Art Beat: Arts partnership kicks off at festival

The beautiful, bustling burb of Suwanee has once again come forward to champion the arts in our area. The town is already being guided by a Public Arts Commission, which was founded 18 months ago to encourage developers to include public art in their building projects.

Now, everyone can participate in supporting Suwanee's public art efforts by joining the newly formed Suwanee Arts Partnership, which will debut at the Suwanee Day Festival on Saturday.

Dick Goodman, chairman of the Suwanee Public Arts Commission, explains the public participation concept.

"The Suwanee Public Arts Commission conceived the Suwanee Arts Partnership to be our outreach to the public," Goodman said. "So, while the Public Arts Commission is bringing art to the public, the Suwanee Arts Partnership, with its inventive fundraising activities and special events, such as its exciting booth at this year's Suwanee Day, is bringing the public to the arts."

The Suwanee Day Festival will showcase the partnership in exciting activities that are being hosted by volunteers of all ages. The partnership booth will be a dual event, with one side offering "crazy hair" for those who want to "wear their art." The other side will be showcasing local painters, photographers and potters in the form of an "art drawing."

Suwanee Arts Partnership co-chair Carrie Tankersley said, "Tickets will be sold at $2 each or 6 for $10, allowing patrons to choose which piece or pieces they wish to win and increasing their chances with more tickets."

The desire to have a unique artistic booth was paramount, and this is where the Collins Hill High School volunteers stepped in.

"We sought ways to reflect art in what seems like miniscule ways," Tankersley said. "For example, we collected coffee cans to use as ticket receptacles, but we didn't want a bunch of old coffee cans hanging around next to our artwork. So the Collins Hill High School Arts Honor Society volunteered to decorate each can, making them works of art as well."

The Collins Hill students have also made sets of hand-decorated thank- you cards to thank winners of each art piece.

"These teenagers are quickly becoming a valuable resource, and I am proud to see them reflected in a positive way," Tankersley said.

The Suwanee Arts Partnership already has 40 members, including people of all ages. They are not all "artists," but all hope that through their efforts, they will bring new works of art and encourage participation in the arts in their town.

Tankersley and co-chair Natalie Shore are happy to sign up any new volunteers for the Arts Partnership. Visiting the booth at Suwanee Day is one way to join. Also, anyone interested in joining can call Denise Brinson, Suwanee's economic and development director, at 770-945-8996 or e-mail her at denise@suwanee.com.

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