Gregory Johnson talks about his art during the art series reception. (Carmen Mandato for Brenau University)

Brenau’s eighth annual President’s Summer Arts Series showcases talented local artists

Jun 6, 2019
Kathryne Davis
President Ed Schrader speaks during the reception. (Carmen Mandato for Brenau University)

This year’s President’s Summer Arts Series — Ed Schrader’s eighth and last as Brenau University president — is a retrospective of work by seven artists previously featured in the engaging annual summer exhibition.

“These artists were selected for their continued participation in and support of various university events and efforts over the last 14 years,” said Schrader, who developed the series highlighting artists with ties to the university in 2012 and has sponsored it each year since.

“As this is the last summer art series that I am sponsoring, I am especially gratified that this fine group is participating.”

President’s Summer Series: A Retrospective runs through July 11 and showcases the work of Judy Black, Christie Gregory, Jane Reynolds Hemmer, John Hemmer, Joyce Hornor, Gregory Johnson and Sara Oakley. An opening reception was held Thursday, June 6, in the Sellars Gallery of the Simmons Visual Arts Center.

“The series was initiated by Dr. Schrader in 2012 because he had a deep interest in supporting the arts and our local artist community. Brenau is lucky to have many talented alumni, faculty, staff and friends to draw from for the series,” said Brenau’s Gallery Director Nichole Rawlings. “The series has also provided a wonderful way for the Gallery to be connected into the community. We’re working with local artists and often times the reception brings new people into the gallery who become frequent visitors.”

Black moved to Gainesville, Georgia, nearly five decades ago and is now a resident artist at the Blue Angel Studio. Prior to her career as an artist, Black, from Reading, Pennsylvania, attended nursing school and worked as a flight nurse for the National Guard in hospitals in Pennsylvania, Texas and Georgia. Her paintings were displayed in the governor of Georgia’s office from 2015-16.

Gregory’s interest in advertising and design brought her to Atlanta, where she received numerous awards throughout her career as an art director, including nine years as the design director at Brenau. The Nashville, Tennessee, native began painting full-time in 2016 and has had art exhibited in group shows in Georgia at the Quinlan Arts Center in Gainesville and the Trinity School in Atlanta.
“I like the variety of artists that participate,” Gregory said. “We all have different styles. You have sculptures, abstract and still life, but it all works together. And I like the fact that everyone has a connection to Brenau.”

From left to right: Judy Black, Gregory Johnson, Christie Gregory, Sara Oakley, Jane Hemmer, John Hemmer. (Carmen Mandato for Brenau University)

Jane Reynolds Hemmer, Gainesville resident, became intrigued by the three-dimensional shape once she began working as a forensic artist where she had to recreate muscle and skin on top of bone. She started exploring the human form in depth as a graduate student in anthropology. Jane has studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and the Stuart-Parks Forensic Associates in Idaho. She has also traveled to Liberia, where she helped law enforcement with forensic re-creation.

Jane’s husband, John, is an avid woodworker. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and raised in Smyrna, Georgia, he earned a Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia in 1970 and became a certified orthopedic surgeon in 1981. His formal woodturning education began in 1999.

Hornor started her art career as a crafty child in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She began painting when she moved to Gainesville, Georgia, more than 30 years ago and eventually moved to oils. Hornor is active in the community and has participated in the Arts in School program and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for The Arts Council. Some of her work is included in the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection.

A patron takes in art during the President’s Summer Arts Series reception. (Carmen Mandato for Brenau University)

Chicago native Johnson studied at the Art Institute of Chicago when he was younger and was able to go to Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Illinois State University with art scholarships. He also toured major art museums in Europe and the Mediterranean for a summer through an international studies program and graduated from ISU with a Master of Science in Art. Some of his works are in the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection. He created Lucile, the world’s largest bronze sculpture of a golden tiger, which is located on Brenau’s campus, and a sculpture of Jake, President Schrader’s dog.

Johnson said he was excited to be asked back to display his art for a second time.

“The series is a fun time to pool some local talent and see what happens,” he said.

Oakley is the founder of Art Colony Georgia, an organization that provides a group studio for local artists as well as art classes, and is also an instructor for the Brenau University Learning & Leisure Institute (BULLI). The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native has traveled all over the country and moved to Georgia in 2015 to be closer to her family.

Oakley shares a special connection with one of her fellow art series participants. After Gregory retired from Brenau, she went over to the Art Colony, where she shared a studio with Oakley. Now Oakley and Gregory are just next door. Oakley said that her favorite part of this year’s exhibition was seeing Gregory’s work.

“She is my hero,” Oakley said of Gregory. “I consider her as a person and artist to be a league or two up there.”

The President’s Summer Art Series is on display in the Simmons Visual Arts Center at 200 Boulevard on Brenau’s Gainesville campus. Call 770-534-6263 or visit for more information.