There’s a new artist in town with an exhibit at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County and an interest in preserving Anniston’s historic buildings on canvas, while in Oxford plans are underway for a new community chorus.

Art in the Ayers Room

The current exhibit in the Ayers Room at the library displays the work of artist, painter and graphic designer Tom Hutchinson. His paintings of wildlife, seascapes, animal portraits and landscapes from around Jasper, Ga., where he moved from a year ago, provide examples of what he’s busy with today.

The show of oils and watercolors is a scrapbook of his life. “The paintings are of people and places that I like,” said Hutchinson.            

After graduating from the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Fla., Hutchinson worked as a commercial artist in Atlanta for many years before he and wife Carol, also an artist, moved to Anniston to support their daughter, Laura Hutchinson, in her ministry as pastor of First Christian Church of Anniston.  

“It seemed to be a good idea and it’s been a good move,” he said.

An artist since childhood, Hutchinson worked on commission in Georgia, including a series of paintings of old jails. “But this is my first full gallery show,” he said. His work fills three walls of the Ayers Room and, according to library director Teresa Kiser, the show has been well attended and heavily praised.   

Hutchinson, who finds Anniston’s natural beauty and historic buildings brimming with visual appeal, is currently at work on a series of portraits of architectural points of interest in Anniston.

“I am fascinated with the well-designed old architecture, the kind that you don’t see anymore,” he said.

Two pieces that grabbed this viewer’s attention were “Autumn Ride,” featuring a horse and rider, and a farm setting titled “Harvest.”

“I managed to catch the colors of fall at the right time in north Georgia then,” Hutchinson said of “Autumn Ride.” “Harvest,” which he painted for his daughter, “was a kind of experiment. I changed my way of doing oils for this one so I could get certain luminosity.”

Hutchinson’s influences include masters such as 19th-century artist Claude Monet, who was the first Impressionist, according to “Masters of Painting” by Bernardine Kielty.

“I love the work of these Impressionists and the way they put color together,” he said. “I learned from them but I paint with a tighter, more detailed style.”

The image he feels best sums up his life is the black bear wandering along the top edge of a waterfall in “Bear on Spillway.”

“It seems that I’m always putting one foot in front of the other in similar circumstances,” he said. “We live on the edge but it’s been this way so long that it seems natural. God always takes care of us.”

Chorus in the making for Calhoun County

The time is right for the revival of an Oxford Community Chorus, says Jane Batey of the Oxford Arts Council. Such a chorus was active in the 1980s, led by Oxford High School band director Bill Barker, until Barker could no longer continue with the time commitment. According to Batey, the new chorus will be directed by retired Oxford High choir director Susan McCall.  

“With her contacts with area singers and the talent in our church choirs, and the people who would just like to sing, we believe it’s time to start the ensemble again,” Batey said.

Concerts will take place at the Oxford Performing Arts Center, she said. “We’re looking for a piano, and we have the written music from the former chorus. All we need now are people willing to devote the time for two concerts a year.”

An organizational meeting is scheduled for June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. Anyone from Calhoun County interested in being involved is invited. The preferred age is 16 years and up, and song selections will range from patriotic to Broadway and more, said Batey.

“We will see what response we get and go from there,” she added. “The arts council is excited about the possibility. There’s some great music out there to sing. It can be a great outlet for people to enjoy.”