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A Golden Opportunity

32nd Annual National Juried Exhibit from SCAA.
32nd Annual National Juried Exhibit from SCAA.

The SCAA is celebrating 50 years of supporting the arts and artists in Cobb.

By Cory Sekine-Pettite

Since 1972, the all-volunteer, non-profit South Cobb Arts Alliance (SCAA) has been an integral part of Cobb County’s arts & culture community, representing hundreds of local artists and craftspeople, hosting events, and collaborating on projects and performances with area schools. From the beginning, the SCAA’s mission has been to encourage public appreciation and active participation in the visual arts, performing arts, and local heritage. Additionally, the organization strives to advance to high levels the artistic standards of its members, the community, and the public by offering opportunities to extend experiences, to increase skills, and to share understanding, philosophy, techniques, and knowledge.

These noble endeavors have been managed under the capable supervision of SCAA President San Miller, so Cobb In Focus connected with Miller to chat about her organization’s history and its annual holiday events, which you won’t want to miss. “Art is a wonderful way to help build and strengthen our communities,” Miller says. “It helps to engage, inspire, and encourage us to reach out and connect with each other, express our creative voice, and create shared experiences while working together toward meaningful outcomes.”

First and foremost, she says, the SCAA offers a multi-faceted commitment to effectively engage artists and local communities. In fact, the alliance currently represents more than 150 artists (full list available at southcobbarts.org). The organization’s chief purpose is to bring art to public spaces, and it does so with community collaborations and partnerships with businesses, school systems, and other non-profits. And the efforts get noticed. The SCAA has earned many awards over the years, including recognition in 2009 from the Cobb Arts Board and Friends of the Arts for “significant contributions to the arts in Cobb County” with the Outstanding Ensemble/Arts Organization award. In 2014, the Cobb Community Relations Council acknowledged the organization at its Celebration of Diversity. More recently, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded SCAA a 2016-17 grant to broaden its outreach and promote local artists, art educators, and students in the community.

Christmas House
Christmas House

Upcoming Events & Projects
Typically, the fall and winter holiday season is the SCAA’s busiest time of year, with juried art shows, public art events, and the alliance’s renowned Christmas House Arts and Crafts Show + Market — an event that is marking its 36th year. This event started as a small, social gathering in an historic home and eventually morphed into one of the larger, must-see holiday happenings in Cobb County. “It just grew and grew and grew,” Miller said. “And before you knew it, we were doing a tea room, and then the recipes became famous. And then everything else we were doing started to blossom and they kept growing. When I came in [as president], we started to do more things. So, this year, for instance, we’re going to be doing more events. We’re going to have book readings. We’re going to get more community involvement, entertainment, and kids programs included in the shopping experience because it’s not tables or booths.

If you’re unfamiliar with that shopping experience at Christmas House, the five-day event is set up to look like a department store, with 30 to 40 local vendors showcasing their wares throughout the space inside Ford Center. In addition to holiday items, local artists will showcase original, handmade fine arts and crafts. Of course, don’t forget the Christmas House Tea Room, featuring Mrs. Edwards Bakery, which is open to the public from 10 a.m. daily until one hour before closing time each day. “We’re also going to be asking some of the schools to put up some of their artwork there,” Miller added.

Speaking of student artwork, the SCAA has a unique, collaborative art project with two, local schools that you can look forward to seeing. The SCAA Color Pop coloring book endeavor has taken longer to produce than originally planned (because of multiple, pandemic-related issues), but should be brightening the lives of local children soon. Three years in the making, the idea for this project is to create and distribute coloring books for children in local hospitals. With the help of the SCAA and local artists, students from Powder Springs Elementary and Floyd Middle School have created drawings that will be bound and published as a book for other kids to embellish while they are cooped up in hospitals.

“We decided to take it to two schools that we thought were really doing great work in art,” Miller said. “…And then we planned how we could celebrate all this at the schools, having programs to celebrate the children that did that and hand out the books to them, as well as having all these receptions and things. We were going to be working mainly with Devereaux and Wellstar Hospitals. And then COVID came and everything stopped.”

But fear not, Miller is persistent and says the books will be printed and distributed soon. “It has to be really soon because it’s such a wonderful idea … and everybody has been so excited about it,” she said.

Public Art Endeavors
Truly, there’s never a shortage of events and public art projects planned by the SCAA throughout the year. “We always try to connect the dots and do collaborations, and try to think of different ways to present the art that interests [many people],” Miller said. The following is a good sample of recent programs.

  •  Projects supporting the community: NEA grant project “1000 Words” comprising 10 panels from Smyrna artist Miles Davis, which incorporate actual discarded book components into the mixed media art; colorful and imaginative original paintings, which share the common theme of the power and importance of reading books. This NEA project became one of the highlights of the SCAA organization. Six pieces from the art series were privately acquired for donation to the South Cobb Regional Library; the first was purchased and is currently on exhibit at Sewell Mill Library.
  •  Local/national artist exhibits: National Juried Exhibit for 32 straight years; exhibits in City of Powder Springs buildings; Rooted Trading Co.; Cobb County Public Libraries, including South Cobb Regional and Vinings, with more locations to come.
  •  Art collaborations such as 32nd National Juried Exhibit at Pat Vaughn Cultural Arts Center with the Georgia Symphony and Georgia Ballet.
  •  November 2021 SCAA Veterans Photography exhibit scheduled to be hung in the Thurman Springs Park.
Rooted Trading Co. Black History Month Exhibit.
Rooted Trading Co. Black History Month Exhibit.

You might say that the SCAA’s 50th anniversary and this upcoming holiday season provide a golden opportunity for you to get to know the people running this organization, to possibly volunteer some of your time or resources, and certainly to check out the Christmas House this December. Perhaps the visit will lead to a new tradition for your family.

Donate and volunteer today!
South Cobb Arts Alliance
P.O. Box 1037
Austell, GA 30168

SCAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-supported arts organization. Your membership dues and donations are tax-deductible. To become a part of this active, energetic, and diverse group of volunteers and supporters, visit their website at southcobbarts.org.

Upcoming SCAA Events
November 6 & 13 — Art Class: The Art of Cartooning and Children’s Book Illustrations

December 1-5 36th Christmas House Arts and Crafts Show + Market at Ford Center in Powder Springs

December 11 — Art Classes: Two options/age groups to Learn the Crafting of Mosaics

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