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A new makeover
Volunteers spruce up arts center
5 Art Center Makeover pic
Volunteer Vernon Smith lathers on a layer of paint to the deck at the Bowen Center for the Arts. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

A local civic club is lending a helping hand in support of the arts by painting the deck at the Bowen Center.

"They asked if anyone would be interested in painting the deck as a project, and we said, ‘Yes, Rotary will gladly paint the deck at the arts center,'" said Dawson County Rotary Club President Scott Yochum Friday morning. "Sherwin Williams here in Dawson County donated all the paint and supplies for us, which was awesome, and then we're supplying the sweat equity.

"We have a great crew out here today making the deck at the art center look pretty."

More commonly known as the "Old Rock School," the Bowen Center for the Arts is a 5,000 square foot building that for many years was part of the Dawson County School System.

Dawson County residents built it of locally quarried rock as a part of the Dawsonville High School complex in the 1930s.

When the school board determined the building was nearing the end of its usefulness, a group of volunteers got together to lease it.

Warren King is a longtime supporter of the center. He said the Dawson County Arts Council is grateful for the help in its preservation.

"The arts center has kind of been on its own to raise money and have people contribute to the quality of life in the community and the arts center is kind of at the heart of that. It's just a great way for people to get connected in the community through arts," he said.

In October of 2000, the building became the permanent home of the Dawson County Arts Council.

Named for local patrons of the arts and dedicated community stewards Ralph and Ludy Bowen, the center's first exhibit opened the same month.

The center currently offers programs for all ages, with plans to expand services, according to board member Doug Powell.

"We've been doing our best to expand programs and offer more things," he said. "We offer an awful lot of classes currently for adults and for children, but we're expanding into the performing arts in the near future, as well as the traditional painting and sculpting and this sort of thing."

The arts council also recently removed some large foliage from the front yard to open up the view of the building, as well as replaced the center's flooring in an effort to preserve the 85-year-old structure.

Powell said the cost of the floor was covered by the school system.

"The art center is a real blessing to this community and we're so thankful to have the cooperation from the school board providing this to us for the expansion and education and appreciation of art in the entire community," Powell said. "I'm proud to be a part of it and see the interest growing in the community for all the different varieties of art that we're able to offer."