Monopoly-inspired art invites visitors to play in Thomasville, Georgia

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THOMASVILLE, Georgia – Darlene Crosby Taylor has been spreading art in downtown Thomasville for nearly a decade. An architect by training, Taylor shifted her career 12 years ago and took a job teaching visual arts at the Thomasville Center for the Arts. Today, she is the Centre’s public artistic director and the brains behind FLAUNT.

“FLAUNT is my baby,” Taylor says. “It’s something I’m so passionate about – bringing fun, happy art to the streets. And it’s free, so it’s something anyone can experience just by walking down Jackson Street or walking around in the amphitheater.

Designed 10 years ago to connect generations, inspire community and expose visitors to new ways of thinking and seeing, FLAUNT is a temporary public art explosion that inks the walls, windows and alleyways of downtown town of Thomasville. Fueled by the imagination of local and regional artists, each FLAUNT exhibition takes on a new personality and, in turn, breathes new life into historic facades.

Visitors to FLAUNT 2022, which runs from March 3 to April 14 in Thomasville’s Creative District, will enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of downtown to find playful art in public spaces.

The main theme of FLAUNT 2022 is “Let’s Play!”, a larger than life public art experience created by the region’s artists, creators and designers.

VSU Professor Dr. Arsalan Wares uses the art of paper folding to teach middle school math.  His origami will be his public art debut.

Play games on a large web

The idea for the 2022 focus came last year when the Arts Center began creating THOMOPOLY, Thomasville’s own version of the popular board game Monopoly.

“Our game is about small-town goodness,” says Michele Arwood, executive director of the Thomasville Center for the Arts. “It was designed by passionate minds who work together every day to creatively connect our community.”

THOMOPLOY promotes local resources – small businesses, associations, corporations and leaders – which contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of Thomasville.

“It showcases the energy and ideas bubbling in our neighborhoods, raises awareness of our good works, and encourages the player to dream, call Thomasville home, and make a difference in our community,” Arwood said.

To build on the game, the Center wanted to visually move the themes of game and community onto a larger canvas, and that’s where FLAUNT came in. With juried public art exhibits in eight Monopoly-inspired categories scattered throughout the Creative District, FLAUNT 2022 includes interactive play stations, fun photo ops, prizes for winning artists and the official unveiling of THOMOPOLY.

International Design and Display Group, based in Thomasville, oversees the production of the Monopoly house.  When complete, these structures will house the eight major FLAUNT facilities in downtown Thomasville.

Artists imagine the interior of houses

“When our Center team was thinking about the exhibit design for FLAUNT 2022, we kept asking ourselves ‘what’s going on in those little green houses and red hotels on the Monopoly game board? “, explains Taylor. “‘Who’s in there, what are they doing and what does it look like in there?’ This is how the structures you will see in the exhibition were imagined.

The structures Taylor is referring to are custom-built life-size houses and hotels similar to those you might find on a Monopoly game board, each with multiple viewing windows for visitors to peek into. imagined by the artist inside the game. They will reside in the creative district of Thomasville for a month and a half, inviting curious eyes to take a look.

More than 100 local and regional artists will be exhibiting at FLAUNT 2022. For Dr. Arsalan Wares, this type of public art experience is new.

The Mathematics of Origami

“I exhibited my photographs at an art show several years ago in Valdosta,” Wares explains, “but I’ve never done anything like FLAUNT before.”

Wares is a professor of mathematics at Valdosta State University and is interested in how paper folding can be used in classrooms to teach basic concepts of geometry, algebra, and calculus. Alluding to the money used in a game of Monopoly, Wares was challenged to use his paper-folding techniques and deep understanding of math to create an origami display using the money as a medium.

“The challenge I faced was more about thinking outside the box. I can do origami all day,” says Wares. “It wasn’t difficult. However, the presentation part got me thinking.

Wares incorporates the art of paper folding into his math lessons to make learning more accessible and enjoyable for his students.

“When we explore the connection between art and math, it allows students to see a side of math that is not stereotyped. Stereotypically, most people view mathematics as a cold, austere, monolithic discipline that involves a heavy dose of numerical computation. The truth is far from it. Mathematics is beautiful, dynamic, artistic and malleable,” says Wares.

Downtown Thomasville, Georgia on Thursday, November 5, 2020.

Business leaders, FSU students show their creativity

Local business owner Johnny Barnes will explore another unique medium as part of the exhibit. Barnes operates jb crumbs, a catering and prepared dinner service provider on East Jackson Street. His installation will use bread as the basis for his art, and visitors will also be able to view his freshly baked creation through one of the houses’ windows.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Barnes says. “It’s a challenge for me because it’s so detailed and tedious, and I’m used to working on large-scale projects. But I like to be creative, and it’s a chance to be part of that. a community project and hopefully spark creativity and excitement for our beautiful city.

Marlo Ransdale, professor of architecture at FSU, gathers supplies for his class' contribution to FLAUNT.  Ransdale students will create and exhibit furniture miniatures.

Marlo Ransdale’s Studio D class at Florida State University creates furniture miniatures for the exhibit.

“We started working with the Thomasville Center for the Arts in 2018,” says Ransdale. “This partnership has allowed students in the past four years to display their undergraduate degree

and college-level furniture designs in various Thomasville locations. Our FLAUNT installation highlights student research and their creative process and gives our students the opportunity to interact with history, culture and art in a place they are unfamiliar with.

This is exactly the kind of platforms the Center aims to create for emerging artists.

“What’s always so nice to see in exhibitions like FLAUNT is that art is everywhere,” says Arwood. “FLAUNT features traditional artists, but also makes room for unexpected artists – people who don’t even consider themselves artists until they step in and challenge their own creativity. The resulting work is a testament to the human spirit and the revelation that we are all artists in our own way.

Building community with art

The end goal of FLAUNT2022, and all public art experiences offered by the Thomasville Center for the Arts, is to connect the community through the wonder and beauty of art.

“We have a fantastic opportunity on our hands whenever art is exhibited locally,” says Joanne Thomas, Director of Development at the Centre.

“We train artists, open the eyes and minds of residents, attract visitors and bring people together in a collaboration. And we don’t do it alone. Over 85 companies and organizations have come together to make FLAUNT and THOMOPOLY possible. It’s a real community effort.

Ashley HomeStore / 1915 South presents FLAUNT 2022 alongside the Center for the Arts. Russell Turner, CEO of 1915 South, agrees that experiences like FLAUNT are what make Thomasville special.

“It’s what people see and feel when they come to our city, things like public art, that makes Thomasville so special,” Turner says. “And that hits us the most when we travel away from Thomasville – we can see and feel a difference. Here we have a community, and not everyone has that.

For more information on FLAUNT’s March 3 opening celebration and a map of all the “Let’s Play” exhibits, visit www.thomasvillearts.org. THOMOPOLY games can also be purchased from the Center’s website and will be ready to pick up at the celebration.

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