Leslie Hoops-Wallace is a volunteer gallery director for the Fine Arts Society of Middle Georgia, based in Houston County.
Q: How long has there been a Fine Arts Society of Middle Georgia?
A: Deanna Griffin began FAS in 2000. Others joined wanting an organization geared toward original art and handmade items. It was an outgrowth of the Warner Robins Art Association which no longer exists. We wanted FAS to be more of an outreach group.
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A: Our goal is to expose local young people and older people to art and the world of artists in many ways. We wanted them to know the process and fun of creating works of art. We really liked the idea of younger kids having a safe place to come draw, doodle, paint and communicate with each other and with artists who could guide them. We wanted young and old to look at art, discover how it affects them and how they can produce art themselves.
Q: How do you do that?
A: Exhibits and shows, meetings, classes, special events and by just being together informally and learning from one another. Now it’s centered around our gallery on Commercial Circle in Warner Robins.
Q: How long have you had a gallery?
A: We opened on Moody Road first then moved to Commercial Circle in late 2016. It’s a place where we can show our art — of course, artists like people to see what they’ve done — but it’s also a place to have classes, ongoing exhibits and special shows and just as important to us, it’s a community spot where people not only see art, learn how to create it but can also just gather comfortably, hang out and talk.
Q: How does that happen?
A: People just drop in spontaneously, but there are also more regular times like on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. we have sketching sessions. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, usually around noon, artists and others drop in to just sit around and chat. Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. we have art talk that was originally about art history but now is a discussion of all sorts of things of interest. We’ve got a little library and there are tables and classrooms and spaces kids can hang out and draw and be together. Let me say also that the gallery is available to rent for receptions and such, but there’s not a full kitchen. So all that happens here in addition to to our regular monthly meeting and events.
Q: When is your monthly meeting?
A: It’s at the Flint Energies building at Ga. 96 and Sutherlin Drive on the fourth Monday every month. It’s at 7p.m. and open to anyone.
Q: What are some of the events?
A: A couple of big things are our Annual Arts Alive on the Circle Festival on May 12 this year. It’s sort of in the middle of our big annual judged show for members. It’s on Commercial Circle, of course, and there’s art, food, live music and entertainment, vendors, an open car show and more going on. This month, in March every year, we have the Houston County Student Art Scholarship Show at The Galleria mall in Centerville. That will be March 14-21 with a reception March 18 from 2 to 3 p.m. Kindergarteners through fifth-graders show work and sixth through 12th grade students have judged work. Seniors compete for scholarships and the first place Jimmy Maine Visual Art Scholarship winner gets $1,000 toward further education. There are second and third places with amounts depending on how much money is raised.
Q: And you have classes?
A: We have classes at the gallery like advanced oil painting taught by Deanna Griffin. There’s still life and portraits, live portrait sketching — which we always need models for, clothed models only and you get sketches of yourself. There’s oil and acrylics, watercolor — that’s one of the things I teach — there’s abstract acrylic for adults and for kids and other classes that come along. Members do some offsite things like Lee Wettstein’s Prime Painters, a weekly watercolor class at the Warner Robins Senior Service Center.
Q: How many members do you have?
A: Over a hundred. Some participate heavily and some join to support our goals and artists and the arts. You can find membership fees and classes and events and other information on our website or by calling. We have a very talented artist community in Warner Robins and Middle Georgia and we’re aiming to make Middle Georgia just as much an art destination as Savannah or Atlanta. And we have participating artists here from places like Korea, Japan, Czechoslovakia and Ghana, so we really fit the International City idea.
Q: What are gallery hours and address — and viewing is free, right?
A: Free to view, meetings are free, there’s a charge for classes. We are a community gathering place so folks are welcome. There are other aspects like how Georgia Military College uses this as a resource for an art class where the instructor has students come find an artist, see their work then write about them. The FAS Art Gallery address is 149 S. Commercial Circle at the corner of Davis Drive and Watson Boulevard. Our number is 478-449-8240 and website is www.fasmidga.org.
Q: How long have you been involved?
A: I was with the Warner Robins Art Association and switched over to FAS in about 2003. I’m an artist and illustrator and a graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I came to Middle Georgia through my husband’s work with civil service. I’ve been gallery director since we were on Moody.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.