Athens local and University of Georgia alumna Camille Hayes opened up her very own Tiny ATH Gallery. The gallery, located on Cleveland Avenue, opened on Friday, Sept. 6 and will be the home to various local artists in Athens with new exhibitions every month dedicated to a certain artist.
Hayes is the director of public relations at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and owns her own growing graphic design business. Inspiration for the gallery came from her desire to create a space where artists, like herself, could convene and show art.
Hayes’ vision for the gallery is to highlight a different medium of art and individual artist every month.
The grand opening of the gallery featured North Carolina native Will Eskridge’s new body of work, “Central Nervous Breakdown.” Eskridge is the first artist to be shown at the gallery and a friend of Hayes.
“I’ve always loved Will’s art, and when I was thinking about opening a gallery, I got in touch with him to chat about it,” Hayes said. “He said that he would love to create a whole new body of work for the gallery.”
Eskrigde has been in Athens since 2006, and took the leap to become a full-time painter about five years ago. His art focuses on animals, featuring vibrant depictions of bears, bunnies and the occasional pet portrait.
“When [Hayes] reached out to me I was very honored and flattered," Eskridge said. “We went to look at the space, and I felt an urge to do some more abstract stuff as another body of work separate from my normal portraiture.”
Eskridge’s solo exhibit, “Central Nervous Breakdown” explores the question of “ what ... it mean[s] to be a sentient being” while particularly focusing on animals and their central nervous system. His fascination with the complexity of the animal kingdom and its many layers is seen through his thick paint and layered strokes.
“I am thrilled to present it … it has elements of my style, with texture and dobs of color. It is really vivacious and celebratory, which is exactly what I wanted as a rebirth” Eskridge said.
While Eskridge is the first to fill the walls of the Tiny ATH Gallery, there are many are to follow. In fact, Hayes is planning shows until 2021 through an online submission form on the gallery’s website where artists can submit their work and apply to have it shown in the gallery.
On the first day Hayes launched the website, she had four artists submit their proposals, and currently has about 17 submissions. This instant interest and success for Hayes is due to the thriving creative and art culture in Athens.
Next on the gallery’s calendar is artist Tex Crawford from Warner Robins, Georgia. Crawford describes his art as atypical.
Crawford, like Eskridge, is a part of the Athens community of artists who break from the normalacies of art and bring their own voice to the conversation.
“We live in a very creative town … I saw that as an opportunity to learn from my contemporaries as well as share my art and grow,” Crawford said.
Tiny ATH Gallery is open to the public for free and will provide all those in the community a chance to witness art like Eskridge’s and Crawford’s—art which lies beyond the norm and is an embodiment of the artists themselves.
“I am not schooled in art. I’ve been labeled as folk art and outsider artist, but I am just Tex,” Crawford said.