Staff Photo: John Bohn Artist John R. Duke shows a selection of his watercolor paintings, as the city of Snellville's first art exhibit of featured works by a local artist is held at City Hall. The opening reception was held Monday evening. This painting is titled "Winter Sunset II" depicting a scene viewed from Duke's front porch.
SNELLVILLE -- Mayor Kelly Kautz diligently worked to facilitate an art exhibition in Snellville's City Hall for the past two years and on Monday, all of her hard work paid off. She, along with City Council members and art jurors, hosted the first art exhibition featuring local Snellville artist John Duke.
"It all just came together," she said about the long process. "A couple times I've tried to get art jurors passed through council and they didn't approve them. Finally, I got them through.
"We knew we wanted John to be the first artist on display because he has always been supportive of the arts in Snellville."
Duke has been painting since he graduated from Atlanta College of Art in 1981 and has made a lifelong career out of it. Currently, he has owns his own shop in Snellville and teaches watercolor classes at Cobble Creek Studios.
Watercolors are his medium of choice for artwork because of the "way it flows with the light." He focuses on scenes from nature and Southern architecture, like decaying barns and tombs covered in moss.
"I like working with nature," he said. "I've started doing the barns and those type things because a lot of it is disappearing. Artwork from the past has history behind it. Hopefully, people can get a glimpse of the past from my paintings."
In the next few months, Duke won't be the only artist whose pieces will hang on the city's walls. Kautz has more than five other artists lined up, but not every Van Gogh can join the party. Kautz and local art jurors sift around for the perfect fit.
"We're not letting just anyone in," she said. "We have a lot of talented artists in the area and most people don't know that."
Kautz is taking applications for artists interested in the opportunity, including students.
"I'm thrilled for Snellville," Sally Corbett said, executive director of ArtWorks! Gwinnett. "This is a great first exhibition. The works look beautiful, the space looks great and kudos to them for making this move to put art on the walls of City Hall."
Duke's work will stay on display until June 30. People can view his pieces during the City Hall's open hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.