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Leila S. Case: Art, culture, music make memorable evening

Americus is a hidden treasure and thankfully people are finally discovering our rich history and culture, with homes and buildings featuring historical architectural design and most of all our crown jewels: the stately Windsor Hotel and 1921 restored Rylander Theatre on West Lamar Street – the two buildings that anchor the historic downtown district. And we have two top-notch schools of higher education – Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College and two national park sites within 10 miles of downtown.
How fortunate that tourism and visitation have increased. Kudos to those leading this effort from the newly resurrected Main Street program to tourism and all those in between, including the guys that keep our sidewalks and streets clean. Now, if more empty storefronts downtown could be filled we’d be perfect. But nothing is ever perfect.
We have many activities and opportunities here. So much to do it’s difficult to keep up and attend everything. At least it is for me.
There is, however, one monthly event I don’t like to miss. It’s the Calvary Episcopal Church book club.  We gather on a Sunday evening in time for a light supper with everyone bringing something yummy to share and then a review of the book we’re all reading led by someone smarter than me.
This past Sunday, book club attendees had a big surprise. Betty Levins, a parish member and prolific artist who resides at “the rivah” with her husband Buck Levins reviewed “A Paris Apartment,” the novel by Michelle Gable published in 2015. The book is fiction based on the true story of an antique-filled Parisian apartment that is opened for the first time in 70 years, the glamorous woman who once lived there and her important male admirers.
Betty went all out from giving a good book review to creating the unique table centerpiece and individual favors, impressionist oils on canvas of a street scene in Sarlat, a small French village the characters in the book visit. Betty said the subject idea derived from the descriptive words the author used to depict the village as a time capsule, perfectly medieval with yellow sandstone buildings.
Each of Betty’s charming paintings are alike yet different and given from the heart as a labor of love.
The evening’s preverbal icing on the cake was the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserable” sung by Julie Megginson, chairman of the GSW music department, and Calvary choir member. Victor Hugo, author of the novel by the same name, is mentioned often in “A Paris Apartment.”
Among those attending other than named above were Annie Hughes, Abbie Dillard, Carey Wooten, JoAnna Arnold, Elizabeth Kuipers, Sandy Sudduth, Jerry Crisp, Cindy Dudley, Sue Fitzgerald, Mary Ferrill, Mary Beth Rogers, Linda Kidd and Raye Holt.
Incidentally, Betty joins my husband Bruce and more than 20 other area artists who will exhibit their artwork at Calvary Episcopal’s second annual art show opening at 5 p.m. Thursday and again Friday.
See you there.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.