I remember the first time I received Reflections Magazine in our mailbox. The suede-like cover and sturdy pages, surely a mistake, a subscription the previous owner had forgotten to forward. The stories provided an inside connection to our new town and the people in it.
SCAD grads, my husband and I left the bustling Savannah art scene for what we thought would be the suburbs. My new commute to town, a still narrow 144. It was a year before I even searched for an arts group here.
Hillary Dunn, neighbor, and fellow Savannah transplant, suggested we go to an Arts on the Coast meeting. At the time, Arts on the Coast president, Sarah Volker, hosted quarterly meetings at her home. Hillary and I followed our GPS 7 miles further down 144, turned onto a dark road, reminded ourselves to watch for deer, and thought “where on earth are we heading?” We arrived to find Sarah’s house filled with artists. Painters, photographers, and mixed media artists sharing their latest projects and works in progress. Hobbyists, former art teachers, career artists, and folk artists, all in one room, pondering ideas without an ounce of pretension. Warmly welcomed with wine and small bites, Patty Mathews pulled us away from the crowd to show us the detached studio where The Five paint. We just needed to barely scratch the surface to find a very vibrant and active group of artists, right here in Richmond Hill.
The Henry Ford Bakery renovations had begun, and members excitedly talked about the new gallery in the works. Arts on the Coast would have its own space inside the visitor’s center, on Ford Avenue no less. During the incredible growth of Richmond Hill, diligent founding members of Arts on the Coast had secured a presence for the art community. They were organized, and growing fast alongside everything else in Richmond Hill.
I left that first meeting inspired to join AOC, convinced that Richmond Hill was NOT a suburb of Savannah, rather a unique, close-knit community with its own distinct history and culture. Artists play an integral part in that model. Culture cannot exist without art.
If you want to preserve the history and culture of a place, you must celebrate and document it. Arts on the Coast has done just that with the first edition of The Fine Art Collection. Printed on that same luxe paper and velvety cover as Reflections, it catalogs 20 area artists, samples of their work, and gives a glimpse into their backgrounds. They are your neighbors, diverse in medium, style, and background. Billy Harrell’s atmospheric drone photography captures the stillness of the night sky and the glory of our coastal sunrise. Kathy Hatcher’s paintings reflect her childhood memories on St. Catherine’s Island. Look closely and you’ll notice bits of palm tree bark, sand, and other natural elements worked into Jack Wilson’s abstract landscapes. Contemporary and traditional artists cataloged into one book, a means to simplify your art search without having to step foot inside a gallery.
The Fine Art Collection offers a direct connection to our art community. Supporting local artists helps cement the culture of our area, even during exponential growth. If you aim to tell a story with your home décor, there is no better place to start than with this book. Interior designers and realtors are already scooping them up for their clients. You can purchase the first edition via www.artsonthecoast.org or at the gallery, 10750 Ford Avenue.
While The Fine Art Collection offers a tangible coffee table book for collectors, Reflections and Arts on the Coast aim to also catalog local artists online. Look for video interviews inside artists’ studios and peeks into their practice on LivingRichmondHillGA.com.