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Sawnee Association of the Arts settling in at new home
The nonprofit Sawnee Association of the Arts recently opened a new Sawnee Arts Center on Canton Highway and Bethelview Road in west Forsyth. - photo by Micah Green


* For more information on the Sawnee Association of the Arts and the new center, go online at

WEST FORSYTH — Some of the Forsyth County’s many accomplished and budding artists are on the move.

The nonprofit Sawnee Association of the Arts recently announced a new — and hopefully permanent — home on Canton Highway near Bethelview Road.

The charming house that serves as the Sawnee Arts Center features a gallery, gift shop and roomy studio, where the group will offer classes for members and the community.

Carla Beasely, the association’s president, said the group is thrilled with its new space. All of the more than 100 members are looking forward to welcoming and working with new faces.

“We are so excited to becoming more involved with the community,” she said. “Having the arts center is a way for our members to showcase their artwork to the public, as well as offer their talents in the way of teaching.”

While it has had several locations since forming in 1974, the association’s mission remains “to provide enriching visual arts experiences for the community.”

The center is accepting applications from people who are interested in teaching art classes in the DeSana Studio, which was made possible in part through a donation from the DeSana family.

The studio, which has a separate entrance from the gallery and gift shop, is also available to rent as a public meeting room.

Cumming resident Charlotte Gardner, a longtime association member who currently serves as treasurer of the organization, said the diversity of the art media represented is astonishing.

“There are so many types of art, everything from pottery, woodworking, jewelry, fabrics, painting, photography and much more. We have it all,” she said.

Gardner, 83 years young, has been painting her entire life.

“For me, painting is a form of therapy,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have a group of people who all love art and who appreciate so many different forms.”

The group meets monthly at the United Way building on Elm Street in Cumming. There is a brief social time, followed by a short business meeting and then a program with guest speaker.

Sandi Sentell, manager of the arts center, said works by more than 60 artists are on display and for sale.

“It is such a wonderful way for artists to display their work,” she said. “You can have original, one-of-a-kind works of art for your own collection or for gifts for your friends and family.”

According to Sentell, the art ranges in price from $7 to $1,200.

“This is such a fun group of people,” she said. “The camaraderie is amazing and there is always something going on.”

Sentell said the group is always looking for volunteers for its events, with the next big show and sale, March “Art” Madness, set for Thursday-Saturday and March 10-12.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the association’s gallery is set for 11 a.m. Thursday.