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How this Forsyth County art association is bringing more art to the community
Sawnee Association of the Arts completes building redesign and rebrand
Sawnee Association of the Arts
Sawnee Association of the Arts (SAA), over the last several months, has been hard at work transforming the artistic space on Pilgrim Mill Road into a bigger, better gallery, with more space for artwork. - photo by Ben Hendren

Art in the city of Cumming just got an upgrade, with a series of renovations that were recently completed at the Brannon-Heard House. 

According to members of the Sawnee Association of the Arts (SAA), over the last several months the group has been hard at work transforming the artistic space on Pilgrim Mill Road into a bigger, better gallery, with more space for artwork. 

Carole Kjellsen, who was part of the SAA committee to renovate the artistic space, said on Monday that they have done nearly a complete redesign of the Brannon-Heard House, painting, removing obstructions, and installing lights and hanging systems all around the space. 

“We now have six galleries throughout the house that are open,” she said. “We used to just have the one downstairs.” 

With the new gallery design, Kjellsen said that they can accommodate many more artists and art works, which has been a goal of the group for a long time. On Monday over 100 pieces of art were on display throughout the space. 

In addition to adding more space for artworks, Kjellsen said that they’ve also changed up the frequency that art is refreshed in and out of the space.   

“The way we had it set up before, we were limited in the number of artists who could display, because they rented their spots for a year, so we did away with that concept,” she said. “It worked for the last year, it was very successful for us, but the problem was it restricted the number of artists who could have their works on display.”

Kjellsen said that starting now; everyone displaying work in the art space will rotate their work out every eight weeks, regularly filling the space with new pieces of art. 

“With the opportunity to have more artists’ displaying, we’ll be able to present to the public a lot more fresh art that they haven’t seen before,” she said. 

With the physical redesign, Kjellsen said that the group has also decided to rebrand the space as not just the Brannon-Heard House or the Sawnee Association of the Arts Center, but as the new “Cumming Arts Center.” A change they hope will give people a memorable, less complicated name for everyday use.

“Because for some reason when you say ‘Sawnee Association of the Arts’ … nobody seems to know who we are, and we’ve been around for a long time,” she said. “So we decided to incorporate ‘art center’ in there somewhere.” 

All these changes ultimately go back to the group’s goal of promoting art and making it easily accessible in the city of Cumming, Kjellsen said. 

 “We’re hoping that it will draw in new members, but we’re also hoping it will draw in the public, especially all the new people that are moving into Forsyth County,” she said. “We actually have an art gallery here now; they don’t have to go outside the county to look at art.”