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Paint, dance, print, film: All forms of art energized the emerging music scene in Athens. Help us preserve and protect this history! Read more

Athens, GA Art
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Paint, dance, print, film: All forms of art energized the emerging music scene in Athens. Help us preserve and protect this history!

Athens, GA Art
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About this project

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Over the past few years, many of the people who were involved in the early Athens art and music scenes have come to a startling conclusion: They are not going to live forever. Gasp. They have also come to fully appreciate that although local bands like Pylon, R.E.M., Love Tractor, and the B-52’s have been heard around the world, Athens artists have scarcely received any recognition for the pivotal role they played in turning their town into a magnetic center for the arts. There has never been a retrospective of Athens visual and performance artists from 1975-85. No one is working to protect this history by documenting, preserving and recording it. And no one has stepped forward to do this – until now.

Art Rocks Athens is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the preservation and celebration of art in Athens and its influence on music. The purpose of the current Kickstarter is to raise funds for our flagship 2014 exhibitions, primarily in May, with many scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Artists have been uploading digital images of their art for collection in a museum-quality database, where the work is being cataloged. Graphic artists have been uploading images in staggering numbers of posters, flyers, album cover art and other ephemera.  Additionally, Art Rocks has located many rare artifacts from this time period.  

The vast majority of Art Rocks programs will be free and open to the public. Since Athens has one of the widest income gaps in the nation, keeping events and activities with no charge will give the greatest number of people an opportunity to participate. After reading the story below you will find details about specific exhibitions and events.

The Art Rocks Board is is already planning future exhibitions; a book covering this period of time; and ongoing outreach to build up the art database and provide access to the national and international art community, so that in the years to come researchers and other interested people will be able to view Athens art from this seminal period. Art Rocks Athens is also working in conjunction with the University of Georgia Special Collection Libraries to make the public and collectors aware of the opportunity to have their collections housed in a climate controlled environment and oral histories recorded for posterity.

Ricky Wilson's guitar from the collection of Cindy Wilson and Keith Bennett, circa 1975
Ricky Wilson's guitar from the collection of Cindy Wilson and Keith Bennett, circa 1975

What happened in Athens, Georgia?

In the 1970’s and 80’s in Athens, Georgia the living was easy.  Rent was cheap, crappy part-time jobs were plentiful, and there was loads of time for making art and music. At 6:00 p.m. most of the downtown businesses closed and the daytime folks went home, leaving a delightfully empty playground for a group of young people who were ready to work off the stress of school and work. At first there were artists' studios on upper floors of old brick buildings, cavernous spaces with unfinished heart pine floors and very little in the way of even the simplest amenities. Of course, while drawing or painting there had to be music, especially from early British and American punk bands. Before too long, the artists and their friends started forming musical groups of their own, first playing at parties and then venturing into the world outside of the inventive incubator that was Athens, Georgia.

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Buy Me A Million Dollars by Love Tractor 1982, DB Records; video by Leslie Michel, 2014

Perhaps it was because many of these young people came from sleepy little Southern towns where they were reared to be hospitable and get along with other people. Maybe it was because when they reached the University of Georgia, individuals who had lived lonely lives as rebels and outsiders suddenly found themselves part of a large gathering of similarly-minded souls, all of whom were burning with a desire to express the truth of their inner visions. Whatever the reason, an otherwise disparate collection of painters, poets, musicians, dancers and dreamers became each other's support, and began a lifetime of collaboration and cooperation. The group’s confidence grew as members spurred on one another to try new approaches and genres in their work. They became fearless because of constant inspiration and stimulation from their peers and professors. This opened wide the doors of exploration and examination, sometimes leading to the creation of something a little strange, or maybe a little wonderful.

Bones of Life 3 Roof Series: Anne McInnis: Mixed, bone, paint, 1981
Bones of Life 3 Roof Series: Anne McInnis: Mixed, bone, paint, 1981

Much of this raw energy focused itself in both novel and familiar forms of self-expression. The Art Department at the University of Georgia became a laboratory where anything could happen. Brash young professors challenged their students to take risks and explore the world in new ways. Installations in the yard outside the building went up and came down with the frequency of mushrooms after a rainstorm. Art students were producing work at such a rate that they would make a painting, paint a base coat over what they had made the previous week and make another painting. People sat in bars and restaurants with their sketchpads, capturing random street scenes or perhaps an extraordinary face in the crowd. In the photography lab, students began by making pinhole cameras and progressed to developing their own 35mm photographs in the darkroom. Others grabbed Super 8 cameras and began making films.

The world was filled with art; then the music came along, and the scene really exploded.

Pylon at Memorial Hall, University of Georgia, photo by Jay Thomas, 1981
Pylon at Memorial Hall, University of Georgia, photo by Jay Thomas, 1981

After hours in the art department, boom boxes first played the Velvet Underground and New York Dolls along with recordings by Yma Sumac, Patsy Cline or Stockhausen thrown into the mix. As time progressed, speakers blared punk bands, and eventually blasted out songs by local Athens musicians. Music started to become more than a background of ambient sound and began to creep into the art. With cameras and sketchbooks always being in attendance, works inspired by bands merged into being in student portfolios. Not only that, but all of these new records needed cover art and bands needed posters and flyers for their shows. Some of the most coveted early posters and t-shirts were screen printed. With so much activity during the evening hours, the art school building became a roiling cauldron of imaginative energy, fueled by people with a relentless drive to create.

Poster designed by Keith Bennett and screen printed by Chris Rasmussen, 1978
Poster designed by Keith Bennett and screen printed by Chris Rasmussen, 1978

In Athens, Georgia from the mid-to-late seventies, life did not imitate art. Life was art. One way that people expressed their originality was through their clothing. People discovered thrift shopping. In part, this came about because of a lack of funds, but it equally happened because the clothes of the time were mostly made from itchy, scratchy polyester in plaids and prints of hideously unnatural colors. It was much more fun to go to the Potter's House Thrift Store and bring home soft cotton pants, outrageous fifties prom dresses, and Hawaiian shirts. Mixing and matching eras resulted in a unique style of dressing that could not be duplicated. Eclectic everyday looks got taken a step further when bands began to dress up for performances. Musicians competed with their audiences to see who could have the wildest style, the biggest hair, the boldest looks.

Still from the Limbo District video Carnival by James Herbert.  Photo by Marlys Cox, 1983
Still from the Limbo District video Carnival by James Herbert. Photo by Marlys Cox, 1983

What is Art Rocks Athens doing in 2014?

Between Rock and an Art Place at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art

Beginning on May 23, 2014, under the direction of curator and former UGA art instructor Robert Croker, a fine art exhibition will encompass artworks in every medium. This no-holds-barred curatorial exploration will honestly demonstrate the combined effect that a loose coalition of immensely talented students, faculty, and townsfolk were capable of producing. 

ARTifacts Rock Athens: Relics from the Athens Music Scene, 1975-1985 at the Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the UGA Special Collection Libraries

Come here expecting to see seldom seen artworks, records, significant correspondence, hand-written original lyrics, instruments, amps, set lists, early posters and flyers, buttons, tour passes, t-shirts, stickers, photographs, newsletters, fan club items, and rare film and video. See Kate and Cindy’s stage clothes in a fashion show at the opening on May 1, 2014.

Paper Covers Rock: Graphic Arts and the Athens Music Scene, 1975-1985 at the Lyndon House Arts Center

In the upstairs atrium gallery, every rock collector's dream will come true with the treasures from band members and long-time Athens music enthusiasts gracing the walls: Original artwork for album covers, as well as magazine and fanzine covers will share the space with posters, flyers set lists and graphic art of every description. This show is curated by Sean Bourne, whose early band screen prints are prized by graphics collectors.

Nightclubbing Videos with Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong

Although Art Rocks is saving much of the video and film for the 2015 exhibitions, for its first year, we introduce these two native New Yorkers, who filmed entire concerts by Pylon and other Athens bands in their series of Nightclubbing videos. Pat and Emily will talk about their work in a Q&A after the showing, where they will discuss punk rock and rock music history, and give advice to aspiring filmmakers.

Clear the Floor: A Retrospective Dance Concert Featuring Original Choreography Created in Athens, Georgia, 1975-1985 at the UGA Dance Department New Dance Theater

With a cast of local dancers and  current UGA dance students, choreographer and former UGA student and faculty member Peggy Thrasher Law is planning an ambitious retrospective dance performance featuring reconstructions of dance works from the 1975-85 time period.  This performance will be held on Saturday, May 24, 2014.  The lobby of the building will display striking dance photography from the 1975-85 period by the late L. David Dwinnell.

There will also be other events, including concerts at the Georgia Theatre and the 40 Watt Club, and a specially curated night of Art Rocks themed stories with the Rabbit Box Storytelling Collective. These activities will not be utilizing Kickstarter funds.

Dancing at the 52 Club by A.H. Krieger, Mixed Media, 1980
Dancing at the 52 Club by A.H. Krieger, Mixed Media, 1980

What is the bottom line here?  How can you help?

1.  "Buy me a million dollars!"  We deeply thank you for your donation in whatever size works best for you.

2.  Share this site with your friends.  Please share our campaign with music fans, history buffs, collectors or anyone else you think may be interested in this project.

3. Come back here often for frequent updates.  We will be posting videos and information about some of our fabulous finds, performers and activities. For example: What if you were to find that there was an alternate album cover for the debut album of…  We'll save that detail for another day!  We may also be enhancing some premiums or making other special offers.

Title banner credit: Pylon by Watt King, Acrylic and collage on cotton duck, 1979

Risks and challenges

We recognize that this is an ambitious project requiring many hours of work to come to fruition. For that reason, Art Rocks Athens has recruited volunteer committee chairs and curators who are doing this because they recognize that this project wants to be done. They work for love, not money. A few people doing specialized tasks are being paid for their work, mostly so that they will not lose any funds through being involved with Art Rocks. About 95% of the work is being done for free. Part of the reason we are able to maintain such strong project cohesion is because many of us have been friends for most of our lives.

We do recognize that unforeseen events may take people away from this work. For that reason, most people in leadership positions have associates who may take over if they need to step away. We aim for transparency and open communication in everything we do. In short, this group of people is in it for the long haul, and we hope you decide to support this worthy project.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • If you selected one or more t-shirts, you have two options.

    1. Once you see all of the designs in the Updates section, you can go ahead and contact us via Kickstarter to let Art Rocks know which one (or more) you want, along with the size of the shirt and your mailing address.

    2. If we don't hear from you, after we reach our goal, we will contact you via Kickstarter to get all of your info.

    Either way, once we reach our goal, you are covered!

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Rewards

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more
    About $10 USD

    6 backers

    Chip in ten dollars and get an orange and yellow Art Rocks Athens logo button. This color of the Art Rocks logo button will only be available to Kickstarter contributors. With our unique design by Michael Lachowski of Pylon fame, you will be the envy of every kid in the neighborhood.

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    About $15 USD

    9 backers

    You always suspected it - now let the world know with a bumper sticker that reads, "Athens, GA: Not A Normal Town." Plus an orange logo button.

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    Pledge $25 or more
    About $25 USD

    16 backers

    Be stylin' and profilin' in an Art Rocks Athens logo t-shirt! Our pink logo with the yellow accent is printed on a black tee and comes in sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Orange logo button included.l

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    Pledge $35 or more
    About $35 USD

    2 backers

    Show some Athens love with a Hand Stamp Project tea towel. It is guaranteed to be a hit in any kitchen. Plus, pinned on there somewhere will be
    ...an orange logo button.

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    Pledge $35 or more
    About $35 USD

    10 backers

    The Athens, GA: Not A Normal Town t-shirt comes in black with white lettering. As with all our tees, it is heavy cotton and comes in sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL. Your orange logo button will look really good on it.

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    Pledge $35 or more
    About $35 USD

    3 backers

    Art Rocks has a Hand Stamp Project. Athens artists are designing hand stamps, the kind stamped on the back of a hand when you pay to get into a club. They will be of various iconic people, places and events from the 75-85 period in Athens. A set of eight postcards of iconic images from the Hand Stamp Project - machine printed - can be yours at this level. They come with a orange logo button.

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    Pledge $35 or more
    About $35 USD

    20 backers

    Art Rocks Athens has (re)created t-shirts from four of Athens's most popular bands: Love Tractor, Limbo District, Method Actors, and the Side Effects. Choose one of the following as your reward at this level. The Love Tractor shirt is white with black tire tracks and red lettering. The Method Actors shirt is charcoal with black and white ink. The Limbo District shirt is black with white ink, and the Side Effects shirt is a heather royal blue with white underlay, and black and red ink. Each shirt will also have a small Art Rox logo on it. And comes with an orange button.

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    Pledge $50 or more
    About $50 USD

    3 backers

    Choose one option at this price level: Either a DVD of a special Art Rocks evening of stories told at the Rabbit Box storytelling collective, OR a DVD of the May 24, 2014 one-time-only dance performance at the UGA Dance Department New Dance Theater. If you cannot be in Athens to attend these events, this is your chance to join in one of two special nights.
    As with all our other rewards, also be on the lookout for an orange logo pin.

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    Pledge $65 or more
    About $65 USD

    4 backers

    Be the "hostess with the most-ess" with a set of six Art Rocks coasters. The Art Rocks logo is on one side in pink, and each coaster will have a different Hand Stamp design on the other. You will take accessorizing to new heights placing drinks on matching coasters while wearing your orange logo button.

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    Pledge $65 or more
    About $65 USD

    0 backers

    Collectible buttons! Many of the Art Rocks events (including orange for Kickstarter, as you may have already guessed) come with a logo button in a different color. The first event button was blue. Others will be in lime green, red, black, and so on. Unless you live in Athens, and come to every event, the only way to collect a complete set of six buttons is to donate at this level. They will come with a color key describing the events.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $65 or more
    About $65 USD

    11 backers

    Two t-shirts. Choose any two t-shirts from the levels above. They will come with an orange logo button.

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    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    4 backers

    Entertaining Set: Get six Art Rocks coasters and one tea towel from the Art Rocks Hand Stamp Project. You will be ready to put the blender on cruise control should Daiquiris On Call happen to stop by for a frosty drink! Orange logo button, too!

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    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    3 backers

    One limited edition, numbered, hand-stamped print on archival paper. You may choose your artist from the list of people participating in the Hand Stamp Project. Each print will authenticated with the official Art Rocks stamp, and signed by the printer. Comes with the orange logo button, too.

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    Pledge $125 or more
    About $125 USD

    4 backers

    The collection of all four band t-shirts - half a week's wardrobe - can be yours at this price level. Just pull on one of these babies, slide into a pair of pajama pants, and you are ready to go downtown, circa 1980. We will not forget to include your orange logo button.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more
    About $250 USD

    3 backers

    Own a piece of real Athens art: A limited edition 18x24 inch silkscreen print of 20 hand stamps. Each stamp has been designed by an Athens artist who is a part of Art Rocks. You will also receive one invitation to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Rock and an Art Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014. We have commissioned this limited run exclusively for our contributors from our partners at Double Dutch Press. The poster comes with a booklet that tells the story behind each hand stamp, and an orange logo button.

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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more
    About $250 USD

    3 backers

    Get two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014. Comes with two orange logo buttons.

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    About $500 USD

    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    A signed, numbered still from one of the movies of Betty Alice Fowler, Athens film maker extraordinaire and Art Rocks Board member. Using her 8mm camera, Betty Alice documented both the early art and music scenes, and developed innovative techniques in manipulating film for special effects. She filmed very early footage of many of your favorite Athens artists and musicians. Do your eyeballs a favor and look for this image in the updates soon.

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    Pledge $500 or more
    About $500 USD

    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    A stunning early photographic image of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson of the B-52's printed by artist and Art Rocks Board of Advisers member Keith Bennett. This is a limited edition image, 17 by 11 inches, numbered and printed on Arches paper. It is signed by the photographer AND by Kate and Cindy. It comes with two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014, where you can show off your orange logo button.

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    About $750 USD

    2 backers

    Voice mail is such a bore… unless Fred Schneider of the B-52's records your outgoing greeting! Just think how people will react when they hear Fred's unmistakeable voice asking them to leave YOU a message. Along with Fred, you will receive two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014.

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    About $750 USD

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    You may not have a mirror ball in your living room, but you can keep the energy pumping with Michael Lachowski's "Disco" special limited edition etching, numbered and signed. This new edition will be made from the original plate created during art school days, and will be in a special color only for Art Rocks. You will also receive two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014. And did anyone mention an orange button?

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    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Here is your chance to own a one-of-a-kind Billie Beads piggy bank, especially made by our Board members Bob Nielsen and Billie Tannen for Art Rocks Athens. Seen in Vogue, Elle Decor, and the New York Times, Billie Beads designs are in high demand. The piggies are made with polymer clay in millefiori patterns on a porcelain base with Swarovski crystals. They feature mesmerizing designs of rich and subtle color in astonishing detail. Each bank has a rubber stopper for removing coins...no need to break the bank! Bob and Billie can custom-make the background color to suit your taste.
    You will also receive two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014.

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    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    "Untitled 1979," original gelatin silver print © Ann States featuring Jimmy Ellison, Michael Lachowski and Vanessa Briscoe. See Update #4 for image. Orange button carefully packaged separately.

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    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    "Keith Strickland (B-52's), 1978," original gelatin silver print © Ann States. See Update #4 for image. Orange button carefully packaged separately.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    "Oh-OK," original gelatin silver print c. 1982 © Ann States. See Update #4 for image. Orange button carefully packaged separately.

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    About $1,250 USD

    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    A night out in Athens with Armistead Nelson Welford III. Actor, painter, and musician, Army is on the Art Rocks Board, and was recently seen as Nehemiah Cleary in Steven Spielberg's movie Lincoln. Bring some friends, party Athens-style and kill a $200 bar tab with Army at the venue of your choice. Additionally, you will receive two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014.

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    About $2,500 USD

    0 backers

    An extraordinary opportunity to own an artwork that will never come again past this limited run. Up to 20 hand stamps, printed by hand, come together to make a fine art print. The individual stamps will only be printed altogether for this one piece, making this numbered 18 by 24 inch print a special treasure. The print will come with a booklet telling the stories behind the stamps.
    You will also receive two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014.

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    About $3,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Gourmet vegetarian dinner for six at the Orange Twin Conservation Community. Take a walk in the woods to the pavilion, visit the swimming hole, or sit and rock on the porch before your catered meal. Afterwards, there will be music on the porch with some of the fine musicians from the Elephant Six collective. Your hosts for this event are two Art Rocks folks: Blair Dorminey from the Executive Committee, and Co-chair of the Music Committee, Brian Poole. Date to be decided upon by mutual agreement. Also, orange logo buttons for everyone!

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Cindy Wilson of the B-52's is a famous in American rock icon in her own right, but did you know she also has a talent for capturing the faces of famous people in original batik? Choose one from a series of three original signed artworks being created by Cindy exclusively for the Art Rocks Kickstarter. You will be able to choose your image in the order that your pledge is received. You will also get two invitations to the VIP pre-opening party at the exhibition of "Between Art and a Rock Place" at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens on May 23, 2014.

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    About $5,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Untitled # 1, 1973
    Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to own a James Herbert original watercolor. Herbert, a figurative expressionist painter and experimental filmmaker, was also a professor at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. As one of the central figures in the development of the Athens scene, Herbert served as inspiration to many artists and musicians. He is on the Art Rocks Board.

    The watercolor is approximately 22 by 30 inches. Look for a photo of this piece in Update #4.

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  30. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more
    About $5,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Untitled #2, 1973
    Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to own a James Herbert original watercolor. Herbert, a figurative expressionist painter and experimental filmmaker, was also a professor at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. As one of the central figures in the development of the Athens scene, Herbert served as inspiration to many artists and musicians. He is on the Art Rocks Board.

    The watercolor is approximately 22 by 30 inches. Look for a photo of this piece in Update #4.

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    About $5,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Untitled # 3, 1973
    Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to own a James Herbert original watercolor. Herbert, a figurative expressionist painter and experimental filmmaker, was also a professor at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. As one of the central figures in the development of the Athens scene, Herbert served as inspiration to many artists and musicians. He is on the Art Rocks Board.

    The watercolor is approximately 22 by 30 inches. Look for a photo of this piece in Update #4.

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    About $10,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Give Art Rocks Athens, and our mission of preserving the art of this historically important period of American art, a mandate to push through our initial year and beyond as a Principal Benefactor. In recognition, your name, or anonymous contribution, will be noted on programs for Art Rocks Athens events and exhibitions. Also please choose any one (1) award of your choice at any level, including the orange button if you like.

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Funding period

- (30 days)