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Cumming Arts Center spreads love of art, not Covid-19, with new virtual platform
Cumming Arts Show
Art McNaughton's 'Donuts' won first place for 2D art in the Cumming Arts Center's Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show. Voting for the people's choice award will continue until Friday, Nov. 5. - photo by For the FCN

Amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, the Cumming Arts Center/Sawnee Association of the Arts has prevailed and prospered in new and exciting ways. Announcing its “Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show” was only the beginning for this growing organization, as they have plans to continue creating virtual events for members of the center and public to enjoy.

The Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show began on Oct. 5 and will continue to run until Nov. 5. Being the first virtual show, the response from the public was overwhelming. On the first day of the show alone the website had 81% more visits than years before.

Due to the new virtual format, the Cumming Arts Center wanted to allow more of the community to participate, so they opened online submissions to members of the center and the general public. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, yielding 68 artists and 128 different art pieces. The pieces varied in mediums, ranging from 3D with wood and metal, 2D with acrylic and oil, and photography. Winners were announced on Oct. 16 and their pieces can all be found on the Cumming Arts Center’s website, . Some of the artwork has been put up for sale, and the prices for each piece can be located under their descriptions online.

Cumming Arts Center also invited two art judges to select the winners for the Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show, Jim Dunham and Nancy Nowak. Dunham is with the World Class Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville  and was asked to participate in the City Virtual Art Show at a prior art festival. Nowak is an internationally known pastel artist and she has taught classes at the Cumming Arts Center before. 

“We were very fortunate to have two experienced art judges to select the awardees,” said Marilyn DeCusati, member of the Cumming Arts Center. “They said it was difficult for them [to judge] as the art submitted overall was excellent.”

While the Cumming Arts Center is not currently meeting in person, they are continuing to meet from afar and create exciting events for Forsyth County’s art-lovers. “This has been a whole new experience for all of us,” Kjellsen said. “But all of the pieces have just fallen into place after this Autumn in the City Event.” 

Because the Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show was so successful, the Cumming Arts Center plans to host its next two events online as well, Festival of Trees and Nativities of the World. The Festival of Trees event will begin in mid-November and be comprised of beautifully decorated holiday trees donated by both businesses and public individuals. The Nativities of the World even will begin in early December and will exist as a virtual exhibit online. 

The Cumming Arts Center is planning on taking multiple photos and videos, and they hope to include a narrative to complement them. Information about these upcoming events can be found soon on the Cumming Arts Center website.

The Autumn in the City Virtual Art Show was created and executed by members of the Cumming Arts Center. Carole Kjellsen, Board of Directors president worked closely with Bunny Salter, Board of Directors VP, and chairwoman Kay Money. “I have a really good board,” Kjellsen said. “I’ve been very fortunate. I couldn’t have done it without them.” 

The event was also supported by Chris Straukas, Marilyn DeCusati, and Bert Grant, Webmaster.