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The Fayette Art Experience

By Alabama Public Radio

Fayette AL – The town of Fayette has a secret a secret that it wants everyone to know. Alabama Public Radio's Alisa Beckwith-Ayilliath reports

Nestled on a discreet side street in Fayette sits a well kept cultural secret; the Fayette Art Museum. A stroll across the building's colored concrete floors brings a visual feast. Bright, whimsical pieces pull visitors into an art experience. Ann Perr y Uhlman is director and curator of the Fayette Art Museum.
I feel like everyone has a story and that's what they are portraying within their art work.
Throughout the museum, hard lines, soft lines and colors and bright bursts of paint pop from the exhibits, like Jessie Lavon's Blue Moon Honky Tonk depicting scenes of after-hours life in a juke joint. George Gutherie's replica of a Sugar plantation House is made of paper clips, toothpicks and other objects. On the first floor, Daniel Hessler's stately hand-carved wooden blue herron stands gracefully beak open and wings spread ready to take flight. Also upstairs are 12 pieces from the Blount Foundation including a Nall piece entitled Peony.
Downstairs, in the Folk Art galleries, artists like Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Brother Benjamin Perkins and Sybil Gibson are featured.
Artists have always used visual images to transmit ideas...
That's local artist and instructor at Bevill State Community College, Ron Morris.
Those ideas grow out of their own experiences and if you begin to understand those experiences it really begins to bring a greater richness to your own experiences.
The Fayette Art Museum was created in 1969 to help share the experience of art. Civic leader Jack Black and artist Lois Wilson were among the early visionaries who wanted to expose the city to different artistic styles, as well as showcase and preserve the work of local artists. Lois Wilson grew up in Fayette, but was living in New York when she was inspired by the museum. Ann Perry Uhlman says Wilson gave the museum one of its first big pushes.
She was willing to donate like half of her collection to get the museum started and the first shipment was of 150 pieces.
The original Fayette Art Museum opened in the City H all. Ulman says in the early 1980's, it moved to the renovated Fayette Elementary School, creating 6000 sq feet of display space.
It's bringing more culture and more different diverse things to this county because there are people that never leave this county. Can you imagine never seeing a piece of original art work or the different styles?
The museum is now home to nearly 4000 pieces. But to the residents of Fayette, it's more than just a place to experience and share art. With no formal art education within the local school system, the museum fills a void for children. It offers art programs throughout the year and hosts a summer art camp. Ron Morris says the museum also helps him teach art to his older students.
I enjoy having the Art museum here because it gives me an opportunity to send my students instead of just seeing art in a textbook, I'm able to give them an experience first hand where they get the see the real thing.
Alabama State Council on the Arts Visual Program Manager Georgine Clark says museums like in Fayette are vital.
Each museum in each community creates a culture of learning, a culture of richness and a culture of understanding and for all of us at the state, that is an important endeavor to say to our children and our adults, as well come look and see, come look and learn
Museum supporters want people to discover Fayette's best kept secret. Uhlman says she wants visitors to have an experience to remember.
I just want people to leave thinking I would like to try to do that. And just leave in awe that I can't believe that town has that type of work available to look at.
The museum plays host to the 39th Annual Fayette Art Festival-the state's oldest art festival on September 13 at Guthrie Smith Park. For APR News, I'm Alisa Beckwith Ayilliath.

The Fayette Art Museum is open Mon-Fri from 9-12 and from 1-4.

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