Nearly one year ago Newnan welcomed the first artist-in-residence who would reside in the newly-renovated Gray Cottage, the construction having been completed on the downtown cottage mere days before.
“The Newnan Artist-in-Residence program provides artists and creative people of all types the essential time and place away from life’s pressures to develop professionally,” explained Hasco Craver, Newnan’s business development director and a board member of the program.
Peter Tudhope came to Newnan from Scotland on his first visit to the United States and lived in the Clark Street home for several weeks in order to explore the surrounding historic downtown and to offer his unique view to the local community.
“The studio awaits him,” Bette Hickman, a local artist on the board of the then newly established Artist-in-Residence program, said at the time. “We will learn a lot from him.”
Hickman noted in the early interview that visiting artists would publicly present their respective arts during the stay.
“We feel as a committee that we need to share the artists with the community,” she said.
Works by Tudhope focused primarily on the landscape of downtown Newnan, and the artist offered workshops, lectures and plein air painting opportunities to locals during his stay.
Credit for the idea of the Newnan Artist-in-Residence (Art Rez) program was given primarily to well-known local plein air painter, Millie Gosch. The artist recognized that travelling to practice one’s craft is a way to explore new surroundings and to “not be bothered by the daily grind.”
The Gray Cottage was originally built by longtime Coweta Clerk of Superior Court Wallace Gray. The home was renovated by local builder Henry Cole to include modern amenities such as a laundry room and an updated kitchen and bathroom. The house includes a single bedroom, living area and open studio space and is nestled just behind the McRitchie-Hollis Museum.
Within walking distance of the cottage is the University of West Georgia Newnan Campus. Director of the School of the Arts at the university system is Chad Davidson, also a member of the Art Rez board.
The university works in conjunction with the Art Rez program to choose and sponsor visiting artists who receive a stipend while residing in the cottage.
“In its inaugural year, the ArtRez program welcomed a renowned poet, muralist, painter, installation artist, screenwriter and actor to enhance their craft and share their ingenuity with our community,” said Craver.
The program continued successfully throughout the past year bringing a variety of talents to the local community, including screenwriter and actor Ben Taylor, artist Ken DeWaard, poet and author B.H. Fairchild, sculptor and installation artist Christina Cassano and most recently, muralist Mary Rose Freeman.
Freeman lived in the Gray Cottage for just over a month while completing a large, geometric mural which will remain on the outside wall of local bar and restaurant, The Alamo.
The Art Rez board and the supporting university system have committed to continuing the program, bringing several additional and inspiring artists to the local community.
“With numerous opportunities for program growth in the future, I envision the next twelve months being as successful as the first,” offered Craver. “An additional muralist, a composer, painter and many more will soon be artists-in-residence here in Newnan.”
For more information regarding Newnan’s Artist-in-Residence program, find Art Rez online at www.newnanartist.org. A newsletter is available through the program website, and upcoming artist announcements and events are available by following the program via Facebook.