Center for the Arts

The Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts is located on South Broad Street in downtown Monroe, Ga.

Hope Reese, director of the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts, has a message for the community in these trying times — “Do art – it’s good for you.”

“As our community’s nonprofit community arts center, we want our neighbors to know that we are here for them, at least virtually,” Reese said. “We have several online outreaches that we’re started just in the last ten days, to help our community weather this season and also to assist our artist-members.”

Reese said that studies have shown that doing art — any kind of art — is de-stressing and lowers the stress hormone, cortisol.

“This effect can be measured after 45 minutes of any creative endeavor,” she any creative endeavor,” she said. “So pick up a paintbrush, adult coloring book, knit or even better, do an art project with your kids. Doing something creative gets your mind off the bad news and activates new parts of your brain. You’ll find your mood improves.”

To help stir-crazy, home-bound Waltonians do this, the MWCA has started posting art content on its Facebook page to give people direction and help get their creative juices flowing.

Visiting the MWCA’s Facebook page (facebook.com/monroewaltonarts) will allow visitors to view some helpful and fun videos, including Five-Minute Art Fix videos with The Two Art Donnas (featuring MWCA Education Chair Donna Coffman and her friend and fellow artist, Donna Guntharp); how-to-paint videos from Joe Gargasz, MWCA board of directors president; and virtual tours of the High School Student Art Show, the last exhibit to go up before quarantine efforts shut everything down.

Another new initiative is something MWCA calls “Art Drops” — leaving copies of their own original coloring and journaling pages in The Little Free Library in the Sculpture Garden several times a week.

Although the center’s Board of Directors has made the tough, but responsible decision to close their classes, shop and gallery to the public through at least mid-April, Reese is still maintaining office hours Tuesday through Friday and has started getting the center’s Artist Market items for sale online.

“We are concerned about our local market artists who have their works in our gift shop,” Reese said. “Everything has come to a screeching halt. They have no income coming in from sales. Also, some of them are our teachers, so they have no class fees coming in either. It hurts.

“It would be a blessing to our artists for our community to come together and support their creative efforts by buying gifts online. It’s the reality right now and this is how we can help to support our local makers and artists. Seventy-five percent of your purchase goes to the artist, so this is a very real and practical way to support local art.”

To date, MWCA has 17 of its 50 market artists online with more being added daily. Shoppers can take a look at the shop here: https://monroewaltonarts.square.site/shoplocalart.

According to Reese, customers can shop and pay online and then she will deliver their packages curbside at the center. Full instructions are provided at checkout online.

“Many don’t realize the talent we have represented right here in our shop,” Gargasz said. “Everything is made locally by our members. We have original art, photography, pottery, jewelry, home décor, candles and more, even toys. The prices are very affordable. You just can’t go wrong buying a unique and beautiful artisan-made gift for a loved one.”

Overall, Reese said the MWCA is doing what it can to provide art to people feeling trapped by social distancing routines.

“Our by-word here lately is ‘do art, do good,’” Reese said. “Art is de-stressing, brings your family together, opens up conversations and makes new paths toward those you love. We encourage you to take 45 minutes as often as you can (once daily if possible!) to simply ‘do art’ … whatever brings you joy. Go to our Facebook page for inspiration. A little online shopping in our shop is probably good for you, too. Art is good for you!”

To learn more about MWCA, visit the website at https://www.monroewaltonarts.org/.