Out & About

BYAS: A creative lab for art

A little art secret is tucked away in north Macon at the very end of Riley Avenue: the Creative Alternative. That’s where you can participate in a studio class and fraternize with artisans, or just chat about the city’s arts scene.

The Creative Alternative is a collaborative cooperative for artists in training, who are taught by master teachers. It’s the brainchild of University of Georgia graduate Brooks Dantzler, also a K-12 gifted teacher, AP portfolio instructor and District 5 president of the Georgia Art Education Association.

Recently retired from Bibb County public schools, Dantzler is qualified to take a student from grade school through high school to a professional career. She started teaching art privately after moving back to Macon in 1976, then established her current business in 1979 because she wanted to enhance students’ academic education. At that time, the public schools had no strong, formal arts program.

“We started this cooperative with four artists and just wanted to provide a creative environment. We achieved that then and it continues today,” Dantzler said when asked about the early days of the studio.

Dantzler is excited about her location, which originally served as a meeting place for the Ingleside Community Club. The building was designed by award-winning Georgia architect Bernard Webb, who worked in the style of the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright.

Webb had established his firm in Macon in 1946 and was involved in many projects here and in surrounding counties. He played a big part in the development of downtown and commercial districts in this and other cities.

After Dantzler bought the property from the Middle Georgia Council for the Girl Scouts in 1985, the building was re-configured by Webb to make the specific revisions required by the cooperative.

During the years, the Creative Alternative has offered many educative programs, including a fine arts oriented pre-school offering music, art, dance and drama. These days, it holds studio classes during the school year and a studio day camp during the summer, which is ongoing through the end of this month.

“Our focus is on instruction in a medium with a guiding lesson and then we encourage the kids to take it further,” Dantzler said. “Our certified teachers provide classical instruction tied to the national standards for art, and instill the habits required for the creative process, all while working in a studio environment.”

Visit the Creative Alternative at 262 Riley Ave., or call 478-474-8457.

Contact Melanie Byas at melanie@retrowarehouse.com.