There’s a strong movement in Dadeville, and a group of enthusiastic visionaries plan to lead the town into a new era with a dual art initiative.
Will York, with a long list of accomplishments in the art field, is teaming up with the newly formed nonprofit Everything’s Art to create a space in downtown. Raining Dogs Studio and Gallery, managed by York, occupies the building, along with a workshop area and headquarters for the 501(c)3 organization.
“The arts are in dire circumstance, and I believe developing that creative process for a child is essential for living. We want to see this new complementary relationship become a part of the community,” said York, who moved to the area from Colorado 30 years ago.
As a retired professor from University of Alabama at Birmingham’s theater department, a member of the ceramics studio with Auburn Parks and Recreation, a director and actor with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and having restored many old homes, York has an extensive resume with art at its core.
“I’ve worked as a potter since I was 25 years old, and I always wanted my own studio for pottery. When this building came available, everything fell into place, including a pottery studio in the very back,” he added.
Raining Dogs will occupy the front half of the open-concept space and has undergone renovations since January. The end result is a clean, neutral design. This ensures that the displayed artwork remains the focal point of the room.
York plans to feature local artists on one wall of the gallery that he would rotate out every five to six weeks, beginning with a reception. On the other side, he will continually have four to five artists on exhibit.
“I really want to help those local artists that don’t have a platform to get their work out there. I will manage anything from pottery, ceramics, water color – you name it,” said York.
With a 50/50 division indicated by rolling columns that can be manipulated depending on circumstance, the back half of the gallery will be the workshop area. Everything’s Art will host programs for both youth and adults in various artistic endeavors. These workshops also would be on display for anyone entering the gallery.
“Whether people are interested in buying art or not, we want to encourage people to come in and experience what we have to offer,” said York, who is excited to be teaming up with Everything’s Art.
The nonprofit began when a group of Dadeville locals was looking to jumpstart the town that used to be known as the City of Lights. More than 50 years ago, the arts seemed to be lost in the town.
“We have a lot of resources here that we’re not properly utilizing … there once was a strong art presence in Dadeville. We’ve got good bones, we just need to decorate it,” said Cheryl Haggerty, president of the nonprofit and a long-standing business owner in downtown Dadeville.
The Everything’s Art board of directors currently has 12 members and was officially established a few months ago. Haggerty said the group is diverse and everyone brings something different to the table.
The main goal is to reignite the arts within the community and instill art education throughout the youth and the school system.
“The educational gain is huge. It’s proven time and again that art is essential to growing a strong individual. The creative essence is what a child needs to excel,” said Judy Waters, vice president of Everything’s Art.
Haggerty said she hopes this art initiative will carry into the schools, including involvement from Edward Bell Technical School and its award-winning sculpture and welding work.
With historian Bill Ponder enthusiastic for this organization’s concept and full of resources, the group was introduced to York, which is where their kickoff platform began.
“Any town that is worth anything has some sort of art project going. You cannot bring a town to life without people with talent,” added Jim Cahoon, board member.
The ultimate goal for Everything’s Art is a permanent full-blown residence for the art community in Dadeville; however, its members want people other than residents to be coming to town.
“Dadeville is in a unique position because of the change of the economic market here. People are moving in from all over and moving from towns that already have a lot of this going on and are expecting to have it here,” said Cahoon.
Along with workshops, the group will host a gallery showing twice a year for student artwork from grades K-12.
“It always brings the art community together when you have children’s participation. When we can offer them that arena, great things could happen,” Waters said.
The board members of Everything’s Art said the timing is perfect for this movement, as the Dadeville Area Chamber of Commerce and county commissioners are recruiting new business to the area, so diversity and interest will flourish.
“The area is hungry, and we need to feed it. Don’t tell us with a vision that we can’t do it because we will,” Haggerty said.