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5 places to tour art studios

Known as the Artland of Georgia, Watkinsville-Oconee County boasts many art adventures. From public art exhibitions to premier art events, Watkinsville is home to some of the finest pieces of art by some of the most talented artists in the state and country. During your art excursion through Watkinsville, Georgia, take a moment to see local artists at work by touring art studios and witnessing art demonstrations in pottery-making and glass-blowing.

Happy Valley Pottery

Artist Loretta Eby performing a glass-blowing demonstrations.

Veteran artists Jerry and Kathy Chappelle transformed an old chicken house into artists studios to create one of the most unique art attractions in the area. Tour multiple studios highlighting various art forms at this quirky art spot. At Happy Valley Pottery, visitors can see pottery demonstrations, as well as glass blowing and raku firing by other local artists like Loretta Eby. After witnessing these fascinating art demonstrations, guests can purchase the work of the artists on site.

Address: 1210 Carson-Graves Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677

Winterhawk Pottery

Inside WinterHawk Pottery’s art studio. Photo provided by WinterHawk Pottery.

The pottery work of Winterhawk Pottery artist John Winterhawk is inspired by Native American artwork found in Southeastern burials ad temple mounds built by Mississippian Mound Builders. In the showroom of this pottery studio, visitors will find these intricate designs, as well as nature-inspired designs. To complement their pottery creations, Winterhawk Pottery’s showroom also includes casual furnishings, accessories, and gifts in what is called Winterhawk Home.

Address: 8801 Macon Highway #5, Athens, GA 30606

321 Pottery

Matt Powelson shows off his intricate designs in his studio, 321 Pottery.

321 Pottery is the pottery studio of local artist and attorney Matt Powelson. Inspired by his experiences and journeys as an overlander, his work includes functional, production pottery inspired by a mix of western landscapes, nature, modern architecture, and industrial design, which are revealed in the style, shape, surface, decoration, and color of his work. Trained by Kathy and Jerry Chappelle, Matt previously created his pieces at Happy Valley Pottery before opening 321 pottery.

Address: 2980 Greensboro Highway, Watkinsville, GA 30677

Alice Woodruff Pottery

Photo provided by Alice Woodruff Pottery.

Artist Alice Woodruff‘s studio is located right on South Main Street in Watkinsville. She has 45 years of experience in pottery-making, and works in high-fired porcelain and stoneware. Alice was a production potter for 24 years, but now focuses on more unique, hand-thrown pots. You can also see Alice at work teaching classes at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation.

 Address: 35 South Main Street, Watkinsville, GA 30677

The Greenbriar

Using custom clay and glaze formulas, artist Steven Nedza specializes in functional pottery. The pottery pieces include mugs, bowls, pots and other functional pieces with intricate and detailed designs.

Address: 4240 Colham Ferry Road., Watkinsville, GA 30677

You can see work from Happy Valley Pottery, 321 Pottery, and Alice Woodruff at the 15th Annual PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville, Georgia.

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Walking in Watkinsville

William Massey’s “Object of Wo(man)” along Main Street in Downtown Watkinsville

There is a lot to do on foot in Watkinsville. Park your car and explore public art, locally owned restaurants, and walking trails all within a 1-mile streak. Start at the Oconee County Welcome Center in Downtown Watkinsville, and pick up a map highlighting the area’s unique shops, historic sites, dining and parks.

 

Public Art

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation Sculpture Garden

Known as the Artland of Georgia, the city of Watkinsville features two public art exhibitions in its downtown area. There are a total of 27 art sculptures and art panels as part of two exhibits: Public Art Watkinsville: A Pop-Up Sculpture Exhibit and Artscape Oconee: The Monuments of Artland. Many of the pieces are within walking distance of each other, and can be enjoyed while shopping and dining in the city. You can find a guide on this collaborative effort by the City of Watkinsville and the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) in the welcome center. Also, stroll through OCAF’s on-site sculpture garden, a tranquil garden featuring sculptures in a variety of mediums.

Locally Owned Restaurants

Photo by Gary Kufner.

Within a 5-minute walk from the Welcome Center, you can enjoy a dozen locally owned restaurants specializing in baked goods, BBQ, steak, burgers, Mediterranean dishes and more. There is an endless option of dishes from local favorites like Kiki’s Bakeshop, JB’s Smokin’ Pig BBQ, Chops & Hops, The Traveling Hobo, and Girasoles. Keep your adventures outside and enjoy these restaurants’ outside dining patios, or dine-in to experience the ambiance of the dining establishments, which occasionally feature live music.

Walking Trails

Harris Shoals Park. Photo by JR Charles.

Watkinsville Woods is only a short walk off of Main Street, with six acres of greenspace. The wooded walking paths provide access to groves of native trees, a historic spring, and once-covered rock outcrop known as “Pulpit Rock.” Watkinsville is the only city in Georgia of its size with a walking park inside the city limits. Also less than a mile from Main Street is Harris Shoals Park, where visitors to the park can also enjoy a walking trail and picnic near the shoals of Calls Creek.

This post was first published on blog.exploregeorgia.org.

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A Weekend Guide to Perspectives, Georgia’s Premier Pottery Event

 

Georgia’s largest pottery showcase and sale is on the horizon! PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational is a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). The 20-day event in Watkinsville features pottery exhibits, demonstrations and studio tours. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 13, 2017,artists and art lovers will experience a showcase of 6,000 handmade, functional pieces by 50 Georgia potters. Here’s a weekend guide to Georgia’s premier pottery event of the year.

Where to Stay

Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Downtown Watkinsville. Photo provided by Matt Brewster.

Just a short walk from OCAF is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. Listed as one of the top inns to stay in Georgia, the bed and breakfast provides an inviting and relaxing environment with a pool and beautiful garden. The Victorian-style manor also features themed rooms raved about by national and international guests.

For a traditional lodging experience, the award-winning Springhill Suites by Marriott Athens is located just a few short miles from OCAF with on-site and off-site gym and pool access. Book your room soon; the popular hotel fills fast!

What to Do

One of three exhibits at Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational.

Friday

On Friday, arrive at your hotel to view the three-part pottery exhibit and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. Items will include mugs, cooking dishes, tea pots, large pots and much more. The Opening Gala will take place on Aug. 25 at Rocket Hall. Enjoy refreshments and live jazz music performed by local band Period Six. The opening reception is an exclusive opportunity to view and purchase pottery before the exhibits are open to the public.

Saturday

After a full breakfast complimentary of your stay, head over to the Rocket Hall Courtyard, where potters will perform pottery demonstrations focused on wheel throwing and hand building techniques. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-27, renowned artist Naoki Izumi will lead a workshop on the methods and secrets of Echizen pottery, one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.

Dining at Chops & Hops in Downtown Watkinsville.

In your free time, enjoy shopping in Historic Downtown Watkinsville with unique shops that feature art galleries, clothes and accessories, home and garden décor, antiques and more. You can also explore popular lunch options in the area like unique burgers at The Traveling Hobo Café, ribs at JB’s Smokin’ Barbeque and a classic BBQ sandwich at Hot Thomas BBQ. End the night with dinner at Chops & Hops, an unforgettable fine dining experience. For more dining options, visit visitoconee.com/dining.

Sunday

Wake up to Sunday brunch at Girasoles with Mexican-Mediterranean fused dishes crafted by Chef Zambrano. On Sept. 3 and Sept. 10, well-known Georgia potter Michael Pitts will host Gallery Talks with discussions on pottery styles, clays, glazes and firing techniques.

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge built in 1897.

Finally, a serene view and a classic photo at the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is the perfect way to end your trip before traveling home.

For more information on Perspectives, visit visitoconee.com/perspectives.

This post was first published on blog.exploregeorgia.org.

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3 places to grab souvenirs in Watkinsville

Whether you’re a domestic or international visitor, journeying to the small towns of Georgia and the South makes for authentic experiences you can’t find anywhere else in the world. In Oconee County, you won’t find souvenir shops filled with “I ♥ [insert city]” keepsakes at every corner as you would in the busy streets of Atlanta, New York City, or Los Angeles. Instead, you will travel scenic roads and explore historic downtowns to find unique gems to remind you of the one-of-a-kind experiences you had in rural Georgia. Here are three places to grab souvenirs in Watkinsville.

 

Happy Valley Pottery

Enjoy 15 minutes of scenic beauty from Downtown Watkinsville to purchase handmade art at Happy Valley Pottery. Local artists and owners of Chappelle Gallery and Happy Valley Pottery transformed an old chicken house into artists’ studios, where you can watch artists in their element creating glass art and pottery. After witnessing the creation of these local artists, you can purchase their art pieces used for both décor and functional purposes.

 

Empire South

 

Photo by Emily Faz. Model: Braden Bruce

 

Dress like the locals and show your love for Georgia with Peach State Pride shirts. The brand celebrates Georgia’s history and culture, and is headquartered right here in Watkinsville. You can find the shirts and other Southern-made items at Empire South located in Town Center in Downtown Watkinsville.

 

Oconee County Welcome Center

 

Share your travels with family and friends or remember your journey with postcards featuring historic sites like the Elder Mill Covered Bridge, the Eagle Tavern Museum, and the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. Visit these sites and stop by the Oconee County Welcome Center located on Main Street to collect postcards to add to your postcard travel boards or journals highlighting your most memorable travel experiences in Oconee County, Georgia.

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Why Oconee County should be on your bucket list

While there are a million reasons to love and visit Oconee County-Watkinsville, I want to share the experiences you don’t get in too many counties. Oconee may be small, but it’s packed with a lot history and uniqueness. So sit back and let me tell you why you should be planning your trip to visit us . . . now!

Georgia’s Antebellum Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are only seven cities on the famous Georgia Antebellum Trail, and yes, one of those cities is our very own Watkinsville. You can plan 3- or 4-day trips from Athens to Macon and visit some of the most historic communities and landmarks in the state! When you stop in Watkinsville, enjoy the history of the Eagle Tavern Museum and Elder Mill Covered Bridge, and the many art galleries and exhibits featuring local and national artists.

 

Largest Pottery Show in Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They don’t call us the Artland of Georgia for nothing! In addition to our numerous art galleries and shops, we are home to Perspectives, one of the largest pottery shows in the southeast. Yes, that’s 12 states and lots of cities! The event has even been listed in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for the past two years. Stop by OCAF (Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation) in August and September to see the popular pottery showcase. With our talented local artists and beautiful exhibits and galleries, we make a huge scene in the South when it comes to art.

 

Elder Mill Covered Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I previously noted, we are also home to one of only 13 functional covered bridges left in Georgia. The Elder Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1897 and sits above the peaceful and beautiful Rose Creek. This bridge has been on many visitors’ bucket lists resulting in awesome pictures, so why isn’t it on yours?

Locally Grown Foods

 

 

 

 

 

“Homemade” is a rarity nowadays. Take a break from the norm and choose from our fresh and locally grown produce. Stop by Washington Farms to pick your own fresh berries and other seasonal items. Thomas Orchards is sure to please with its delicious homemade peach ice cream. Also, our Farmer’s Market won’t disappoint with its array of locally grown foods available downtown each Saturday from April to November.

I’m sure I’ve convinced you so here’s a link to where you should stay during your visit in Oconee, http://bit.ly/1WBl1iv. Stop by the welcome center and say hi!

 

 

Helpful Links

Georgia Antebellum Trail

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF)

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3 things to look forward to this spring in Oconee

There are only two weeks before it’s officially spring! With hints of warm weather this winter building our anticipation for sunny days and budding flowers, here are three things to look forward to this spring in Oconee County.

Locally-grown foods

 

 

Spring means strawberry season! Washington Farms will open for strawberry season in April. At the farm, pick your own strawberries and enjoy creamy, homemade strawberry ice cream from April to May. The U-Pick farm will also host Super Spring Saturdays April 22, April 29, May 6, and May 13. Bring your family to enjoy a petting zoo, wagon rides, and other fun activities on the farm.

 

Photo courtesy of onlineathens.com.

Hosted in Downtown Watkinsville, also visit the Oconee Farmers Market for Georgia grown items like green beans, nuts, free range eggs, grass-fed beef, berries, and more. The farmers market will host a soft opening April 1, and officially kickoff the season April 22. You can browse the market for a variety of produce each Saturday until November.

Art shows

Photo courtesy of Farmington Depot Gallery.

During the first weekend of April, witness the spontaneous creativity of local artists at theFarmington Depot Gallery. Once a train depot, the gallery will host its annual spring festival,Festifool, featuring an artist market, art cars, and raku demonstrations.

 

This spring, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation will present its 22nd annual art exhibition,SOUTHWORKS. SOUTHWORKS is a premier art exhibit showcasing the talent and work of artists from across the country. Browse the galleries of OCAF between April 7 and May 5. A reception will be held April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the show and the artists and pieces accepted into the juried exhibition.

New restaurant opening

 

Spring is also the season for the official and anticipated opening of Pour Restaurant & Bar. Located in Downtown Watkinsville next to the Eagle Tavern Museum, the upscale restaurant will offer beer, wine, and distilled spirits, as well as food, and will initially serve only dinner. Experience a new taste in Watkinsville-Oconee County with dinner indoors, or enjoy the spring weather and gourmet eats on the patio of Pour.

 

Take a trip to Oconee County this spring, and enjoy all the wonderful experiences in art, culinary, and outdoor fun the area has to offer. For more upcoming events, click here. For a full dining guide, click here.

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Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Happenings

‘Tis the season for holiday lights, shopping and events! Get in the spirit in Watkinsville and celebrate the holiday season with events, sales, and holiday displays.

 

EVENTS

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Watkinsville’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting is a prime event for the season. On the first Friday in December, spectators gather along Main Street for holiday carols, hot chocolate, cookies, and the lighting of the holiday tree in Downtown Watkinsville.

The next day, December 3, the city and the Oconee Enterprise will host its annual Watkinsville Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. The parade travels throughout Downtown Watkinsville and features extravagant floats, bands, and local organizations.

Next up is Mingle with Kringle, a popular Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) tradition for children. The event will take place on December 10, and includes storytelling, photos with Kringle, arts and crafts, and a puppet show. This year’s event will also feature a theatrical performance by Doug Berkey.

What’s December without a holiday musical? Brightstone Productions will present Christmas at the Five and Dime at the Oconee County Civic Center December 15-18. The performance is set in the 1940s in a large department store.

 

DISPLAYS

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In addition to the the many events in town are also holiday displays. The rare and historic Elder Mill Covered Bridge, which sits above Rose Creek, will be decorated in colorful holiday lights throughout the season.

Also, the Eagle Tavern Museum, once a stagecoach stop, will be decorated in period-themed holiday décor and live greenery as visitors explore the life of travelers in the 1800s. The Eagle Tavern Museum will have a special opening after the Christmas Parade and a Holiday Open House in December.

The Oconee County Welcome Center is also a popular stop during the holidays with a grand window display of a Dickens Village.

 

SHOPPING

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Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF).

Happy Valley Pottery will host its Holiday Open House & Sale November 25-27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The holiday open house and sale will include art demonstrations in raku and glassblowing, and will feature pottery, paintings, jewelry, candles, and bath products for sale.

At the OCAF Holiday Market, shop for more unique gifts for friends and family. The three-day event will showcase and sell paintings, jewelry, sculptures, folk art, photography, clay, food, soaps, and more! The market will also feature OCAF’s Artists’ Shoppe, which will be available from December 2 – 23. The Artist Shoppe sells the handcrafted work of OCAF members.

Take on these events and more with a stay at the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian-style manor built in the 1930s. For more on holiday shopping and happenings in Watkinsville, follow Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas holiday series on Facebook.