‘Society of Seven’ shares love and talent for art
by Bradley Hartsell
To celebrate the brilliance of art in Coweta County, several local painters have formed the “Society of Seven.”
The collective consists of David Boyd Jr., Millie Gosch, Martin Pate, Dana Johnson, Sue Christman, Elsa Sibley and Brenda Losey Sumpter. With a deep connection among members, the seven were thrilled to work together in rented space on Greeneville Street, formerly Farrago’s gallery.
“This is a solid nucleus, a real close-knit group,” said Will Sumpter, Brenda’s husband, an art and film agent who came on board as the business manager so that “the painters could just paint.”
Elsa Sibley considered the available space when Farrago’s moved across the square and the gallery’s owner suggested to her painting friends they rent the former space and do something with it. Sumpter handled the legalities and helped get the gallery running smoothly for October.
As for the painters, they’re working hard to ensure they represent and communicate their love of expression through painting. Four of the seven were in the gallery on Wednesday, framing pictures and bringing in fresh paintings, some still wet.
The group will be showing and selling art this month along with presenting demos and paint-a-longs.
With 30 years in the business, Sumpter’s words feel honest and, even better, excited.
“These are a remarkable breed of people. They’re interested in life and they’re interesting themselves,” said Sumpter. “They’ve had the passion their whole lives.”
I asked Sumpter what sets these artists apart from a ragtag group of seven hobbyists. “You see their passion. They devour art. They’re encyclopedias.”
“‘Weekend’ painters crumble under pressure. These people rise under deadlines. It’s fourth and goal and they’re like ‘give me the ball.’”
Sumpter speaks on behalf of the group, but his feelings aren’t just his own. The artists I spoke to talked about art, in general, in reverent tones. Without prodding, they explained their love of process and expression.
“My love is to paint where the sun is casting shadows,” Dana Johnson said. “That’s what excites me about painting.”
Johnson, who's been painting her whole life, still talked about growing as a painter. She sees her work as too formal at times and sees inspiration in more impressionistic techniques from people in the very group she helped form.
It’s not hard to imagine hobby artists picking up a brush, painting a few landscapes and then repeating themselves over and over. But Johnson and David Boyd Jr., specifically, have talked about stretching themselves and exploring outside their comfort zones. A healthy curiosity often leads to great work, and talking to these painters, it’s not hard to see why there’s so much excitement surrounding the Society of Seven.
"It is such an honor to be part of such a group of talented, dedicated painters; artists who have been an inspiration to me my entire career and even before. We are all so excited to be able to showcase our work together with the community we live in,” said Boyd Jr.
Boyd Jr. added, “I have to place credit where credit is due. This whole thing is Elsa Sibley's idea. I feel like we are taking the bull by the horns and making this happen ourselves. We are all friends, we attend workshops together, paint together, support each other, and finally doing a show together."
“I’m pleased to be with such a great group of painters,” said Sibley, another life-long painter. “The best part is the give-back quality to the community.”
“Art is a language,” Sumter said. “And the Society of Seven gives a better understanding of how to speak and process that language.”
Open Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. located on 9 Greeneville St. in downtown Newnan
Sat., Oct. 5t 10 a.m.-5p.m. Opening Day
Tue., Oct. 8 10 a.m.-5p.m. Demo and Talk by Dana Johnson, she will be painting around the Court Square, answering questions
Thurs., Oct. 10 Demo by Millie Gosch at The Society 6-8 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 12 Demo/Talk TBD
Tue., Oct. 15 Demo/Talk Brenda Sumpter 6-8 p.m. at Society
Thurs., Oct. 17 Demo Martin Pate 6-8 p.m. at Society
Sat., Oct. 19 Demo/Talk with Sue Christman
Tue., Oct. 22 Demo/ Talk TBA
Thurs., Oct. 24 Demo Elsa Sibley 6-8 p.m. at Society
Sat., Oct. 26 Guest Demo by Ken DeWaard, 6-8 p.m. $25 per person
Tue., Oct. 29 Demo David Boyd Jr. 6-8 p.m. at the Society