Celebrating Athens’ Art Community

Athens Area Arts Council turns 20 this year, and the organization is celebrating Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company!

The event is the first of its kind for this membership group, which curates community-based art projects, provides art-inspired education and helps establish fiscal sponsorships for local artists and art nonprofits.

“It’s a really awesome group of people that are all volunteers, and everything we do goes right back into the community,” said Jeanne Watley, the new Arts Council president. “The goal is to integrate artistic resources of the Athens area into our educational system, local economy and the community’s culture.”

The Arts Council birthday bash at Akademia features a stacked silent auction, opportunities to chat with artist members and, starting at 7, live music from local bands White Rabbit Collective and The Pierres. The event is also a percentage night — a portion of food and beverage proceeds collected from 5 to 11 p.m. will go back to the Arts Council.

“Everyone that we’ve talked to about this event has been so supportive of this event and that’s nice. We’re happy to hear that our whole idea of this event is to help each other out and give exposure to these businesses,” Watley said.

So far, the list of silent auction items includes donations from Ben’s Bikes, Color of Heat, The Very Good Puzzle Company, South Kitchen + Bar, Viva! Argentine Cuisine, Revival Yarns, photographer Frances Berry, 5 Points Yoga, Avid Bookshop, Shakti Power Yoga, Strength & Strike Fitness, FIVE Athens, Sangha Yoga Studio, Olive Basket, Canopy Studio, M30 Yoga, Verdae, Fitness @ Five, Marti’s at Midday, artist Tatiana Veneruso, Dynamite, JCG Apparel, R.E.M., Fleet Feet Sports, Rook & Pawn, Wuxtry Records, Tazikis, The Mayflower, Steel + Plank, Shiraz, The National, Pixel & Ink, KA Artist Shop, Treehouse Kid & Craft and Elite Pet Sitting.

“What a better way to invite the public [to] see what we do and stick around and have dinner, have some beer and get some cool stuff in the auction,” Watley said.

They hope to turn the birthday celebration into an annual event, and Watley said members are excited to see what the next 20 years hold.

“Our most recent project was the Art Deck-o Project,” Watley said. “We commissioned nine artists to do four-by-eight panels, big wooden panels, that are going to be hung in the Clayton Street parking garage on all the different levels. The idea of that is putting art in unexpected places, which I think is a really fun idea.”

Art Deck-o was a perfect project for this year, because it was early on in the group’s history that it first put art in the deck. The Arts Council also organized artists to paint water hydrants downtown, and regularly hosts an art exhibition and competition for schools.

“All the money we raise is going straight back into our projects. No one’s paid, everything stays in our organization and goes to make Athens a better place, in my humble opinion,” Watley said.

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