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ART BEAT: Visual arts take center stage in Norcross and Suwanee

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Special Photo This painting of Bryce Canyons National Park is one of many up for bids during Kudzu Art Zone's annual "12 x 12 Xtravaganza."

Two continuous events celebrate the visual arts in Gwinnett throughout the month of September and beyond. Norcross' Kudzu Art Zone will be holding its third annual "12 x 12 Xtravaganza" from Sept. 7 through 29. On another side of the county, the "Suwanee SculpTour 2012" features 15 three-dimensional pieces of public art displayed throughout the city complete with a special podcast for walking tours. "Suwanee SculpTour 2012" will be on display until March.

The Kudzu Art Zone event is a fundraiser, special event and boost to the arts in Norcross. The event kicks off with an opening reception on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Kudzu Art Zone facility at 116 Carlyle St. in Norcross. During this party, Kudzu's member artists will display artwork of various media in a 12" x 12" format. The bidding begins at this event, with a $60 opening bid on each piece -- $10 increments allow patrons to purchase a piece of art. The exhibition and bidding continue through Sept. 29.

"The evening will be a festive social event, with wine and food and music," said Kudzu spokesperson Lucy Brady. "It is free and open to the public, and all who support the arts, collectors and those looking for a happily free social evening are encouraged to come and join the excitement -- at the end of the month you may just be a proud possessor of a new work of art."

Kudzu Art Zone also has many events, classes and workshops available. Visit www.kudzuartzone.org to find arts activities.

A little bit north of Norcross, residents of Suwanee find themselves treated to a diverse and dynamic display of public art with the "Suwanee SculpTour 2012."

Administered by Suwanee's Public Arts Commission, the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour features 15 sculptures created by 11 artists, representing Georgia and five other states. In order to get the maximum impact out of a walking tour of these pieces, Suwanee is providing an audio tour/podcast that visitors can download with a click on iTunes.

Starting at City Hall, the podcast offers sculpture-by-sculpture walking directions as well as insight from the participating sculptors.

The Gwinnett Convention & Visitors Bureau is providing funding support for the audio tour/podcast. Those wishing to download the podcast can search the iTunes store for "Suwanee Sculptour." It can also be accessed by visiting www.suwanee.com.

The audio tour is led by city of Suwanee's receptionist Annette Phelps and Councilmember Dick Goodman. The pair offers clear walking directions, information about each piece and gentle humor. Those interested in taking the walking tour would also benefit by picking up a Suwanee SculpTour brochure/map from City Hall or participating Town Center businesses. Maps are also downloadable at www.suwanee.com.

Each piece in the "Suwanee SculpTour 2012" is also online with information about the artist and a photograph of the piece. If visiting Suwanee in person isn't possible, go to www.suwanee.com/whatsnew.sculptour.php to explore this exhibition and vote for your favorite piece.

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