I forced my friend Melany to come along with me on my adventure to the opening of the art exhibit “For the Love of Athens County.” The exhibit’s grand opening housed 50 people, but, during our visit, we were the only ones in the gallery.
Getting to ARTS/West: Athens Community Gateway to the Arts wasn’t difficult, but it was out of the way, so I can imagine why the majority of students don’t venture that far down West State Street. I mean, I’m a junior here, and I had never even heard of the place.
After arriving to the building, we realized the front door is not always open. Following our creep around the building, we came to an unlocked door. Apparently, this is the one that students and community members are supposed to use on days with less traffic frequenting the center.
Walking through the door, we were met with three women sitting at desks in an office probably wondering what in the world we were doing there. It was a cold and rainy Monday when I told them we were there to see the art exhibit. Excitement suddenly appeared on their faces.
Walking into the large gallery room, I could immediately understand why they were so excited to have us there. We were, quite literally, the only people in the space. Spooky at first, it was a nice experience to see artwork that community members had so carefully chosen to showcase.
“For the Love of Athens County” is an annual art exhibit that features 19 photographers’ smartphone photographs of what they love about Athens. The photographers range from students to community members, young and old— the youngest is 12 years old.
The photographs are for sale, and include a quick snippet of what the photograph is about, or where it is located. We stumbled into some really beautiful images from places I’ve never heard of, such as the Moonville Tunnel. Adding these to my mental notepad, we meandered around.
Kelly Lawrence, the curator of the gallery, turned off the lights for us because she said it makes the photography stand out more. In the light coming from the hanging lights above, we appreciated the gallery in all of its small glory, enjoying our two person VIP gallery viewing.
“It makes me really sad that I didn’t even know this place existed,” Melany said, “I wish there was a better way to know about things going on like this.”
It’s really a shame more students don’t make it past North Court Street. Athens is full of secret gems, such as this center, that are just waiting to be discovered. This exhibit continues through the month of February, and has free admission. Take a look at what community members see in Athens, and consider submitting work for next year.