Johnson Center exhibits open to packed house

Published 11:00 pm Monday, June 18, 2012

To say that there was a packed house at the Johnson Center for the Arts Saturday afternoon would be an understatement.

The reception for the “String Notes and Brush Strokes” and “Art of the State” exhibitions attracted more than 300 people to the Johnson Center to view the exhibits and enjoy the pickin’s of the Tennessee Firearms, a bluegrass band from Santa Rosa Beach.

Mack Gibson, chair of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center board of directors, said that, other than opening day at the Johnson Center, Saturday’s attendance was the largest for any opening event.

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���When I walked into the Johnson Center Saturday, I was blown away,” Gibson said. “There were 200 people or more that I didn’t know – from Atlanta, Chattanooga, Montgomery, Huntsville, Birmingham and, of course, from Andalusia, Margo Russell’s hometown. It was wonderful to have all of these people at the Johnson Center for this event.

“Margo (‘String Notes and Brush Strokes’ artist) has perfectly captured the spirit of bluegrass music and the Henderson Music Festival. Her paintings were so alive that you could almost hear the music. She took us back to our roots and to a tradition of 40 years or more right here in Pike County. It’s exciting.”

Morgan Drinkard, Johnson Center interim director, said she was pleased with the attendance and the way people embraced the pieces of both exhibits.

“We greatly appreciate KW Plastics’ support of the Johnson Center,” she said. “KW’s sponsorship made it possible for us to bring ‘String Notes and Brush Strokes’ to the arts center.”

Russell expressed appreciation to the museum for allowing her to show her work.

“I overwhelmed. I’m zinging,” she said. “I could not have been more flattered that the Johnson Center accepted my work. This is an exceptional gallery. It is well designed. I give it five stars.”

Russell said pickers at Henderson and other bluegrass festivals have “tolerated” her for years and enjoyed seeing themselves “hanging.”

“Members of the Old Truck Band really got a kick out of seeing themselves,” Russell said. “Of course, they have changed a bit since 1986. And, so has Henderson. The old schoolhouse is falling in. I’ve documented a lot of festivals, so this exhibit is like a documentary. Someone has suggested that, when the exhibition leaves the Johnson Center, it should travel to documentary museums. I would be for that.”

The “Art of the State” exhibition, in the lower level gallery of the Johnson Center, is also outstanding, Drinkard said.

“It’s a contemporary exhibition that features art professors from universities across the state and three of them are from Troy University,” she said. “Sara Dismukes attended the reception and was available to discuss her work. Seeing the high quality of the work these artists are doing is an indication of what they are instilling in their students.

“Both of these exhibits are outstanding and we are honored to bring them to the Johnson Center for the Arts. The exhibits will run through July 27. We invite everyone to visit the gallery from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission to the Johnson Center for the Arts is always free.”