This weekend, local folk art gallery Around Back at Rocky’s Place celebrated 20 years in Dawson County, complete with a special anniversary ribbon cutting with the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.
Tracey Burnette, owner and operator of the gallery, said that opening an art gallery came out of a dream she had several years ago.
“Rocky was my five-pound Pekingese; he had a traumatic experience and he passed away,” Burnette said. “I had a dream one night, and in my dream I was going to open a gallery and it was going to be a folk art gallery, and it was around back of the house and it’s at Rocky’s Place. Here we are 20 years later; this is my passion, this is my love.”
Art has always been close to her heart, she said, and it has been “her thing” all the way back to childhood.
“Art has always been my thing; I was always kind of the square peg fitting in the round hold but art was the medium that got me through; I excelled in the arts,” Burnette said.
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Burnette grew up in Dawson County and taught elementary art at Black’s Mill Elementary School for 19 years. Because of this, she was in the classroom on weekdays so her gallery was open on Saturdays and Sundays.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Burnette closed the gallery, opening it by appointment only. But as of this past weekend, while weekdays will remain by appointment only, she is officially re-opening it on Saturdays from 11 to 5 and Sundays from 1 to 5.
In the beginning years of the gallery Burnette had a partner, but after her partner moved on in 2020 she has been running it by herself. One of the things that makes her gallery especially special, she said, is that it is located in the spot that her family has owned for four generations.
“My parents built this house in 1970; this was my great-grandfather’s property so I am four generations on this property,” Burnette said. “It started in this little building; this was my daddy’s lawn mower shed. We put the art out in the yard and one day about eight years in a big canvas went flying across the yard, so that’s when we built the next building.”
Since opening the gallery, Burnette has gone from displaying the works of 24 folk artists at first to about 250 today, including paintings, pottery, wood carving, metal sculptures and fabric art. She said that over the years her favorite part of owning the gallery have been interacting with her artists and her customers.
“My favorite parts are meeting the artists, meeting the customers and making people happy — when they buy this art they seem to be all giddy and enjoy it so much,” Burnette said. “I know this genre is not for everyone, but I sure have sold a lot of art in 20 years and made a lot of people happy.”
In a brief presentation preceding the ribbon cutting ceremony, several members of the community and the chamber congratulated Burnette on her achievement of 20 years in business.
“Tracey is such a great community partner and she has adorned our office; all our walls,” Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mandy Power said. “We are so excited to celebrate her today; what an amazing jewel.”
District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett also congratulated Burnette on her accomplishment.
“I was just standing here thinking what a special, unique place and what a special, unique family I have known for so long,” Fausett said. "Dawson County is specially unique, this (gallery) is, and your family is so I hope you’re here forever.”
Around Back at Rocky’s Place is located at 3631 Highway 53 East and is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information about the gallery, call 706-265-6030 or go to https://aroundbackatrockysplace.com/.