walking tour art

“Buddha” by Belem Cisneros, being displayed at Farmer’s Insurance, 5 West Fifth Ave.

Many people are under the impression that to see great art they must travel far from home ... but there is also amazing artwork much closer to home.

The annual Rome Art Coterie’s Walking Art Tour showcases fantastic pieces by local artists right here at home in Northwest Georgia.

Running through June 9, the tour connects downtown Rome with the area’s art community. Paintings, photos, multimedia works, pottery, quilts and more fill several businesses along Broad Street, as well as Hawthorn Suites, River City Bank, the Courtyard by Marriott across from Barron Stadium and Floyd Medical Center. Maps are available at businesses all along downtown.

Some of the artwork is for sale and some is not.

Farrell’s Frame and Design on Broad Street is the drop off and pickup for the art displayed on the walk. They also act as the point of contact between those who are interested in purchasing a particular piece and the artist who created it.

“We also host the judge’s part of the art show and the artists’ meet and greet, which is on June 1 from 4 to 6 (in the afternoon),” owner Amanda Farrell said.

“The Walking Art Tour is open to artists of all levels and we encourage all types to participate,” she said. “Rome has a huge artist community, with an unbelievable amount of talent. There is no doubt in my mind that with the correct support from the community, Rome could easily become an art mecca like Santa Fe.”

Farrell said that she has seen the area’s art community grow and flourish since she and her husband, Chris, opened their frame shop in 2016. They recently expanded their business to include a gallery at 118 Broad St. in response for another space for local artists to display their work.

Artist Diana Smithson has participated in the art walk since it began three years ago. She has four paintings at the Floyd Medical Center gallery by the gift shop and three paintings at the Honeymoon Bakery.

“This is an exciting chance for artists to be seen in Rome and the businesses have welcomed our displays with open arms, which means a lot to the artists.” Smithson said.

Smithson is a certified art teacher and used to teach in her studio in Rome. She started her career as a young child drawing on walls and progressed upward in many different mediums from there.

The Art Walk means a lot to her as both an artist and a person who has seen a number of budding artists in her time teaching and working. The walk gives little known artists a chance to be seen.

“Making the artists work visible and affordable makes a statement for Rome,” Smithson said. “Rome is proud of the art all around this community and supports the arts. This has been so for many years as you can see around you. The Coterie Art Walk has also opened an opportunity to artists who aren’t visible — it brings them out and welcomes their work.”

Kenneth Stoddard, owner of Dogwood Books at 240 Broad St., has been welcoming artwork to his store throughout the young history of the Coterie Art Walk. Fittingly, he has a portrait of Edgar Allen Poe from one of the local artists hanging in his store.

“We have participated for the past several years and it is always a great experience,” he said. “We often get to meet the artists and it always brings good traffic to the store as well. … I particularly like working with the volunteers from the Rome Art Coterie. They are wonderful people.”

Stoddard said Rome has a vibrant art community, and he makes sure to include the many area writers among that community. Whatever the medium, artistry is important to the town.

“Art stimulates the imagination, which is one of our greatest gifts,” he said. “Its value to the community cannot be measured.”

“A strong art community gives our town several opportunities,” Farrell also noted. “For such a unique and beautiful town like Rome, having a well-supported and promoted artists’ community opens the doors for drawing people in to visit our community to enjoy the multitude of talent available here. Having a strong arts community also keeps our community beautiful and constantly changing. There is no limit to the creative beauty I have witnessed happening through the local artists in Rome.”

Though sponsored by the Rome Art Coterie, artists do not have to be a member of the group to display their work.

Coterie means a group of like-minded people gathered together with shared interests and tastes.

There are currently 22 members of the Rome Art Coterie. Nine of them have work on display in the art walk. Clare Gilliland is the group’s president. Members meet on the second Tuesday of each month at the library.

The purpose of the art walk — as well as the Rome Art Coterie — is to let people know that art is alive and well –in Rome.

“I feel like there are a lot of talented artists in Rome who aren’t given enough recognition,” Gilliland said, noting that it would be beneficial if the city had an arts center.

Gilliland said one of the wonderful aspects about the art walk is that people don’t have to complete it in a day. They can visit some stores on one day, walk to other stores on another day. Or, if people don’t feel like walking, they can take the Roman Chariot to where they would like to go.

Artists who have work on display include Patti Anderson, Chasity Angela, Stephen Byers, Tom Canada, Donna Chambers, Belen Cisneros, Des Disney, Margaret Duke, Judith Frasure, Clare Gilliland, Ron Hale, Karen Jordan, Kayla Knowles, Marilyn Lindholm, Becky Lucas, Merari Morales-Rivera, Leisel Schultz, Belinda Settlemoir, Jeremy Smith, Mary Smith, Diana Smithson, Marilyn Turley and Kittie Watts.

Their work was selected for display by three independent judges from the metro Atlanta area.

For individuals who want more information about the Rome Art Coterie, they may send an email to romeartcoteriega@gmail.com.