Artists in Action: After-school program fosters love of arts, local history
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Aug 25, 2013 | 4520 views |  0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Presley Donovits, left, and Landon Wilkins participate in the Cheaha Creative Arts after-school program. Submitted photo
Presley Donovits, left, and Landon Wilkins participate in the Cheaha Creative Arts after-school program. Submitted photo
If last month’s competition at the Anniston Performing Arts Center hadn’t already proved this town’s got talent, Rose Munford certainly would. The president of Cheaha Creative Arts, Inc., is busy making sure the community is never without talent.

“The artists and the town’s history — these are two of Anniston’s gems,” said Munford. “We should keep these assets in the forefront.”

To this end, Munford, herself a visual artist, coordinates an after-school fine arts program in the historic Thomas E. Kilby House, which provides an affordable arts education to Calhoun County children. Munford said holding classes in the Georgian Revival mansion, an architectural landmark located on the Anniston High School campus, also raises awareness of Kilby, an Annistonian who served as governor of Alabama from 1919 to 1923.

“The house will be 100 years old next year and it’s still standing tall,” she said. “I’ve read that it was once the social center of town. It would be a sin to lose it.”

The building’s exterior is being restored by the Anniston City Board of Education. According to “Alabama Governors: A Political History of the State” (Samuel L. Webb and Margaret Armbrester), on the way to his governorship, Kilby held the offices of lieutenant governor and state legislator, as well as mayor and city councilman of Anniston and president of the City National Bank of Anniston.

Since the after-school program began in September 2010, enrollment has reached 68, Munford said. Classes begin Sept. 9.

Fundraiser celebrates student artists

To celebrate the students’ progress, CCA will present “An Evening of Fine Arts” on Oct. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Anniston Performing Arts Center. Its first public fundraiser will feature the program’s piano and violin students, members of the Etowah Youth Orchestra and local adult performers.

“In the future we hope the audiences will see a student string orchestra from our program on stage,” Munford said.

The art disciplines taught at the Kilby House include piano by Vicki Brock, strings by Diane Chong and sewing by Marshal Burton and the cost of enrollment ranges from $10-25 a month. Visual art by Lynn Phillips and yoga by Sharon Wilkins are taught at the Anniston Yoga Center — both classes are free to attend. The group is also seeking a ballet instructor, Munford said, and hopes to soon add it to the schedule.

“The mirrors and the bars are already in place,” she said.

Two classes a month are offered in each discipline, a plan that Munford says seems to be working well.

“We have some very committed students, and they are practicing,” she said. “Two of them are composing their own music.”

CCA also funds an outreach arts program through grants and donations at 10th Street and Constantine elementary schools.

For more information, visit online at or call Munford at 256-473-7707.

Locally filmed webisodes premiere online

“Om Sweet Home,” a web series shot in Anniston, debuts Thursday on its YouTube channel at a time yet to be determined. And if the filming location weren’t a enough of a local tie, series cinematographer and editor Ben Maner, now of New Orleans, is originally from Anniston.

According to Meg Weidner — writer, producer and director of the series — a new webisode will be released once a week for five consecutive weeks. It can also be seen on the series’ Facebook page at

“I truly hope ‘Om Sweet Home’ develops into an interactive platform where people share their stories and inspire each other as they relate to the plot on the Facebook page,” Weidner said.

“Om,” the main sound mantra of yoga practitioners, Weidner explained, is chanted in three syllables and represents the past, present and future — or the beginning, middle and end.

When the main character, Ruth, is asked to teach kindergartners world religion based on her upbringing in both Judaism and Catholicism, she experiences an identity crisis. Finding no answers within herself she embarks on a path of self-discovery through yoga.

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