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ART BEAT: 'Of People and Places' shown in Snellville

It is the work of local artist Mikki Root Dillon

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Visual works created in several mediums by Mikki Root Dillon will be on display at Snellville City Hall through Dec. 31. (Special Photo)

Area visual artist Mikki Root Dillon has long been a gentle but prominent influence in Gwinnett’s art community. Her efforts for the St. Edward’s Episcopal Gallery have offered many artists an opportunity to find a venue, among the many other projects she embraces.

Currently, Dillon has a solo exhibition at Snellville’s City Hall which will continue through Dec. 31. Titled “Of People and Places,” the show includes many works that have been winners in juried art and photography exhibitions. Snellville City Hall is located at 2342 Oak Road in Snellville. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except holidays. There is no admission charge.

Landscapes, still life, figure and experimental paintings as well as digital photography make up the exhibition. Dillon has used pastel has her main medium, but there are also watercolor and mixed media works.

The artist’s first memory of creating art was at the age of 5 when she began making villages of people with clay, evolving into digging blue clay from riverbanks and attempting to “fire” them using bricks and pieces of wood. As a teen, she discovered sketching and pastels to capture places in Maine where her summers were spent.

“I always dearly loved the beauty of the summers in Maine,” Dillon said. The results have included her love for plein air painting which she has supported in Gwinnett. “Many of the paintings in this exhibition are plein air. This means they were painted on site, in the open air, complete with dogs, bugs and weather.”

Four paintings in the show were done from photographs.

“I used what I knew from being there, feeling the space, air and sound,” she said. “That’s what I love most — to participate in the actual surroundings while producing my reactions to it.”

Her creations often have stories. “The painting of the shrimp boat being painted is an example. The owner was part of the crew painting it, but it was his last labor of love as he was selling the boat. He couldn’t make a living at shrimping anymore. There’s a feeling of sadness in that early morning painting, knowing what was going to happen to the boat.”

Another painting with a message is titled “Would You Just Look at Her!” This work is of three peppers: one red, one orange, one yellow. The red and orange lean in toward one another while the yellow one is off to the side, alone.

“I made this composition to express my feelings about prejudice,” Dillon said. “The two peppers represent any of us in that we judge people by the color of their skin. Those two have red in their skins while the yellow one doesn’t. That’s why the title and the underlying meaning of the painting.”

Dillon has taught visual art at the Hudgens Center for the Arts, the J. Reid Gallery/School and has won numerous awards for her work. She is a signature member in the Pastel Society of America and a member of many other arts organizations. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mikki.dillon.

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