Visual artist featured in 'A Matter of Time Part II'

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Mikki Dillon has been a force for the visual arts in Gwinnett for the past 31 years.

From early efforts creating stained glass pieces for her home, to her current work as secretary with the Southeastern Pastel Society and at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross, Dillon has had an active role in our community's visual arts development.

An exhibition of Dillon's work is on view through May 21 in the Gallery at St. Edward's Episcopalian Church in Lawrenceville. Titled "A Matter of Time Part II," the collection of 20 pieces tells individual stories, tales of a specific time, a place, a memory or a wish. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission fee. The church is at 737 Moon Road.

The exhibition is a mixture of pastels, photography, watercolor and mixed media; each piece is a special memory for the artist. For example, one photograph is titled "The Pause that Refreshes." It is a remarkable image taken just outside St. Peter's in Vatican City, Rome.

"We had just finished touring the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's when I saw these three wonderful nuns standing there talking," Dillon said. "I didn't realize until I had printed the photo that one of the nuns was holding a liter bottle of Coca-Cola, hence the title."

A more poignant story is behind the double watercolor painting "Jane's Kimono Tapestry." Dillon was attending a class at the Atlanta Artists Center one Monday morning when the model failed to show up. Her group leader, Jane, donned a kimono and posed for the group.

"She had mentioned back problems for awhile," Dillon said. "Soon after this she found she had bone cancer. This painting is a cherished memory of her."

Another memory is behind "Mustard Glow." Dillon tells the story by saying, "This was painted from a photo and a memory of a stop on the trip back from Folly Beach and Charleston where a group spends a week of painting and photography every year. The field was filled with blooming mustard plants, and it was a gorgeous yellow. It just had to be painted, but we had to get back home — no time to unpack and paint at the stop."

Thankfully, the photograph served as inspiration.

Dillon has also been active in the plein air art movement locally, serving as the secretary for the Plein Air Painters of Georgia. Her plein air activities in Dillard, at the Hambridge Center for the Arts resulted in a piece called "Anselm's Last Autumn." Another work is "Mass in Motion," a photograph taken at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers during another plein air painting event.

"We were given the opportunity to paint there two years in a row," Dillon said. "The monks even posed for us, and we were allowed to work in the chapel, too. This image was taken from the balcony during a service, a long exposure capturing the motions of the monks during a part of the service. A print was given to the monks as a thank you for their hospitality."

Dillon is also a special friend to many young artists in our community. She has mentored a young student through the Boys and Girls Club for the past four years. The student is now working at the Center for Puppetry Arts. plein also mentors two other young ladies through St. Edwards. In an effort to improve her photographic skills, plein recently became a member of the Southeastern Photographic Society.

To enjoy more of Dillon's artwork, visit www.pleinairpaintersofgeorgia.com/mikkipapga.html. A

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