Macon Arts Alliance aims to be more social with May exhibit

Macon, Ga. — The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance will hold a First Friday opening reception on May 3 for “The May Social,” an exhibit featuring artwork by members of the Middle Georgia Art Association and the Fine Arts Society of Middle Georgia. The reception will be from 5-8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

“The work in this exhibit is representational of the types of the work being produced in Central Georgia,” explained Heatherly Wakefield, director of fine art at Macon Arts Alliance. “Sometimes people perceive a competitiveness among arts organizations, but we are promoting the same thing… some of the same artists.”

Ever since the arts alliance was founded, part of its mission has been to foster collaboration and communication among arts groups. Quarterly meetings of more than 60 arts and cultural organizations, called the Arts Roundtable, are convened to share ideas and build community spirit. “The May Social” offers Macon Arts Alliance the opportunity to showcase two of Central Georgia’s fine arts groups and bring that spirit to life in a tangible way.

The Middle Georgia Art Association (MGAA) was established in 1967 by a small group of local artists. Membership was originally by invitation only, but today the group is open to the entire community, artist and non-artists alike. MGAA operates a gallery in Ingleside Village, displays work on the walls of Market City Café, and is the sponsor and organizer of the Mulberry Street Arts Festival.

Mae Thurston, president of MGAA, explains, “We want everyone in the community to work together and that’s our goal.” The collaborative spirit is shared by all the organizations participating in “The May Social.”

Martha Tisdale is a local artist and member of MGAA. She paints mostly in watercolor and acrylic, and her subject matter ranges from landscapes to animals. An avid traveller, she collects photographs and sketches from the places she visits. Back in her home studio, she scours her collection for subject matter and inspiration.

“My last trip in November was to Hawaii and that is where I saw those fish,” Tisdale explained, referring to a recent watercolor. “…I tried to look them up. I’m not sure what they were. But they were blue, the bluest blue. It just grabbed me and I thought ‘I’ve got to paint these.’”

The Fine Arts Society of Middle Georgia (FAS) is based in Houston County where they seek to bring the arts to the community. They achieve this goal by offering workshops and by conducting monthly meetings with guest speakers. FAS offers weekly sketching sessions for members and raises money for a local scholarship program. The prize is awarded to the Best of Show winner at a student art exhibit for Houston County middle and high school students at Galleria Mall each year.

Beth Smith is the vice president of the Fine Arts Society. Though she’s not academically trained, she has studied art history, which fostered a deep interest in Surrealism. She’s read the “Surrealist Manifesto” and books on the Surrealists like Dali and Magritte.

“I like to create art, other people can draw their own conclusions, get their own interpretations from it,” explains Smith. “I found in my previous exhibits that the Surrealism really has a powerful impact.”

Leslie Hoops-Wallace is a member of both the Fine Arts Society and the Middle Georgia Art Associations. She specializes in animals and landscapes and is a trained illustrator. She recently illustrated “Bullminia: The Courageous Bulldog.” In her spare time she teaches workshops on animal painting and watercolor.

“I always drew. I was adopted at 18 months old and I was drawing the first time my parents saw me,” she recalled. “I thought I’d be a veterinarian, but I was terrible at math. So I went into illustration instead.”

Collaboration and community spirit are the inspiration for “The May Social.” Learn more about these fantastic organizations and the artist who they all work to support by visiting The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance on May 3 from 5-8 p.m. Or stop by The Gallery during regular business hours: Monday­‑Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Macon Arts Alliance receives NEA grant to support arts journalism partnership with Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism

New program will embed arts journalists in community arts organizations

Macon, GA – National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that Macon Arts Alliance is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. Macon Arts Alliance is recommended for a $40,000 grant to support Art Matters: Engaging the Community through Embedded Arts Journalists. Additional funding for the project will come from a matching grant from Knight Arts, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.

Art Matters is an initiative designed to engage the community through high-quality arts journalism. The Macon Arts Alliance (MAA), in collaboration with Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ), will embed paid journalism interns in various arts organizations served by Macon Arts Alliance. These students will create news articles, blogs, video reports and more for local news outlets, the CCJ’s newsroom, and Macon Arts Alliance’s and other publications. The program will provide funding for an Art Critic in Residence at the CCJ and a series of public symposia that will pair different artists and critics to discuss the state of various art forms and criticism.

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.”

Michael Killoren, NEA’s director of local arts agencies and Challenge America said, “On behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts, I congratulate the Macon Arts Alliance on their NEA grant to support Art Matters. This collaboration between the Alliance, Mercer University, Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Telegraph exemplifies the kind of smart partnerships and innovative thinking necessary to advance the field of arts journalism and strengthen the arts. I look forward to learning more as the project progresses.”

“We are honored to be recommended for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support this program,” said Jan Beeland, executive director of Macon Arts Alliance. “Our selection among such a large pool of qualified applicants is a testament to the strength of the project.”

“Embedding journalists within arts organizations is a key component of the program. The ability to go beyond traditional arts criticism and tell the full story behind the productions and exhibits presented by local organizations allows us to foster greater appreciation for the hard work required to bring arts events to the community,” explained Jonathan Dye, director of communications at Macon Arts Alliance.

“We are very excited to participate in this innovative program with the Macon Arts Alliance,” said Tim Regan-Porter, director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism. “The arts are crucial component of Macon’s history and identity, as well as a vital part of economic development. This NEA grant will help arts organizations in the area improve their presence in the community, it will provide students with valuable experience in the field, and it will further enhance our regional reputation as a cultural center.”

“The arts play an important role in bringing us together to share our common history, culture and context,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight Foundation. “This grant will not only inform people and highlight the vibrant art offerings in Central Georgia, it will support a new generation of journalists as they come to appreciate the power of the arts in building a connected community.”

In August 2012, the NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for Art Works grants requesting more than $80 million in funding. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The 817 recommended NEA grants total $26.3 million and span 13 artistic disciplines and fields. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at

About Macon Arts Alliance
The mission of the Macon Arts Alliance is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. Macon Arts Alliance works to create an environment where arts and culture thrive and Central Georgia is recognized as an unparalleled cultural destination.

About the Center for Collaborative Journalism
The Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) is a unique partnership between Mercer University, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Peyton Anderson Foundation. The Center’s groundbreaking collaboration has students, faculty and veteran journalists working together in a joint newsroom. Learning in a “teaching hospital” model, students engage the community using the latest digital tools and leave with a strong portfolio of published work.


8th Annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibit and Sale to be held April 13-21

Macon Arts Alliance is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale April 13-21, 2012 in the Historic Round Building in Central City Park in downtown Macon. This year’s exhibit will feature 70 artists and over 6,000 pieces of handmade pottery.

Fired Works began as a local pottery show and has grown to become the largest exhibit of functional and sculptural pottery in the state of Georgia. This year’s nine-day exhibit and sale features special events such as Clay Workshops for Children and Teens, Clay in the Classroom, Cocktails and Clay, Pickin’ & Pottery, artist talks and more. A Special Preview Party will be held Friday, April 12. See and buy smoking-hot pottery while enjoying fresh-grilled sausages, kicked- up chili, gourmet toppings, a smores buffet, complimentary beer and wine with an outdoor concert from Sterling Waite and the Cotton Avenue Hustlers.

New to this year’s schedule is Clay in the Classroom, a workshop for teachers to explore new ways to integrate clay into their curriculum. It’s great for homeschool parents too. Also new this year is “Pickin’ and Pottery,” a fun and exciting concert featuring music by Nathan Garrett to be held on Friday, April 19 in Central City Park. There’s something for everyone at the 8th Annual Fired Works.

Visit to purchase tickets or more information.

About Macon Arts Alliance and Fired Works:
Fired Works is a program of the Macon Arts Alliance, whose mission is to create an environment where arts and culture thrives and central Georgia is recognized as an unparalleled cultural destination. This exhibit supports the artists and artisans that make Georgia and central Georgia a fun and creative place to live and visit.

New exhibit at Macon Arts Alliance features never-before-seen photographs of music icons

Albert Collins by Kirk West
Albert Collins by Kirk West

Macon, Ga. — Macon Arts Alliance will host a First Friday opening reception for its newest exhibit, “Kirk West’s Playlist” on March 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will showcase music photography by Kirk West, photographer and former tour manager for the Allman Brothers Band. For more than 25 years, West photographed musicians in the clubs of Chicago and on the road touring the country. After taking hundreds of photographs at an event, he’d sell two or three. The remaining images were put into storage and left for a later day.

In recent years, West began going through those old boxes of negatives. He spent countless hours scanning and cataloguing thousands of images that had never been seen by the public. From those many hours of work emerged a series of photographs featuring many of the legends of rock, pop, soul, and country.

Though he is best known for his work with the Allman Brothers Band, West photographed everyone from Bob Marley to Tom Waits, Waylon Jennings to Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash to Etta James. Looking through his collection is like taking at trip through time, to the concerts that spawned legendary careers. These are icons of modern music history, and the images created by West add new dimensions to the history of the music of the late twentieth century.

“Kirk West’s Playlist” will be on display March 1-30, 2013 at The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance, 486 First Street, Macon, Georgia. An opening reception will be held on First Friday, March 1 from 5-8 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

About Macon Arts Alliance
The mission of the Macon Arts Alliance is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. Since its founding as a non-profit in 1984, the Macon Arts Alliance has worked to support, promote and advocate for the $18 million arts and culture industry in Macon-Bibb County and throughout Central Georgia. The organization works to create an environment where arts and culture thrives and Central Georgia is recognized as an unparalleled cultural destination.