“Everything will be OK,” proclaims the big, bold sign on the old seed house at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Meadow Lane Road.
The simple mural was originally painted by local artist Jason Kofke at the Spruill homestead for the 2009 Emerging Artists exhibit. The message has since become a staple of the Spruill ideology, an arts organization which by all accounts is indeed doing just fine.
On August 8, the Spruill Gallery and Historic Home will open its doors from 1 to 4 p.m. for a party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Spruill Center for the Arts.
The exhibition, juried by Saskia Benjamin of ART PAPERS, features works made by students and faculty at the Spruill Center for the Arts. The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, glass, metalwork and encaustics, and reflects the variety of courses available at the center.
The Aug. 8 event will feature live music, art activities, chalk murals, food, beverages and 100 works by 71 artists on display.
The Spruill Gallery is located in a quaint Victorian building known as the Spruill Homeplace in Dunwoody. Originally built as a home for the Spruill family in the 1860s, the building has gone through its fair share of changes throughout the years. In 1993, the building was relocated to the prominent corner where it now sits and opened as an art gallery and gift shop.
Just over a mile down the road from the Gallery is the Spruill Center for the Arts. The center occupies one wing of the building which also houses the Dunwoody Library and Stage Door Players.
The long hallway of the center is lined with students’ artwork, and during the summer months, the walls are usually plastered with art by students in summer camp. Groups of energetic and chattering kids file down the hall between activities while adults work studiously in quiet classes in adjoining rooms.
Because classes are not accredited and the students don’t work toward any degrees, there are no final exams, there’s no pressure, and the students who participate have a genuine love for making art. Classes are offered at a variety of times during the week and throughout the weekend.
The center works with the gallery to put together an annual exhibition of works by students and faculty in the Spruill homestead.
Robert Kinsey, CEO of the Spruill Center for the Arts for nearly 12 years, has a deep affinity for the institution.
“The people who are here want to be here,” he said of the center’s students.
Kinsey himself has a fairly eclectic and varied taste in art. His office walls are covered in artwork, many of which he has purchased from students.
Though his background prior to working with the center was in the corporate world, art has been a large part of Kinsey’s life for many years. A client he knew who worked at IBM decided to change careers and open a gallery in Buckhead, an act that inspired Kinsey to begin collecting.
“I’ve grown to be a little bit of an art addict,” he laughed, glancing around his office and all the artwork on the walls.
It is not only Kinsey who has benefited from being among artists and artwork in his career. Clare Callahan, the marketing and PR coordinator for the center, has also found artistic inspiration at work.
“It’s a wonderful place to work,” Callahan gushed. “It’s a wonderful place to be.”
Since she started working at the center last year, she has stepped outside of her comfort zone and has taken a variety of art classes from calligraphy to glasswork. Callahan’s role has expanded to include social media, catalogues, promotions and most recently, a new website.
“Most people who know about us have heard about us from someone else,” she said, but in today’s world it’s also necessary to keep with the times and modern technology.
Events like the annual Student & Faculty Juried Exhibition in August provide another important avenue through which the Spruill Center and Gallery promote themselves and engage with the community.
Jennifer Price, director of the Spruill Gallery, expressed appreciation not only for the ability to work with so many local artists, but also for the opportunity to do so within the historic building. “It is a challenge to recreate the space for the gallery’s various exhibits and events but when done successfully, there is no environment more inspirational,” Price said.
Other yearly events include the Jewelry Market, Pottery & Art Sale, Ceramic Bowl Sale, Holiday Artist Market, in addition to a number of gallery exhibitions.
For more information on the Spruill Center for the Arts, the Spruill Gallery, and their upcoming events go online to their website at spruillarts.org.