Photo Credit: Courtesy of AthFest Educates
(L-R) Todd Elihu, Broderick Flanigan, Catherine DeCocco and David Hale stand in front of the new mural, funded by a grant from AthFest Educates, at Burney Harris Lyons Middle School.
GRANTS ABOUND: Well-known artists Broderick Flanigan and David Hale have combined forces to paint Athens’ newest mural, a 600-square-foot design at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School. Organized by art teacher Catherine DeCocco and social studies teacher Todd Elihu, the mural was funded by a $4,557 grant awarded by AthFest Educates last fall. Through a cross-curricular program, 300 students researched and submitted design ideas inspired by the history of Meso-American and African migration, while another 150 students assisted directly in the physical process. Nearly 700 middle schoolers were able to watch each day as the mural unfolded across the cafeteria’s wall during the two-week process.
Weaving images, patterns, stories and other historical references, the mural contemplates how these two cultures came together over time. Additionally, portraits of Annie Burney, Samuel Harris and Charles Lyons—influential black educators in Athens prior to Brown v. Board of Education—provide a local context for learning about the Civil Rights Movement.
Flanigan and Hale are experienced mural artists, and both have used similar projects to engage local youth in the past. Flanigan guided students through painting murals at the East Athens Triangle Plaza and Hilsman Middle School, while Hale led children’s workshops and camps inspired by “BirdSong,” AthFest’s commemorative 20th-anniversary mural installed near the corner of Washington and Pulaski Streets. Unified through a palette of black, white, red and yellow, both of the artist’s styles are equally represented within the new mural. Flanigan excels in portraits, frequently drawing attention to the legacies of activists, while Hale’s work is immediately identifiable through its line work and reverence for the natural world.
AthFest Educates awarded a total of six grants during its most recent cycle. Eunice Kang was awarded $3,558 to purchase five new cellos for the orchestra students at Clarke Middle School, and Kristin Beasley was given $1,693 for a xylophone, glockenspiel and two metallophones to use during music classes at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary. Lori Ragsdale of Chase Street Elementary received $809 for a video camera that students can use to film their practices and performances in order to identify areas to further develop.
In addition to allocating funds towards non-consumable equipment, AthFest Educates supports music and arts programs and experiences. Lynn Sander-Bustle from the Lamar Dodd School of Art will use a $2,044 grant to develop a 10-week after-school program for 18 girls attending Clarke Middle, culminating in a public art tile-and-mirror mosaic this May. Steven King of Whit Davis Elementary will put $1,745 towards teaching science through puppetry; and first and fourth graders will write scripts and present elaborate shows illustrating plants, animals and ecosystems. With a $130 grant, Valerie Oxford from Fowler Drive Elementary will be able to take 43 ESOL students to Canopy Studios for a unique aerial arts class that will reinforce vocabulary by linking it to memorable physical activities.
Applications for the next grant cycle are available July 5 and due by Aug. 23. Individuals employed by, or partnering with, a nonprofit, the Clarke County School District or a local or state government agency are eligible to submit a proposal. Information can be found at athfesteducates.org/apply-for-art-education-grant.
PUBLIC ART: The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC) has submitted its final version of the Athens Public Art Master Plan to the Mayor and Commission, which will officially vote on Tuesday, Mar. 7. Developed by urban designer Todd Bressi, the plan is intended to serve as a road map for promoting the inclusion of public art in city-planning projects.
Major highlights of the plan include creating more artist-designed bus shelters, bike racks and murals, as well as establishing a downtown art walk and cultural trail. It’s hoped that these public art projects will bring together different segments of the community, all while beautifying the city, attracting tourism and increasing the visibility of and appreciation for local artists. The complete plan can be found at athensculturalaffairs.org.
MAKING MOVES: After over a decade of hosting some of the best DIY events and weirdest late nights in Athens, the Secret Squirrel on West Broad Street has officially left the building, but renovations are already underway to prepare for three creative endeavors moving in. The street-level floor will be the new home of print and design firm Pixel & Ink Studio, which has been most recently housed in the Bottleworks following its original location at the Chase Park warehouses. The building’s third floor will become Trio Contemporary Art Gallery, a new exhibition space spearheaded by Tatiana Veneruso, curator behind the digitally-based TV Gallery. Graciously, some of the Squirrel’s live music legacy will be carried on in the lower level, an event and performance space organized by multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Jim Wilson.
Pixel & Ink’s current services range from photo restoration and editing, web and graphic design, high-quality printing and fine-art reproduction, and co-owners Carolyn Crist and Laulea Taylor intend to expand into framing and mounting at their new, much larger space. Trio aspires to present challenging, innovative projects, and will be able to accommodate large-scale sculpture, site-specific installations, new media and performance art.
Pixel & Ink and Trio’s grand opening celebration will be held in May, once renovations are completed, and will feature an invitational group pop-up show. Trio’s first official exhibition, “Nasty Women Athens,” will benefit the Feminist Health Center, and an opening reception is scheduled for June 30. The gallery is currently seeking proposals from curators, artists and collectives, and ideas can be pitched to firstname.lastname@example.org.