Grits were GREAT this Morning!

I promise you will NOT be overburdened with recipes from me, but I am compelled to share today’s grits. I cook for just two usually, so judge for yourself how much of the ingredients to use for your eaters…

Have on hand sausage, chicken stock, grits, a dab of butter, onion salt, cream cheese and pepper jack cheese.

Brown some sausage.

Cook the grits in chicken stock brought to a boil with a little bit of butter and onion salt. (If you have caraway seeds, go ahead and sprinkle some  in the chicken stock when you start heating it up. I didn’t do that, but I did eat my grits with seeded rye bread, and I’ll bet the seeds would be delish built into the grits.)

Mix in the sausage, some cream cheese (I use the one of the ounce packages you get at Sam’s Club in a big sack) and a sliver or two of pepper jack cheese.

Divide it into individual bowls. Allow a big portion for Elijah (someone who comes unexpectedly, seconds, or leftovers to put into your next roast vegetables).

The finest grits I’ve ever tasted are at breakfast chamber meetings in Monticello. Rachel Torrance, the Volunteer Coordinator in Jasper County, is renown for THE best grits, probably in the universe. But if you can’t have her grits, try some made with this set of ingredients. They aren’t bad!

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What’s With “Make the Arts Affordable”?

I haven’t been on my soapbox for a couple of days, but the more I think about this, the higher up it I climb… I recently got a notice from an arts organization (NOT in Georgia) calling artists to donate art works for a fund raiser for the group. The premise was new to me, so I was intrigued as I read the prospectus.

The organization has 200 8″ by 10″ stretched, numbered canvases. They are asking artists to come pick up one or more of the canvases and paint/make art on them; then return them, signed, to the organization. In the meantime, anyone who would like can come to the organization and buy numbers from 1 to 200. One number is $35; four numbers are $100.

The organization is proud to be able to “make the arts affordable” to everyone.. On a certain long weekend in a few months, all of the completed 8″ by 10″ numbered works will be hung in a public venue, with a closing reception to put the works into the numbered hands who purchased them.

Let’s lump over the part about how artists are very frequently asked to donate their work (most businesses nowadays are inundated for that sort of request, although artists seem to be on EVERY list) and think about this.

How can the art group believe an established, professional artist  and a lady who paints are contributing equally? From this seemingly “every piece of art is equal” mentality, I hear the art group saying something I paint is of the same value as something my artist friend Anne Jenkins or Margaret Warfield or R Sidney creates. And I’m loudly proclaiming IT IS NOT. If all four of us had contributed, my work’s number holder would go home without anything tangible to show for his/her money. And I believe that the works of Anne and Margaret and Ron should be priced accordingly. It is an insult to them to lump their work with mine.

I’m fortunate to have many friends on Facebook. I read how young professionals are out to eat, drinking fancy drinks, buying new shoes, and trying to keep up the rent, car and utilities payment. I get the impression that some of my friends want a pair of really cool shoes MORE than they want a piece of art for their great rooms. The question isn’t whether they perceive themselves as having the money; the question seems to be what they want MORE – shoes or art.

It’s past time to figure out what kind of art appeals to niche markets not buying traditional art products, then providing those products. My friends with the cool shoes have iPods full of songs they bought & downloaded from iTunes. They’re buying art… just not the same kind of art that has been on the market for years.

Three New East Georgia Arts Trails


…from the coast to the heartland, from shrimp to grits…

Three new self-guided driving arts trails have been created across the I-16 corridor between Dublin and Statesboro. You’ll recognize the stops along the driving tours by the dragonfly logo above.

Downloadable information is on the website www.artstrail.net

The River Roots Trail starts in Milledgeville and loops to its southernmost point, McRae, with I-16 bisecting it.

The Pinetree Pathway Trail begins in Dublin, travels thru Swainsboro, then loops from Twin City to I-16 just east of Statesboro.

The Rural Renaissance Trail‘s northernmost point is Louisville. At Wadley it loops through Wrightsville and Soperton to Vidalia/Lyons, then up through Swainsboro.

Dublin and Swainsboro seem to be in two Trails each.

Studios & galleries, museums, murals, classic collections, visitors centers and special events are represented in these driving tours. Go to the website, read about the stops along the routes, and take some time to explore East Georgia. Be sure to call ahead to each business to make sure they are opened.

SOME NOTES ON VIDALIA AND THE AGRITOURISM TRAIL:

When you get into Vidalia, onion country,  stop by the Visitor’s Center. They’ll be able to tell you if its onion harvest season; and where to go to see how the onions are processed, if it is.

And they will give you the scoop on what’s happening, then share a copy of their Agritourism Trail brochure with you. Douglas Gay’s Fishing Hole, horseback riding at Coleman Horse Farms, and the Yamassee Bicycle Trail are a few of the stops in Montgomery and Toombs counties.

I had a ball at Buckhorn Creek Ranch on a wagon tour of their exotic animal collection. I was lucky enough to be with  Aiden Harvill and his parents. That young boy thoroughly enjoyed feeding the animals and petting the giraffes.  His excitement infected us all.

Spend a night or two in Vidalia, so you’ll have some time to take a few tours and visit the Tumi outlet. Ask anybody in town, they’ll be able to show you where it is. Don’t miss the local eateries. And save room for a luscious dessert.

Tonia Marynell: Arts and Animal Advocate

Jonathan Jackson’s cover story in this month’s Sandersville Scene is a tribute to Tonia Marynell, a passionate voice for the arts and for animal rights.

I met Tonia Marynell via email a few years ago. She & I finally saw each other face to face in Augusta about a year & a half ago when she made a presentation about her equine art. And, since then, I’ve followed her on Facebook, and often via email. I have learned from Tonia that anything is possible if you want it enough.

Tonia lives deep in kaolin country. She’s leading a grassroots movement to persuade the Sandersville City Council and the Washington County Commission to transform the old school building into a cultural arts center. And she’s bringing resources together so that these leaders can see what other rural communities have done; and, the benefits they enjoy. Her next challenge is to persuade local businesses and other artists that they need to organize as partners to governmental agencies and explore the possibilities… art classes, theater performances, a satellite campus for a college, culinary expos, and special events…

Some of Tonia’s role models may well be the subject of a 2004 book – Buck’s Heroes – she illustrated. Buck’s Heroes tells the story of the dogs used by US military forces during the Vietnam war. They gave all they could so that their handlers and those for whom they served had the opportunity for better lives.

Nothing is Inevitable

Nothing is Inevitable. I heard it on FoxNews last Tuesday night. Those three words are powerful.

I’m not a football junkie, but I was with a big group watching a bigger screen TV when the New Orleans Saints played the Washington Redskins on December 6.  Anyone remember what happened?

The Saints were down THE ENTIRE GAME, til the last couple of minutes. They tied the game, went into overtime, and then won. When they got the ball with less than two minutes to go in regulation play, they came out on the field, determined and focused. Even I could tell something was about to happen. They knew Nothing is Inevitable.

Last Tuesday in Massachusetts, Scott Brown won a US Senate seat. He believed Nothing is Inevitable.

Maybe you and I should, too. After all, “We are the Heroes of Our Own Story”. (I didn’t make that up, either. It’s on a bracelet I wear often.) What will happen if we come out on the field determined and focused? I’ll bet we could work miracles.

Nonprofit Art Organizations Impact Georgia

Maria Saporta, in today’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, reports that “The arts are an integral part of the state’s economy”.  A study has been done of 380 arts organizations’ online survey replies. The net economic impact of programming is $387 million, with $18.6 million in tax revenue. (Georgia is one of only seven states that tax ticket sales at non-profit art center box offices.)

While I am certainly glad to hear the results of the online survey, I am disappointed that only 380 arts organizations responded. These organizations are from 70 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Response from less than 1/2 of Georgia’s counties is problematic.

For instance, if one considers that there are 500+ festivals annually in Georgia- and that many are hosted by arts organizations – we are lacking impact figures from at least 70 of these events. Exhibitions are not included in the festival count. Add at least 50 more events’ impact to that total.

It is vitally important that we talk, often and loudly, about the economic impact of the arts in Georgia, both from non-profit organizations and professional artists. But I believe that any assessment needs to be far more thorough than an online self-completed survey counting 380 arts organizations from only 70 counties. Our legislators, county commissioners, town councils, economic developers and tourism directors need more detailed information. While $387 million sounds significant, the true economic impact of the arts is much closer to billions of dollars. Let’s get a more thorough study underway and market a more accurate accounting of the economic impact of art to Georgia!

New Hotel on River Street in Savannah


The Grand Bohemian Hotel – Savannah

I was at a meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Savannah this morning when the conversation turned to oyster shells. One of two handsome men I was with mentioned that if I wanted to see oyster shell chandeliers, I should go next door to the Grand Bohemian Hotel and take a look at some.

My next appointment was an hour later, so I decided to detour to the Hotel. It is a new build, nine stories tall, facing both River and Bay Streets, with a balcony dining area almost 360 around the top floor. The artwork was NOT Georgia Made Georgia Grown, but oh, the possibilities!

Beautiful Kristen of event sales was kind enough to give me a tour of the 75-room boutique property, including three guest room types. Each had welcome bottles of wine (also not Georgia) for guests and oyster shell chandeliers and sconces. The bed, desk, chairs and cabinetry were quite eclectic and well chosen; well appointed bathrooms and picture windows framing excellent views of the River were impressive.

Richard Kessler, the owner of this hotel as well as the Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, grew up in Effingham County and attended Georgia Tech. He now lives in Orlando, where he has other properties. Another Bohemian Hotel will open in Atlanta in the near future.

When you are in Savannah, check the Hotel out. See what you think.