Started in 1971 in an old barn, this network of artists and art enthusiasts met in various locations across the decades, including in members’ homes.
At times it looked as if there was hope for a permanent site, but nothing ever panned out for more than a few months. Now, after all those years of rootlessness, the search has come to a happy conclusion.
“The Roswell Fine Arts Alliance is finally taking a giant step forward with the opening of a permanent home in Roswell’s new Arts Center East,” said alliance member Larry Breeland.
City officials will cut the ribbon at 10 a.m. and the municipal facility at 9100 Fouts Road will open with a display of paintings by alliance members. This inaugural show, Celebrate!, has 47 paintings by 31 artists.
“Mickie Maddox, Don Cramer and Nancy Fairchild, all past presidents, were the primary drivers for our new home, which started in 2003 when Mickie was president, and they worked diligently with the city to find something that would work for both of us,” said immediate past president Jane Swift. “Nothing was available and it appeared to be a dead issue as I became president.”
That was in 2011. Swift re-opened discussions and after numerous conversations and meetings, the alliance was informed that the city was going to renovate the old home at East Roswell Park — most recently used as the Haunted House for Halloweens — and wanted the alliance to be the art association in residence.
A formal agreement with the city was signed in 2012 and after renovations, the arts group moved in two months ago.
The new 5,440-square-foot Arts Center includes an art gallery, culinary kitchen, art classrooms, clay studio/classroom and outdoor space.
Current alliance president Betty Walser said the group has gained 15 new members since announcing its move into the center.
“Having a home of our own gives us many new opportunities for growth of the organization,” she said. “Not only can RFAA show member art in the gallery, we can organize a variety of art shows for the community that would feature guest artists and other area art groups, with both juried and non-juried shows.”
Walser said the alliance was recently awarded a $3,000 grant from the Roswell Arts Commission, formerly the Cultural Arts Board, to grow the north Fulton high school art show it has sponsored for the last 27 years, she said.
The group can now afford to host classes or workshops for member artists that were previously cost-prohibitive, Walser added.
“We are planning new shows and regular gallery hours for visitors wishing to view and purchase art,” she added.
The alliance also has shows at supporting businesses in the community, such as the Bank of North Georgia, where the “Genesis” member-juried art show is open through Nov. 12. The bank is at the corner of Ga. Hwy 9 and Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell.
Swift, who is now alliance liaison to the city, said having a permanent home and working closely with many different groups within Roswell “is helping us to be a more cohesive group and to stretch beyond our comfort zone as artists, both personally and professionally.
“We hope to become ‘all things visual art’ in Roswell and surrounding areas,” she said.
“This credo fits in perfectly with the Roswell Arts Commission statement that ‘In Roswell…the Arts Matter.’”
For more information, go to www.rfaaa.org.