Studio 116 aims to be entertainment hot spot

Published 11:00 pm Monday, July 2, 2012

George Taylor and Madison Faile look at one of Taylor's artworks at Studio 116 in Brundidge, Ala., Saturday, June 30, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

In much the style of a barker at a carnival or a preacher at an old-time revival, Chris Rich encouraged the “faithful” to “leave this place and go tell your friends what you have seen and heard here tonight.”

Those who attended opening night at studio 116 in Brundidge Saturday night probably would have a hard time describing exactly what they saw and heard.

It wasn’t anything that one would expect in a small town in rural South Alabama. In Atlanta or Chicago, maybe, but not in Brundidge.

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A collage of wooden doors from yesteryear and lanterns reclaimed from an old store attic provided a perfect backdrop for the folk-rock musicians who took the stage in the dimly lit studio 116. It could have been Saturday night in “The Village” but it was the first of what Rich and his wife, Sara Dismukes, hope will be many Saturday nights in Brundidge.

Rich and Dismukes opened studio 116 with a flare Saturday by showcasing the art work of noted local artists and a demonstration by Bill Nichols, a master woodturner from the Wiregrass Woodturners Association, during the day and live music from the studio 116 stage that night.

“Around 200 people visited studio 116 on Saturday and we were very pleased with the crowd,” Dismukes said.

“It was great to see so many of our friends and to meet new people. It was a very good opening day.”

Rich and Dismukes have lived in Brundidge for several years. He is an associate professor in the theater department at Troy University and she is an associate professor in the art department.

They both love Brundidge and wanted to open a Main Street studio and provide art opportunities for the townspeople and those from surrounding areas.

“There is so much potential here and we wanted to do our part in bringing the fine arts to Brundidge,” Dismukes said. “Studio 116 will have something to offer all ages.”

Studio 116 is an art gallery that will feature the work of more than 20 area artists. The studio also features a staging area for live performances and offers workshops and kids camps.

For the month of July, studio 116 offers a collage workshop, kids’ art camps, Kids+1 for kids and moms or grandmoms and a woodturning workshop.

“On July 21, we’ll have an open mic which will be an evening sampler of the area’s talent,” Dismukes said.

“On July 27, we’ll have Date Night Drop-off for the little ones (ages six and up) while the grown-ups have fun elsewhere. We have a lot of activities and events planned and hope the community will join us in our efforts to provide these opportunities.”

Chuck Caraway, president of the Brundidge Business Association, spent most of Saturday and Saturday night at studio 116.

“Chris and Sara are providing us with a place for unique experiences in the arts and music,” Caraway said. “Studio 116 is also a great place for conversation and socialization.

The studio is good for the community and gives us something else to build on. Music and art bring so much to a community and we need something of interest to young people and studio 116 has that potential.”

Perry Brown, one of the musicians who performed at studio 116 Saturday night, agreed that the arts are very important to communities.

“The arts are important whether we realize it or not,” Brown said. “I’ve seen more than a few arts and culture venues open in Pike County and, sadly, most of them aren’t still around.

“When something like studio 116 comes along, we should embrace it. Where else in the area can you find a place that showcases art, offers workshops, artist working space and a family-friendly music venue? I’d have trouble naming one.”