The Ultimate Art Experience in Watkinsville, The Artland of Georgia

Chappelle Gallery in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Chappelle Gallery in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Watkinsville, deemed The Artland of Georgia for having more artists per capita than any other town in the state, is populated with unique art galleries, museums and exhibits showcasing local and national talents. Artists flock to this creative town to create, show and sell their work. Located just a stone’s throw from Athens, this artistic gem is worth a detour on your next trip to Georgia.

Get Fired Up about Pottery

Watkinsville is home to the largest pottery show in Georgia. In August and September, Perspectives: A Georgia Pottery Invitational showcases creations and demonstrations of 50 potters supported by the nonprofit Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). A Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event, Perspectives attracts visitors from throughout the Southeast.

Happy Valley Pottery. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Happy Valley Pottery. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

For an out-of-the-ordinary art experience any time of year, visit the quirky dwelling of Happy Valley Pottery. Home of art demonstrations like none other, at Happy Valley Pottery, you can see artists demonstrating glass-blowing, pottery-making, Raku firing and more.

Browse Art Galleries

The Main Gallery at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

The Main Gallery at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

The OCAF features art exhibitions like Southworks (in April), Georgia Small Works (October), and its Members Exhibition (June 3 – July 8, 2016) in its open gallery each year. The organization welcomes artists to submit their work and art lovers to enjoy the unique displays. The art museum also hosts classes on painting and drawing, pottery, sculpture, performing arts and more.

Farmington Depot Gallery. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Farmington Depot Gallery. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

The historic Farmington Depot Gallery was once a train depot, but it now creatively houses fine arts exhibits for regional artists. Owned and staffed by local artists, the gallery features paintings, sculptures, folk art, ceramics, glass, fine furniture and jewelry.

The Chappelle Gallery, an extension of Happy Valley Pottery, is housed in the Historic Haygood House in downtown Watkinsville and also sells artwork created by more than 125 local artists.

Discover Public Art

"Rainbow Turtle" by Stanley Bermudez and Bill Pierson is one of the public art panels on display in Watkinsville this summer. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

“Rainbow Turtle” by Stanley Bermudez and Bill Pierson is one of the public art panels on display in Watkinsville this summer. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

This summer, you will find public art exhibitions throughout Watkinsville and Oconee County that feature art panels and sculptures created by local artists, including students. This collaboration between the city and OCAF gives visitors a glimpse of Watkinsville’s vibrant art scene. Download a map of the installations so you can be sure to see them all.

Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Among those top attractions, Watkinsville is home to numerous other shops and galleries that cater to artists and art lovers. Visit the Artland soon for an experience of a lifetime!

raquel-cobb-crop2Raquel Cobb is the marketing coordinator for the Oconee County Welcome Center. Graduating from Clemson University in 2015 with a degree in communication studies, Raquel is the voice behind Oconee’s social media channels and travel blog. Growing up a few miles outside of Oconee County, Raquel enjoys the small town charm Watkinsville and her hometown offers.

Five of Our Favorite Georgia Brands

We sat down with the owners behind some of the best brands to hear their story, how Georgia has influenced their business and what their favorite things to do around the state are. Here’s what they had to say.

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Click here to jump to:
KEVIN’S | PEACH STATE PRIDE THE OLE BULL CO. 
R.L. MARTIN & CO | 
SOUTHERN PROPER 



Explore Georgia: What’s the story behind Kevin’s?
Kathleen Kelly, Co-Owner: Kevin started the company in 1979 in Tallahassee, Florida. It was primarily a gun and hunting store that also carried general sporting goods. I joined him in 1992 after we were married and together we transformed Kevin’s into a plantation lifestyle company. With Kevin being an authority on sporting guns and our company being situated in bobwhite quail country, it just made sense.  Our company is focused on this lifestyle, from the hunt to the home.

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EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
KK: We have one of the most beautiful and well known high-grade gun rooms in the country with and amazing and unique collection of guns.  We also make our own Kevin’s Plantation Shotguns which have won awards in our industry and been featured in all the main sporting magazines.

EG: What are some of your favorite items right now?
KK: We try to offer as many “Made in America” products as we can! For example, our quail bracelet is made in Thomasville and the camo belt is made in Atlanta. Our customers know they will find unique items at Kevin’s, whether it’s a basic T-shirt or a Kevin’s custom designed Italian pewter bowl, ice and wine bucket we designed and had hand-made in limited quantities in Italy.

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EG: What should travelers see in Thomasville after they’re done shopping at Kevin’s?
KK: Definitely visit Pebble Hill Plantation, dine and shop in our downtown. Our town is amazing! A fun place to stay is Paxton House, within walking distance to us.

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EG: What’s the story behind Peach State Pride?
Derek Chitwood, Founder & CEO
 I grew up picking peaches each summer with my Grandpa so I’ve always had a strong love for The Peach State. When I started Peach State Pride in 2009 I wanted to create a logo that instilled pride in our great state of Georgia, and in some way give back to the state.

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EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
DC: I don’t think what we’re doing has really been done before. We promote our state; our towns, regions, communities, artists, athletes, and businesses, and we give 15% of our profits back to Georgia. We’re a clothing line, but really so much more than that.

EG: What’s on your must-have Peach State Pride list?
DC: Our hottest item is our Georgia Mesh Back Hat. I’m also a big fan of our Classic Button Downs for a more mature look.

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EG: What should visitors do if they’re around Athens?
DC
: You have to stop by Last Resort Grill and grab a meal! When the night rolls in, catch a show at the Georgia Theatre.

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In Watkinsville, it’s easy to relax. The Ashford Manor is an amazing Bed & Breakfast and Chops & Hops downtown is a must-stop for lunch or dinner. If you’re up in Lavonia, 211 Main Street Restaurant and Bakery is right around the corner from the store. And in the summertime, swing by our roadside stand at Chitwood Orchard for some of the best peaches you ever put in your mouth!

Follow Peach State on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


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EG: What’s the story behind The Ole Bull?
Miles Tinsley, Co-Founder: The Ole Bull Co. is all about local flavor! Our mission is to connect refined men and local craftsmen across the country. There are so many amazing products being crafted by small businesses in Georgia and other states at this very moment, but these products are difficult to find and even harder to compare.

ole2 EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
MT: The Ole Bull Co. was founded and is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. We source many of our local and handmade products in Atlanta and other places around Georgia. The Ole Bull Co. is currently working with four Georgia companies whose products all have incredible craftsmanship and integrity. They are Go Forth Goods (Marietta), Proof Cocktail Syrup (Decatur), Cord Shoes + Boots (Atlanta) and Margaret Vera (Atlanta).

EG: What’s on your must-have list right now?
MT: We have some amazing products from our friends here in Georgia!  Two of our personal favorites are The Traveler Mug by Go Forth Goods and The Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup by Proof Syrup. A lot of these businesses are right here in the Atlanta area.

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EG: What’s on your Atlanta bucket list?
MT: We’re always on the lookout for great places to grab a cold beer or to get our fill of delicious food. We spend a fair amount of time at Three Taverns Craft Brewery in Decatur. They have a refreshing assortment of beers and the brewery itself has a unique and rustic design. As far as sitting down for a classy dinner that is sure to please, we’d recommend checking out Southern Gentleman in Buckhead. They take comfort food to a whole other level, and offer an impressive list of aged whiskey.

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As massive BBQ enthusiasts, our final recommendation would be hitting up one of our three local favorites, each guaranteed to hit the spot. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, D.B.A Barbecue, & Sweet Auburn Barbecue.

Follow The Ole Bull on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER



RL MartinEG: What’s the story behind R.L. Martin & Co.?
Devan Martin, Owner: R. L. Martin & Co. is the men’s department inside Only Options, an apparel store that has been serving Valdosta, GA since 1983. My husband, Justin and I purchased the store in 2014, we dedicated a large space in the store to expand the men’s selection. R. L. Martin & Co. is a nod to Justin’s father, Ronald Martin, who was a buyer for Belk Hudson for 22 years before he passed away returning from a buying trip. We hope to continue the legacy of the fine gentleman he was.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 6.33.45 PM

EG: What makes the store unique to Georgia?
DM: We are one of just a few specialty retailers of our kind in the state. We take a “support local” approach to business, carrying many Georgia based clothing and gift lines from brands such as South Georgia Pecan Co. gifts, Savannah Bee Company honey, Laurie Jo’s pepper jellies and more!

EG: What’s on your must-have list in the store right now?
DM: It is spring time, and we are dreaming of warmer weather and weekends at the club!  The E4 Performance Collection by Peter Millar allows you to look sharp and swing the club without the wrinkles.  We carry a large selection of E4 Performance pants, sports shirts, and outerwear. This breathable, easy care fabric, will look great for a dinner after a great day on the course!

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EG: What’s your favorite thing to do in Valdosta?
DM: Having brunch or dinner at Friends Grille and Bar is a MUST in Valdosta! Using only local produce, they specialize in modern, but laid-back southern cuisine. Chef Randy DeCoudres never disappoints!

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Follow R.L. Martin & Co on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK


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What’s the story behind Southern Proper?
Ansley Kuhlke, Director of Wholesale: Inspired by the southern pillars of style, tradition, and authenticity, Southern Proper was created as the haberdashery for the Southern Gentleman in late 2005.

Emilie Claire Howard (fondly known as Emmie) and Regan Hardy Howell planted the company’s roots in Atlanta, Georgia and began building a men’s clothing line infused with their mutual appreciation for heritage and fashion, running deeper than a Southern Accent. Operating out of over 300 specialty retailers across the country and online, we continue to grow our brand while sustaining our appreciation for our homegrown roots!

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What makes you unique to Georgia?
AK:  Born and raised in Atlanta, Southern Proper has proudly maintained and celebrated it’s Georgia roots from its creation. Not only do our products display the propersouthern attire but truly represent the southern lifestyle from which we were all raised. Each collection is inspired by the life we all love to live right here in Georgia.

Whether you’re cheering on your team at a tailgate or spending a long weekend in Savannah, Southern Proper has you covered from head to toe! Remembering our heritage and resonating with our customers has always been the foundation of our company.

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What’s on your must-have list right now?
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.51.05 PMAK: We’re all eagerly anticipating warmer weather and even more excited to launch our spring collection. The must-have piece on the shelves right now is our new Dock Pullover.

On any given cloudy day or for chilly nights at the beach, this is the perfect transitional piece for spring in the south. Be sure to grab this fun and lightweight jacket in three great colors, available in stores and online now!

What’s on your Georgia bucket list?
AK: The ladies of SoPro highly recommend earning the triple crown…of Hot Dogs that is. In our humble opinion, a must-do for natives and visitors alike is to visit grab a delicious dog from each of the best places around Georgia: Atlanta’s own Varsity, Nu-Way of Macon, and Monroe’s in Americus. Your stomach will be all the happier after this mouth-watering journey around the empire state!

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B6RUpoACEAAGPPb.jpg-largePARKER WHIDBY is the Digital Content Specialist for Explore Georgia. She loves to travel, write & photograph all the amazing things Georgia has to offer. In her spare time, Parker enjoys painting, going to concerts, trying new restaurants & spending time with family, friends & her pups, Doc & Baxley.

 

April’s Antebellum Trail Pilgrimage is a Walk Through Time

Ezell Tatum House in Eatonton, Georgia

Ezell-Tatum House in Eatonton, Georgia

Middle Georgia’s 100-mile Antebellum Trail of seven communities offers an abundant look into 19th century life and earlier. Visitors can travel the trail year-round, but many choose April 18 – 21 for the annual Pilgrimage. $25 covers entrance to everything during these four days, with passes available at each community’s welcome center. (Find welcome center addresses at www.atpilgrimage.com). Macon and Athens bookend the Antebellum Trail with abundance and distinctive opportunities fill the communities in between.

The years leading to 1860 are the focus of the trail. I entered the back edge of the Civil War, not battlefield center, with connections to Revolutionary War veterans and families, too.

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Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton

Eatonton is the 1848 birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris, and the Uncle Remus Museum is 50 years old. Go to the source. You know these tales. Old and new at the same time is the Old School History Museum. Sleep in Watkinsville because the Ashford Manor wraps visitors in history and hospitality.  Choose the 1840s cottage for an antebellum night or the main house, an 1893 Queen Anne. “Artland,” Watkinsville is called, and art is abundant in the 1827 Haygood House, home and gallery of Jerry and Kathy Chappelle. Frontier years enticed me, especially Eagle Tavern built in 1801 on land given to a Revolutionary War veteran.

The 1811 Heritage Hall in Madison provides family stories, exquisite furnishings and lifestyle insight in a two-story Greek Revival home with docent-led tours.The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center stretches antebellum, built in 1895, but enjoy the architecture, theater, Arts and Crafts-style furniture gallery, and history museum anyway.

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Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville

Milledgeville was home to Georgia’s governors from 1839 – 1868, and their house is grandly interpreted as the Old Governor’s Mansion. Those governors received salaries but not entertainment budgets, so note the difference as you follow the Antebellum Trail. Macon’s Hay House of the same era was private, and it’s lavish. In Milledgeville’s Old Capital Museum, an 1807 Gothic building, peer into tableaux of eight antebellum women, researched from diaries and written records, most with a book you and I could read, too. Then go upstairs to imagine the mood where Georgia’s four-day secession convention was held in 1861.

These are just some of musings possible on the Antebellum Trail Pilgrimage. Click here for information on how to attend the 2013 pilgrimage.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com