Rob Bailey: Moving ahead in the arts

Published 11:45 am Monday, June 26, 2017

Americus and Sumter County is brimming with artists and artisans. There are world-renowned painters and authors living in our community. If you were to wander into the Americus-Sumter County Arts Council (ASCAC) building you would see drawings, paintings, ceramic and glass pieces, and sculptures.
The ASCAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to forwarding arts within our town, county, and community. For years, we have held events at our building located at 326 W. Forsyth St. in Americus including Jazz Night and Arts in Rees Park both of which occur in the spring. Not only does the ASCAC provide a Summer Art Camp for young artists and a Teen Art Program (TAP) for teenage artists during the school year, it also offers classes in many different mediums for individuals. TAP and Summer Camp are free of charge.
Our fall line-up will include Pumpkin Carving and Empty Bowls. The pumpkin carving began with great success last year. All one need do is come to the ASCAC building, purchase a pumpkin, and begin decorating your pumpkin. All supplies are ready for your use. Some people enjoyed carving their pumpkin in a traditional manner, others (myself included) used a Dremel and added a bit more power to the activity. Still others painted their pumpkins.
Empty Bowls is a fundraiser benefitting both the ASCAC and Harvest of Hope Food Bank in cooperation with Little Brother’s Bistro & Café. With the purchase of a wonderful, hand-made ceramic bowl — created by GSW Professor Keaton Wynn, his students, and other volunteers, the purchaser receives a bowl of soup!
Additionally, the ASCAC would like for more members of the community to become involved with the organization as both active volunteers and board members. The ASCAC Board currently consists of 12 members from the community, over half of whom are educators or retired educators. As the current president, I am pleased to share the names of other members on our board. Our vice president is Yasmin Hasnain; our secretary is Cate Bailey; our treasurer is Jean Daniel. Anne Thomas and Keaton Wynn, who were both previous presidents of the board, currently also serve on the board. Lewis Porter, Brita Hobbs, Mark Laughlin, Kerstin Cherrbboneau, Justin Hodges, Phyllis Smith, and Sunni Zemblowski are board members as well. If you happen to know any of these board members say, “hello” and talk about the arts in Sumter County!
One does not need to be a painter or expert artist to be involved; one need merely have a desire to assist in promoting the arts. If you have an ability or desire to assist in writing grants you will be most welcome!
The ASCAC building, located across the street from Bird Dog BBQ and behind The 1800 Mexican Restaurant, has a unique architectural design. The arched roof and glass front provide an artistic space for creating and displaying art. If you have been to Jazz Night or stopped by the ASCAC building you are aware of at least two things. The first thing is the spaciousness, as the only walls present are for the bathroom. The curved lines of the structure are very entertaining. The second thing you may be aware of is the potential for the creation of a perfect studio.
The ASCAC is in the process of obtaining possession of the building and also giving the front a facelift. We would love to have the building provide a functional workspace for aspiring artists and art educators and provide an attractive venue for the display and promotion of art.
Gaining possession of the building the ASCAC is making 2017 a landmark year. The board would like to create a space the community finds attractive and desirable. While there have already been protracted conversations during board meetings regarding the renovation of the space, input from members and the community is needed. If one were to stop by and visit (the building is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays) they will no doubt enjoy the space and envision multiple ideas of how the space could be used.
There are no limits to what we can imagine for renovations. There are an unlimited number of grants for the arts. Please help promote arts in our community by visiting our website ( and e-mail your suggestions for renovations to We would like to create a building that advertises art in our community. All suggestions are welcome.
The current state of affairs in our nation is less than perfect concerning the arts. Art is offered in fewer places for our young students. The federal government has announced it will cut funding to various programs. It is the support of local individuals that will keep art and the arts alive. Personally, I am a musician. I cannot imagine life without music, nor can I imagine a film without a soundtrack or people singing happy birthday. My wife is a painter and what she can do with a brush is amazing. We all have areas of expression in the arts that are untapped or could use coaching, guidance, or simply promotion. The ASCAC exists to promote art, all types of art. Beyond drawing and painting, I have mentioned Jazz Night and Empty Bowls. Similarly, many of you may have seen or participated in glassblowing at the ASCAC building.
Last of all, you are invited to expand the ASCAC membership by joining at any point in time. You may join on the website or in person at the ASCAC building. As with all non-profit organizations, the power of our organization comes from our members.

Rob Bailey is ASCAC Board president.