Treehouse came out of her desire to connect people. “I knew all these

people individually and thought that something cool could happen if they were

brought together to talk.” Haile wanted to create a space for ideas to flourish

without demanding an outcome. There is no agenda. No note taking. Just a sacred

space where, for an hour, each individual sheds their work persona and simply

gets to be.

Listening to them makes me a bit jealous. I want to watch their brains work

together because, in the midst of this data and outcome driven world, the

27


collaborators

opportunity to sit with like-minded people for a bit of

time and just ruminate feels like a luxury. These four

individuals, however, have made it a necessity.

“We are really protective of what this is and what

we all need as individuals for the Idea Treehouse to

be,” Bunny explains. “We don’t find this anywhere

else.” She isn’t a native of Thomasville, but I would

never have known that from her intense loyalty to

the town. The creator of the local creative paper

Thomasville Townie, Bunny looks like she stepped right

out of the 1940s, complete with her bouncy blond

bob and sassy talk. When I ask what she writes about

in the Townie, she looks at me with her sharp bluegreen

eyes and unabashedly says, “I only cover what

the cool people should be doing.” When I laugh she

explains, “No really. If I think it’s cool then I will put

it in there.”

When she moved to Thomasville, Bunny found it

was easy for her to get a sense of who the people of

Thomasville are, and what they value. “I think in my

paper and my blog I can distill that and make it into

little edible chunks for people who are not from here.

I think that there is a perception that everyone here

is landed gentry from way back when, and the truth

is, nobody here cares and that’s why they live here.” I

realize that Bunny doesn’t care either, and she brings

her free spirit, matched by her strong loyalty to

Thomasville, into the Idea Treehouse.

Brent Runyon shares that loyalty to Thomasville,

though he might not voice it as often or as loudly.

Brent, in his position as director of Thomasville

Landmarks, preserves the old Thomasville while

championing the new. I quickly grasp that this

juxtaposition of old and new permeates Brent’s

life. When I walk into his living room, I can’t help

but notice the plush Victorian-style couch placed

below a piece of artwork painted in primary colors

with children’s building blocks and sequins. Or

the arts-and-crafts rocking chair near the pop art

poster. Or the framed photograph of his great, great

grandfather and a mule caravan at the entrance to

his Ikea-like kitchen.

Brent explains that most of the furnishings came

from his grandmother, but the artwork is more his

taste. I comment that somehow it all flows together.

He shrugs. “This house is all over the place, like I

am.” It’s this ability to gather the old and the new,

and produce something distinctive, that really sets

Brent apart in the Idea Treehouse. He is effective and

forward moving, but with a special reverence for

the past.

If Haile brings her desire to connect people to the

Treehouse, Bunny brings her loyalty, Brent brings

his reverence and effectiveness, then Michele brings

the momentum. Executive Director of Thomasville

Center for the Arts, Michele is passionate about

connecting the community and forming a creative

web of people. She and I share a nerd moment as

we discover our mutual fascination with creative

placemaking and using the arts to improve

communities.

Though for me it is a recent passion, Michele’s strong

love of community and connections started from a

young age. She remembers being 9 or 10 and playing

in the orange grove in her backyard. “I would create

cities and towns. I’ve always been intrigued by the

idea of community. So somehow, I guess I’ve come

full circle.” It is that lifelong passion that inspires her

to nurture this Thomasville collective.

As I listen to these four creative leaders talk and toss

around ideas, I am reminded of the easy, uninhibited

conversations of childhood. Idea Treehouse is

the grown up and realizable version of “playing

community.” I love getting to peek into this space

they have created, to get a glimpse of these creative

minds and what they each bring to the table.

But the Idea Treehouse is their space. In a

minute, I’ll get up. I’ll duck out and climb down

the metaphorical ladder and leave them to their

musings. In just a minute I’ll stop listening to them

inspire and enjoy the ideas of each other.

I promise I’ll leave. In just a minute.

28


collaborators

I knew all these people individually

and thought that something

really cool could happen if they

were brought together.

29


Discovery is not in seeking new lands, but

in seeing with new eyes. – Marcel Proust

30


31


“ I like to think I’m just

the curator of what

the people before me

began. The books, music,

and art we sell reflect

our passion for good

stories and meaningful

conversations.”

Annie Jones, Owner

the

bookshelf

a t h o m a s v i l l e b o o k s t o r e

126 S. Broad St • Thomasville, GA • 229.228.7767

bookshelfandgallery.com • Annie Jones, Owner

32


33


elish

107 S. Broad St. • Thomasville, GA

229.227.0024

relishingdash.com

34


un.walk.lounge

107 S. Broad St. • Thomasville, GA

229.227.0024 • relishingdash.com

35


lucyandleoscupcakery.com

Celebrating the Individual,

One Cupcake at a Time

126 South 36 Broad St., Thomasville, GA | 1123 Thomasville Rd., Tallahassee, FL | 631 West Madison St., Tallahassee, FL


Mode

128 S. Broad St. • Thomasville, GA

229.226.8861

37


209 S. Broad St.

thomaSville, GeorGia

•••

229.227.6777

38


Deana Ponder, Owner

Toscoga

39


40


cornerstone

builders llc

239 S Madison Street

Thomasville, GA 31792

229.672.1334

229.672.1346

41


118 South Broad Street, Downtown Thomasville

229-226-3388

grassrootscoffee.com

42


DOWNTOWN THOMASVILLE | LUNCH SERVED WED-FRI 11-2 & DINNER 5-9 | SAT. OPEN ALL DAY 11-9

43


102 E. JACKSON STREET

THOMASVILLE, GEORGIA

229.228.9244

44


45


elics

a creative haven for salvage

design and vintage collections

46

138 South Madison Street | relicsthomasville.com | 229.228.4181


47


Lambrodila rutilans

(Pretty, but not your friend)

astropestcontrol.com

229.226.2414

48


Chubb Associates

Fine Real Estate Investments

304 Gordon Avenue

Thomasville, GA 31792

•••

229.226.7916 | www.chubbrealty.com

49


50


111 S. Broad St., Thomasville, Georgia | 229.226.7766

3350 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee, Fl | 850.386.5544

www.kevinscatalog.com

51


52


CHASE A

DREAM

WITH US.

SAFARIS

UNLIMITED, LLC

229.226.5717

hhksafaris.com

53


PEBBLE HILL PLANTATION

PEBBLEHILL.COM

YOUR EVENT . . . OUR BACKDROP

28

54


29

55


304 Smith Ave., Thomasville, GA 31792 | 229-226-5880 | singletarysflowers.com


Sewell, Morgan & Hilliard, PC

certified public accountants

121 North Love Street • Thomasville, GA • 229.226.2001

57


2018 East Pinetree Blvd., Thomasville, GA

229.228.6702 • Mon-Sat 10-7 • Sunday 1-5

1190 Capital Circle SE, Tallahassee, FL

850.878.3095 • Mon-Sat 10-8 • Sunday 12-6

58

ashleyfurniturehomestore.com


59


THE NUTCRACKER

Saturday, November 29 • 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 30 • 2:30 pm

Thomasville Municipal Auditorium

HOT HAVANA NIGHTS

An Evening of Music, Dance and Art

Saturday, January 25

Thomasville Center for the Arts

southgeorgiaballet.org • 229.228.9420

60


FIREFLYHOME.COM

61


62

Classic Land Rovers

available for purchase

229.224.2023


C.H. Whitney

18th and 19th century furniture and accessories, Chinese export porcelains,

works of art, neat pieces and items of curiosity

• • •

residential restoration consultants

www.chwhitney.com

118 Remington Avenue, Thomasville, Georgia 31792

229.224.2023

63


Anne H. Bicknell

www.theonpointcollection.com

• • •

HolidAy SHow And SAle

December 6th anD 7th • Uno hill barn • Pebble hill Plantation, thomasville, Ga

for more information: 229.228.0820


140 north broad street

thomasville, georgia

229-226-0020

wellingtonshields.com


66

Ben W. McCollum, Broker

On Rosewood Plantation


THE WRIGHT GROUP

Real Estate Brokerage & Advisory Services

El Destino Plantation

4138 +/- Acres

Jefferson/Leon County, Florida

Hickory Head Plantation

2388 +/- Acres

Brooks County, Georgia

Rosewood Plantation

1050 +/- Acres

Thomas County, Georgia

229.226.2564

wrightbroker.com

67


68


EQUAL HOUSING

OPPORTUNITY

229.226.6074 WWW.THOMASVILLEASSISTEDLIVING.COM

69


1630 E. Jackson Street, Thomasville, GA

www.FlowersAutoGroup.com

70


71


Thomasville Antiques

Show& Sale

Februar y 20-23, 2014

THOMASVILLEANTIQUESSHOW.COM

72

Piece by DR Grissom Collection


Thomasville enTerTainmenT FoundaTion

tefconcerts.com

73


Alexander & Vann, LLP

74

411 Gordon Avenue, Thomasville, Georgia

229.226.2565 • alexandervann.com


Thomasville

Georgia

Nancy Moody, Owner

114 West Jackson Street, Thomasville, Georgia

229.227.0079


lavishthomasvillega.com

75


76

229.228.9169 | wghamil.com


MILLS HERNDON

BOBBY D. BROWN

SUSAN BENNETT

LINDA CHASTAIN

PAT GLENN

DAYNA HARDY

DONNA JENKINS

JACKIE JOHNSON

BRYAN KNOX

FRAN MILBERG

KATHY H. PALMER

COLLEEN PHELPS

DEBORAH PHILLIPS

LEN POWELL

JENNIE RICH

CAREY SEWELL

PAM MAXWELL WRIGHT

77


78

SIMPLY SUSAN


trailblazer

Written by

Michele Arwood

Photographed by

Rinne Allen

IT’S A RAINY SUMMER day when the big bungalow door swings open and my travel

companion, Nan Myers, and I are greeted by a petite blond rockin’ a pair of gym

shorts, T-shirt, and a pony tail tinted with slight traces of pink. One enthusiastic

“Hey, y’all!” and we find ourselves inside the home of Susan Hable Smith.

She’s the creative force behind Hable Construction, a NYC based textile design

business she co-founded with her sister, Katharine Hable Sweeney, almost 15

years ago. It’s a company that has evolved with the times and continued to grow

on the founding principles of practicality, sophistication and timelessness. Their

fabric lines are represented in interior design showrooms around the world with

home and personal accessories marketed through an online shop.

The idea of visiting with a design leader who you’ve followed for more than

a decade is one thing, but getting to spend a few days living the Hable life is

another. She’s at the top of her field in textile design, so we expected her home to

be fabulous, of course. But what we really found was an artist living an authentic

life in a home layered with the things she loves deeply: her family, an eclectic art

collection, trinkets from her travels, nubby textiles, lots of friends, and a garden

that’s to die for.

She’s known for the bold, hand-drawn abstract patterns that anchor the Hable

line, but has started blazing a new trail as a notable watercolorist. Ask her what

inspired her to take this new path and she’ll share the story of an unlikely shift

from life in the Big Apple to small town life in Athens, Georgia. It was a little

more than three years ago when she followed her longtime photographer friend,

Rinne Allen, to Athens to shoot photography for the product line. That visit left

her charmed by the south and led to a big move for her family.

On the second day of our visit, I take a walk through her garden to the historic

cottage at the back of her property. It houses her design studio. Painted a deep

79


trailblazer

slate grey, it feels like a work of art itself. I arrive

before she does and get a private peek at the layers

of large watercolors placed about the room. I’m

taken with the simplicity of the space. Rustic

whitewashed walls, pops of color from her ink

bottles, and scraps of memories pinned to boards.

With this visit to the studio I find a space that I’m

sure has inspired her new work, but my mind is

more on her friends. I’ve met quite a few since I

arrived. All seemingly remarkable artists, of one sort

or another, who are shaping the Athens art scene

and having a certain impact on Susan’s new life and

work.

We sit in the corner, near a window with a view to

the garden. No deep burning questions from me. I’m

just looking forward to hearing more about what

makes her simply inspiring.

Susan: Let’s sit here. Rinne’s going to join us in a bit.

Michele: You two seem so close. Do you know how

fortunate you are to have so many amazing friends?

S: I definitely do. When I lived in New York, I had

a small group of talented friends who had careers

in the decorative arts. None of them were painters.

My group of friends here is much wider and more

diverse. Here, product developers hang with painters.

Photographers hang with musicians. We’re very

grateful for one another.

M: So who are some of the people influencing

you now?

S: One of my favorite people, Didi Dunphy, lives

in Five Points and has a design company called

Modern Convenience. She designs cool indoor

skateboards. She is just so fabulous! She also works

with my friends Carl Martin and Carol John of D.O.C.

Unlimited. They run a design-build firm here in

Athens. When you meet Carol, you’ll see why she’s a

big part of my creative life.

M: For a big city transplant, you seem to have

80


trailblazer

M: So when did you decide to venture out on

your own?

S: I started our company when I was in San

Francisco. I worked with a woman who had a lot of

resources, but no clear direction. I knew I could do

what she was doing, but chart a better course for

my life. I thought, “I’m easy to be around. I want to

create my own environment, and be who I am, and

I know there are other people who want that too.”

So, honestly that was the driving force. It wasn’t

to get my art out into the world. I just wanted to

create a wonderful working environment for people

who wanted to be there. To show off their talent, do

their thing, and then go home at the end of the day

without their stomach in knots.

adapted well to small town life. You were raised in a

small town, did you feel a connection to your creative

side when you were young?

S: I’m from a little town, Corsicana, Texas.

Throughout my childhood I had great creative

experiences. I remember two really fabulous artists

in town. One was a watercolorist and another was

a color specialist who worked in oils. When I was in

high school a teacher said, “Susan I want to talk with

your parents about you going to Parsons.” I have

really great parents, but when I was ready to fly my

Dad said, “Forget it, you are not going to New York”.

He drew a line on the map and said you can’t go to

the east coast or the west coast, so what did I do? I

went to New York to California and back to New York!

So it happened that I was invited to India with a

friend’s mother. I went for a month and it was life

changing. I’ve always enjoyed going to places where I

don’t know anyone. I think I like the challenge.

M: India is known for beautiful fabrics, is that when

your affair with fabric design started?

S: Yes, right after my trip to India. My sister,

Katharine, had been at home with twins. They were

two and a half at the time. She had had too much

Sesame Street and was also ready to do something.

She’s a dynamic sales person and, when I say that is

her thing, I mean that is her THING. When I called

her and said I have this business idea and this is

what I want to do, she said great, it’s time for me too.

M: When did you get the gumption to fly the coop?

M: Does she share your artistic talent?

S: The minute I graduated from college. I moved

to New York and went to Parsons. It wasn’t entirely

what I expected, but I’m glad I had the experience.

Then I moved to San Francisco and I went to work.

For a while I worked in sales because I guess I knew

I needed to learn that. I’m super confident, but I

didn’t have the confidence to pay my rent off of

my art. At some point I started looking for a new

direction and ended up working for really interesting

women who all happened to be entrepreneurs.

S: No, but she is amazing. We probably wouldn’t

have our company if it wasn’t for her. No matter

what I’ve done, she’s always supported me. She’s the

dream partner. She’s never said “don’t do that” or

“I think that’s ugly” or “I don’t think that’s going to

work”. Never. In a way, I’ve had carte blanche. She’s

been open to whatever I wanted to do. That never

happens in business and I know how fortunate we

are. We created our business on a pure kind of love

for each other. She thought I could do anything,

81


and she gave me the confidence to do it. You know,

on second thought, I said Katharine’s not artistic,

but what am I thinking? She’s very artistic, just in a

different way. She was in a hospital room giving birth

to her son and doing some of our beading from her

bed. That was crazy! I’m sure anyone who has their

own business knows you’ve got to be a little bit crazy

to do your own thing.

M: COMPLETELY. I have a few crazy stories myself!

S: (Laugh) It’s really not normal! There is this burn

in you and whatever it is just has to get done. Over

the years, whenever we would make a little money

we would upgrade a bit and move to a new space.

For the first two years we did all of the printing by

hand and made everything ourselves. Eventually,

we moved our business from Manhattan to Brooklyn

because I had a couple of dreams about screen

printing. In my dreams I’m hearing, “you know how

to paint, Susan. Why aren’t you screen printing,

Susan?”

M: In a dream?

S: Yes, in a dream! I told my sister, “Don’t think I’m

crazy. I had this dream and we’ve got to start screen

printing. My back hurts from ironing so we’ve got to

do something else.” So I went to visit this factory in

Redhook. There was this old curmudgeon of a guy -

short, big ears, cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

His name was Bob. The factory would remind you of

something from the Brothers Grimm. It was REALLY

dark. I walked to the back and there was an area full

of old mattresses and junk. It was beautiful to me.

M: Manhattan to Brooklyn. That was a leap!

S: It was, but, how else was I going to learn to screen

print? I didn’t know how to do that, so I thought

let’s go work in a factory. If I wanted to learn how to

make chocolate, I’d go work in a chocolate factory. Oh

my goodness, it was the craziest two years! No heat,

no air. Gunshot holes in the windows. Katharine

and I looked like old men in the winter wearing long

sleeves and baggy pants to work. It was great though.

We were LEARNING. Eventually, it got to be a bit

much. We were ready to learn the next steps for our

business, so we moved our printing to Rhode Island.

During that time we also had two retail stores. Our

company is 14 years old. I would say in the first ten

years, it was like going to school. We tried new things

and did everything we thought we should.

M: 10 years is a long time to be schooled. It’s also

rare for a new creative business to survive that long.

What do you think made the difference?

S: During that time, business was really good. It

wasn’t until the economy took a turn that we saw

how fortunate we were. We were in New York, we

had cash flow, we had retail stores, and the internet

hadn’t taken off yet. At that time, it really wasn’t a

business element for us. Five years ago we had a web

82


site, but even then we didn’t rely on it for sales. Then

when everything crashed around us, other people

had web sites and we had retail overhead.

M: So it was the “crash” that inspired your next step?

S: It was. That was when we decided to rethink our

business and we moved our family to Athens. I think

it’s also how I finally came into my own as an artist.

Sort of like Phoenix rising. I believe fate happens. The

Hable business has always followed an unexpected,

but timely path. It’s bizarre how it has all turned out.

When I moved here, I was scared half to death. But

it was energizing and I got on the phone and started

making new things happen for Hable. We partnered

with Hickory Chair on an exclusive fabric collection

and I started learning what the fabric mills were

about. They started asking us to design collections

for them. Then we did another exclusive branded

design for one mill, and then another, and then we

entered this new world in the contract industry and

the hospitality field. We’ve gone from selling fabrics

to designers and decorators for residential use to

licensing our designs.

M: So do you still screen print your textile designs?

our visit, I would paint or draw and Rinne would

take pictures. Everything we did there seemed to be

about color. We didn’t expect it to become anything

in particular. We ended up publishing our images in a

little limited edition book that is actually a collection

of tear away posters. One side is her work, the other

side is mine. Some people have framed them. Others

have kept the book together. It’s very quiet on the

outside with lots of color on the inside. We plan to do

more, but every time it will be a little different. We’re

building up our coffers now. We decided we would

put our money in a pot and whatever profits we

make we will set aside to print another book.

Like all great conversations, this one took a big turn

when I asked what could possibly be next for her.

Not a second of a pause and I learn the answer.

SUPER EXCITING! I can’t tell you here though. It

might spoil it for her. Let’s just say it’s a natural next

step and she’ll be blazing another new trail by doing

something she simply loves. With creative friends

around her, I’m sure.

Hable Construction

hableconstruction.com

S: Yes, our Hable line is now exclusively hand silk

screened. We may digitally print one day, but we

plan to continue to do what we are doing for a

while. We also have our fabric by-the-yard business,

products that are all made in the U.S., a partnership

with Fabricut, and a contract line of outdoor

endurance fabrics with Momentum.

M: Not much going on. Is that it?!?!

S: NOOOOO! My friend, Rinne Allen, and I have a

project called Colorset 3. We’re developing a book

that we’ve been working on for 800 years! She

started shooting the photography for the Hable line

about eight years ago when my daughter, Bird, was in

my belly. We’ve always wanted to do something for

ourselves, together. Something fun that isn’t tied to a

paycheck. Colorset started when we went to visit Tate

Mountain. It’s so natural and beautiful there. During

83


RIDING SHOTGUN

Written by

Lawren Gabrielle McCord

Photographed by

Rinne Allen

Madison Booth

Meghan Davis

Dena Dixon

Lust is blind early this week and might come masquerading as true love. Wait until Friday

(at least!) before tweeting that you’ve just met The One.

THIS LINE FROM MY horoscope had me looking forward to the weekend. I was

extra friendly to everyone I encountered, leaving no phone call unanswered or text

message unseen. I did find love that weekend. It was a love that I had been denying,

right in front of my face for the last 26 years. I fell in love with the South. With oldfashioned

Southern traditions, agriculture, rustic beauty, a close-knit community

and the simplicity of a region that is both preserved and adapted.

A SWEET SOUTHERN START

Homemade creamy grits, buttery cake-like blueberry muffins, frittatas bursting

with the flavor of charred garden veggies, juicy fresh-cut strawberries and cups of

Colorado coffee. All spread on an antique butcher block table. Brunch is served.

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FOODIES

Carol Whitney looks over, “Aren’t you glad you’re

not covering a fitness story?” There I was sitting

at one of the best breakfasts in town with the two

women who have been known to stir up a feverish

excitement when it comes to securing seats around a

dinner table: Nan Myers and Carol Whitney, creators

of Thomasville’s Shotgun Supper Club. These two

women have come together to create a unique dining

experience — one that supports local farmers and

food artisans — all from the foundation of a

friendship centered around their love of homegrown

and handmade.

Nan welcomes us into her home and pours us rounds

of coffee. Carol tells us about the frittatas in the oven

and the ingredients she has grown and gathered. The

sweet, grassy taste of the spring artichokes made

them the best I have ever had.

Carol, born in Savannah, moved to Thomasville 15

years ago. Her friends joked that she was moving

to the equator. “It might as well have been. It was

July and 100 degrees. My corgi, Adeline, would not

go outside. She thought it was dangerous.” Outgoing

Carol immediately made friendly connections and

fell in love with the natural beauty of the red hills

region and the longleaf pines. Not only did her new

hometown provide stunning riding trails, she was also

an hour and a half away from kayaking on the coast.

Carol was also taken with the convenient high quality

sources of food in the community. “Our growing

season is year round. I can grow summer vegetables

‘til Thanksgiving in my backyard.”

Carol knows about fresh foods, having been raised

on the coast and in a family immersed in cuisine.

While growing up, she regularly caught seafood and

rarely experienced a day that didn’t end with family

dinner around the table. Yet Carol was amazed by

Thomasville’s natural resources and outstanding

agriculture. She will tell you that she was once

showered with fresh red bell peppers and peanuts

while driving down the road in her old convertible.

Then she will admit the experience was the result of

driving behind a produce truck. Nevertheless, while

in pursuit, she thought, “Where is it going? I want it.”

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Carol keeps me in stitches with her witty Whitney

one-liners. Every word comes out of her mouth with

a smile. She looks into the distance as she recalls a

memory. I can see her revisiting that moment in

her mind.

PLEASED TO BE SEATED

Born and raised in Thomasville, Nan Myers is a part

of the fifth generation of McCollums in town. Nan is

ridiculously friendly and soft spoken. She is modest

when it comes to speaking of her own creativity but

can share family stories for hours. A vegetarian for

seven years, she had a change of heart when it came

to her grandmother Weezie’s (“Louise, my cousin

could not say his L’s”) cornbread stuffing. Today, in

her home, every meal with her sons and husband

is around their table — unless they are out at a ball

game. Memories of her family around the dinner table

and the personalized school lunches from her father,

Paul, are clear in her mind.

The family dinner table, a late 17th century walnut

table, is the oldest piece of furniture in Nan’s parent’s

home. “Every meal was at that table—breakfast,

lunch and dinner—unless my dad packed my lunch.

He would write ‘Nan 10th grade’ on the bag.” As a

teenager in high school she would remind him, “You

don’t have to write my name. That is so not cool. I

have a locker.” Her father’s so invested in this table

that everyone in the family can perfectly mimic the

face he made whenever milk was accidentally spilled

on it. “We are lucky we didn’t carve our names in it.”

The table is an excellent example of Nan’s father’s

love for antiques, a passion the two share, which

led to the opening of Firefly in 1996. “I was young,

ignorant and blissful, and it didn’t even occur to me

that I couldn’t do it. What I didn’t realize at the tender

age of 24 was that it was really a clever ploy on my

dad’s part to get his youngest daughter on this side of

the world again.”

Nan’s father’s response to Shotgun Supper Club was,

“What? How much? No one will ever pay that.” He

went. He loved it. “He was borderline giddy for days

after and now likes to conjure up locations for the

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FOODIES

next one.” Nan has received letters from neighbors

grateful for the best experience in Thomasville and

she has been stopped while grocery shopping to hear,

“We are still talking about Shotgun Supper Club. But

we don’t want to talk too much in fear of missing out

on a ticket.”

Any day of the week, you can find Thomasville locals

at each other’s homes, gathering for dinner and

coffee, or enjoying wine and cheese together. I

witnessed firsthand, downtown passersby greeting

one another by first name. Shotgun Supper Club is

mixture of people tied together by good food. After

guests purchase tickets online, the dinner location

is announced only to those ticket holders in order to

protect the privacy of the host and maintain a certain

air of mystery.

OH TASTE AND SEE

While enjoying lunch in town, I am not shocked to

find myself seated next to Nan Myers’ neighbor, Clay

Campbell. Clay has had tickets to all of the dinners.

Predicting the longevity of the club, Clay assures me

that the Pebble Hill dinner will go down in the top 10.

SHOTGUN SUPPER CLUB IS ABOUT GATHERING FOLKS WHO APPRECIATE LOCALLY-SOURCED

FOOD PREPARED BY INCREDIBLY TALENTED SOUTHERN CHEFS IN A BEAUTIFUL SETTING.

about gathering folks who appreciate locally-sourced

food prepared by incredibly talented Southern chefs in

a beautiful setting.

“We wanted to do something different and embrace

home. There is so much to highlight. We are

surrounded by food and beautiful settings. Sometimes

we forget – even when we are tuned in – how

tremendous our own backyards are.” Carol works

the logistics of the events while Nan carries out the

presentations. At the drop of a dime, Nan can list out

a range of blooms. “I just assumed everyone knew

their plant material like maidenhair fern and Ville de

Nantes camellias. My mom has always had a beautiful

garden. So did my grandmother. She had the most

charming, beautiful backyard arrangements you’ve

ever seen.”

Forty ticket-holders gather around a table illuminated

by candlelight — a unique treasured setting to

which most do not normally have access. It is a

“It was the best meal ever, a phenomenal meal, one

you could not find anywhere. Carol and Nan stepped

it up with this one. It was fun being out in the woods

eating grass-fed beef.” His favorite dish was the

Sweet Grass Dairy Farm egg with potato purée, and

mushrooms layered and served in a mason jar.

Once, Clay was driving down the road and

immediately pulled over when he received a Supper

Club alert on his phone. The number of available

tickets trickled down from 40 to 30 to 9 as he tapped

away at his phone. I joke with him, thinking what

a sight it would have been if he looked through his

windshield, after pulling over, to see two other cars

idling in front of him, phones in hand, doing the same.

Clay explains another time. “I was sitting on my

sofa. My friend called me. It must have sold out in

15 minutes. I bought four tickets.” Clay made a fist

and playfully tapped it on the counter, “I would fight

somebody over a ticket to the Shotgun Supper Club.”

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FOODIES

Nan is confident about what makes the Supper Club

so special. “Visiting chefs are treated like rock stars

(nice rock stars) with the hope that these weekends

will be as much fun for them as they are for Supper

Club attendees. The idea is to work hard but play

even harder with activities like skeet shooting, a

visit to the favorite local watering hole, and private

accommodations and entertainment in our homes.”

Following the first dinner, Nan and Carol quickly

realized they had neither the time nor the will to cook

the meals themselves. Hence the ladies, who work full

time jobs, feel fortunate to have been in the company

of such amazing talents as Chef Whitney Otawka,

formerly of Farm 255 and now with Hugh Acheson

at Cinco y Diez, and Chefs Sarah O’Kelley and Chris

Stewart of Charleston’s Glass Onion. These chefs have

set a deliciously high standard.

Past menus of Shotgun Supper Club have included

free range heirloom pigs (fed cheese whey and oak

acorns) raised by Sweet Grass Dairy Farm; White Oak

Pastures’ grass-fed beef; two-and-a–half-inch rib eyes;

and vegetables gathered from local farmers. Meals

were paired with wines from Sweet Grass Dairy. A

spring supper focused on the Gulf Coast with a menu

of deviled farm eggs, chicken liver mousse, pickled

shrimp and Louisiana crawfish. Future dinners trigger

a great deal of excitement.

GOOD FOOD. BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.

The dinner bell is the distinct sound of the racking

and firing of a shotgun by the host of the private

dinner location. Carol hopes “people go home with

information and we like to think that they are

ordering beef from White Oaks, appreciating wine

at Sweet Grass Dairy, picking up spring lettuce,

increasing bonds with farmers. Sweet Grass Dairy

Farm is a huge contributor to the community and the

food movement in this part of the state; the owners

and staff are so modest and talented.”

With two entrances to their secret supper location,

Carol and Nan include directions on how to maneuver

88


WE ARE SURROUNDED BY FOOD AND BEAUTIFUL SETTINGS. SOMETIMES WE FORGET – EVEN

WHEN WE ARE TUNED IN – HOW TREMENDOUS OUR OWN BACKYARDS ARE.

down the mile-long drive on an unpaved mud road

into the plantation. Along the drive, guests observe

one of the largest compositions of virgin longleaf

pine. After days of rain, riding down this mud road

we experienced some hair-raising slipping and

sliding. Misty fog lingers in the air. The trees are a

lush, vivid green, like a watercolor painting. “If we

had a chef here we would be doing things like this,”

showing them the preserved beauty of the habitable

wilderness. Box Hall Plantation was once owned by

Nan’s godmother. She remembers the dinner table

where she stepped on a buzzer beneath the table and

wonderful food, like caramel cakes, would arrive.

Carol is quick to point out natural beauty. A leaf that

has fallen and collected small buds within its curls,

spring ferns rising from the ashes of a prescribed

burn. The knot in a tree that has been struck by

lightning and the pileated woodpecker now making

his home there.

So, here I am now, trying to share all of this with you

— but not too much. Driving down Highway 33, I hear

the lyrics to Hoagie Carmichael’s Moon Country.

With folk cooking things

That melt in your mouth

I realized that a connection to Southern tradition was

what was missing from my own life these last few

years. I was missing the natural settings all around,

in our own backyard — the ones that we tune out as

we focus on our advancement in our daily routine

and reach for bigger city success. What was missing

was addressing everyone by name as we pass each

other on the sidewalk. What was missing was my

connection with the simplicity of nature, natural

growing vegetables from a vine, trees rooted for

decades, plants that grow from a fire’s aftermath

making the land just as beautiful as it was in its

original state, flowers and bushes framing landscapes,

and the inevitable sense of community that

organically grows from gathering around a thoughtful

dinner table.

Firefly

125 S Broad Street

Thomasville, GA

fireflyhome.com

I long for that old country

That good for the soul country

Announcements for the Shotgun Supper Club are

posted in the Firefly newsletter.

89


Around Tallahassee’s

creative hub

Railroad Square Art Park

Industrial Dr

the sharing tree

FSU Museum of fine arts

W Call St

The Grain/All Saints

Hop Yard

Fermentation

Lounge/Cider Lodge

All Saints St

90

Mc Donnell Dr


As a Georgian, I know that Southern life

encompasses more than Sunday church,

barbecue sandwiches, sweet tea and

antiquing. Yet, I still wasn’t prepared for

what I found just an hour’s drive from

downtown Thomasville in Tallahassee’s

arts and culture center. There I discovered a

mix of Soho’s art scene, Berkeley’s diversity

and Sesame Street’s attitude. Boom went

the sound of my mind being blown.

Written by Nikki Igbo

Photographed by Meghan Davis and Jay Bowman

1

Fauvism jungle

Red, blue and purple stairs lead to Tony Demaria’s

office where a seasoned Venice Beach-esque hippie is

eating mustard leaves from a baggie. Though this isn’t

Tony, he does give me a leaf, which tastes like mild

arugula. The actual Tony, Railroad Square Art Park’s

manager, with polo shirt tucked into belted jeans,

beckons me to see blueprints for the park’s future.

Sounding like an electric typewriter, he rattles off the

10-year history behind stimulus dollars that will fund

new traffic roundabouts, high end studio space, a dog

park, interactive water fountains and more. My eyes

91


Placemakers

cross a little, but I don’t think Tony notices. He sees

what I can’t, a masterpiece in the making.

I ask Tony how he landed in this community of 90s

day-glo tin buildings. He tells me about all of his years

spent punching corporate clocks and collecting pay

stubs. It was a familiar, dependable boredom that kept

him from his lifelong romance with multi-colored

portrait painting until he opened Right On! A Railroad

Square Art Gallery. I’m shocked. I can’t believe he

paints. He doesn’t even Facebook. But as he rushes

me out the door, past tomato plants growing from

red Dixie cups, to tour the grounds in his golf cart, I

realize that this community has become

his canvas.

Instead of acrylics, Tony blends galleries, herbal shops,

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Buddhists, belly dancers and classic

arcades. Just as an artist promotes a subject with

his creation, Tony coordinates events, attracts new

tenants and organizes area improvements to promote

Railroad Square. When I ask about his favorite activity,

he tells me it’s riding around in his groovy golf cart. He

says this with a bad boy grin and I catch a glimpse of

the finger painter just below the surface. He sprinkles

“right on” and “groovy” throughout his description of

his community’s future. The population will boom.

The golf cart will be painted a safari pattern of burnt

orange, olive, sepia and celeste opaco. Tony will

somehow supercharge the cart’s motor so that he can

successfully pop wheelies.

Railroad Square Art Park

694-2 Industrial Drive

Tallahassee, FL

railroadsquare.us

2Combines

in Blue and Green

I stare at a sky blue sign in The Sharing Tree’s window

which states “Trash is the failure of imagination.” The

sign features red and green soda can tops, yellow

flowers with button centers and stems made of sheet

music strips. My inner crafter turns back handsprings.

Carly Sinnadurai, executive director of The Sharing

Tree, approaches with her gurgling 3-month-old baby

boy in tow. She’s all smiles, slim frame and blond hair,

fingernails painted to match the blues and greens of

the shop’s walls. She speaks with an impossibly relaxed

voice, as if she’s always prepared to hear a joke

and laugh in response.

We walk through The Sharing Tree’s front room past

shelves of cardstock, buttons, ribbons, plastic bottles

and cork as she talks about her youth in Minnesota.

It’s easy to picture her as a little girl crafting board

games out of cardboard, construction paper and

wooden clothespins picked up at a similar reusable

resource center in St. Paul. It’s funny how life mixes

92


This work, like

Carly’s creations, is

a product of uniting

the right resources

with the right people.

memory and experience into a personal constant. Two

decades later, here Carly is in Railroad Square replaying

her childhood and making a living doing it.

As we stroll into the workshop, Carly recounts the

long days spent studying how to build a business out

of creating and teaching recycled art. She describes

partnerships with local non-profits, businesses, Leon

County and the school district as I notice two-liter

bottle cap murals, toilet roll flowers and art tissue

butterflies with paper clip antennae. Carly leads me

outside to a mural of giant wildflowers along the

shop’s outer wall. This work, like Carly’s creations, is

a product of uniting the right resources with the right

people. I imagine a combo of paint–spattered hands

and brushes lacquering the tin metal wall in the

Florida sun.

the sharing tree

617 Industrial Drive

Tallahassee, FL

thesharingtreefl.org

93


Happenings on

All Saints Street

Just around the corner from Railroad Square, All

Saints Neighborhood is transforming. Old two and a

half story wooden homes and masonry vernacular (a

style of brickwork exclusive to Tallahassee circa 1930s)

industrial spaces are being repurposed, revived. This

creative shift is an effort where there is no audience,

only willing participants in flux with a common

spirit. This united energy says no to big box stores

muscling in, and says yes to local artwork hanging in

its bars and restaurants. It gathers for evening drinks

at Fermentation Lounge, snacks on Irish nachos and

chats with swoon-worthy Ely Mathes, The Grain coowner

who has the audacity to be embarrassed by his

brief stint as a Tommy Hilfiger model.

I feel this energy as I sample Chef (and The Grain coowner)

Will Thompson’s daily bruschetta and resist

the urge to bat my lashes at Ely. Ely, in turn, swipes

renegade hair from his eye as he explains plans for All

Saints Hop Yard. The outdoor beer garden is located

one block down from The Grain in what was once a

Coca-Cola distribution center and hosts a number

of events including concerts, film screenings, voter

rallies, fundraisers and sports promotions. As they

expand the Hop Yard, they will convert the graffiticovered

building into a 150-seat restaurant with a

full bar.

3

I note a drive in Ely, perhaps a seed planted by his

Thomasville restaurateur parents or political science

degree. He wants to leave the world better than he

found it, build fellowship. He could be canoeing with

his girlfriend or navigating local bike trails but he’s

not. He’s working with Will, and Tyler Thomas of

Fermentation Lounge, on the restaurant, beer garden,

the neighborhood and the annual Oktoberfest and

Springtoberfest.

After wandering around inside the Coca-Cola

building, I meet Tyler at Fermentation Lounge. Tyler

is the hipster movement personified and he’s got the

handlebar moustache to prove it. When I ask how he

maintains his curved whiskers he gives me the skinny

on his heat-resistant pomade preference. His ‘stache

care is crucial because he often uses this accessory to

express himself. When a patron is ready to settle up,

Tyler flips his mustache down into the “sad” position.

94


Placemakers

When a patron is

ready to settle

up, Tyler flips his

mustache down into

the sad position.

It’s been four and a half years since Tyler began barkeeping

at Fermentation Lounge. He thought it would

be a brief part-time gig. Now he operates both the bar

and Cider Lodge, the bar’s exclusive nano brewery.

He discusses the bar’s monthly events to benefit

charities. He describes the way Bob Williams, owner of

SRSLY Chocolate Bar in the rear of Cider Lodge, makes

chocolate from cocoa beans. He speaks with a lift of

his eyebrows. Excitement about All Saints Street, his

business and his friends radiates off of him. I could

easily down shots with this guy.

Tyler takes me to Cider Lodge and we pass through

the nano-brewery. I inhale the sticky-sweet scent of

lemon as we discover Wes Railey in the midst of handmaking

candy. Tyler and I watch with kindergarteners’

eyes as Wes, owner of Railey’s Confectionary, stretches

the hot sugar into wedge-shaped treats. Along with

taste testing the bar’s menu, watching Wes make

candy is one of Tyler’s favorite activities. He often

does both for hours on end. We hold out our hands to

accept the warm sweets. Yes, that just happened.

The Grain/All Saints Hop Yard

112 All Saints Street

Tallahassee, FL

allsaintshopyard.com

Fermentation Lounge/Cider Lodge

113 All Saints Street

Tallahassee, FL

thefermentationlounge.com/blog

95


4Large,

Lush Color Fields

Backpacked students amble down Call Street past

FSU Museum of Fine Arts and I try to recall if my

alma mater had an art museum on campus. Nope. I

think of how these kids have no idea what they have

as I introduce myself to Viki Thompson Wylder, the

museum’s curator of education. The silver-haired lady

has a motherly mystique about her and I can’t resist

hugging her. She embraces me with a gentle yet firm

squeeze before ushering me through the corridors of

the 16,000-square-foot art space.

Viki loves this place and it shows as she describes

some of the 5,000+ pieces of contemporary Native

American, South American, African and German art

included in the museum’s permanent collection. For

the past 25 years, since the museum’s exhibition of

Judith Chicago’s Dinner Party, Viki has played a huge

role in acquisition and setting the tone for visitors.

She rejects the notion of the museum as some sterile

sanctuary where it’s quiet enough to hear mice pee

on cotton and security guards draw down on any

visitor standing within a foot of the art. Rather, she

believes that art is to be discussed, interacted with

and absorbed into one’s thought process. We high-five

in agreement. Viki continues to show me a Picasso

lithograph, 1970s arpilleras, and a study drawn by her

beloved Judith Chicago.

Before my excursion ends, Viki explains Trevor

Bell’s work. An immigrant from England, Bell was

so impressed with Florida that he stayed on as an

FSU professor. After watching space shuttles blast

off at Cape Canaveral, Bell created Rising Heat and

Light Pillar, two larger than life, trapezoidal color field

paintings in tropical hues of orange, pink, periwinkle,

yellow and green. As Viki recounts this with a sweep of

her arms and laughing eyes, I recognize Tallahassee.

Just like Bell’s rocket depictions, something huge is

taking off here and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

FSU Museum of fine arts

530 West Call Street

Tallahassee, FL

mofa.fsu.edu

96


Placemakers

viki believes art

is to be discussed,

interacted with and

absorbed into one’s

thought process.

97


innovator

Written by

Sybil McLain-Topel

Photographed by

Jay Bowman and

Page von Roenn

Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like

music; everything is vibration. — Marc Chagall

LIGHT JUMPS IN AND out of the ripples of the pool. The diver ascends the platform

steps, prepares for the precise plunge. Over and over, practice every day, twice a

day, until muscle memory takes over and the Olympic trials of which he dreams

feel as real as the gritty concrete edge of the pool.

It’s the early 1970s — the Vietnam War invades every young man’s American dream

and influences lifelong decisions early. For Kenn von Roenn, the ambitious Florida

State University (FSU) diver on the platform, an injury and a coincidence conspire

to take him from the diving pool to a very different place — a stained glass studio

where he works to pay surgery bills from the injury. “All this hit when I was 21

years old. Everything came into focus and all the pieces fit together for the first

part of my life at the beginning of my career,” Kenn says. Instead of a back-up plan

to attend law school, he created a new career — fusing glass art with architecture.

“I built 44 years on that very simple foundation.”

Appointed as executive director for FSU’s Master Craftsman Studio earlier this

year, Kenn von Roenn has embarked on a terrific opportunity. Leaving his studio

in Louisville is bittersweet, but his life and business partner, Ursula Vourvoulis,

encouraged him.

Kenn’s overarching artistic philosophy was formed during an era of political

protest, a time when many people questioned the status quo, including those

who felt excluded from the insider world of fine art. During the Vietnam anti-war

protests, the idea surfaced that art could not be owned, could not be resold, and

should not be a collectible commodity. The time was right to reframe the artistic

experience in terms of the individual viewer.

98


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Over the years, Kenn has made a profound

commitment to increasing art in public spaces, not

tucking installations away in sterile museums and

private collections. Working with FSU students is

a natural extension of this philosophy. “The most

fundamental aspect of what I do is really based on

the philosophy of art in built spaces, in community

spaces,” Kenn says. “As artists, we do things that go

far beyond ourselves and touch lives for many years

to come.”

1966. I inherited the painting and searched for several

years for its origin, finally uncovering that Stability,

1936, resides in a private collection in Germany.

And here’s the most interesting fact that links this

to Kenn’s studio — the original is painted on glass.

Naturally, I wish I could see it, but it’s tucked away

in someone’s home. I zealously agree with Kenn’s

aspirations for more public art installations. In fact, I

discovered I had often walked right past one of

his sculptures.

“In the art world of the 70s, art became more about

the few people in the world who controlled the value

of art. Public art is so completely different from that.

Its value is determined by what it means to people

and how it makes that environment more pleasant

and meaningful.”

As I pored over his website looking at hundreds of

photographs, I was surprised to find there’s one in

Nashville in front of the Davidson County Court

House. This is a place I’ve been frequently — not for

traffic tickets — for business development visits and

downtown music festivals on the plaza.

Art has played a stronger role in my life than I

realized — in just the terms Kenn describes. My father

dabbled in oils and acrylics, once laboriously copying

a Kandinsky he saw in the Guggenheim Museum in

At any rate, I vaguely remember the work, Citizen,

2010, created controversy because it was “modern.” I

read the description and realize for the first time the

translucent pointing man can be lit up at night by

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Glass is the most

phenomenal material

on the face of the

earth...It’s almost like

alchemy. It’s majestic.

passersby if they follow instructions at the sculpture’s

base. A crank turn causes LED lights inside the torso

to burn bright blue, like electric veins. A nod to Alan

Jackson’s neon lights on Broadway a few blocks

over, maybe? That’s pretty cool. But wait — I lived

in Nashville for more than 20 years and I just now

find out about this? And how? By moving to Atlanta,

traveling to Thomasville, then to Tallahassee, and

talking to a man who lived in Louisville.

Now that I understand how to turn on those lights,

trust me, next time I’m in Music City I’m planning to

crank it up. The lights on the statue of course. This is

exactly the type of interaction with art that’s Kenn’s

goal. “The value of public art is determined by how

people relate to it. You should not have to wait for

some authority to tell you it’s a great work of art,” he

says.

Kenn also directs FSU’s new public architectural

art program. Both programs aim to broaden public

understanding of art that works in tandem with

architecture. Now that I’ve gotten a feel for the fun

and whimsy he can create, I’d like to see more.

“Glass is the most phenomenal material on the face of

the earth. It’s made from the most common material

on earth, sand, through a very simple process of

heat. By combining two or three other materials, this

new material is created. It’s almost like alchemy. It’s

majestic,” he says.

The installation I most want to see weighs 550,000

pounds and is part of the structure of a high rise in

Charlotte, North Carolina, at Three Wells Fargo Center.

This fascinates me because of the size and because it

integrates completely with the structure.

In addition to joining the studio team at a nascent

time, as they make plans to build a new space that

will be six times larger than their current space,

Having worked with architects for five years, I can

only imagine the meetings they had during the design

document phase. The emphasis on collaboration

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innovator

requires a leader with just the right amount of ego

to guide the project forward and stay on schedule,

but not the kind of “starchitect” that rubs people the

wrong way. Kenn seems to have just the right blend

of confidence and leadership. It’s easy to imagine him

playing with his four grandchildren and letting them

go to his studio to play.

He becomes as enthusiastic as one of them as he

describes the Charlotte installation. “It’s a glass

sculpture integrated into the building. It rises 50 feet

on all four sides then drops 20 feet. The glass has a

kinetic quality that changes light as the sun changes

position in the sky, as the viewer moves around”.

“The glass sculpture is part of the fabric of the

building. If you took that away, the building would be

infinitely less. It’s the world’s largest glass sculpture

and it came in two months ahead of schedule and 20

percent below budget. This is something every client

wants to hear and valuable for students to learn early

in their careers as artists,” he says.

Master Craftsman Studio serves as a professional

atelier where work includes sculpture, statuary,

ornamental work, stained glass, cast stone, cast

metals, molding processes, advanced computer

technologies, and business processes.

When I first met with Sarah Coakley, the studio’s

event coordinator for the past five years, she sported

a necklace made from dark glass hearts held together

with silver chains. Her mission is part business, part

art — and she’s just as savvy about one as she is the

other. The center stone reads in bold white letters of

fused glass, “buy art.” Sarah is self-effacing about her

role in convincing Kenn to return to his alma mater in

a leadership role. “We’re going to be such a presence

in large-scale, local art,” she says. “Kenn is a perfect

match for us.”

When Sarah leads us to FSU’s historic Dodd Hall to

view modern stained glass seals honoring alumni,

her enthusiasm takes over. She points to new seals

recently installed in the middle of each cobalt blue

stained window, explaining how they incorporate

new glass art techniques. They’re popular for

commemorating historic moments. While we’re there,

she takes a call about a future installation, which

gives me a moment to ponder why cobalt blue always

resonates with me. It’s the incredible Marc Chagall

stained glass windows at the Art Institute of Chicago,

which I’ve enjoyed on a number of trips to the city.

Sarah and I return to her studio space where she tells

me how she came to be at the studio.

“I took a glass workshop, three days. I could see what I

was doing in painting could transfer to glass. You can

use powder to paint on glass — no more leaded lines

like in stained glass,” she says. “We had an iron pour

and I’m showing my friend Nancy what I’m doing in

the glass workshop and she grabs my elbow, looks

me in the eyes and says, ‘It’s like the mother ship has

called you home at last.’” Now it’s time to put what

she’s learned into action at a higher level and she’s

thrilled Kenn joined the studio.

A lot has changed since Kenn von Roenn practiced

dives. For one thing, the pool he remembers is gone.

But he’s still dreaming big dreams. And with his 44-

year track record of completing projects across the

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country, it’s a safe prediction that FSU will win big in

the long run. Kenn’s been explaining his vision for the

studio when I ask him to talk more about his early

career. He’s just told me the diving story and there’s

an instant connection for me between light reflected

in the water in the pool and light shining through

colored glass.

Water and glass. “They are both transparent, but also

liquid. Light passes through them and yet they also

have some characteristics of being a solid,” he says.

“Subconsciously maybe there was a connection. I

never thought about it that way before.” That’s the

way great collaborations work. Ideas fuel one another

as artists share their dreams. This time, not only

will clients win, many students will get a crack at

collaborating with a man who understands glass, light

and how to create beautiful art that merges

with architecture.

Master Craftsman Studio

905 West Gaines Street

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

craft.fsu.edu

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SCAD–Atlanta Concept team

LISTEN. COLLABORATE. CREATE.

For us, SCAD Atlanta photographers, designers and writers, art is everything. It is our tried and true form of

personal expression. It is our pathway to clarity, our mode of finding meaning, our chance to relate on the world

front. We can’t see ourselves being anything but the artists we aspire to be. We don’t want to either. That’s why

we sought a university that not only promotes art, but also champions the notion of making a good living from

art. SCAD offers the aggregate of professors, curriculum and unique experiences we need to be equipped for the

road ahead.

When collaborative projects like Thom come along, we see them as opportunities that echo all of the

great things we’ve discovered during our academic journey. We listen, share, visualize and create with the

understanding that our commitment to a job well-done, coupled with the chance to work with enthusiastic

partners, is big, beautiful and promising. After all, we’re doing what we love and we don’t see anything hard

about true love. Thom’s development was art in motion – combining the right elements to reach and inspire

hearts. All it took was a little elbow grease, countless emails, thousands of shots of photography, 20 pimento

cheese sandwiches, a handful of Skype sessions, a few edits, and some road trips to Thomasville.

We’re proud of what we’ve created together and we hope you see why.

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Contributing Artists

Clay Byars is a southern art kid

fascinated by technical mastery

and things that go vroom! During

the day he teaches branding and

the subtle powers of serifs, and in

the evenings likes to draw stick figures with glowsticks

in front of his camera. He posts his work at byarsclay.

wordpress.com.

Nikki Igbo is a freelance writer and

editor who is currently enrolled

in the MFA Writing program at

Savannah College of Art and

Design (SCAD). She serves as the

Opinions Editor for The Connector, SCAD’s weekly

online newspaper and SCAN, SCAD’s quarterly print

magazine. She is also an on-air personality at SCAD

Atlanta Radio. nikigbo.com

Jay Bowman is an Atlanta artist

who describes himself as “a writer

who uses a camera to tell stories”

which he has done for the last 10

years. Jay is presently on track to

earn a Masters of Fine Art in the Spring of 2014 from

Savannah College of Art and Design.

Having a long-standing desire

to become a professional

photographer, Abby Caroline Mims

obtained a degree in Commercial

Photography in 2006. After

beginning her entrepreneurial endeavor in the Atlanta

area, she returned to her roots in South Georgia.

Abby has a love for photographing architecture

and interiors as well as a passion for portraiture of

children and families. She believes small businesses

are the backbone to successful communities and

takes pride in promoting her commercial clients

through her photography. abbycaroline.com

Currently finishing his BFA in

Graphic Design at SCAD-Atlanta,

Trey Veal sees his choice to become

a designer as more of a lifestyle

than a career. He feels the need to

make sure every aspect of life is well designed and

functioning properly. Architecture holds a special

place in his heart and he hopes to eventually return to

SCAD and earn a second BFA in Interior Design. To see

his work or get in touch, visit treysveal.com.

Gabriel Hanway, a native of

Tallahassee, was given his first

camera at the age of 12. He

graduated from the University

of Georgia and the International

Center of Photography in New York City. He continued

his training by assisting London and New Yorkbased

celebrity photographer Jason Bell. Gabriel’s

photographic interests vary, but he has always been

fascinated with the unique landscape and culture of

North Florida and South Georgia. gabrielhanway.com

Catherine Westerfield is a recent

SCAD Atlanta graphic design

graduate. She was part of the SCAD

Concept Team and continued with

Thom as a freelance designer. She

is currently working as a graphic designer for an ad

agency in Columbus, Georgia. catwestdesign.com

Amber Grim is a recent SCAD

Atlanta graduate with a BFA in

Graphic Design. She has been

passionate about design from a

very young age, and continues to

follow that passion today as a freelance designer for

Cartoon Network in Atlanta, Georgia. ambergrim.com

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Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery

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