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Art Rocks Athens

Athens and the University of Georgia enjoy a world-renown that far outstrips the dimensions of the Northeast Georgia town itself or even a major American university. Why is that? How is it possible that this local symbiosis produces acknowledgement and acclaim from every corner on the globe? Artists ansd supporters have been unpacking this question in a series of arts shows that continues through July 26. There is a lot to unearth, perhaps learn from but at least recognize the lasting effects of Art Rocks Athens:

Athens, Georgia for its vibrant music scene. What is less known, however, is that fine artists from the period of 1975-85 influenced the music scene tremendously and vice versa. The exhibition "Between Rock and an Art Place" explores the connections between music and art in Athens from 1975-85, focusing on the impact the art students and professors at Lamar Dodd School of Art had on the scene. Join us for a glimpse of a time where boundaries blurred and then disappeared. See what transpired when hard work and discipline united with a ferocious, uncontrollable desire to make art. Sparks flew. Crayon, pencil, paint, fiber, metal and clay did their work. It all happened between Rock and an Art Place.

Paper Covers Rock:

Before the Internet, a group of people who wanted to communicate had to develop a system for getting the word out – especially when they wanted to invite half of Athens to a concert or a party. The most prevalent method was the flyer. It usually had some form of graphic: perhaps a quick sketch, a photo cut from a magazine, or a comic. Whatever the image, it had to be reproducible on a copy machine. Xerox copies on brightly colored paper covered the windows of record stores and other downtown locations, like Barnett’s Newsstand. Sometimes a flyer might say, “Pylon 10 p.m.” That would be enough information to get a hundred gyrating maniacs on the dance floor by 10:05.

As bands became more popular, they began to get recognition in the print media, which was then followed by record production. Athens painters and photographers made slightly more sophisticated posters and turned their talents to magazine spreads, album covers, and t-shirt designs. Scarcely before anyone could grasp what was happening, Athens music was being heard around the world, and those early silkscreen posters and 45 covers had become collectors’ items.

There is a richness to our local history that continues to stimulate, provoke, entertain, create and inform. Athens' artistic character is inseparable from the draw of the university, and many of the artists in these shows were Franklin students and/or graduates. We are all fortunate to be a part of this, to be able and willing to respond to the joy of expression in the way that this shows makes so clear. Great stuff. Check it out. Make it new again.

Image: SG Series, 6 x 18", gouache, 1980 by Sean Lee Bourne

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