It’s Hammering Time: Making Copper Bracelets

By Jessica Vedas, Marketing Intern

On November 19th , The 567 had its very first metal jewelry workshop. Michelle Foster, of Macon Beads, led the class in morphing a piece of copper sheeting into a stunning, unique bracelet. With a class size of about ten, each one of us were friendly and encouraging while Michelle explained the steps of making the cuff our own. We watched her demonstrate what needed to be done before setting off on our own.

The several steps in the process were interesting, and I had fun experimenting with a material I’d never used before. The first step involved bending our flat sheet of copper to create a crease that would become a central feature in the design we’d later be using. Next, we hammered the metal flat, and heated it with blow torches to alter the metal as well as release natural colors; around this time, we also added designs to the copper. One of the coolest (no pun intended!) things about this part of the process was the lava rocks on which everyone fired their copper. In case you hadn’t realized, lava rocks do not retain heat. It’s for this reason Michelle chose these special rocks to work with. After cooling, we went back to hammering, and then, if desired, tinting the bracelet.

jewelry workshop 2.jpg

My favorite part of the semi-intensive process was one of the last steps: shaping the bracelet to your wrist. With a nifty tool to bend the bracelets, Michelle showed us how to properly shape our works, and even how to file the shape. Each bracelet made was unique and looked nothing like the next person’s, but by the end of the experience we all had something special that fit comfortably on our wrists.

To see more of Michelle’s work, follow her on Facebook at Macon Beads.

My first Corks & Canvas experience

by Jessica Vedas, Marketing Intern

On October 20, I had the pleasure of attending my first paint and sip class at The 567 Center for Renewal. I’d done a few marketing things for the numerous classes before, but had no real knowledge of what I was promoting. Let me tell you: I was missing out!

For anyone living under a rock, Corks & Canvas is a paint and sip class in which people are led through recreating, and often personalizing, an artist’s (the instructor’s) original work. Generally, the classes offer 11 x 14 canvases for painters to work on, but last night there were several people who chose to work on a larger, 16 x 20 canvas.

The October 20th class started a little late—which I am thankful for because of my own punctuality issues—and after getting the materials dispersed to everyone, we began. Our instructor Beth Smith and teaching assistant Deonna Belcher officially began by introducing themselves and the work we would all be recreating. Both women were very friendly, between themselves as well as with the familiar faces at these events, and made me feel like I had known them forever. Our tables, which sat consistently four people, were open and joking amongst ourselves as we followed the advice of Deonna and Beth in getting our paints on correctly. Our class was sold out, so we were all pretty cozy with one another by the end of the night.

 My "masterpiece" in progress. Sometimes I had to look at my painting from a different angle.

My "masterpiece" in progress. Sometimes I had to look at my painting from a different angle.

Additionally, I want to note the lack of intimidation I felt throughout the experience. Cue the PSA: Artists, you can be pretty terrifying to people who are not artists. Being around a mixed-experience group of artists was encouraging. Although several “classmates” obviously had skill and were in attendance, there wasn’t any atmosphere of competition; I had a truly great time figuring out how to “work” my brush next to people who come out every week, or who were as inexperienced as me.

My Corks’ featured work was an autumnal color-schemed landscape emboldened by a large, bushy, colorful tree. The most prominent technique consisted of just building color on the canvas. Beth took us through establishing our background (a beautiful blue sky), our transitioning ground, and the horizon on which we built our tree (whose appearance and even quantity was painter-specific). Creating these features, it seems to me, was relaxing—almost a tutorial in brush strokes. The most fun, however, was planning and applying the tree’s foliage. Beth told us how, and we decided the rest using a combination of colors on the palette provided. Some of us more un-savvy learners also asked advice from Beth or Deonna about contrasting dark values with bright paint to make some beautiful treetops.

 Everyone with their beautiful finished paintings.

Everyone with their beautiful finished paintings.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at painting in a homey, safe space, I’d recommend Corks & Canvas. The relaxed, fun atmosphere is a great habitat for sprouting a new hobby. Check out the events page on The 567’s Facebook page, or check the calendar at www.the567center.org/art-classes to get started. 

The artists of "Studio 567"

by Jessica Vedas, Intern

In September, The 567 Center displayed “Studio 567,” an exhibit in which our instructors showcased their work. These artists have years of experience which is reflected in the artwork they chose to show. We would like to spotlight a few of these artists.

 "& Glow, Glow, Melt, & Flow" by Casie Trace

"& Glow, Glow, Melt, & Flow" by Casie Trace

Casie Trace is a well-practiced artist of Central Georgia. She is a published illustrator, teaches numerous art classes at the 567, and freelances whenever time permits. She received her BA from Georgia College and State University and has since had two solo art shows. With a general preference for drawing, Trace admits she likes “experimenting with ways to incorporate painting in [her] drawings.” She also notes how her preferences differ as task requirements differ; Trace almost exclusively prefers digital art when illustrating, but likes to go the more traditional route for everything else.

“& Glow, Glow, Melt, & Flow,” one of her pieces currently on display, is a mixed media piece that integrates graphite, acrylic, ink, and paper on wood panel. The artwork features a sleeping girl blooming in a dark world. An array of color is evident in this fantastical piece including pastel blues, greens, and purples. The figure seems to be transferring her dreams, represented by the vibrant colors of the composition, into the darker world around her. The inked branches, blossoms, and vines might also symbolize the flow of art into the world.

 "Mardi Gras Memories" by Heather Mclaurin

"Mardi Gras Memories" by Heather Mclaurin

Heather Mclaurin is another of our instructors. She has several years’ experience with drawing, painting, and has recently developed another talent: fumage. Fumage is the technique in which impressions are made by a kerosene lamp’s smoke on canvas or paper. Heather generally prefers to draw or stencil the shape on the canvas before continuing with smoke. Afterwards, she might take a brush or sponge to pull out the details she wants to accentuate. When asked what she likes so much about the smoke technique, Heather says, “I like that it gives such a bold statement.”

“Mardi Gras Memories” is one of several fumage works on display at the 567 Center. It is a black masquerade mask with purple and green acrylic accents. A lighter gray cloud of smoke is prominent in the air above the mask, and gives the airy feel one might imagine of Mardi Gras. The contrast between black and white, as well as the pops of color, make for an aesthetically stunning work to which the eye gravitates. Viewers may see the eyeholes of the mask as the most attention grabbing element of “Mardi Gras Memories.” The form of the mask is sleek and black, but the contrast between it and the eye spaces draws you in.

 "Meanwhile" by Shannon Riddle

"Meanwhile" by Shannon Riddle

Our final artist to spotlight is Shannon Riddle, the artist behind “Meanwhile,” a huge 5’x7’ portrait, that has over 20 years of experience painting. He earned his MFA at the University of Georgia and has since taught at a number of colleges in Central Georgia. “Everything I choose to paint means something to me, whether I am simply attracted to the form or if it means something more,” Riddle says. Generally preferring oil paint as his primary medium, Riddle sometimes chooses to switch his surfaces from canvas to wood panels. One trick, he acknowledges, that remains consistent regardless of surface choice is coating it entirely in a burnt orange paint before beginning.

“Meanwhile” features two figures seated in a booth of a restaurant. The work consists of an autumnal color scheme including browns, reds, and lighter neutrals. The man on the left appears to be actively involved in his meal, while the man on the right glares in the opposite direction out of the composition. In between the two characters lies another more inconspicuous figure: space. This prominent emptiness between the two figures is in itself another figure of note in the composition. The use of space as a barrier is congruent with Riddle’s fascination with the concept of isolation and human identity in his other works.

Riddle also recognizes how impactful the Middle Georgia region has been in shaping his perspective and his works. He says, “I am from here. This is where I live.”

You can see all these works in person at The 567 until September 30.

What is The 567?

by Melissa Macker, Executive Director

The 567 has changed a lot over the years since it started as an informal concept at 567 Cherry Street eight or so years ago, but it’s always been a multi-purpose space that has combined different activities in a way that people don’t always expect.  As a result, if you asked 5 random people what The 567 is, you might get 5 different answers.

The combination of art and music and business and miscellaneous other creative events (and even a church) under one roof has been messy at times. The purpose and heartbeat of these activities, however, was always the same for us: bring more people and businesses downtown. Support the unique, creative vibe of downtown. Do everything in a way that brings people together and encourages cooperation.

Of course, the way we do those things is constantly changing, just as downtown itself has changed dramatically since we started. It’s fun to look behind at what The 567 has been, and ahead to what it will be.  So what is The 567? It’s…

1.       Corks & Canvas.  By far the most common event we have these days is Corks & Canvas, partially because there’s so much demand for it. We started these classes as a way to make art fun for adults, and to help them connect with local artists who would teach the classes. Bonus: these classes have brought over 300 people downtown.

2.       Other art classes. We try to give people opportunities to grow their artistic skills and learn other mediums, including watercolor, pen and ink, and photography. We also bring families downtown with kids’ art classes.

3.       An art gallery. When people walk into our new space most days, what they first see is an art gallery. Our space is filled with rotating monthly exhibits where we showcase the work of students, local artists, and sometimes regional artists who catch our attention. We join the other downtown galleries in having First Friday art openings, and sometimes we have Coffee Talks with the artists featured in our gallery. Coffee Talks are less of a lecture and more of a conversation with the artist.

4.       Lost Keys Collective. The projects of Lost Keys Collective, such as a literary festival and the pop-up poetry garden in Third Street Park, fall right in line with our goal of bringing creative life to downtown Macon. As their fiscal sponsor, we help them process donations and give them advice from time to time, so they can keep doing cool things.

5.       A space for new businesses. We’ve had several start-up businesses call The 567 home. Of those who’ve moved on, some still have offices downtown. Those who’ve chosen to locate their business in other parts of the city after moving out still have a soft spot in their heart for downtown after experiencing what makes it so special. We also offer workshops and networking events from time to time to help business owners learn new skills and make connections.

6.       A music venue. When The 567 first opened its doors, it was mainly a music venue. As we’ve changed and downtown has changed, we’ve gotten away from putting on concerts.  We still have a soft spot for musicians, though, and we’d like to occasionally offer small concerts in the future.

7.       A place to try new things. A couple of years ago we hosted Lunch Beat Macon, a monthly lunchtime dance party. It was just one example of how we got to partner with local creatives (Floco Torres & DJ Shawty Slim) to help them bring their idea to life and make downtown a little cooler.

What is The 567 to you?

Thank You to New City Church

By Melissa Macker, Executive Director

If it weren’t for New City Church, downtown Macon would not look the same as it does today.

In case you haven’t heard the story of where The 567 got its name, it all started at 567 Cherry Street eight years ago. New City Church was a brand new church in the heart of downtown Macon. They were holding services at Cox Capitol Theater, and they needed a small space to use as the pastor’s office and for band practice during the week. They also wanted to serve their community. Downtown Macon looked a lot different eight years ago. It had a lot of artists—visual artists, musicians, spoken word artists—but it didn’t have a lot of venues for artists to showcase their work.  So New City rented out the small store front at 567 Cherry Street, made it the pastor’s office, and invited artists to come and hang their work or have a concert. The name, The 567 Café, was born.

As the church grew, the dream also grew. Pastor Keith Watson envisioned an organization that could help new businesses get started as well as draw people to downtown Macon with all kinds of arts events. The church renovated 533 Cherry Street into a place that could both be a home for the church in the heart of downtown Macon, as well as contribute to the revitalization of downtown Macon through art, music, and business. In 2010, they formed The 567 Center for Renewal—a 501(c)(3) organization that could accomplish this mission while partnering with the church and sharing the space at 533 Cherry Street.

The dream was accomplished. Six years later, both the church and The 567 have grown tremendously and have been an important part of the transformation of downtown Macon. The church realized that both it and The 567 could now better serve Macon by having their own spaces. The church and The 567 were both able to purchase their own buildings, and The 567 opened its doors at its new location on First Street last week. The church’s move to Riverside Drive (still downtown) won’t be too far behind.

As we look towards the future, I wanted to recognize New City Church for what they have given to downtown Macon. Not many churches would have regularly shared their worship space with rock concerts, as they did for many years, which required extra clean-up on Sunday mornings. Not many churches would have poured their money into building an art gallery and supported a fledgling arts & business non-profit. Not many churches would have given up the pastor’s time to answer questions about rental space or give business incubator tours day in and day out. Not many churches would have sacrificed their own meeting space so there could be art classes 2 or 3 nights a week. That only touches the surface of what New City Church, and especially Pastor Keith, have given to The 567 over the past 6 years. There are many church members who volunteered hours upon hours to make The 567 and its events a reality, and the financial support that the church has provided is immeasurable.

So, thank you, New City Church for loving downtown Macon, for believing that God is willing and able transform this community, and for doing the hard work of launching The 567 Center for Renewal.