If someone wanted a clear glimpse of what the full-time population of Tybee is really like, they need not go much farther than a Tybee Arts Association gathering.
Nestled in a classic historic Tybee building, they're warm, hospitable, colorful, extremely fun-loving and truly enthusiastic about their island home. Just on their website's homepage alone, there are photos of luaus, a colorful production of "Wizard of Oz" and bright beach-inspired paintings.
But they are more than a group of islanders who enjoy the arts. They are a group of talented, professional and amateur visual and performing artists.
Since 1996, the Tybee Arts Association has worked to "develop and sustain interest, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts." The registered nonprofit uses a multitude of media to fulfill their mission, including two- and three-dimensional art, music, drama, dance, design, film, creative play and culinary arts. Residents and visitors are invited to join the association through their various classes, workshops and productions.
Visual artists offer classes in watercolor and oil painting, in addition to unique topics, such as Beach Walk Jewelry Making. Artists also participate in several annual shows, which often fall during Tybee's largest events to provide an additional experience for visitors and maximum exposure for artists. The association's next show, April 11-13, is during this year's Tybee Island Wine Festival. Three years ago, the artists elected to change the format of the shows to one that allows them to interact with visitors and buyers. Artists are available to discuss their work throughout the weekend.
According to Robin Sterns, the association's public relations chair, "These 'work for shows' have been very helpful in launching a number of our artists' careers. Several of us now have our own galleries or are featured in Tybee and Savannah galleries, and several are expanding to regional art shows and festivals."
The association is adding new visual artists to its membership regularly and enjoys expanding diversity.
In addition to the visual arts, the Tybee Arts Association's performing arts program has a large, devoted following. The Tybee Arts Performing Society produces a number of shows in the Jim Ingham Theatre and Arts Center. This year's schedule includes the now-playing "Sordid Lives," as well as "The Hallelujah Girls" coming this May. The group draws from Tybee's wealth of talent, as well as the surrounding area, to cast its shows.
The arts association grows its own talent, too. As with the visual arts program, the group offers regular acting classes for both youth and adults. Each year, the group offers a theater summer camp for kids. Following a week (June 9-20) of beachside rehearsals and lessons, the young performers produce a show for friends and family.
Anyone who has been to Tybee and seen the colorful, eclectic cottages, the quirky festivals and numerous galleries will probably not be surprised to find such a thriving, healthy community of artists. The Tybee Arts Association works tirelessly to use its gifts to enrich the experience of those on Tybee. For more information on the association's events, artists and classes, go to www.TybeeArts.org.
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