Firehouse Gallery shows amazing creativity of local artists

Published 3:39 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

very special art exhibit will open with a public reception on Thursday, January 17 at 6 p.m. in both galleries of the Firehouse Art Center.

The larger Harrell Gallery will feature the winter show of the Southwest Georgia Artists Guild, with refreshments catered by a local caterer.  The smaller gallery, known as the Kirbo Gallery, is a project of Director, Phyllis Lucas. It will display artistic work from persons whose names you may recognize, but not necessarily for their artistic nature.

Dr. Gordon Chason Miller is exhibiting some of his photography nature prints. One of his entries is a wild camelia painted by his mother, Cornelia Chason Miller. Dr. Miller practiced cardiology and internal medicine in Columbus, Georgia, from 1970 to 1993, and in Bainbridge from 1998 to 2015. He strives to display the evidence of God in the intricate beauty of nature, discerning that it could not be due to chance alone, and in personal salvages he has experienced.

Another is of the late Margaret Chalfant Hooten, born in Bainbridge in 1917. Her daughter Suzanne Mills has shared that her mother had a natural talent for drawing as a young girl. It was only after she joined Mary Cox’s art class in the early 70’s that she developed her own style in acrylics. Any classmates at that time thought of her as the delight of the class.

Suzi Bonifay, an educator retired from the Decatur County Schools, has dabbled in artistic endeavors most of her life. While teaching handicapped high school students

in Thomasville, she took on her first woodworking project—designing and creating a small table made from old rough-hewn mahogany boards. She found the wood in her grandmother’s garage. It had been used for the shipping crates when her family returned home from living in Nicaragua in the 1930s. That table is on display in her exhibit, which also includes samples of her photography and her special pen and ink drawings, many of which she has used for her own personal Christmas cards. Birds, flowers, nature and architecture are her frequent themes.

Suzi comes by her artistic interest honestly, as is obvious in the works of her mother, the late Rosemary Woodham Bonifay. A striking display of Rosemary’s work is in the three portraits of the three Bonifay women. In the center is a self-portrait, that is flanked on each side by the portraits she did of each daughter. Daughter Suzi describes her mother, who was also an educator, as an avid reader and lover of the arts. She lived by the adage, “you are never too old to learn something new,” and added drawing to her list of talents at the age of 69. She worked in pencil, watercolor and mixed media, with her favorite being pastels. There again, she favored animals and nature as subjects.

Moving to the Harrell Gallery, you will find an art show assembled by Firehouse Arts Center Director Mike Inlow and Art Instructor, Lynn Davis worthy of viewing.  Over 100 entries from 35 local and Southwest Georgia artists have explored different fields of artistic expression, including  photography, oils, acrylics, watercolors, wood and ceramic products, and mixed media. “There is a little bit of art for all in this show,” explains Inlow.

Here again, viewers will recognize the names of those who regularly exhibit in the shows, and will be able to get acquainted with some of the new exhibitors, including some residents of Cairo and Donalsonville, Tallahassee and Albany. One of the new artists to this community, Andrew Sabori, has entered some of his oils. He has gained national recognition for a traveling exhibit he has designed about the lost murals of Ellis Island. That display is scheduled to visit the Firehouse Arts Center in May.

Another new exhibitor is Jeff Byers, art teacher at Perry, Florida High School. He has  entered the only pottery in the show.

Some of the art work in the exhibit will be available for purchase and will be identified with a small card.