Itâ€™s time for Chatham Murrayâ€™s annual art open house in her very artistic home at 120 Barrow Street, just off Pulaski, this Saturday, Apr. 21 from 11 a.m. until darkâ€”rain or shine (or after by appointment). Chatham could be the poster child for the Athens art scene: trained (BFA and MFA) by Lamar Dodd and others at UGA, she scrambled as a sign painter and newspaper illustrator back in the day. All the while she worked on her painting and eventually hit upon these shows to try to raise money to pay the taxes on the few rental houses she has accumulated over the years through sweat equity. Chathamâ€™s paintings are accessibly representational and executed with an exquisite application of paint and an eye for the telling detail. (Hey, I didnâ€™t go to art school.)
Anyway, sheâ€™ll have a lot of paintings to seeâ€”perhaps to buy at reasonable pricesâ€”along with food treats, wine, mingling with friends and seeing how an artist turns her domicile into a living art gallery. See Chathamâ€™s paintings at www.chathammurray.com.
One of the absolute highlights of the busy spring season here is always the Garden Tour of the Piedmont Gardeners. The Tour is this Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and as usual you do it at your own pace, taking as long as you want at each stop or skipping a garden if youâ€™re in a hurry.
The great thing about the Piedmont Gardeners is that theyâ€™re people who enjoy getting their hands dirty. They understand gardens from the ground up, and they tend to choose yards for the tour that are real, working gardens that show you what you, too, could accomplish with a lot of love and backbreaking work. So, thereâ€™s a human scale to these places: you feel at home, even though they may make you feel like you should rush right back and transplant those nasturtiums to a sunnier spot.
The Gardeners have a surprise for us this year. Four of the five gardens are out in Oconee County, and the fifth is on the way. This is definitely a driving tourâ€”though theyâ€™re all close together once you get out there. Youâ€™re going to see some larger yardsâ€”country and in-townâ€”expansive, with vistas, trees, ponds, sculpture. Youâ€™ll see what people can accomplish when they have the space to spread out. This is Watkinsville and rural Oconee County, not the â€˜burbs.
Your tour booklet is your ticket, and it contains maps and descriptions of the gardens. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the tour. They are available at Coferâ€™s Home and Garden Showplace, Week-End Aâ€™Fair at Charmar, Thomas Orchard and Greenhouse, Always Always Flowers and any of the gardens on the day of the tour. For more information and some pictures, see www.piedmontgardeners.org.
Kittie Everitt The first stop is on the way to Oconee County, at 355 Greystone Terrace, off the south end of Timothy Road. Kittie specializes in conifers, and youâ€™ll want to, too, once you see what she has done with her little patch of woodland: Silver Smoke Arizona cypresses, twisted white pines, Dragonâ€™s Eye pine. Kittieâ€™s knack for growing things in pots (Japanese umbrella â€œpine,â€ for instance) may give you an idea or two, also.
Cindy Karp and John Morrison These two dedicated gardeners have turned their five acres into areas of emphasis punctuated by a pond, a pool, a waterfall, sculpture, birdhouses and lots of azaleas, tulips, mahonias and pieris. See it all at 1310 Pimlico Lane, out in Bishop.
Faye and Edward Chambers This is a wonderland of plantings, paths, pools and a large lakeâ€”a place to amble and take in the varying beds of pinks, â€œGeorgia Blue,â€ weeping Japanese maples, rhododendrons and roses at 1431 Union Church Road outside Watkinsville.
Susan and Brian Brodrick The Brodricks live in an old family home in the city of Watkinsville at 117 South Main Street. Their lot is shaded by stately pecans and oaks, interplanted with dogwoods, and an old hemlock brought from North Carolina by Susanâ€™s grandfather. A large old double willow oak will, as one visitor remarked, make you want to become a Druid.
Linda and Howard Abney Hereâ€™s another old Watkinsville house (1895) at 33 Harden Hill Road, with 100-year-old red oaks lining the drive. Native azaleas, Japanese maples, resurrection ferns, yellow flag iris, a pond, a gazebo: everything you need to luxuriate in a real Southern yard and garden.
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