A Hub for the Arts

Franklin Square Gallery offers tremendous opportunities and community involvement STORY BY AMI BROWN

If you’ve ever walked through Franklin Square Park, I’m sure you could not help but notice the historic grand building overlooking the grounds. Some people think it’s a museum, well it does look like one. It’s not only majestic, steeped in rich history, and an iconic part of Southport, it’s also a vibrant center for the arts and community events.
If you haven’t already guessed, this Southport Magazine issue is really dedicated to the arts and our arts community. The Franklin Square Gallery has been the center of the media lately and I thought it was the perfect time to highlight all that this wonderful building hosts and allows the residents and visitors to experience. As a member of the Associated Artists of Southport, I hope I can enlighten the readers to a little about this wonderful group of people who come together to promote the arts and art education in our community. ASSOCIATED ARTISTS OF SOUTHPORT – who are they? The Associated Artists of Southport (AAS) is a not-for-profit 501(c3) organization formed in the 1970’s by a small group of local artists who were leased a city-owned building in Franklin Square Park to display their art & serve as the first and only art gallery in Southport. The organization has thrived since that time, ever increasing its membership now to over 140 members strong. With the many talented 2D (painting) and 3D (pottery) artists in Southport and the surrounding areas, the membership grows each year. We are 100% volunteers and survive through our members, not all of which are artists, but all of which support the arts. Patron Members are extremely important to AAS. While Southport takes care of the exterior of the building,
AAS is solely responsible for the upkeep of the interior – electrical, plumbing, painting, window and door replacement, and even the elevator we purchased and installed for the ease of our visitors. Quite a financial responsibility! Patron members have helped AAS tremendously to provide a gallery of affordable art and art classes, community events, workshops, lectures, and collaboration with like-minded organizations as well. General Members are the lifeline of our Gallery. General membership allows artists to participate in Gallery activities if they choose and enter their art in our annual shows for a reduced fee and commission without the need to be more active in AAS. Many go on to become full Exhibiting Members of AAS by going through Media Review process and orientation. Exhibiting Members are the heart and soul of the Gallery. These are full members who not only fill our Gallery with their wonderful art, but are also equal volunteer members in the day to day running of the Gallery. Every Exhibiting Member participates in at least two committees of their choice, attends at least two general meetings during the ten months we are open (March -mid-December), and works one half-day a month in the sales office at the Gallery seeing to the needs of the many customers who come to view our art. If you are interested in AAS patronage or membership, the AAS form can be
found on the website: www.franklinsquaregallery.com If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact by emailing Membership at nanbeck@ec.rr.com. The AAS organize several community and charity events throughout the year. We work in collaboration with BCC, The Quilters Association, local High Schools, Art in Bloom, and many other groups. Volunteers are always needed to help assist with these events. YES! WE SELL OUR ART All of the art on display in the gallery is for sale. The artists set their prices, and regularly bring in new pieces. Art sells, sometimes quickly. If you are in having a browse, and you see something you like – I encourage you to buy it quick, because someone else will surely like it too, and it just may not be there when you return. KIDS DAY IN THE PARK Art in the Park started back in the 1984, as a Brunswick County / Parks & Recreation event. It has now evolved and now the first Saturday in April the
AAS sponsors a Kids Day in the Park, that of course is Franklin Square Park. The artists set up tables and have arts, crafts, face painting, jewelry making and tons of fun stuff for kids to do. This event is great for kids of all ages. The artists hope that exposing kids to the arts in a fun environment – will make a lasting impression and spark the creativity of a future Picasso. All the children’s events are free. EMPTY BOWLS One of the many events that the AAS participate in, is the Empty Bowls charity fund raiser. Their tag line is “Eat the Soup, Keep the Bowl!” SAVE THE DATE! October 17, 2017 at Trinity United Methodist Church Once again, The Associated Arts of Southport in conjunction with Franklin Square Gallery will be hosting an EMPTY BOWL event. Our potters and painters have been working hard to creative unique beautiful soup bowls for this event. Our goal is 1200 bowls this year. Each purchase of a bowl will help stamp out hunger in our area. Recipient charities are Brunswick Family Assistance, The Interfaith Food Pantry and Matthews Ministry. Volunteers will serve freshly made soups from local restaurants while everyone has a great time listening to music and visiting with the artist and making new friends! Empty Bowls is a nationwide grassroots effort that began in Michigan about 20 years ago as a way for artists to help feed the hungry. Since then it has spread across the country and even into Canada. The goal is to raise money and awareness about hunger in our local communities. I personally have hand glazed and painted at least ten bowls, and cannot wait to see the beautiful bowls on display in October. Make sure to come early to get your favorite pick of a bowl. I saw some absolutely gorgeous bowls that the artists have created and anyone would be lucky to have one for only $20, (And you get soup too!) WORKSHOPS & CLASSES The Franklin Square Gallery holds weekly drawing and painting classes in the upstairs studio space. These are taught by local artists and are a fun way to learn a new skill, get valuable feedback or just hone your craft.
The Workshops are usually in the Spring and Summer and coincide with a juried art show. These events bring together artists from all the region, and I have to say this last Summer Show was definitely a stunner. ART LECTURES The AAS have recently began a series of Art Lectures. The first one sold out and was with rave reviews. Make sure to check the website for upcoming topics and get your tickets early. If you love art and want some insight into Masters of the past – this series is not to be missed. HISTORY The Historic Franklin Square building has worn many hats over the past 100 years. The book., “If These Walls Could Talk” by Joyce Grazetti, Patt Carney & Rebecca Pierre describes the evolution and transformation of this iconic building we all know and love. It even has personal accounts, lots of old photos and some great history re-lived through the eyes of the building. The book is available at the gallery for only $5 I put together a time line with some of the major points just to give you a taste of it’s rich history. WE’RE LOCAL. The member artists come from throughout southeastern North Car
olina, from Wilmington to Pinehurst, and even Myrtle Beach, bringing with them many different styles and techniques. WE’RE A NON-PROFIT COOPERATIVE. All the artists work together to run the gallery as 100% volunteers. The man who greets you at the door probably has his paintings on display in the next room. The woman at the cash register may have just finished setting up the most recent pottery show. We maintain this historic building, manage the finances, and join committees to landscape, run special shows, and write ads, because we are privileged to operate this unique venue. CHRISTMAS MARKET Around November artists bring in additional gift items and lots of new art for sale in the Holiday season. The gallery will be decorated and offer a huge selection, perfect for unique gifts and those hard to please relatives. You are guaranteed to find something for everyone in your family, from ornaments, to decorative small art, to calendars to jewelry – of course all hand made and unique. FIRST FRIDAYS If you’ve ever been out in Southport on a First Friday of the month, you may have noticed a bit of extra foot traffic, especially along Howe Street. That’s because several of the galleries host this monthly event. Form 5-7pm, the art galleries of Southport remain open and serve wine and nibbles so that working folk can come and hang out with the artists and enjoy gallery hopping. The participating galleries include: Franklin Square Gallery, Lantana’s Gallery and Fine Gifts, Ricky Evans Gallery, Silver Coast Winery and Art Gallery, and many other retailers stay open for casual shoppers as well. It’s a fun night to come out and view new exhibitions and art displays around town. SO MUCH MORE… The AAS is involved in so much more than I can describe in this short article. Like the Annual Wooden Boat Show Art Competition Exhibition, Art in Bloom, The Annual Quilters Exhibition, High School Shows… I could go on and on. I encourage to you become a member or sponsor so you too can keep up with all that is happening at Franklin Square Gallery and your arts community. The AAS is a wonderful group to join and / or support. Don’t just take my word for it, I asked for other members to contribute to this article and here’s what they had to say…

Rusty Hughes—one of the founding members since 1976, now an instructor at BCC at Lord St. “It was fun starting out.  There was no heat and no cooling.  We got down on our hands and knees and pulled up old carpet and we changed rooms around.  It was a small body, but we grew pretty fast.  It was a good springboard.” “One of the reasons we got the place was to help the community and I enjoyed doing that.  We started Art in The Park and it got to be quite an affair for some time. All the members participated and tried to get the kids to come out. My son and I did silk-screened T-shirts.” “It wasn’t long before we got the July National Show, the juried show. The Women’s Club actually started the show, but it got too big for them. We tried to make it national and even international. We had pieces from Hawaii and even England.”

Christie Jacks—member about two years, created the winning poster for the Wooden Boat Show last year, former art director for CBS Publishing Division, freelanced in graphic design, classes at the NY Botanical Gardens. “Even though I’ve been in the art field my whole life, I hadn’t really shown anything of my own except at small shows at Winding River.  When I came down here I wanted to learn to paint with water-based oils, and I found Mike Caiazza was teaching that.  He introduced me to the (FSG) gallery.” “I still do a lot of botanicals, and it has given me a place to show my work.  It’s always nice to meet other artists in the area.  When you are a member of the FSG you get information from all the other galleries and it connects you with the art scene.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP Since the AAS is a non-profit coop, all of these activities and community events are 100% run by volunteers, money is raised through the sale of artworks, donations, grants and sponsorships. If you would like to become a member, check out the website for more information: www.franklinsquaregallery.com or just drop in. You can become a sponsor without being an exhibiting member, and the AAS has just introduced a new program this year – Friends of the Gallery!  For as little as $20 per year, you can receive special event notifications, emails about classes, upcoming community events at the gallery and be part of a real community environment. Another great way to contribute to the gallery, is just come in, say hi and have a look at the wonderful art on display. Tell your friends about the gallery and when you are in the market for that next masterpiece, small gift or large centerpiece, support local artists  buy something unique, original created by local artisans and keep this art community alive for many years to come.



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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine