Recap of RB36 – For Art’s Sake

Rabbit Box: For Art’s Sake: Celebrating 40 Years of the Lyndon House Art’s Center

Summary by Melissa Harward

Athens has always been flush with creative types. Our tiny town is home to a community of incredible artists running the gambit of skills: photography, painting, sculpture, design, production, architecture, and more. Thursday night’s Rabbit Box: For Art’s Sake highlighted nine community members who have been touched by the power of art cultivated in Athens and beyond. The lovely Lorraine Thompson, who teaches drama at Athens Academy, spoke of the power of stories during her first event as emcee.

The very funny Greg Benson kicked off the evening in high gear. A well-known local landscape painter, Greg touched on a dilemma many successful artists encounter: When you’re no longer creating for yourself, it can be difficult to stay inspired.

Dantae “Danny” Robertson, another first-time storyteller at Rabbit Box, said that art was just another word for opportunity. After being rejected from a prestigious arts-centered high school, Danny soon learned that sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try — or even how hard you don’t.

Local writer and musician Elsa Durusau spoke of the power of a single work of art. After loving Van Gogh’s The Starry Night for most of her childhood, Elsa had the opportunity to view the painting at the High Museum. She reflected on the painting’s beauty and reminded us that art can keep us going when we falter.

After describing the public’s angry reaction to an art exhibit she helped pull together in rundown, downtown Augusta, Lauren Fancher emphasized the importance of providing context for art and artists. She noted that we’re lucky that the Athens community has access to a variety of venues such as the Lyndon House and Athica that encourage artists and provide this much-needed context.

Our crackerjack surprise storyteller of the night was Christopher Carpenter, who told of the challenges that occur when someone close to you doesn’t “get” art — or wants to pull you toward them and away from an enthralling engagement in the arts.

Athens artist and Pylon co-founder Michael Lachowski recalled his early immersion in an emerging Athens art scene in the 1970’s, including a surprising first-place finish for a conceptual piece he entered in a local, big-deal sculpture competition.

Back in high school Morgan Middleton was one of the founding members of Social Suicide, a rap group known throughout the school for their cool T-shirts. When a prank goes wrong, Morgan and friends find themselves defending their artistic abilities to school administrators and the school’s cop.

Art is the greatest adventure, says Phillip Elie, who described toiling for years as part of a horde of rasping crickets in Silicon Valley before finding himself — miserable — in one of the world’s finest hotels.

Director of the Lyndon House Arts Center Didi Dunphy recalled her years as a teenager exploring the art scene in New York City with a close group of girlfriends who lived in the Upper West Side. Through celebrity sightings, pining over teachers and cultural figures such as Cat Stevens, and taking in the city, Didi describes the moment she knew she would be an artist.

Rabbit Box will return in August with Summer Lovin’ on August 13. September will feature stories on the theme Busted! on the 10th.

Thank you to all of the Rabbit Box volunteers who help make the show great each month!