Carisma Gallery plans for a fall full of activity

Carisma Gallery on Buford's Main Street can boast about many things, like being nestled in between two of the best restaurants in Gwinnett. It's also well-loved by many - mostly female - visitors for its wonderful selection of unique jewelry, created "one-of-a-kind" by local artisans.

Over the past year, however, this eclectic gallery has broadened its horizons and produced a number of events that were warmly received by the public. This season will see a repeat of some of these events and an expansion of others.

Carisma has recently bowed to the demand by its clientele for more participation opportunities. Summer art classes for children were successful, and more classes have been scheduled for fall. Last year's inaugural Plein Air Festival was a huge hit, and it too will be repeated.

A new array of work by visual artists is on view in the Feature Gallery. Carisma also reached out last year to nonprofits by offering the facility for fundraisers, and this type of event is again planned.

First, the art classes. They begin the week of Sept. 10 and include creative opportunities for adults and children. Painting, drawing, jewelry design and construction will all be offered.

Well-known artists will be teaching: Maggie Mayer will instruct all levels of drawing, Elizabeth Stallings will teach oil painting, Katina Radwanski will offer acrylics classes and Shirley Shepherd will return with her watercolors offerings. Carisma jewelry artists Lisa Barth and Barbara McGuire offer weekly classes and workshops in jewelry making. Kids can learn from award-winning Gwinnett County art teacher Debi West at Crystal Collage at Carisma on alternate Saturday mornings.

The return of the Plein Air Festival is eagerly anticipated. This year's event will take place Sept. 21-23. Last year, more than 30 artists came to Buford to paint the town "en plein air." This technique of painting outdoors using natural light and quickly applying the paint or other media results in a very fresh and vivid result.

Many of last year's winners are returning, and the results will be announced this year at a special awards ceremony and reception at 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the gallery.

Carisma will then open its doors from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 4 to benefit Partnership Against Domestic Violence. The event will include a fashion show; advice on beauty, fitness and wellness; home decorating tips; art demonstrations; gourmet refreshments and drinks; a silent auction; and raffle and door prizes.

Artists now on display in the gallery include Ann and Victoria Jackson, a mother-daughter team whose work depicts coastal Georgia, Savannah and Tybee Island; Stone Mountain artist Elizabeth Stallings, whose art is inspired by New Orleans; David Wendell, who paints "boy toys" such as cars and boats; and glass artist Rodney Andrew, who creates beautiful glass cuff bracelets.

Carisma Gallery is located at 15 E. Main St. in Buford. For more information, call the gallery at 770-271-7501 or visit www.carismahome.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.