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Column: Celebration takes visitors back in time
by Sally F. White
Neighbor Newspapers Columnist
December 11, 2013 01:21 PM | 2796 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
“Holidays Past” is the theme of this season’s Holiday Spirit happenings Saturday at the Atlanta History Center campus on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead.

The annual family holiday celebration Saturday takes folks back in time via décor, activities and crafts with friendly “spirits” sharing holiday goings-on during the 1930s at the Swan House and the 1860s at the Smith Family Farm.

Guests at the farm will meet and interact with members of the household as they prepare for the holidays and welcome soldiers on furlough returning from the Civil War. There will be visits with Santa Claus for little ones, and storyteller Mama Koku will entertain with tales of the past. Demonstrations of blacksmithing, candle-dipping, toy-making crafts and open–hearth cooking will showcase time-honored traditions of the South.

At the Swan House, visitors will observe the grand tree and elegant holiday decorations throughout the mansion as they meet the house staff simulating the busy family celebration activities of 1933.

Magical holiday sounds will abound, too. The 116th Army Band will perform holiday and patriotic songs at the entranceway to Veterans Park from noon to 1 p.m. and the sounds of Christmas will echo from the Mable Dorn Reeder Amphitheater with Octave, Atlanta’s favorite female a cappella singing group, starting at 1:30 p.m.

The daylong program from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is free for center members. The public will be charged general admission prices and can get $2 discounts on all tickets if ordered online.

Funding for the program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts Council.

Founded in 1926, the center is an all-inclusive, 33-acre destination also featuring the Atlanta History Museum, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, the Kenan Research Center, the Grand Overlook event space, Chick-fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café and 22 acres of historic gardens. The nonprofit also operates the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown.

Admission and information: (404) 814-4000 or

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The Atlanta Music Club is hosting its afternoon Holiday Musicale Saturday at Canterbury Court senior community on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

The program will spotlight soprano Wanda Yang Temko accompanied by pianist Hugh Waddy. Temko is a voice teacher and performs with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and the Symphony Chamber Choir and gives recitals across the U.S.     

In addition, Mattiwilda Dobbs, retired leading coloratura with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will tell of “the road she traveled” and share experiences from her life in the exciting professional opera world.

The 3 p.m. event marks the end of the membership year for the club, and attendees are asked to renew their dues and invite new members to join.

Founded in 1915, the nonprofit club has an illustrious history of supporting music in the metro area. Achievements include: the founding of the All-Star Concert Series with music celebrities, establishing the Choral Guild of Atlanta and the Atlanta Youth Orchestra along with music performance scholarship programs for high school, undergraduate and graduate levels and providing musicales in public venues. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was a direct outgrowth of the Atlanta Youth Orchestra in 1944.

Reservations and information: (404) 872-9670 or

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The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on Means Street in west Midtown is hosting a free public artist lecture Saturday at 11 a.m.

Michelle Grabner, an artist, writer, curator and professor of painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will share information, images and anecdotes from her many years as a cultural contributor within contemporary art and discourse.

Grabner’s writings have been widely published, and she is one of three nationally renowned curators for the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

The artist lecture program is timed to enhance the current “Fallen Fruit” exhibition, which opened in October and will close Saturday. Originally conceived by California artists David Burns and Austin Young, the exhibit uses fruit as a common denominator to change the way viewers see the world.

The center commissioned the artists to develop their first Atlanta exhibition addressing a Southern context. During the past several months the West Coast artists visited Atlanta and engaged churches, the Atlanta History Center, the Hammonds House Museum, The Wren’s Nest, WonderRoot and numerous antique stores, farmers markets and private homes for the resulting multi-layer installation that pulls paintings, maps and collected data from archives, collections and experiences to provide insights and drawing parallels between past and contemporary Atlanta.

Founded in 1973 as Nexus, a grassroots artist’s cooperative, the nonprofit center is a non-collecting institution dedicated to the creation, presentation and advancement of contemporary art by emerging and established artists. As one of the Southeast’s leading contemporary art centers, it plays a vital role in Atlanta’s cultural landscape by presenting cutting-edge contemporary art exhibitions and offering diverse educational programming for people of all ages, while supporting working artists and their creative process.

Tickets and information: (404) 688-1970, ext. 216 or


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A toast to Britain and the holiday season Sunday will bring friends together at the English-Speaking Union of the U.S. annual Christmas party in the Northside home of its vice president, John Hammaker.

The festive evening will include Wassail toasts to Queen Elizabeth II and the president of the U.S., Christmas carols and special ye olde roast beef accompanied by savories and sweetmeats as members and friends celebrate the many-facetted projects initiated by the international organization.

The nonprofit union is a network of 70 branches with members venerating English as a shared language to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators and the general public. The party chair is Fay Selvage, and Charles Maddrey is the Atlanta branch president.

The original union was established in 1918 after World War I through the efforts of journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench. In 1957 it received a royal charter, with Queen Elizabeth II as the royal patron. Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, has been president since 1957. Headquartered at Dartmouth House, Mayfair, London, its many activities are coordinated by a director-general and a 27-member board of governors. Its purpose is to “bring together and empower people of different languages and cultures through the English language.”

With almost 40 branches in the United Kingdom and more than 50 international branches, the union promotes a variety of activities such as debating, public speaking and student exchange programs, runs conferences and seminars and offers scholarships to encourage the effective use of the English language around the globe.

The Atlanta branch, one of the oldest in America, sponsors an annual metro-area junior and senior high school student Shakespeare competition where winners participate in a national contest in New York leading to a Globe Theatre visit in London. The Atlanta branch also offers grants for Southeastern college students to participate in special research and study programs within the British Commonwealth.

Invitations and information: (404) 355-1945 or

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Iconic American designer Ralph Lauren will be the star of the annual Forward Arts Foundation and Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon to benefit the Forwards Arts Foundation Monday at the St. Regis in Buckhead.

The holiday décor reception and luncheon will spotlight a formal presentation of Lauren’s spring 2014 runway collection.

“Saks continues to be a wonderful partner, bringing first-class fashion and interest to our annual event for 21 years,” said event co-chairs Sarah Kennedy and Anne Powers. Anne Cox Chambers, an original foundation member, is the event’s honorary chairwoman.

All proceeds benefit the visual arts in Atlanta through the foundation’s programs.

Twelve visionary women started the foundation in 1965 as a nonprofit to foster and support cultural programming and individual artists through grants and a variety of programs. Over the years they have raised substantial funds with sales from their Swan Coach House gallery, gift shop and restaurant facilities on the Atlanta History Center campus in Buckhead and through community fundraisers such as the annual fall Flea Market and fashionable holiday event.

Monies are used to benefit a variety of local art-oriented entities such as the center, the High Museum of Art in Midtown, the Michael C. Carlos Museum in DeKalb County and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Buckhead as well as emerging artists through grants and other programs.

Information: (404) 261-9855 or

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Zellie Rainey Orr, a renowned researcher, historian, consultant, author and award-winning poetess, will be the featured speaker Dec. 19 for the holiday luncheon meeting of the Atlanta World War II Round Table at Petite Auberge restaurant on North Druid Hills Road in DeKalb County.

Orr has been a barrier breaker during her career. Starting with being one of five black students to desegregate Indianola High School in Indianola, Miss., in 1967, she became a personal line underwriter and broke professional barriers to be the first the black insurance underwriter at a company in California. She relocated to Atlanta in 1980 to become first black female personal lines underwriter at Commercial Union Insurance.

In 2011 Orr was elected to be the first president of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Atlanta chapter and become a leading proponent of recognition of the famous WW II Army Air Corps veterans. She was instrumental in dedicating a stretch of Camp Creek Parkway near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the Tuskegee Airmen Parkway and received the Tuskegee Presidential Award for her efforts in reuniting black and white WWII Air Corps veterans.

The audio-visual luncheon presentation will follow the history of the phenomenal group of airmen and review the progress of the Tuskegee museum exhibitions extolling the military heroes.

The nonprofit round table hosts monthly open-to-the-public luncheons from September through June with the pledge to encourage and demonstrate pride in our country and its armed forces and pass on to posterity their knowledge of World War II and the price of human life that was paid by our nation to preserve liberty in the U.S. and the world.

The current commander is Lee Weinstein.

No reservations are needed. The luncheon is a modest $15.

Information: (404) 843-0779 or

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