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Quinlan Visual Arts Center curates school of art, exhibits

The Quinlan Visual Arts Center on Green Street in Gainesville is in its 75th year of operations, continuing to share art with the Gainesville and Hall County community.

Executive Director Nairika Cornett said the heart of the Quinlan lies in sharing art, so that's why they started the Quinlan School of Art this year.

"This school actually promotes learning of art and learning of academic based curriculum through visual art and is catering to K through 12 students after school," said Cornett. "The start has been tremendously successful. We have absolutely fantastic teachers, they're AP course certified for students who are taking AP Art."

The Quinlan boasts classes for adults as well, something they've done since their inception, Cornett said.

"We have three functioning studios in our facility and then one pottery studio," said Cornett. "We have classes from beginners to advanced artistic skill in a variety of mediums you can do watercolor, pastels, oils, collage, mixed medium, pottery, all kinds of acrylics, all kinds of classes happen here. And... we're now trying to do some cross generational classes, where grandparents can come with their grandkids, have parents with their children, you know, siblings, and just to come here and really bond over creating something beautiful and positive."

Currently, members of The Quinlan have their art on display as part of the 74th Annual Member's Exhibit. Cornett said the exhibit is the only member's only show they have. It's a juried show, with ribbons for Best in Show, first, second, and third place, as well as five honorable mentions.

The exhibit will close December 4.

Following the Member's Exhibit is the Winter Exhibit, starting on December 9. An opening night reception will take place that evening at 5:30 p.m. It's free and open to the public.

Cornett said works from Latin-based art group Contrapunto will be on display.

"They are based mostly in the Atlanta and northeast Georgia area. The group is absolutely astounding in their talent," said Cornett. "Contrapunto literally is counterpoint in music. And what their goal is with this name is that they want to bring in Latin American artists that have a tremendously diverse talent pool. But that put together gives you a wonderful understanding of the maturity talent of Latin American artists in America."

Contrapunto will be in the main gallery for the Winter Exhibit. There are also three solo shows in the exhibit, which includes the work of Fox Gradine, Mali Regan, and Carol Christie.

The Quinlan also host summer camps for kids, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization found a safe way to pursue the arts with their campers in 2020 and 2021.

"We did what we do best which is be creative, and we pivoted very fast and utilized our time to be safe, but still give to the community and continue being a relevant voice, and so we did camp the first summer," Cornett said about the 2020 camp. "We actually spent money on camp this time for the first year, 2020, versus making money and we decided that it had to be safe and this was not a time to consider, you know, only the bottom line of the Quinlan, but to allow children who needed to get out of their homes for their mental well being, their physical well being, whatever it was." 

Cornett said with the proper precautions in place, they were able to have a 0% COVID-19 rate for summer camps in 2020.

Cornett said they resisted the idea that life had to stop when the pandemic hit, and then continued into 2021.

"We offered our exhibitions online because we had promised artists the space and so they had created a put their own heart and sweat and money and talent into creating and they couldn't be let down because, you know, the world had decided we needed to shut down," she said. "Life had to continue the best and safest way and so we just pivoted and did the best we could so the Quinlan actually has... Nobody has done well during COVID. And you don't want to ever use the word well, but we have managed well during COVID."

And, as Christmas on Green Street returns in 2021 after a year off from the pandemic, the Quinlan will not have an open house this year. Cornett said that's because the facility is booked for a private event.

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