THOM 11 | Fall / Winter 2018


Volume 6 | issue 2


Volume 6 | Issue 2

Fall/Winter 2018


Thomasville Center for the Arts


Michele Arwood


Haile McCollum

Managing Editor

Mindy Roberts


Account ExecutiveS

Jenny Dell

Joanne Thomas


Emmy Táncsics


Lindsey Strippoli


Abby Mims Faircloth

Gabriel Hanway

Sarah Kate

Leslie McKellar

Alicia Osborne

Katie Reeves

Johnston Roberts

Joseph Suarez

Daniel Shippey

Carrie Viohl



Stephanie Burt

Andrea Goto

Emilie Kefalas

William Lamb

Rob Rushin

600 E. Washington St., Thomasville, GA




Fall/Winter 2018



4 Juxtaposition

Stephanie Burt


10 Writing Her Story,

Rewriting History

Malvina Hoffman


16 Kindred Spirits

Red Hills Rover Rally


22 Small Ball, Trampled Grass

& Happy Motoring

Tactical Urbanism




86 Markets in The Luberon

A Summer in Provence


90 Happy Trails

Connecting Community


96 Making it in Thomasville

Blackwater Timber Company

102 Featured Artists

Cover photo by Abby Mims Faircloth

Letter From

the Editor

I can still feel it even though it’s a faint and

distant memory. Convinced my life would never

be the same if I didn’t set off on my first solo

adventure through the deep, dark, mysterious

woods in the backyard, I spent weeks making

my case for my mother. Then, my little bag

packed with provisions—books, Kool-Aid and

crackers—I was practically twisted inside out

with anticipation as I marched downstairs,

brave and determined. Shock ran through me

when I heard the big “NO,” followed by the heavy

finality of “Because I said so.” I may have been

just six years old, but I knew that my quest

that day could have led to the world’s next big

discovery—if only she had said yes!

When we are children we are infinitely curious

and creative people. Over time, by our own

doing and by that of those who care about us

the most, we lose touch with the innate and

necessary sense that drives the urge to discover.

We are told how to do things rather than being

encouraged to figure them out. Originality is

forfeited to the time on the clock. We’re taught

to play it safe, our choices are restricted and

true expression is prohibited. And our children,

the latest generation, are handed cell phones to

occupy them at the dinner table, and they miss

the details that surround them.

As we become adults, more-sophisticated

attitudes chip away at the already weakened

curiosity muscle: pride and the desire to be

perceived as the most knowledgeable; deciding

to be a realist, though we can be “real” from only

one perspective at a time; and wanting to be an

expert, but one who works off only their own


Our work at the Center for the Arts and through

THOM is about creating artistic experiences

that ignite curiosity and encourage people to

examine the world around them. We believe

that meaningful experiences can lead to

discovery, the solving of problems and the next

great artistic work. Can you imagine an entire


Start saying “yes” to things that at first may

conjure a reactive “no.” And above all, be curious!

community in which every person discovers

and explores their creativity? We can!

We hope you’ll delve into the pages of this

issue and find yourself learning more about

the people we’re featuring. Start saying “yes” to

things that at first may conjure a reactive “no.”

And above all, be curious!

P.S. My first solo quest wasn’t

a total bust. An equally

adventurous little sister

and Mom tagged along with

me. We didn’t stumble on

anything to change the

world with, but we sure

did discover the joy found

in simple, unscheduled,

unplanned fun.

Michele Arwood

Executive Director, Thomasville Center for the Arts



Juxta positio n

Written by

Stephanie Burt

Photographed by

Leslie McKellar

I discovered the word in grad school. When it comes to language,

I learned, the spaces between words are often where the meaning

can be found: in the pauses, the breaths, the this-word-afterthat-word.

My naive brain enjoyed pondering how, just by their

proximity, things changed other things, or at least affected those

spaces between. Nevertheless, I soon climbed down from my

precarious perch in the ivory tower and planted myself in the world

of consumer writing. I said goodbye to messy spaces between,

to “studies,” and hello to assignments and deadlines and bylines

and word counts. I found I could wrangle an assignment to write

on X and complete it in such a way that people paid me money.

Yay, me.

But now juxtaposition has come looking for me again and found

me in the work trenches. And before you say “Who cares?” know

that it has come looking for you, too. I write mostly other people’s

stories, through the subject of food and occasionally art and

sometimes music, but never the stock market. So you see, I am

in a bubble. And based on what I’m seeing, many of you are too.

Chances are this isn’t anything you don’t already suspect,

haven’t heard. We have personally curated worlds, and that’s

not necessarily bad; but it does stunt the idea of juxtaposition.

Allow me to use, well, me, to illustrate: I am interested in food;

I am interested in food people; I am interested in cooking and

restaurants, and how my food is grown and whether I want to eat



When it comes to language,

I learned, the spaces between

words are often where

the meaning can be found:

in the pauses, the breaths,

the this-word-after-that-word.

meat (I do) and how much if I do, and if I like

green peppers, and if I’ll order that thing on

the menu that I cannot pronounce, or eat

food from a stand on the street or from the

kitchen of the neighbor who brought me a

banana bread as a welcome-to-the-’hood

gift. If I stop there, it is just about food. But

hiding around the edges are lots of deeper

questions. Food is the beginning of the

conversation, not the conversation.

Going beyond the obvious slides me to

the edge of my bubble, and if I choose to

continue past that edge, to stare at that

question, juxtaposition begins to work its

magic. Suddenly, the everyday question

becomes 48-point type on the page instead of

10-point. And that’s uncomfortable. Because

48-point questions usually require that you

stare at them for a while and, in a way, have

them stare back at you.

What does it mean to eat meat? Or prejudge

the cleanliness of my neighbor’s kitchen?

Then juxtaposition really blossoms. It’s not

about connection or resolution as much as


it is about proximity, borders. It’s not

a hold-hands-across-the-world Coca-

Cola ad but a national border with lines

on maps and barbed wire atop fences.

Still, that proximity to another place,

or idea, changes the space between you

and it. Just ask El Paso, Texas; or any

art gallery director deciding which art

pieces to place next to each other; or

even you, when you have to speak in

a business meeting right after someone

who just aced their work presentation.

Juxtaposition is messy. It affects us,

“triggers” us, creates problems, says

things about us, says things about the

other person and, in general, resists

definition. That’s because it really is an

alchemic reaction in progress.

Food is just my thing, and I see it

as a form of communication. But

there are countless other forms of

communication, from visual art to

gardening to the aforementioned stock

market. And if we allow ourselves to

delve into that communication—just

pick a subject and dive in—we all

at some point get to questions that

are beyond the thing we are into,

questions that draw us to the edges

of our bubbles. The better we get at

communicating, the more effective we

are at it and the more we understand

it; and the more we then engage with it,

either as conscious observers (like me

with food or perhaps you with a favorite

work of art) or as makers. Either way,

the edge beckons.

Standing on the edge, staring across our

own personal borders, is uncomfortable.



Carrying the weight of

any question, whatever

it is, is harder the

longer you carry it, and

in a world where we

can get a resolution

through googling or

prejudging, or doubletapping

for a heart, that

uncomfortableness is

almost too much to bear,

something that seems

almost wrong.

There is a tool that can

ease the discomfort:

curiosity. Curiosity asks,

“What is that?” It says,

“What if?” And with a

smile at the corners of

its mouth, not a wrinkled

brow, continues, “Hmm,

would you look at that?”

It doesn’t judge the

discomfort but gives

you orthotic insoles

for standing for longer

periods while looking at

it. And while it doesn’t

push us further into

something, it keeps us

from running away,

ultimately, from people

who are trying to

communicate to us, keeps

us from running from ourselves.

It helps us stay and say “I am not sure how

I feel.”

I’m not certain the time is right for me to say,

Let’s cross the borders. I think that’s too big a

task for us right now and, frankly, a way

to dismiss the idea. We’re too wrapped up in

our notions of hygge and no dissenting opinions

and defining what art is and what is an

authentic cuisine and who has the copyrights



Curiosity asks,

“What is that?” It says,

“What if?”

And with a smile

at the corners of its mouth,

not a wrinkled brow, continues,

“Hmm, would you look at that?”

to which series of beats. And all those have

their place. They do. But juxtaposition is

beckoning, and when you get there, curiosity

will help you cope. What’s after that is

unknown, but most assuredly it is alchemy.


Writer, Reader, Traveler and sometimes Cook

@beehivesteph | @southernfork


“There was just no one to promote

Malvina, so within a generation

she’s forgotten.”

Written by

Andrea Goto

Photographed by

Abby Mims Faircloth

Additional photos

provided by

Didi Hoffman



her story,



Everyone has a story to tell—that idea that sits in the back of the head,

calling insistently. Not everyone answers the call; these stories can be

very hard to tell. But bravely doing so shapes what we know about

ourselves, about our history and about our place in the world.

It’s important work, being a storyteller.

Didi Hoffman didn’t know she had a story to tell. Not

at first, anyway. In 2008 Didi was living in Philadelphia,

where she worked in marketing. That year she met Charles

Hoffman III, whom she’d eventually marry. The first time

she visited Charles’ home, Didi was immediately enamored

with the magnificent bronze figures that surrounded her. As

a student of art and having a passion for design (she’s also an

interior designer), Didi was taken by the realistic forms, their

expressive faces, the sense that they were breathing despite

being entirely still.

“It was as if I was hit by a lightning bolt,” Didi says.



The Muse

The woman behind that lightning bolt was Charles’

great-aunt Malvina Hoffman, a notable artist and

writer in the first half of the 20th century. As a

teenager Hoffman studied under Gutzon Borglum,

the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. She then moved

to Paris and was a student of Auguste Rodin

from 1910 to 1914. In 1929 Hoffman was awarded

probably the largest commission (and highest

payment) in the history of bronze art to create

“The Hall of Man”: 104 sculptures depicting

“racial types” from around the world that

would be featured at the Chicago World’s Fair

in 1933 and become a permanent exhibit at

the Field Museum of Chicago.

On her death in 1966 at age 81, The New York Times

ran a front-page obituary celebrating Hoffman

as “one of the few women to reach first rank as a

sculptor.” Today her works are on display at the

Smithsonian, the New-York Historical Society and

the Art Institute of Chicago, among many others.

A Legacy Lost

“Who?” was Didi’s initial response to Charles

Hoffman’s story of his great-aunt and her

legacy. It was mine as well. How had I not

heard of this accomplished sculptor and

writer, who traveled around the world and

ran with the likes of Henri Matisse,

Gertrude Stein, Anna Pavlova and

William Faulkner?

Posthumously, Malvina Hoffman’s

legacy suffered a huge blow

when “The Hall of Man” ignited

controversy shortly after her

death. As the story goes, civil

rights activists took offense

at the biological notion of

race the exhibit suggested

and demanded that it be

taken down, which the Field

Museum did in 1969. But Didi

explains that Hoffman was hired

not as an ethnographer to depict

the “physical identifiers of race” but

rather to provide a sample of figures

to show humanity in its beautiful

variety. According to Didi’s research,

the Black Panthers and their affiliates

opposed only a hierarchical “Map

of Mankind” that accompanied

the exhibit and showed white

Europeans at the top and

aboriginal “primitives” at the



It’s important work,

being a storyteller.



“The map was clearly racist,” Didi Hoffman

acknowledges, “but the Field took the whole

exhibition down and put it in the basement for

the next 50 years.”

A Writer’s Journey

The story planted itself in Didi’s head and would

percolate there for years. She began

to read extensively and research

Malvina Hoffman’s life and career.

Didi discovered many intersections

between her and Hoffman’s lives

beyond the familial one. These

included the Thomasville plantation

on which Didi now lives, which

was designed by Abram Garfield, a

patron and neighbor of Hoffman;

and the sculptor’s bravery in

facing personal and professional

challenges, which gave Didi

strength while she was fighting

her own battle with cancer.

These intersections only strengthened Didi’s

resolve to tell Malvina Hoffman’s story in the most

authentic and accurate way possible—to tell

a story only a few have attempted to tell.

As Didi’s husband has said, “We’re together

because you were supposed to write this story.”

“Truth” is a slippery thing for biographers. The lens

through which we look at a subject inevitably

shapes the story we tell. Didi explains

that the other two books in print about

Malvina Hoffman are written from

an ethnographer’s point of view

and contain information “most of

which is incorrect.” Didi took the

perspective of an artist, intending

to breathe new life into a

legacy that had nearly been

extinguished by controversy.

“There has to be an archive of

the history of women’s art,” Didi



Didi took the perspective of an artist, intending to

breathe new life into a legacy that had nearly been

extinguished by controversy.

says. “There was just no one to promote Malvina,

so within a generation she’s forgotten.”

Didi was so consumed by Malvina Hoffman

that she felt compelled to write the

initial manuscript in the first person

(she later changed it to third person).

“She was my muse,” Didi says. “I do feel

like she was in my head and pushing me.”

Didi looked for publishers along the way but was

repeatedly told that “we already have too many

stories about women artists,” which raises the

question, When is a story about a celebrated

female artist who shattered the glass ceiling

at the turn of the last century considered one

“too many”?

It took Didi five years to complete Beautiful Bodies:

The Adventures of Malvina Hoffman, which she

self-published this past February. She continues

to lecture around the country about Hoffman’s

legacy, telling the sculptor’s story as often and

in as many ways as possible, bravely reshaping

what women and artists know about ourselves,

our history and our place in the world.

It’s important work, being a storyteller.

Beautiful Bodies: The Adventures

of Malvina Hoffman

by Didi Hoffman


Written by

William Lamb

Photographed by

Daniel Shippey


I have always had an affinity for older, “vintage” things that are simple

and made to last. The classics! So it was natural for me to find myself at

the first Red Hills Rover Rally, where I was surrounded by Land Rovers

and other vintage off-road vehicles that were built unpretentiously, well

before plastics and too much technology took over our lives. Apparently

one doesn’t even have to drive anymore and can let the car do that for

them. That’s not for me or other Rover fanatics. One has to not only

drive these vehicles but know how to drive them. Each has its own set

of the problems, nuisances and rituals that come with owning an older

truck. Each has its own story of ownership, repair and breaking down

on the side of the road that gives it life and, most important, gives it its

soul. Anyone can drive something new and take for granted that it will

always work, and there is beauty in that. Owning a classic vehicle, on

the other hand, is a partnership between you and the truck that can be




expensive and frustrating at times; but just as

with people, those are the things that bond you

together and bring you closer.

As for me, I have owned just about every

4x4 under the sun: Jeep CJ-7, Land Cruisers,

Troopers, Fords, International Scouts and now

my latest infatuation, Land Rovers. What they

lack in reliability they make up for in cool factor.

Sure they are finicky, but understanding their

temperaments and moods is what I find so

intriguing. As I write I have two Defender 110

diesels I have imported and restored to their

former glory. They are both right-hand drive,

which always makes it interesting when I stop

for fuel. It never fails that someone comes over

to take a look and tell me how great my truck

is and, in my mind, how cool I am. But I blow

it when I say goodbye and start to get in on the

left side to drive away. Trying to save myself

from looking totally stupid, I act as if I am

checking on something on the floorboard, but I

don’t think anyone buys it. Our son learned how

to drive stick on one of the Defenders; he’s the

only kid I know who drives a stick backwards

with his left hand. Impressive, I must say.

As I make my way through the Rally and

meet the other drivers, it becomes clear to me

that although we have different vehicles and

infatuations, we are kindred spirits and this is

a subculture all its own. Lined up and staged

in the fresh-cut pasture, we are anxious to get

started and meander down two-track lanes

through some of the most beautiful land one

will ever see. We caravan past old barns and

tenant houses, and it is as if we are in a time

capsule. Pairing these vintage vehicles and

this ancient land makes one feel nostalgic and

provides a sense of relief that a place like this

still exists.



As I make my way through the Rally and

meet the other drivers, it becomes clear to me

that although we have different vehicles and

infatuations, we are kindred spirits and

this is a subculture all its own.



Thomasville, Georgia, and the surrounding Red

Hills region is a small speck on the globe but a

very special part of the world. It’s a place where

you can still find dirt roads and the land is as it

has always been. The patrons of this countryside

go to great lengths to preserve the wild quail

habitat and the genteel lifestyle and traditions of

the past. The pageantry of hunting on horseback

and mule-drawn wagons, just as it was done

100 years ago, continues. I am always amazed at

how well all the moving parts involved in a hunt

(dogs, horses, tack, trailers, etc.) are seamlessly

managed. And we with our old trucks are not

much different from the handler with 30 dogs in

the kennel to train and nine horses in pasture to

maintain. It takes a lot of time, effort and, most

important, experience to keep them running well.

Pairing these vintage

vehicles and this ancient

land makes one feel

nostalgic and provides a

sense of relief that a place

like this still exists.

At the end of the ride, we find ourselves in the

shadow of a beautiful historic plantation home,

sipping Bloody Marys and mimosas on our

tailgates and discussing football, hunting and

who broke down. There is always one in the group

and no judgment passed. We’ve all broken down

at one time or the other; it’s just the way it is.

And if I’m going to break down, I can’t think of a

better place to do it than the red-clay dirt roads

and piney woods of Thomasville and the Red Hills

region, in my Rover.




The Red Hills Rover Rally officially kicks off the Plantation Wildlife

Arts Festival, held in mid-November every year to coincide with

the start of Thomasville’s quail season.





Written by

Rob Rushin

Photographed by

Gabe Hanway





Fans of baseball and basketball are familiar with the idea

of small ball, a strategy that relies on incremental gains.

In baseball this can mean working to get runners on base

and moving them via base hits or bunts. It is essentially

the opposite of the big-inning approach, in which you

hope for a few lucky big swings to save the day. Small ball

favors creativity, speed and agility. More often than not

it is a winning approach.

Tactical urbanism does not

require a huge investment

to begin.

Tactical urbanism, the small ball of urban development,

is rapidly gaining a foothold in a planning sector that

often favors big-inning-style developments, like megacomplexes,

sports arenas and casinos. Tactical urbanism

does not preclude plans for large developments; it does,

however, ask that communities apply practical, realworld

analysis before committing to larger investments.

Using this approach, communities create small proofof-concept

projects—generated at the grass roots, not as

top-down mandates—for assessing a plan’s chance of

success and public support before investing substantial


For an example of how tactical urbanism works, consider

this advice, variously attributed to Einstein and some

other eminent wise person. Asked where to place the

walking paths in a new university quad, Einstein (or

whoever) responded, “Do not build any now. Wait a year

and put them where the grass has been trampled down.”

The idea is that community use patterns—the wisdom

of the crowd—will be far more reliable than any central

planner’s bright idea.

Tactical urbanism can take many forms. A city might

close a street to assess whether a pedestrian-only or



“Do not build any now. Wait a year

and put them where the grass has been

trampled down.”

limited-traffic thoroughfare would make sense

there. An empty lot could host a food-truck

party to gauge interest in alternative dining

venues; local theater groups could mount

a pop-up performance in an underutilized

space. The possibilities are endless.

Jason King, an urban planner with Dover Kohl

& Partners, is a key player in developing the

Thomasville comprehensive plan and a strong

proponent of tactical urbanism. As a young

AP reporter, King found himself in Belfast,

Northern Ireland, at the height of that

region’s civil unrest. Belfast had banned all

automobile traffic from its downtown as a

security measure.


“Everybody thought downtown

Belfast could not survive if

they banned cars, but it turned

out that they actually thrived,”

King says. “It was an accidental

experiment in what we now

call tactical urbanism. I became

fascinated with urban planning.”

Tactical-urbanism tools have

paid off in Thomasville’s core

downtown. The Ritz Amphitheater

is one example of how tactical

experiments mature into

full-blown infrastructure projects.

For several years performances

and art fairs popped up in the park. Makeshift

stages and vendors’ stalls drew enthusiastic

crowds from Thomasville and the region. From

these humble D.I.Y. events, community leaders

recognized the viability of the permanent

facility that now serves as the cultural anchor

of Thomasville’s downtown.

But King envisions tactical urbanism

extending its effectiveness in Thomasville well

beyond the city’s urban core. He believes that

neighborhoods spiraling out from the town

center are ripe for these projects.

“It has to be organic and grassroots,”

King says. “Start with what you have and draw

on that, whether it is a restaurant, a park,

a store, whatever it is. Now create an event.

Close the street or bring in some BBQ trucks

or whatever, and bring people together around

something that says ‘This is our neighborhood,

and it is different from the others because

X, Y and Z.’”

Get people talking to each other, King says,

and things start to happen.

Devan Leavins of the Tallahassee–Leon

County Planning Department concurs.

“When tactical urbanism is initiated by

grassroots groups,” he says, “you tend

to see more positive impacts than just

the issue they are trying to highlight.

In short, they take ownership of their


Leavins describes an initiative in

Tallahassee’s Frenchtown neighborhood

where “several property owners decided

to paint their private driveways with

various patterns and colors to brighten

up their street. This led to an event

called Frenchtown Artwalk that happens

twice a month.”

Another Tallahassee enterprise saw

several cockeyed optimists band

together to purchase a long-abandoned

gas station on a down-at-the-heels street

corner south of the capitol complex.

The station was dilapidated, so old the


sign said Esso (Exxon replaced that logo in 1973),

and many thought they had taken leave of their


They cleaned up the service bay to let people mill

around, strung lights from generators and held

a few test events. Simple stuff: a party, a couple

of food trucks, a few cornhole games. They noted

what people liked and what fell flat.

Four years later Happy Motoring is a lively

watering hole at the booming intersection of

FAMU Way, Adams Street and the Cascades

pedestrian bridge. A new Catalina Café roasting

facility is in the works in a former print shop, and

an abandoned Coca-Cola plant is being renovated

to become the new home of Proof Brewing. The

Cascades Garden live-work-play development

is under construction just a block away.



The Shell Oyster Bar, Kosta’s

and the Bahn Thai restaurants will

remain, a reminder that the best

result of tactical urbanism is space for

longtime local residents and businesses

to thrive alongside new innovations.

Best of all, tactical urbanism does not

require a huge investment to begin.

“Give people a vision that showcases

the possibilities of a place,” King says.

“This could be temporary bike lanes

or street closings, a pop-up concert or

movable street trees. Even something

as simple as chalk drawings that

highlight possible boundaries or

wayfinding tools—it just shows people

things that are possible.”

It all comes down to highlighting

the inherent qualities that define

a community and helping people

discover what they can accomplish.

“The most effective aspects of the

grassroots projects are that they

build community,” Leavins says. “When

a neighborhood can organize and come

to an agreement on an improvement,

it becomes easier for local governments

to help make it permanent, because

there is shared vision.”

And once people start to visualize

the possible, imagining the impossible

starts to seem, well, inevitable.

Dover Kohl & Partners


"All the world's a stage"

- William Shakespeare

Thomasville's Best Kept Secret is in Tallahassee.



in THE


Written by

Stephanie Burt

Photographed by

Haile McCollum


This summer our creative director,

Haile McCollum, persuaded her family

to take a “vacation from their Rome

and Paris vacation” with a respite in the

Luberon region of Provence. McCollum

had visited there previously through

a Savannah College of Art and Design

alumni program, and she was aching

to get back and experience not only

the light and the tastes of the region

but its pace, of which its markets

are the metronome.




“Just for a minute at the markets

each day, a melon in a bag slung

over my shoulder, I would feel

as if I were local,” she says. “I’d

see vendors I began to recognize

who were always trying to get

us to try things.” Cooking is one

of McCollum’s favorite ways to

slow down, and she was inspired

creatively in markets such as

Lacoste and Saint-Rémy-de-

Provence. And she got to engage

with the fruits and meats and

cheese later in her family’s villa

kitchen. But to get to the finale

that was the meal, she first had

to live with a bit of discomfort,

navigating her purchases without

any command of French. “It’s

exactly those moments that I

find really push me creatively,”

McCollum says. We agree: Look

at what she captured with her

iPhone in all the glorious hues

of a summer in Provence.



Written by

Rob Rushin

Illustrated by

Haile McCollum


“I like walking because it is slow, and

I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works

at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then

modern life is moving faster than the speed

of thought or thoughtfulness.”

—Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Travelers to England are familiar with the

extensive network of walking trails that

crisscross the country. The motivated flâneur

can literally walk from one end of the island to

another. Long established in common law, the

right of everyone to use these trails, even across

privately held lands, was formalized in the

National Parks and Access to the Countryside

Act 1949. The freedom to walk from one place to

another is serious business in the British Isles.

The post-war, post-1949 United States has

privileged the automobile as the dominant

mode of moving from here to there. In many

flâneur, n.


wanderer, stroller,


introduced by

French poet

Charles Baudelaire

c. 1863



communities, walking even a short distance has

become nearly unthinkable. Fences, car traffic

and lack of sidewalks in many places mean you

can’t get there from here without a car. Anyway,

who has the time?

Fortunately, Thomasville is creating a downtown

cityscape that invites pedestrians. Walkability is

a key driver in the popularity of downtown

Thomasville for locals as well as visitors.

There is still a long way to go.

Much of Thomasville lacks

adequate pedestrian

options. But relief

is on the way. The

recently adopted

comprehensive plan,

Blueprint Thomasville:

2028, calls for a cohesive

network of trails that

link the city’s parks, with

a central trailhead at the

downtown amphitheater. The

plan also requires installing and

repairing sidewalks throughout

the community—sidewalks that

connect residents to the trails

as well as to neighborhood

retail, schools and parks—and

creating safe crosswalks at all


“Concurrent with the

development of the Thomasville

Community Trail, a project that is over

10 years in the making, is the creation of a

sidewalk master plan,” says Martha Reynolds,

Thomasville’s neighborhood planner. “The

Community Trail aims to connect Thomasville’s

parks, schools and employment centers and

to provide both a practical and a recreational

walking-biking facility around the downtown.

The sidewalk master plan [creates] criteria

to identify the areas with the most need for

sidewalks in order to prioritize and phase


The comprehensive plan is intended

to make Thomasville one of the

most walkable and physically

interconnected communities in

the Southeast. The title of one

section of the plan encapsulates

the goal: “Maximize Connectivity.”

Right about here, sceptics may fling

this magazine across the room in

disdain. “What possible benefit,”

they may harrumph, “could we

derive from spending money to help

a handful of aimless wanderers?”

For one answer, let’s consider the

ongoing development of Atlanta’s


For years Atlanta’s Ponce

de Leon Avenue corridor

was a scattershot

assortment of

bars, flophouses,

strip clubs and a

grocery store locals

called the Murder Kroger.

An abandoned railroad bed cut

through the area, a kudzu-choked

refuge for the area’s homeless and addicted, a

leafy sneak-away for transactions in the world’s

oldest profession. Businesses and homes that

backed up to the rail tracks were typically

enveloped in razor wire to deter trespass.



Let’s be honest: It is darned difficult to discover

something new when you wheel by it at 40 m.p.h.,

radio thrumming and windows

rolled tight.

In 1999, Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel

submitted a master’s thesis envisioning this

blighted area as the anchor of a 22-mile series

of trails encompassing Atlanta’s downtown.

In 2005 construction began on this rails-totrails

conversion. Now, with more than half

the expanded, 33-mile network complete,

the revitalization driven by this catalyst

infrastructure project has been remarkable.

Anchored by the Ponce City Market—itself part

of an imaginative reclaiming of what was once

the largest Sears store in the South—the fences

and razor wire are gone, and businesses that



once fortified themselves against intrusion

have opened storefronts facing the trail, giving

pedestrian customers easy access.

The BeltLine has emerged as an open-air art

gallery and a site for pop-up performances and

food trucks and carts. Events there range from

yoga and other fitness classes to history tours

to guided bike rides.

which brings new residents and visitors, which

drives retail, and round and round we go. Like

similar developments across America, from

the Georgia-to-Alabama Silver Comet Trail

to Manhattan’s High Line to San Antonio’s

River Walk, pedestrian- and bike-friendly

infrastructure has proven to be a turnaround

tool in a variety of urban, suburban and

rural settings.

All along the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine,

from the Old Fourth Ward to Inman Park,

through Poncey-Highlands to Piedmont Park,

scores of businesses and residential units

have appeared to make this one of the most

sought-after and vital neighborhoods in metro

Atlanta. In an area once known for empty

lots and abandoned houses, the Eastside Trail

development sparked demand for housing,

But it’s not just about dollars and sense.

Let’s be honest: It is darned difficult to discover

something new when you wheel by it at 40

m.p.h., radio thrumming and windows rolled

tight. The only time you meet a stranger while

you’re in your car is if you have an accident or

some other unpleasant encounter, like

road rage.



The flâneur, on foot or on a bike

or roller skates, escapes automobile

isolation and exists within

the community. Neighbors,

no longer obstacles to beating

the next light—the


as friends and


The flâneur, on foot or on a

bike or roller skates, escapes

automobile isolation and

exists within the community.

Neighbors, no longer obstacles

to beating the next light—

the competition—emerge

as friends and colleagues.

Flâneurs find enrichment

even as they enrich the lives

of others.

Hit the trail. Be a flâneur.

City of Thomasville

Comprehensive Plan


“We like to be involved. I don’t think

you can be successful in a community

like Thomasville if you’re not involved

in the community itself.”





Written by

Emilie Kefalas

Photographed by

Abby Mims Faircloth

What grows in a metropolis? The hyperawareness we lend

large metropolitan regions produces, too often, a selfmade

smoke screen. The allure of cities such as Atlanta,

New York and L.A. is in their ability to attract global talent

and project the illusion that talent will be nurtured there.

In contrast, lesser-known yet more breathable addresses

host an undeniable appeal: the opportunity to stand out.

Consider Thomasville. Slowly yet steadily across many

decades, small businesses put down roots here and

not only survived but shared their success with fellow

creatives and entrepreneurs. The industries thriving here

have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent.

By employing those qualities metaphorically and literally,

they have outstanding potential to create jobs.

Whether it’s in advertising, architecture, film and

television or even publishing, a little passion and elbow

grease get you further than meets the eye in Thomasville.

With this issue we introduce a series focusing on young

entrepreneurs and businesses both familiar and foreign

who have become notable Southern self-made industry

leaders, teams who took a chance on this town and have

subsequently established themselves and integrated

themselves in the local community.



It Begins with


Hull Krech knew he had something special

the moment Blackwater Timber was born

10 years ago. The company sprouted from

his passion for working with wood and an

opportunity he and business partner

Miles Watkins identified in their community’s

expanding entrepreneurial presence.

“You must find something you’re passionate

about,” he says, referring to the best attitude

for aspiring entrepreneurs to have. “Don’t

do it because it’s going to make you a bunch

of money. Do it because you’re passionate

about it. If you’re passionate, people will see

that. The money will come down the road,

but start with the passion.”

Specializing in procuring river-reclaimed

cypress and heart pine, Blackwater obtains

only the most old-growth grain patterns,

from trees strong enough to have weathered

a few hundred years’ worth of seasons.

In a fully equipped mill workshop, Krech,

Watkins and six other team members work

with more than 50 reclaimed- and newwood

species to masterfully design and

create custom flooring, paneling, beams and

millwork. Words do not do their work justice.

The images they post on Blackwater’s

website and social media show just a

fraction of their gorgeously crafted projects.

With a first name like Hull, Krech has

both a passion and a profession that seem

prophetic. Born and raised in Thomasville,

he swears by the support of his community,

who he says made it possible for him to start

“Anybody that knows

Blackwater knows the

passion all of us have

for our products and

for blowing away the

homeowner or end user

with it.”



his own business and help it grow exponentially

over a decade.

“As far as a home base, we wouldn’t want

to be anywhere else,” Krech says. “As a whole,

Thomasville has been a great place for us to

raise a family and start and run a business.

There is a lot of community support, and it’s just

a really neat town altogether.”

Wild About Wood

Seventeen years old and working to become

an Eagle Scout, Krech became enamored of the

craft and artistry of working with timber. To this

day he has a twinkle in his eye whenever the

conversation turns to trees.

“I’m a wood nut,” he says. “Anybody that knows

Blackwater knows the passion all of us have

for our products and for blowing away the

homeowner or end user with it.”

Krech’s decision to leave a full-time job to

start Blackwater was risky, he acknowledges,

especially for a man striving to be the best

husband and father he could be. So being

enthusiastic about wood added to his desire to

kick-start this little-business-that-could with

Miles Watkins.

“He [Watkins] came up with the name, and it ties

back to where we get our logs, where the cypress

comes from. It’s coming out of these black-water

creeks and rivers. When we started our business,

that was our primary product line.

“The thing I like the most about it,” Krech

continues, “is, you can take the ugliest, most

rotten, raggedy-looking log out of the bottom of

the river and put a saw into it, and when you



“It gives us a creative right to the project versus

what’s written down on a piece of paper,” he says.

“That’s my favorite thing: when I’m able to let the

juices flow and collaborate on a project instead of

just supplying material.”

open it up, it’s some of the most beautiful

wood you’ve ever seen. It just has so

much character and color. Usually, the

uglier the log, the prettier the wood’s

going to be.”

Krech’s favorite type of project is one in

which the homeowner and/or contractor

leans on him and his team to guide the

design and wood-selection processes.

“It gives us a creative right to the project

versus what’s written down on a piece of

paper,” he says. “That’s my favorite thing:

when I’m able to let the juices flow and

collaborate on a project instead of just

supplying material.”



“It’s Not All Hull”

Krech makes a point of showing the faces of his

team in his posts on Blackwater’s social media.

From Blackwater’s sharing its support of local T-ball

and football teams and Thomasville Boys and Girls

Club, to name a few, to its spotlighting a completed

project, anyone scrolling through the company’s

posts will immediately recognize that Blackwater

takes immense pride in the community that

embraced it from the beginning.

And Krech’s pride extends to his team. “Without

everyone doing their job, we wouldn’t be successful

in what we’re doing,” he says. “If at all possible

when you’re writing this, I want to make sure it

doesn’t sound like it’s ‘me, me, I, I.’ It’s a team


“Everybody has their own role. I don’t really have a

title. I guess you could say I’m a general manager.

It just takes everybody. I can sell all the wood in

the world, but it’s got to be able to be produced and

shipped out, and without the supportive staff we

have, nothing we do would be possible.”

He pauses, seeming to reflect, then concludes with

this: “We like to be involved. I don’t think you can

be successful in a community like Thomasville if

you’re not involved in the community itself.”


Custom Millwork & Lumber



EMILIE KEFALAS, originally from Decatur, Illinois, is a writer in Burbank,

California. She has contributed to South, Savannah Scene, Connect Savannah,

DoSavannah and ANNA magazines and the website, among others.

A proud alumna of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s writing program,

Emilie is on the external communications team at Disney Parks, Experiences, and

Consumer Products. On the side she freelances for South and THOM and runs her

baking blog, RandEm Recipes (

WILLIAM LAMB William Lamb is a self-taught artist and native of Tallahassee

and the Red Hills region. After leaving a 15-year career in finance, William, with

his wife, Margaret, created the lifestyle brand Wm. Lamb & Son, which sells

William’s artwork and designs, including unique clothing and home goods. When

he is not hunting or fishing or down at the coast with his family, you can find

him underneath the hood of whatever classic truck is in his garage. It’s anybody’s

guess what he will do next.

LESLIE RYANN MCKELLAR is a travel and editorial photographer in

Charleston, South Carolina. She’s a light packer, a heavy sleeper and a big

believer in letting things unfold organically.

KATIE REEVES is an award-winning graphic designer who founded ktcreative

six years ago and specializes in graphic design, printed collateral, marketing,

social media management and photography. She flexes her creative muscles

every day as a mom-preneur and mother of three. She is married to her

sweetheart, Mark, and lives in Tallahassee.

JOHNSTON ROBERTS believes that self-expression is a precursor to

happiness. He strives to make timeless, emotion-filled art that evokes thought

and inspires creativity. Drawing was his first form of self-expression and would

later lead him into music, videography, photography and design. Johnston

studies interior architecture and design at Florida State University in addition to

working as a photographer specializing in portraits, weddings and graduations.

JOSEPH SUAREZ picked up his first camera while deployed to the United Arab

Emirates and fell in love with traveling as well as the abundance of nature the

world has to offer. Later his focus shifted to the complexity of the human body

and to paying attention to the smaller things in life.


Illustrators, Photographers, Writers and Graphic Designers

Please contact: Thomasville Center for the Arts | (229) 226-0588 |



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