It’s not often that one finds a space as grand as the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in such an out of the way location. Watkinsville is a town, village really, twenty minutes south of Athens and an hour or so east of Atlanta. Founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit arts center, OCAF uses a historic 1902 kindergarten building and gym to house its exhibits, classes and workshops. Now funded only by individual and corporate donations, it has avoided the plight of so many non-profits relying on government funding and remains functioning and stable.
The Gallery Director Charles Warnock and Executive Director Joe Ruiz keep everything running smoothly with the help of Assistant Director Cindy Farley, along with healthy membership support.
The building offers high ceilings, huge arched windows, and a large exhibition space. Peeling stucco over exposed brick and creaky old wood floors add to the charm. My painting ‘Oak’ was kindly lent back to me after its acquisition into a private collection earlier this spring and I was able to exhibit in OCAF’s SouthWorks show, juried by Phaedra Siebert, Curator of Drawing at the Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock. The show ran from April 1 to May 7th.
I was unable to attend the opening, but picked up my painting yesterday and shot some photos. There is a YouTube clip featuring all eighty-nine pieces from sixty-nine artists, with a great Brubeck track – Strange Meadow Lark, that has always been one of my favorites to play.
Mr. Ruiz assures me that the October ‘Fall Wine Fest’ exhibit at Ashford Manor is not to be missed. Thirty-four local restaurants, seven wineries and one brewery will participate, and the event will include a silent auction of art. Here’s an overview from last year’s fest.
Some random photos of the mostly dismantled exhibit and the lovely garden area immediately behind the arts center.
Finally, what made the return trip even more worthwhile was discovering Washington Farms on the way home. I came back with a gallon of beautiful ripe strawberries. Not organic, but sweeter than shipping them from CA. The Chandler variety, raised beds, a little fungicide for the humid Georgia climate and row covers during the initial growing phase were tips I picked up from the manager at the stand. I hope by this fall, to have my own bed planted. Here’s a site I just happened on, with resources for growing and buying strawberry plants.