Atlanta Life and Culture

The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

Self-taught art blooms in exhibits in Gainesville and Highlands, N.C.

Folk art gathering in Gainesville

At festivals, exhibits and sales, folk art spreads like kudzu across Georgia once the weather warms, and Gainesville's Quinlan Visual Arts Center is presenting a large regional round-up in the summer-long exhibit "Home Folks: A Celebration of Folk Art."

Co-organized by the Quinlan with Dawsonville's Around Back at Rocky's Place gallery, the show features familiar makers such as Cornbread, Eric Legge, Peter Loose and Dorethey Gorham, but also includes emerging talents such as Suzie Smith and Larry Ledford.

Opening reception 5:30 -7 p.m. Thursday. Gallery hours: 9 a.m-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m-4 p.m. Saturdays. Through Aug. 15. 514 Green St. N.E., Gainesville. 770-536-2575,

'Otherworldly' landscapes in Highlands, N.C.

The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, N.C. (just over the Georgia line from the town of Dillard), recently opened "Lands Beyond: Otherworldly Landscapes and Visionary Topographies."

The exhibit was curated by Tom Patterson, a long-time champion of Southeastern visionary and self-taught art whose credits include the book "Howard Finster: Stranger from Another World."

On view through Aug. 30, "Lands Beyond" mixes work by academically trained artists including Brian Mashburn and Scott Eagle with "autodidacts" (partly or fully self-taught artists) including William Fields and the late Anthony Dominguez.

“The word ‘visionary’ doesn’t speak to an artist’s formal training or lack thereof," Patterson has said. "That’s the way I see it. I don’t really care about the training issue, one way or another. It’s all about the art for me. And the artist.”

The show includes the topographically inspired work of former Atlantan George Lowe, the voice-over star of Cartoon Network's "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" who now resides in Lakeland, Fla., and J.J. Cromer of Virginia.

While Lowe's otherworldly drawings recall Aboriginal art (though with skylines and factories sometimes sketched in), Cromer said at the Bascom opening than he finds his inspiration closer to home in southwest Virginia. Cromer's work in the show was inspired by the disconnect between topographical maps of his coal-rich home region vs. the reality of living in an area where that industry asserts itself and even alters the landscape, he said.

Providing a point of contrast within the landscape genre, the Bascom’s major summer show of Hudson River School landscape paintings, "Sublime Beauty," opens on June 27.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays. 323 Franklin Road, Highlands, N.C. 828-526-4949,

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The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.