Living Columns & Blogs

Homespun charm in Macon’s arts scene

The work of artist Joy Madden Raynor, of Bradenton, Florida, is on exhibit at Macon Arts Alliance.
The work of artist Joy Madden Raynor, of Bradenton, Florida, is on exhibit at Macon Arts Alliance. Special to The Telegraph

Last week, Juanita and David Winn, who live in North Carolina, visited her sister and brother-in-law, Leneta and Charles Moore, who live in Perry, but often make the short drive to take advantage of Macon’s night scene.

On Tuesday night, they had dinner with some Macon friends at Parish on Cherry where B. Keith Williams played rock ‘n’ roll favorites while David, a musician, regaled the group with their unforgettable experiences. They had toured the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House with Richard Brent, had dined at H&H Restaurant for lunch one day and had visited with Kirsten West at the gallery on Third Street where David purchased a few of Kirk West’s prints of some his idols in the music industry.

To hear his litany of things to do in a town some might take for granted was mind bending — Macon IS a destination city with something to satisfy a variety of tastes.

On First Friday, the streets were teeming with art patrons and with clutches of people taking advantage of sidewalk dining and visits with friends for TGIF. What is really unusual about this city is the hands-on approach of all the galleries. Where else can you interview the curator of the exhibit, ask the gallery owner questions and mingle with the artists while they give you their personal histories?

At Macon Arts Alliance, the August exhibition features “Stories of Personal Freedom,” the works of two artists — painter Micah Goguen and potter Joy Madden Raynor.

Goguen, a Macon native, teaches painting at St. Francis Episcopal Church’s art center and at other locations across the state while pursuing a master’s degree in art therapy. Raynor, a retired speech pathologist from Bradenton, Florida, was raised by parents and grandparents who were painters.

Goguen’s two-dimensional paintings and Raynor’s three-dimensional raku objects co-exist well and are expressions of their individual journeys to freedom from restraints in their pursuits. Goguen is influenced by a lifetime of adapting to problems with his eyesight; his colors are intense; his subjects are imbued with confidence and there is a triumphant swagger in the series of birds and in the faces of self-assured women.

Raynor has found her place as a potter, evidenced by the delicate detail in the fluttered pages of books, enhanced by the transfer of some of her photography to clay, facilitated by Polaroid emulsion lifts, with transfers and by liquid light application. Raynor says, “I am dazzled by the raku process, of pulling a fiery piece of pottery out of the kiln and placing it in sawdust to smoke and to activate the metallic glazes.”

Take advantage of this exhibition, which is on display through Aug. 27.

A nostalgic tour of Paris

At Travis Jean Gallery on First Friday, Jean Bragg invited Gilbert Lee to exhibit his one-of-a-kind photographs of Paris, taken in pre-digital days with his Leica camera. Digital photography may be the rage, but this series, without the sharp, high definition of today’s pictures, evokes romance and mystery and makes viewers want to update their passports and book the next transatlantic liner to Le Havre.

Lee’s photographs are very apropos in the gallery, which is full of antique furniture and accessories that Bragg, a professed Francophile, collects for her clients. Although Lee’s more recent photography is part of the exhibit, on display through the end of the month, what could be more perfect accessories than Lee’s images of the City of Lights?

A potpourri of talent

First Friday at the Ampersand [&] Guild was a good place to end the tour of galleries, for Gabriel Balmes, co-owner with wife, Becca Balmes, was busily filling orders for dinner, which you could enjoy while listening to some “old hippies” sing, play and read poetry on stage. Or, you could grab a sandwich and stroll the gallery, which included multi-media art by Michael Pierce, outstanding photography by Doug Nurnberger and popular paintings by Kodac Harrison.

Several other musicians, including Randy Wesson, Bobby Hall and Robbie Robertson were in the mix, taking turns entertaining the crowd. The angelic voice of Alexis Vear, guest vocalist from Atlanta, calmed the rowdy bunch, accompanied by her own guitar playing.

However, most of the musicians are as well known for their art and their writing as for their musicality. Harrison is the host of Java Monkey Speaks and the chairman of Poetry Atlanta. Local poet John Griffin, who coordinated the event, signed and sold copies of “After the Meltdown,” excerpts of which he read on stage when he wasn’t playing his drum.

Lisa Meyer and Jeff Payne were a few of the guests who were there to support old friends and meet the Chicago transplants who opened Ampersand and have embraced Macon’s homespun charm.

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or