By REBECCA HAZEN
The Tristate Heritage Arts and Culture Coalition (THACC), formed last year, is a local group of artists and appreciators of art, with a goal of increasing access to art in the community.
THACC was formed with the intent to renew the previous art organization, Trenton Arts Council (TAC), which had been inactive for many years.
“Many installations, postcard invitations, and pocket-sized manifestos can still be found, serving as relics from the TAC and its impressive repertoire of successful initiatives,” Jennifer Blair, Chair of THACC, said.
The TAC was founded in 2005 by Mary Petruska and Bob Dombrowski. Both of them have since passed away.
Blair received Dombrowski’s blessing in 2019 to resurrect the organization.
“He offered me a notebook which had been meticulously kept by Ms. Petruska of articles, event invitations, correspondences, and other artifacts from TAC. After pouring through its pages, I was determined to honor these past accomplishments,” Blair said.
Blair continued, “Mr. Dombrowski seemed amused, if not excited, by the idea of re–hanging the canvas banners leftover from an earlier TAC project as part of a tribute, and as easy as that, I inherited the lot of them.”
Blair reconnected with all of the still-living artists from TAC, including the ones who produced banners. She also connected with other local artists and art enthusiasts, including William Back, Executive Director of the Industrial Development Authority, “whose guidance and legal advisement has been indispensable.”
In 2020, the THACC was officially formed. Blair noted that Heidi Wilson, Claire Vassort, Lizzy Ott, and Dr. Sue Gridley were instrumental in the formation.
THACC recently partnered with the Dade County Public Library to hold an art show, “Revive: a THACC Tribute to TAC.” This included a selection of banners, as well as works by others who were involved in the TAC.
Blair noted that THACC is brainstorming future exhibit ideas with the library.
THACC also supports Art4Libraries, which are on-going community classes during the months of February and March at all libraries in the Cherokee Regional Library System. These classes feature silk painting and collage projects, which will later be used as art installations in the libraries.
“I have so much gratitude for this institution,” Blair said about the library, “which is undeniably a vital resource to our community, and wholeheartedly look forward to future collaborations with its extraordinary manager, Marshana Sharp, and her team.”
Other banners are on display at the Welcome Center, as well as work from other local artists. The exhibit there is ongoing and the work rotates periodically.
Additionally, THACC has been communicating with art teachers the Dade County school system with regard to future collaborations and programming.
“Many area youth demonstrate remarkable artistic talent, and this Coalition hopes to support these young artists through projects, promotions, mentorship, investment, etc., because the world needs artistic kids to grow up to be artistic adults. Even for those for whom art may not be a long-term, full-time career, art can be infused into daily activities, rendering a life well lived and affecting the circumstances of that life in beautiful ways,” Blair said.
Community members are encouraged to join THACC’s Facebook page and engage with other artists there, due to in-person gatherings being on hold because of COVID-19.
Newsletters are also periodically sent. To join that list, sign up by emailing 2020.THACC@gmail.com.
Newsletters provide information about upcoming projects, exhibits and events.
“I would like to have a more formal membership criteria. Hopefully in upcoming weeks we can solidify those details,” Blair said.
If anyone would like to contribute through a financial donation, they can do so in person at Citizens Bank & Trust or by mailing a check to THACC, c/o Russanna Jenkins, PO Box 518, Trenton, GA 30752.
“As public art is a primary objective, if any property owners in the Trenton area would be interested in having a sculpture installed on their lot or murals on a building’s facade, please don’t hesitate to contact us,” Blair said.
In the future, THACC hopes to raise funds to become a 501c3 organization.
Blair also hopes to see more free public art installations in Trenton and Dade County, such as sculptures and murals.
THACC is founded on the principles of Inclusivity, Diversity, Beauty, and Belonging.
“Art is a basic human right. Its enjoyment should not be reserved exclusively for the affluent, but rather, cities and communities everywhere should invest in public art and the overall aesthetic of urban environments. Such investments provide a sense of place that is unique to the area, exposing citizens and visitors to thought-provoking inspiration and experienced creativity,” Blair said.