Natural Talent

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Visitors to the Avondale in Bloom GardenWalk will get to see artists creating their latest works in an outdoor exhibition studiopainting the gardens as people stroll by. The artists, selected by the Avondale Arts Alliance, also will have work for sale at the MarketPlace during the event. Read on to learn about some of the artists participating in the event and see samples of their work.

Photos by Sarah Shanksh

Michelle Abeyta has been painting acrylic-on-canvas portraits of dogs and cats in her signature style for nearly three years. She has sold almost 300 paintings in small gift shops and at many local art festivals. Michelle is an avid supporter of pet rescue groups and regularly donates gift certificates and art for fundraisers.
In October, Michelle opened her first gallery and studio inside Park Pet Supply in East Atlanta Village, a fun and friendly pet-loving neighborhood. Michelle also speaks at schools, retirement homes and childrens hospitals about making a living as an artist. She currently is looking to publish a childrens book she has written and illustrated.
Michelle says the best part of her job is getting to see the smiles on her clients faces when she delivers a painting. She lives in Atlanta with her two young children, her big yellow dog, Lucy, and her big black dog, Rufus.

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Irene Bledel, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, says her art is an inner and private extension of herself. Irenes work has been cited by and exhibited on the Web site of renowned auction house Sothebys.
In the mid-1980s, while living and working in Milan, Italy, Irene worked with renowned critic Professor Degrada of the University of Brera as her mentor. She has sold more than 200 oil paintings under commissions in Pakistan, Italy, Germany and the United States since the mid-1970s.

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Corlia Kock, 36, was born on a farm in South Africa. From an early age she was influenced by the females in her family. Her mother was a music teacher and her two sisters were talented writers, singers and artists.
She started by copying pictures from books and until she decided to study art at the University of the Orange Free State, that was her only connection with any art technique. In her final year of school, her pastel artwork was accepted in the largest National South African Atelier. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she moved to Johannesburg with her husband and worked in the decorating field and then as a graphic artist.
Corlia and her husband moved to America in 1998 and lived in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. It was in Bedford, NH, in 2000 that she started to paint again with acrylic. She was inspired by the people at her Tae Kwon Do school and by the Eastern way of doing things.
She and her husband moved to Atlanta in 2001 with her husbands job. She joined various art institutions in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Artist Center, where her work was accepted in several art shows in their Grandview Gallery in Buckhead. Last year, she showed her work in Chicago at The Figurative League in the Show Real People. Earlier this year, her work was featured in the Hedonism show in Apache Caf?? in Atlanta.
She paints on Sundays between 7 and 11 p.m. at Cafe Tutu Tango in Buckhead, which she says creates a perfect environment to observe and paint people.www.corlia.com

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When Allen Rodgers began painting in 1973 in New Orleans, portraits and landscapes were the focus of his work. Since then, he says, his style of painting has been in a constant state of evolution. Allen has developed a broad range of painting styles, from haunting trees and landscapes to commissioned portraits, nudes and other work. He says he is constantly combining elements to create my own style of modern art. Although he works with several types of paint, he primarily uses oils.
Allens paintings are in both public and private collections throughout the United States, including the Hilton at Lake Lanier Islands and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Allen also has taught a painting class for more than seven years.
Allen lives in one of the first 12 houses to be built in Avondale Estatesa 1926 English Tudor home he says he hopes will be included in a future garden tour. See more of his work online at www.gallery150.com.

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Greta Mattingly says painting in her own backyard garden allows her to enjoy the best of both worlds, since nature and her home have long been her greatest sources of inspiration. This can be seen in her choice of subjectsfrom her pet cat, Maverick, to a variety of favorite landscapes.
Greta, a Pennsylvania native, attributes her lifelong love of painting to her mother, an accomplished watercolor artist. Some of Gretas most popular items have been secondhand pieces of furniture turned into decorative treasures, paintings incorporated into old windows, and a multitude of holiday gourds.
Gretas preferred medium is acrylic paint, and her work is characterized by an attention to detail, which she says she developed during her career as a dental hygienist.

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Nancy Saxon is a Decatur folk artist who about six years ago discovered her canvaswindows rescued from old homes around Atlanta. Born in Delaware, the youngest in a family of 10, Nancy says she has always had a flair for creating interesting things from recycled goods.
Nancy has done work on commission for clients from California to Boston. Her art has been featured by Southern Living magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In addition to Avondale in Bloom, she has participated for the past three years in ArtWalkan event that kicks off the Decatur Arts Festival.

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Travis Schamerhorn enjoys painting in front of a live audience. It allows me to interact with people while I am doing what I love, he says. In addition to painting at Avondale in Bloom, Travis paints on Friday nights at Cafe TuTu Tango.
Travis says his art comes straight from his subconscious mind, and he feels he is at his best when painting or sculpting. There is something intoxicating about creating for me, he says.
Travis was born in Fort Scott, Kan., and grew up in the small town of Parsons, Kan. He joined the Navy at 18 and served for four years before moving to Sugar Hill, Ga. He now lives in Marietta.

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Avondale in Bloom
WHAT: Avondale in Bloom GardenWalk & MarketPlace
WHEN: Saturday, June 11, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., rain or shine
(Special free MarketPlace preview event will be held Friday,
June 10, 6-9 p.m.)
COST: Admission is $15 and includes a bag full of goodies.

Visitors can walk, bike, drive or ride the free GardenWalk trolley service. Tickets can be purchased online at www.avondaleinbloom.org or in person at Avondale City Hall and local area locations listed on the site. For more information on the Avondale Arts Alliance, visit www.avondaleartsalliance.org.

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