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The Art Place Nourishes Individual Creativity

By S. Mathur

The programs at The Art Place cover a wide range - drawing, painting, sculpture, glass making, ceramics and pottery, even performance art and theatre. But the focus throughout, Coordinator Nelah S. Gabler emphasizes, is on the creativity of each individual. Art is thus not a product but a process.

Gabler says: "Our process over product statement is as we explain to parents and students. We want you to learn the process of what you have created so it can stay with you, and not just seek to finish a project in one day for instant satisfaction. So when they come to a class, camp or even a workshop, they need to leave feeling that they could repeat what they just learned on their own, even if it takes practice to get it to their liking. Art, like sports, needs practice!"

In the end, the most important thing students take away with them is not a piece of pottery or a painting, but a commitment to art and creativity. The goal, Gabler says, "is to plant the seeds of the arts in each individual that visits us whether they are in a class, come to a theatre show, gallery opening or concert, etc. We hope that even if they do not grow up or change their lives to seek out an arts career, they will want the arts in their community wherever they live. This is how we hope to promote creativity by offering up something they have not experienced or a change in their self esteem."

Cobb County residents are fortunate in having a county administration that recognizes the importance of arts programs in the community, and provides financial support. The Art Place was founded in 1992 as a facility of Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. It offers more than 70 classes in the visual and performing arts every fall, winter, and spring, for youth and adults. In the summer, the building at Mountain View is dedicated to art camps for school-age kids.

The Mountain View Arts Alliance, based at The Art Place, sponsors outdoor summer concerts. The non-profit also helps with fundraisers, outreach programming, materials, scholarships and charity events including indoor concerts, dinner theatre shows and gallery exhibits. The gallery exhibits art from local artists year-round. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis beginning in July and are juried by local artists.

There are special exhibits of art by college and school students, a Garden and Nature Art Exhibit and from mid-November through mid-December, the Artist Attic Holiday Show and Sale.

While the busy year-round program and active community participation may be taken as measures of success, for Gabler it is the individual experience that stands out: "This summer a dad came up to me after a theatre camp performance and said, "We are all in tears today. Our son who is borderline autistic does not participate like his sister in any programs. Today we saw him light up on stage and we are so grateful". One moment can change a life of a child and a family. We seek out those One Moments."

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