I was unaware of how many artists have studios in Chamblee. Being cloistered in my home for the past few years, I was determined to get out this year and visit some of the holiday open studios. I was shocked to find some of them have been here since the 80’s when I was looking for studio space outside my home. I cannot help but wonder if my art career would have been different if I was able to rent one of these studio spaces at that time.
Irvindale Studio at 2217 Irvindale Drive, Chamblee, Georgia houses several artists.
The residence artists that I spoke with were Alan Vaughn, abstract painter and floor cloth artist, Sally Edwards, a painter of wonderful clouds and bird nests and Evelyn Brett, also in residence there. Evelyn is a fantastic figure, portrait and landscape artist. Last, but not least, jewelry artist Regina Imbsweiler, whose jewelry I loved because of its boldness. The Holiday Show also had other residents and visiting artists exhibiting in the show which I did not get a chance to meet.
Next on my adventure were Dryads Dancing and the Above Ground Studios on Antique Row at 5655 Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, Georgia, which I missed a couple of times because of the weathered sign.
Finding the studios in the building was also a bit tricky as the stairway up to the studios is located behind one of the displays in Dryads Dancing’s showroom of wonderful Shabby Chic frames and crafts. One could not helped but be seduced by the clever things they have done with recycled wood and old architectural elements. They were offering a free brunch for their customers so it was a very festive and busy place.
Being the master of self-control, I managed to avoid the goodies on my quest to find the artist’s studios. Of course, I expected to find more treats upstairs and was not disappointed. At the top of the stairs, the door opens to the wonderful light filled studio of Clara Blalock. Her space is the largest and brightest, but you have to go through the front of her space to access the other ones. Excellent for exposure, but not very private. However, Clara said it was not a problem for her.
Clara Blalock is a friend of mine whom I met years ago when I went to the art happenings held at Tula on Bennett Street in Atlanta. Her studio at that time was located in a cluster of artist’s spaces in the building. Claire invited me to show my work in a one-woman show at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement. She and her friends did a wonderful job of handling and hosting the whole show. I will always be grateful for all of her and her friends’ generosity. She offered me another show after that, but my situation had changed and I was unable to accept her offer.
Clara’s work has evolved from expressive landscapes to very powerful, expressive, gestural abstracts. It was at the Atlanta College of Art in the 60's that Clara began her expressionist adventure. She spent several years playing with abstract then returned to her first love. She plans to study with Steven Aimone, an artist whom we both admire, at the end of January. Clara says her work now is totally from her years of painting and exploring. I love the energy and power of these paintings. I am looking forward to hearing all about that and how studying with Steven it will affect her work.
After our friendly chat catching up on times past, I toured the rest of the studios before the crowd downstairs found their way up to them and the Bloody Marys. There was an interesting variety of art and craft displayed throughout the building. I did not talk to the other artists as they were all so busy with their customers and I was happy taking in all the wonderful things on display. Unfortunately, my old smart phone was the only camera I had and it was not cooperating very well so my photo taking was limited. Next time I will be better prepared.
I am sure there are other studios hidden on the back roads of our little city that I have yet to discover. It is my understanding that Chamblee's new Arts Alliance hopes to have a gallery and also studio spaces in the future. It will be a wonderful addition to have a location, hopefully, for our local artists only, as the studios I visited the artists were not residents of Chamblee. The Alliance is having their first Christmas show and sale tomorrow night, December 12th, from at 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the Chamblee Chamber of Commerce building, 5382 Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, Georgia.