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Need a break? Get away to the tranquil Gallery
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Magnificent works: The Olde Town Gallery and Studio showcases quality works of art made by local residents and offers art classes for those interested in honing their craft. High school senior Lyndsay Clegg, manager Andrea Brown and Director Coyle Justman oversee the gallery and it's many activities.
Walking into the old building with walls filled with magnificent artwork, in what used to be the D. Morgan Art Gallery, is a breath of fresh air to visitors of the Olde Town Gallery and Studio. Jazz music playing softly in a cozy setting and sunlight shining through its large glass windows bring more charm to the art than just the vibrant colors and strokes.

Go in for just a glass of wine or a cup of coffee in the afternoon and enjoy the brilliant art exhibited all across the gallery.

The Olde Town Gallery, which has been in operation since April of this year, is funded by the city and the county. Part of their funding also comes from the artwork they sell; 30 percent of the sales from the art goes to the gallery and the remaining percentage to the artist.

Coyle Justman, executive director of the Olde Town Gallery and Studio and former member of the Board of Directors of the Conyers-Rockdale Council of the Arts, said it all started with casual talk of how great it would be to have an art gallery in Olde Town. "It is our vision to communicate to the community how important art is to life," said Justman, who has been involved in art since the age of 3. Justman and Olde Town Gallery and Studio Manager Andrea Bowen are committed to getting the community involved with the Gallery and educated in art. The gallery offers classes in various types of art, from watercolor to pottery. A lot of the artwork is from the studio's instructors.

A staircase leads from the gallery on the main floor to a well-equipped studio upstairs, which houses a library of art books, a working area for artists filled with easels and pottery wheels, and even an "Imagination Room" for children to play while their parents take classes. This unique room has a chalk wall waiting for art and imagination to be poured onto it, as well as a magnetic wall for children to put their own poetic words together using alphabet magnets.

"When people walk in here, it's almost like walking into a sanctuary and people don't realize they can have it in their homes," said Justman. Community involvement is vital to the Olde Town Gallery and Studio's survival said Justman, and he wants the community to understand and become educated about art. "This is the community's gallery. We're never demanding. We're not like used car sales dealers who go after you," said Justman. A lot of the gallery's artwork which is now on sale is from visitors who just dropped by to ask some questions about their artwork. "To some people art is just too foreign, but we're here to help and educate," said Justman.

"If people go to art galleries in downtown Atlanta, they won't see this quality of work, and I go to those galleries often. Without exception, people who walked into the gallery were just wowed. And our art isn't expensive," said Justman.

The Gallery is open to accepting all art, and submissions are generally reviewed every Thursday, and they later go through a jury process to determine the technical aspect of the artwork as well as evaluate the artist. The Gallery also has a strong Student Coalition led by Lyndsay Clegg, a senior at Heritage High School. The Student Coalition also produces stories about the art work, A piece of art is chosen and a story or poem is written on it based on what the writer thinks the art is communicating. The next storytelling will be a Halloween dress-up event held on Friday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Justman is pleased with the direction of the Olde Town Galley and Studio but knows more involvement from the Rockdale community is needed. "Art enriches your life and I want to see more people from the Conyers community coming in here to see what they are missing out."