An encomium richly deserved!

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Three or so years ago my Lovely First Wife and I were out for an evening at a local establishment for dinner and music, and we ran into some neighbors. During the course of the evening, Dana (herself a jewelry artist) said, “I have someone you need to meet.”

That someone was Kim Ramey, a gifted artist with a mission: having pulled herself through some rough times through her art, she was determined to bring that balm to others. Over the next few months, I and others would help Kim refine and solidify her ideas—she won’t mind my saying she has the brain of an artist—and in January 2017 Backstreet Arts opened its doors at 19-B First Avenue here in Newnan.

(For Newnanites, that’s behind Bridging the Gap, across the street from Newnan Theatre Company. In fact, the night Backstreet had an opening gala, NTC was having its season gala; since I was performing in a scene from Peter & the Starcatcher, I had to ping-pong back and forth all night.)

tl;dr: Backstreet offers a free art studio to anyone who needs it. Originally intending to serve the homeless, Kim expanded her vision to include everyone. No one has to pay. Backstreet is supported by generous donations, and certainly those who can afford their own supplies are encourage to bring those. We offer drawing, painting, jewelry, leather work, collage/assemblage, fabric arts, and anything else we can think of. The space is usually just open studio time, and we often have specific classes.

I continue to volunteer there every Tuesday and Thursday as a writing coach. I started by called it a “writer’s group,” but it’s not so much a group as it is “random people starting and stopping on projects.” I’ve enjoyed it, and I’ve coached some talented writers as well.

Your hero hard at work last January. And me in the background.

Your hero hard at work last January. And me in the background.

Where Kim fails utterly is at self-promotion. She’s turned down a couple of awards for her work, and so we practically had to beat her to submit her story to Where Women Create: inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women, a high-falutin’ publication of exactly what it says it is.

Of course they accepted her—she and her work are irresistible. And so tomorrow, Sep 24, the new issue hits the streets, and not only is Kim/Backstreet in there, her story is the Big First Picture on the table on contents page.

And delightfully:

Toby (Tobold Hornblower) reads.

Toby (Tobold Hornblower) reads.

Looking more closely…

photography by   Angelina Musac,   for Where Women Create

photography by Angelina Musac, for Where Women Create

You should go find a copy and read it. You should go to Backstreet’s donation page and donate. You should absolutely come down to Backstreet and create art.

(You should also buy the book Toby is reading.)