Brundidge bound by art, music and community

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Art and music are common threads that weave through a community and bind it together.

With that in mind, Chris Rich and his wife, Sara Dismukes, are planting seeds in an effort to grow the community through the arts.

Rich told Brundidge Rotarians Wednesday that their opportunity to sow seeds in Brundidge would not have been possible without Jimmy Hollis, who made his Main Street building available to them.

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Several times, Rich and Dismukes had entertained and then dismissed the idea of an art studio in Brundidge. However, it was not until Hollis mentioned the idea of an art cooperative that the idea stuck.

“Mr. Hollis’ idea was to provide a place where people could come together to make art,” Rich said. “Until we talked with him, we didn’t think it was possible. He made it possible.”

Rich and Dismukes own and operate studio 116 on Main Street in Brundidge. The studio promotes the concept of art+music+community.

The seeds are planted.

Studio 116 features visual artists from within a stone’s throw of Brundidge and others from the far reaches of the state and beyond.

Each month, studio 116 features musicians and spoken word artists who step on stage and put their talents on display. Studio 116 is all about participation.

“At our Open Mic event last week, I had never heard Larry McLeod’s words,” Rich said.  “I didn’t know how much of a poet he is. Now, I know how much he likes words.”

Rich said every few days McLeod comes in the studio and stands in front of a particular painting.

“Larry’s probably not going to ever buy that painting, but he draws inspiration from it and that will lead to new words that he will share with the community. That’s what studio 116 is all about. Art plus music plus community.”

Rich said it is exciting to be able to create and to be a part of a creative community.

“We want to help grow the community in the arts,” he said. “The reason that Sara and I are here is because Brundidge has a sense of community. The people here care about each other and they care about me. This community is an art deco treasure waiting to be unlocked.”

Rich said Brundidge is “bookended” by the art of the Godwin brothers, Larry and Ronald, with the metal rooster sculpture on the south side and the metal sculpture park on the north side.

“In the center of town, we have the WPA theater, Bella Zaire art gallery and murals that tell the story of Brundidge,” he said.

“Art is already here. It’s all over the place. We’ve got to point it out.”

Rich said he and his wife are excited to be a part of defining Brundidge in a different way.

“Brundidge can be seen as a cultural community,” he said. “We are not here to change that. Just to add to it.”