Arts & Literature
Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker Calls Peachtree Corners Home
Unlikely bond between a Braves player and Mets fan earns local filmmaker an Emmy.
As the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 approached last year, Kevin Allison and Bally Sports South/Southeast Braves knew the best way to mark the solemn occasion was to look back on the singular importance one baseball game made toward the first steps of healing. When the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets took to the field for the first sporting event after the September 11 attacks, it was about much more than winning or losing.
The 7½ minute short documentary, More Than A Game — Braves at Mets — 9/11 Remembrance, recently won a Southeast Regional Emmy Award from the Southeast chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Peachtree Corners resident Kevin Allison edited and produced the film, along with chief photographer Gregg Therieau.
Healing through sports
“During the pandemic in 2020, there were a lot of discussions about missing sports and how sports help in the healing process,” said Kevin. “We were doing a lot of historical content at the beginning of the pandemic. A lot of former players — Chipper Jones, Brian Jordan, Tom Glavine, a lot of those guys — would refer back to their time during September 11 and how sports helped people process the tragedy.”
Knowing that a year later was going to be the 20th anniversary of those tragic events, Kevin began doing a lot of research, looking at old photos and raw footage from the Braves versus Mets game that took place just 10 days after the historic terrorist attacks. He kept coming across photos of Brian Jordan with a Mets family whose hero father/husband had perished during the World Trade Center attacks.
With one iconic image of Jordan embracing the overcome-with-emotion widow, Carol Gies, Kevin knew he had found the storytelling connection he needed.
“Come to find out, they had stayed in touch a little bit through the years,” said Kevin. “During the making of the feature, we actually reconnected the two of them as well.” Gies remembers the night and the painful memories surrounding those early post-9/11 days, but credits Jordan with helping her family tremendously by coming over and saying the kind words that he did.
Connecting stories to the human element
Piecing together a story and finding the personal connection is what Kevin seems to enjoy most about his work. From the time he began filming interviews for the feature film to editing those 7½ minutes took about a month of work. Before beginning interviews, from the time research began, was closer to a year.
Most Braves fans will remember a Mets homerun sealed the game for the home team that night. Most fans also accept that Mets win as how the game needed to end.
When asked about his approach to documentary filmmaking, Kevin stated, “For me, it has always been: what’s the connection and how do I connect the storytelling to get the human element? Especially when it comes to sports, you can be fans of the team, but how do you find the human interest for an individual?”
Kevin’s wife, Jaclyn Allison, is often the first audience to judge that emotional connection. As Director Marketing, Communications and Events at Partnership Gwinnett, Jaclyn understands the subtleties of good communication and, for her job, how to create events that will draw on an individual’s or group’s desire to engage.
Jaclyn’s work with Partnership Gwinnett
Partnership Gwinnett is a public/private initiative designed to drive “economic prosperity by attracting, expanding and retaining quality businesses; aligning and developing diverse talent; and contributing to the exceptional quality of life in Gwinnett County.”
“We have three different goal areas,” explained Jaclyn. “We focus on business development, recruiting and retaining business in our community, talent development — so we work with the university and school systems to build up our talent pool, and then our community development — working a lot with entrepreneur development and small business culture.
Within our goal one, business development, we focus on five target sectors: manufacturing, supply chain, technology solutions, health sciences and services and then corporate and professional services. Anything that falls within those sectors we focus on and work with our community to bring here.”
Jaclyn works on a number of events that target those sectors. She’s currently working to bring The State of Technology Summit to Peachtree Corners November 10 at Atlanta Tech Park. It will bring together keynotes and speakers to talk about trends and best practices in the technology sector.
She’s also very proud of her husband’s work and was the first to share that his latest Emmy is not his first. In fact, this is his eighth Southeast Regional Emmy Award.
Kevin’s dream career and life
It all comes from an honest place. Kevin Allison has been a huge sports fan his whole life and he readily admits he just enjoys TV. Combining those passions into a career is the dream.
For “More Than A Game – Braves at Mets – 9/11 Remembrance,” he took a lot of care. “For something that impacted so many people, even if it was 20 years ago — and out of respect for Carol who was still willing to tell this story 20 years later — for me the goal was what’s the most respectful way to tell this story,” Kevin stated.
Kevin was proud and happy this film was recognized, not so much for the personal accolades, but because of the story and the people involved. “I work with Brian Jordan every day and he is one of the best people to work with and one of the kindest people in this community,” said Kevin. Being able to share Carol and Brian’s story meant being able to recognize two of many special individuals who made a difference in those very challenging days post 9/11.
Introducing you to Kevin and Jaclyn would not be complete without sharing that their Peachtree Corners family is currently a busy one, with three young children ages one, three and four. The little ones haven’t been to see the Braves play yet, but it’s inevitable. We anticipate you’ll also be seeing each of those young ones on the ballfields in and around Peachtree Corners soon.
Allow yourself seven and a half minutes, grab a tissue and be inspired by More Than A Game – Braves at Mets – 9/11 Remembrance.
Kevin Allison’s 9 Emmy Awards
■ 2022, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Sports Story — News, More Than A Game — Braves at Mets — 9/11 Remembrance | Bally Sports South/Southeast (formerly Fox Sports South/Southeast)
■ 2021, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Sports Program — Live — Series, Community Heroes Week | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2016, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Documentary: Topical — Driven: Michael Waltrip Racing — Life in the Pits | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2014, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Television News and Program Specialty Excellence Category: Sports Program Series — DRIVEN: THE CHIPPER JONES STORY | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2013, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Television News and Program Specialty Excellence Category: Sports Program Series — DRIVEN: Tougher. Faster. Stronger. The 2013 Bobcats Draft | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2013, College Sports Media Award: Outstanding Achievement, Regional/Local Networks: Program Series — Under The Lights: Southern Miss Baseball | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2013, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Television News and Program Specialty Excellence Category: Sports Program Series — Under the Lights: Southern Miss Baseball | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2009, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Television Programming Excellence Category: Interview/Discussion — In My Own Words: Charles Barkley | Fox Sports South/Southeast
■ 2007, Southeast Regional Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement, Television News & Program Specialty Excellence Category: Sports News Program — University of Tennessee Hoops Preview | Fox Sports South/Southeast
Arts & Literature
Jennifer Keim Loves to Play & Explore the Beauty of Exotic Animals through Art
The Wesleyan Artist Market is back and celebrating its 25th year. On this special episode of Peachtree Corners Life, Rico Figliolini is joined by artist Jennifer Keim, one of the many artists featured at the Wesleyan Artist Market 2023. Jennifer shares her story, her inspiration, and a behind-the-scenes look into her creative process.
Jennifer’s Website: https://www.jkeim.com
Jennifer’s Social Media: @JKeimStudio
Wesleyan Artist Market: artistmarket.wesleyanschool.org
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:20] – About Jennifer
[00:04:36] – Preferred Mediums
[00:12:53] – Using Wildlife and Travel Experiences
[00:16:55] – Creating Daily
[00:18:15] – Capturing a Moment
[00:20:13] – The Fly Guys Series
[00:24:39] – Textile Art
[00:28:11] – Jennifer’s Art at the Wesleyan Artist Market
[00:30:15] – Closing
[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone, this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. I do want to introduce you to our show and our special guest today, all the way from Hawaii. Jennifer Keim. Hey Jennifer. Thanks for joining us.
[00:00:41] Jennifer: Hi. Happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:45] Rico: Cool. I heard you were on the waters on the ocean before. Everything okay? Took some Go Pros?
[00:00:49] Jennifer: No, it’s just gorgeous.
[00:00:53] Rico: Sure.
[00:00:53] Jennifer: It is gorgeous. The whales are active. And I had the chance going yesterday to an out rigger where we paddle out and we’re just right there with the whales, so.
[00:01:04] Rico: That’s amazing. Yeah, and we’ll get into some of that. I mean, some of your artwork is animal related. So we’ll talk about that inspiration. But before we get there, let me just introduce our sponsor for the podcast and our corporate sponsor for everything that we do. And that’s EV Remodeling. Eli from EV Remodeling lives here, right here in Peachtree Corners. Great guy. He was just featured in one of our issues recently. He does home renovation, remodeling, from design to build. Just a great guy, great family. Check them out. EVRemodelingInc.com is where he’s at. So check him out and let’s just get right into it. Hey, Jennifer.
[00:01:39] Jennifer: Okay, great.
[00:01:40] Rico: So you’re, we’re gonna call you, I mean, I’ve checked through it, done my research a little bit, so I have some stuff about you. It’s amazing what’s on the net. You’re a fine artist and lifestyle designer.
[00:01:52] Jennifer: Yes.
[00:01:52] Rico: A global design brand. In fact, the reason that we’re interviewing you is because you’re going to be one of 75 artists being showcased at the Wesleyan Artist Market here in Peachtree Corners April 28th and 29th. So I’m glad that you’re gonna be there. And you’re gonna be actually one of the three artists that we’re featuring in our print magazine in the upcoming issue. It’s just fantastic. But I want to know a little bit more about you. What makes the artist Jennifer Keim? So tell us a little bit about yourself.
[00:02:20] Jennifer: A little bit about myself. Well, there’s a lot.
[00:02:24] Rico: I’m sure.
[00:02:24] Jennifer: And lots of layers, but really it all started fourth grade. My parents were really good about having me try new things and see what my niche was. And so they put me in an art camp. And I’m from Columbus, Georgia. And they put me in an art camp at the museum for a week long. And the instructor said she has something, Jill Chancey Phillips. And she from there on, she’s like, keep her in it. She needs to be in the art world and I can give her private lessons. And so I had private lessons with her all the way through until I went off to school. So she was my mentor and I mean she is my special, so.
[00:03:03] Rico: Wow. And interestingly enough, I mean, you’re displayed in the museums and galleries all over the country. You’ve been on, featured on HGTV as well. You were also at Columbus museum, right? How old were you when your art was exhibited there?
[00:03:18] Jennifer: Well, I mean, I was very young, actually. And yeah, very young. And then there was a moment in high school as well, so, for one of the little exhibits. It feels so long ago though, a lot’s happened since then.
[00:03:34] Rico: I’m sure. What about HGTV? How did that come about? How were you featured there?
[00:03:39] Jennifer: Well, I was actually featured twice. Once there was an interior designer in Atlanta and she commissioned me to do a piece to go in her theater room. And I can’t even pull up in my head what year that was. I think it was probably 2007. And then my most recent one, my Protea, which is one contour line paintings. It’s one continuous line without lifting your pen, were featured through a designer for the Bargain Mansion Show with Tamara Day.
[00:04:13] Rico: Cool. It’s great exposure, I’m sure. The artwork that you’ve done, I mean, the mediums that you work in, there’s several different mediums it sounds like that you work in. Watercolor, you work in textiles, you do canvas work, oils, pastels. How do you come about choosing, or what do you feel most comfortable in expressing your inner artist? What type of medium do you like best?
[00:04:36] Jennifer: That’s a really good question because I feel like every medium has their own personality. So you’ve got your drawing technique that’s, you know, you can do quick gestural, And then you have your painting where you can just layer, layer, layer. So there’s just so many different personalities that happen when you’ve got the different mediums. And a lot of times it’s just the subject kind of craves a certain medium. So, you’ve got your line drawing and certain subjects, like the contour line paintings that I do, like just to have the simple shapes of the subject versus really getting into the layered paint of like a floral, like a mountain view. They each all have different personalities that you kind of play off of. But one of my main reasons too where I jump around, like I’ll play in oils for a while. And I mean, I’m a messy one, so like it’s all, it’s in my ear. It’s all over. And I try to keep it as clean as possible, but it just kind of happens. With the oils, you know, I love to use the pallet knife and work with the coastal scenes and see the layer of the marsh. And just kind of play off of that. But the oils and pastels after a while, and I didn’t realize this until it just kind of happened, it was a buildup of episodes that were happening with my body that I became, I realized I was, my body was toxic from playing and being in all the oils and pastels for a long while.
[00:05:57] Rico: Oh, wow.
[00:05:57] Jennifer: So I would work then I, it took a year to kind of clean up and not have any more of my episodes. Where then it just connected, what was the issue that I, there was just a common ground of the toxins. And I had to then be more aware of my surroundings and how I actually use these materials safely. So the awareness of using these subjects, or these mediums. I’m better now about keeping it safe.
[00:06:25] Rico: That’s a bit horrible if it’s like someone that loves cats, but is allergic.
[00:06:29] Jennifer: They’re allergic, yeah.
[00:06:31] Rico: That would be just bad, right? I can’t imagine that.
[00:06:33] Jennifer: Well, I have this really, really nice air purifier now, and I make, I wear gloves when I, and when I’m in the oils just to help one less thing to kind of get into my system.
[00:06:45] Rico: Sure, sure. So when you’re doing a piece, because you do series of pieces. And we’ll show a couple of these things. Has it happened when you started in a medium and then you decided that’s not the right medium and you shift and use it different? Or does it, once you decide watercolor?
[00:07:02] Jennifer: I’m always playing and exploring and I feel like if you’re not, if you’re not doing that and you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re stuck. But I always like to explore. I work with my off to the races too, and then some of my animal series with gouache. So that’s just, that’s basically like an acrylic and a watercolor, if they had a baby, it would be gouache. So you have the opaqueness, but then the transparency that can happen with watercolor, but the opaqueness of an acrylic, that’s gouache. Yeah, that’s gouache for you, yes.
[00:07:33] Rico: So tell us about the lion.
[00:07:35] Jennifer: Yes. Yes. And that’s all about just layering of color. There’s lots of layers.
[00:07:41] Rico: Was this a sketch or was this a final piece?
[00:07:44] Jennifer: This is a final piece.
[00:07:45] Rico: Okay.
[00:07:46] Jennifer: And so I start off with like that neutral color to draw it out. And there’s nothing forgiving about a water gouache piece. I mean, once you put a stroke down, it’s there. There’s no way of lifting or recovering from it. So, I always start with the eyes, because I feel like you’ve got to land the eyes or the piece won’t be as impactful. And then I’ll put down the base coat, walk away, maybe start another piece until the other one’s dry and start playing at the color.
[00:08:17] Rico: So is it the same techniques that you’re using, that you use here as well?
[00:08:22] Jennifer: So that’s the interesting part. The lion was a gouache and now we’re looking at the ostriches, and that’s my pastel on wood panel. And this is a drawing medium versus the lion is a painting medium. And so with this, this is one of my favorite techniques right now because it’s the vulnerability that happens with the whole process, I am dependent on how the resin reacts to the wood and the pastel. And my whole climate’s got to be good, dust-free environment. I draw it on first with the pastel. Also pastel, once it’s touched the wood, like not forgiving, like I’ve tried to lift it up. But because of the really deep blues, those always will, you’ll see like a ghost line if I had to erase. But I’ll do the pastel and then I will pour the resin in. And I don’t know if anyone’s familiar with resin, but you mix these two concoctions, stir, you mix for three minutes. And then you pour it onto the pastel resin or a pastel board. And I have 15 minutes to relieve the bubbles, and then I have to walk away for three days.
[00:09:32] Rico: Wow.
[00:09:32] Jennifer: And then the resin, the chemistry that happens most of the time, like I’ve finished drawing the ostrich’s with my pastel, and most people would be like, that’s a finished piece. And it is for, in that case, but for my process, that’s halfway through. So my next step is the resin which could change the whole game of this piece. It could make or break it basically.
[00:09:58] Rico: It sounds similar to, I interviewed last year, I think it was an artist that works at pottery, right? And glazing and using kilns and stuff to fire up. And it’s similar to that. They could be using a color that looks blue. And then once you’ve done the process and you’re, you have to really be careful when you’re baking, if you will, that you stop it. Completely stop the oxygen from allowing further the work because the colors will shift to completely different colors.
[00:10:25] Jennifer: I know. It’s so, it’s crazy. It is so crazy. And you have to level the board out too, where, I mean this, but I’ve been working with resin for 21 years. So I’ve learned and I’ve learned and I’ve learned. And every, because I used to build my boards, but now I actually have them built for me and do this nice beveled edge, that just kind of shows through once the resin is poured. But you learn these things. Like I have to make sure it’s really level because if it’s shifted somehow, the pastel that basically melts with the resin will then kind of just bleed through and then it’ll just move down in the direction of the gravity. So I’ve got to learn to manipulate that and make sure it stays up to where it’s not spilling off to the bottom of the panel.
[00:11:10] Rico: Wow. I can’t even imagine. You spend the time creating it and then you put the resin on and God forbid something big goes.
[00:11:17] Jennifer: I know. Yeah.
[00:11:18] Rico: You just throw it out and just start again?
[00:11:21] Jennifer: Yes. And there was my most recent pour, I did my largest pour in my whole career. Eight gallons of resin.
[00:11:28] Rico: Oh my God.
[00:11:29] Jennifer: And 13 pieces. And I always like to kind of challenge myself too. But I could have gotten myself in trouble, but.
[00:11:35] Rico: It all turned out okay?
[00:11:36] Jennifer: It did. I poured it and it turned out great. But there was one panel that was giving me a fit. And the bubbles just kind of kept coming up and up and up and up. And it was almost like it was just drink ing. The wood was drinking the resin, the way that it just pushing out all the air and oxygen and everything from it.
[00:11:54] Rico: Wow.
[00:11:54] Jennifer: I finally got it to work, but it gave me a fit. So there’s always, always, it’s something’s gonna happen.
[00:12:02] Rico: Yeah, it almost sounds like you have to heat up the wood or do something to the wood to prep it before you do the water.
[00:12:08] Jennifer: Well, it needs to be like regulated with the temperature.
[00:12:11] Rico: Okay.
[00:12:11] Jennifer: And the humidity’s got to be just right for it to dry and not get tacky.
[00:12:18] Rico: I’m sure.
[00:12:18] Jennifer: And no kids or dogs or cats or husbands could come around after. Like right after the pour, so.
[00:12:25] Rico: Yes. How old are your kids now?
[00:12:27] Jennifer: My daughter, Jane, is 10.
[00:12:29] Rico: Okay.
[00:12:30] Jennifer: And she’s in fifth grade. And then my son, Charlie, is six, in kindergarten.
[00:12:35] Rico: Alright. Old enough to know not to put their hands on the artwork as it’s seemed curing.
[00:12:39] Jennifer: Well, they know mommy’s pouring. Like when the big sign says, do not open.
[00:12:43] Rico: Okay, alright. That’s like my handwritten sign on the door. It says podcast recording.
[00:12:50] Jennifer: Yes, yes.
[00:12:52] Rico: It’s funny. Just to back step just a little bit, when you started wanting to become an artist in fourth grade or four years old. You did do that double major as a vet and art. I guess you wanted to become a veterinarian at some point, but microbiology wasn’t working for you, I guess.
[00:13:09] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:13:10] Rico: But animals seem to inform a lot of the stuff you do, or at least wildlife does. And I know that at one point, for example, you went to South Africa where the exotic animals are. Did that inform any of the other work that you’ve done? I mean, how do you, how do you use trips like that? Like that or like Hawaii where you see the big whales in the ocean?
[00:13:31] Jennifer: Yes.
[00:13:32] Rico: How do you use that?
[00:13:33] Jennifer: Oh man. Well, so already having an intrigue for the animals, wanting to be an exotic vet, save the lions and tigers. I was already drawn to the, just the massiveness and just the larger, I mean, these guys are just, I just find ’em so beautiful and just so intriguing, being so large. But then going to South Africa and seeing them like right there how their circle of life works. And then seeing how much bigger they really are in person, right on their trek to go kill the water buffalo and all the things. It, I get chills. Like it just, it lights my fire. I mean, it livens me up. And I find that even if I’m in a rut, like what’s my next, what’s my next move? What’s my next series like? What do I want to do? Do I even want to do art anymore? Like when I’m in my, like, my moments of, oh, woe is me. Like, what do I do with myself? I find that I just go back to the animals to help me break out of that rut, if you call it.
[00:14:30] Rico: Okay. cool.
[00:14:31] Jennifer: But they just, they just make my heartbeat differently.
[00:14:34] Rico: I would think that seeing, I’ve been to Cairo some years back and seeing the pyramids, seeing the sphinx, way, way different than seeing pictures. Seeing the sand blow up onto the edge of Cairo, edge of the city. I mean, just so totally different. So I can imagine why you’d get inspired when you’re right there in the midst of seeing a giraffe. It’s different from a zoo I would imagine being out there on a safari or something like that.
[00:15:04] Jennifer: Well, the smells, and the breeze, and the sounds that happen. I mean, I remember one night we were out in the Lapa area. This was like considered the social spot and then all of a sudden the guy said, okay, you hear that? And we’re like, what? They’re like, well, you don’t hear anything. The bullfrogs that stopped croaking, which mean the hippos are on camp. So the way that all of the nature talks to each other, I get chills again. Like, it just really, it’s fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. And then just, we were out there and the lion that you’ve see just recently, his name is Zero. And I met him in South Africa. They had just killed a water buffalo and were chowing down and their bellies were full. And it was just nap time, yes. So that’s right before Zero took a nap. I’ve never seen a line with, dark, dark, dark mane and then a golden red body. I mean, he was just a stunner. And I actually do not use, so one of the things too is I do not use black in my artwork. The only time I use black is if I’m doing a charcoal portrait. Or if I’m using my India ink for my fly guy outline. So all of my other pieces that you see with you know, ostriches, and then the lion, I use either the deep blues or the really deep maroons and purples and things like that. I feel like there’s so many other colors than just black. And if you look at black, like you don’t just see a black, you see like a really deep blue. red.
[00:16:35] Rico: Interesting, interesting. Because life is like that a little bit, right? I mean, the only blacks you see are like in zebras and specific animal stripings and stuff.
[00:16:43] Jennifer: See, I see deep blue in the zebras.
[00:16:46] Rico: Okay.
[00:16:46] Jennifer: And then I see like the light purples in their white. The pink, the light flesh pinks. Well, that’s just where my head goes.
[00:16:55] Rico: So let me ask you this. I know writers that they write every day, right? Most writers like to write every day. Whether it’s two hundred words or a thousand words or four thousand words, or even one sentence. I mean, their feeling is they need to write every day. And sometimes it’s garbage. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it makes it, or a whole chapter goes away from a book. Or a character disappears because it’s not working the right way. Do you find yourself as an artist that you have to sketch all the time, that you have to draw? Or do you find yourself doing that even in the most complacent places like, just somewhere where you might be. Do you do that? Do you, is that something?
[00:17:30] Jennifer: 100%. I mean, there are definitely times that I like, have a break when, and I will go probably two days. When I’m out of town. But when I’m at home, I’m painting every day.
[00:17:41] Rico: Okay.
[00:17:41] Jennifer: Even like, I’ve even brought some of my little sketch, just something I can carry with me. But on our trip here, like I’m going to be whipping this out probably somewhere. Somehow I’ll find a way to maybe sketch the mountains and maybe some greenery. It’s just almost like a creative energy that you have to kind of get out. And then there are times that my husband’s like, you might need to go downstairs. You might need to go to the studio. Like, you get a lot of energy. Like go down and release that.
[00:18:09] Rico: Yes, yes. Before you explode, I guess.
[00:18:12] Jennifer: Yes. While you still have your moment.
[00:18:15] Rico: There you go. It is what you need for that tension to go somewhere else, into your brushes or something. When you are in a place like South Africa and you’re seeing Zero or something, or animals like that, do you also take photos? I mean, do you, how do you keep that memory in there to be able to do the art later?
[00:18:35] Jennifer: Well, right now I can see them and I can see that I can, it’s almost like you can take it back to the smells too. Well, for instance, one of our vehicles broke down in the herd of elephants, and that’s how my elephant charge came about. Because they were coming over and when they flapped their ears like this, it’s just like a threat. Like I’m a big boy. Like you’ve crossed the boundary. You need to move on. So he came over and that’s how my elephant charge came. If you look, you’ll see some of my paintings have the elephant that’s with the, with his ears out.
[00:19:04] Rico: Yes, I saw those. Yeah.
[00:19:05] Jennifer: And so there were pictures taken there. I think, I personally was wanting to just be there, be present and take it all in. I did bring my sketchbook, but I never touched it because I just wanted to be there, right there in the mix of it.
[00:19:19] Rico: Okay, okay.
[00:19:20] Jennifer: I think my next trip I will definitely want to bring the sketchbook out every day and like maybe do a blind contour with them right then and there. Because I do have books of just blind contours from trips that I’ve gone on. So they end up being like these, this small like sketchbook full of just blind contours. And a blind contour is one continuous line without looking at the paper. And I feel like that, sometimes when I’m also in my rut, I will go and do blind contours. Because it helps you just break that barrier of intimidation too, of putting pen to paper on a blank piece and just get loose.
[00:19:57] Rico: Right. So artists as well as writers get intimidated by the blank page.
[00:20:01] Jennifer: For sure.
[00:20:02] Rico: Or blank canvas. For sure.
[00:20:04] Jennifer: And so I took pictures for all the Africa, for that one, but then I have the memories and the colors in my head. The smells and things.
[00:20:13] Rico: Yes. I would think, yeah, I would think the smells and sounds actually inform a bit about what you do too. Let’s go from wild animals to something a little smaller. Something that takes a little bit more patience, I think. Not my cup of tea, I don’t like doing this type of fishing. But the fly guy, is a series of art that you’ve done. Tell us the medium you use, why you chose to do this and how it came about.
[00:20:37] Jennifer: The fly guys, they came about, and this is so simple, but my husband’s grandfather had this tie box that someone had done these flies fly tie box for him.
[00:20:50] Rico: Oh, okay.
[00:20:51] Jennifer: And it was in my studio. And so when he passed away, Danny got this box and I thought it was so cool just to have a little piece of Grant’s. And so it was in my studio and it was late one night because I am naturally a night owl. I like it when the world is quiet. That’s my special place, is when the world is quiet and I’m in the studio and can just go. And my alarm’s not going off to keep me on track and things like that. But I was in the studio and I was looking at them. Oh God, those are so interesting. And they’re so tiny. And the art of fly tieing is, I started to do more research on it, and it’s incredible. Like there’s so much, there is a specialty and an artwork in those little guys right there. Of the materials used and what they’d catch. I mean, I still have a lot to learn. I still have to go to my buddies who fly fish, and I’m like, who will we catch with this guy? And have I been true to the art? Am I accurate on my colors? I mean, I want to be able to speak to the people, you know that the niche that really loves fly fishing.
[00:21:54] Rico: Right. But these are actually fly bait? Fly, how would you?
[00:21:58] Jennifer: Fly lures.
[00:21:59] Rico: Fly lures, sorry. So these are actual real ones that you’ve created art from?
[00:22:04] Jennifer: Yes. But they are tiny.
[00:22:07] Rico: Yes.
[00:22:08] Jennifer: Those pieces are nine by nine each. So, and I tear the paper down, so you’ll have like the deckled edge. And then I use gouache and acrylic ink, and then I use my India ink pen to have that black outline detail.
[00:22:24] Rico: Wow. That is cool. I know you sell them individually, but have you ever sold them as a group like that?
[00:22:32] Jennifer: Yes. So this is what I love about these guys, all the personalities that happen with the fly guys. I have sold them unframed and then the client has gone to do their own framing. Or I actually, one of my favorites is I sew them onto a linen, a 12 by 12 by three linens. So it, to me, it’s feeling a little closer to the art of the fly tie. So I’ll sew them onto the linen and put them in an acrylic shadow box. And so they can either sit tabletop or hang. And I’ve loved to see people, how they have fun with either just one solo, or do a group of nine, or a group of twelve, or a group of three or two. Like they just have fun with the colors and the characters and creating a gallery wall of them.
[00:23:20] Rico: You know, I guess the sad part is with art like this, is that when you sell it, you don’t always see, you almost never see, I guess, where it actually ends up. What room, what wall that it lives in. Does that sound kind of sad when you sell? Because all your work is original work. It’s all custom one-offs. Do you ever think about, wow, I wonder where that is. Does that ever like come into your mind?
[00:23:45] Jennifer: For sure. No, definitely. There’s some shows that you don’t know who ended up buying the piece and then you just wonder where it is.
[00:23:51] Rico: Okay.
[00:23:51] Jennifer: And so you do have that question. But then there are some that I actually have a chance to see them hanging and it’s really rewarding to be able to see them kind of shine in their new home. So I do have some pictures of, that clients have sent over that it, it is really rewarding to see that.
[00:24:08] Rico: That’s cool. Or if you end up doing an exhibition or a gallery, I guess. It’s kind of neat to see when you walk around to hear what people might be saying about the art piece on that wall or being home.
[00:24:19] Jennifer: That makes me nervous.
[00:24:22] Rico: Does that make you nervous? Yes. I know, no artist likes to hear the reviews.
[00:24:27] Jennifer: Well listen, I have been in the critique world for, you have to have a certain thickness that happens with being in the art world. I mean, just take it for what it is. Great. And then move on. If you don’t like what you hear.
[00:24:39] Rico: Yeah, that’s true, I’m sure. Some people don’t like fantasy, but they like YA novels. It’s like that, right? So artwork is like that. Some people like sculptures versus paintings. It just depends. We’ve touched upon a little bit about textile work that you’ve done. Textile high art. There’s two thoughts of it, right? You could do textile painting or textile work that’s high art, or at the point that that particular textile has a function, then it becomes a craft, right? An interesting way of looking at something like that. But, you’ve done textile work, maybe pillows and fabrics and different things, right?
[00:25:16] Jennifer: Well, I’m actually wearing one of my, now my eyelash scarves.
[00:25:19] Rico: Eyelash scarf, okay.
[00:25:20] Jennifer: And one thing that’s fun about this one here, is I’m at, right today, I’m wearing it as a kind of a scarf to just actually add flare and color, but then to also cover my shoulders. It was kind of chilly in the lobby earlier. But I’ve been wearing this as a beach coverup too. So you have it nice with the air dry and then it just, the flow. But, so the textiles all started when I was pregnant with my daughter Jane, and she’s 10 now. But I couldn’t get in the oils and the pastels and I needed to have an outlet. I needed to figure out, what was I going to do? I had to create. But I started to play around with this material, the paint, the textile paint. And then it just started off, I started giving them as gifts as like little tea towels or whatnot. And then I think I did like some onesies and painted her some cute onesies. And it just evolved and it just led to sarongs, pillows, cocktail napkins, scarves.
[00:26:13] Rico: Are those also one of a kind or do you design it and then have it produced?
[00:26:18] Jennifer: No, I hand paint every single one of them.
[00:26:21] Rico: So cocktail napkins, if there’s 24 of them, you have to, you’re hand painting 24?
[00:26:26] Jennifer: Every single one of them, yes. But what I’ve found, because I do this leopard pattern, some people doodle or whatnot. It ends up being my think space. Like that’s my thinking time.
[00:26:37] Rico: Okay.
[00:26:37] Jennifer: There’s something about that repetitive motion.
[00:26:40] Rico: Yes.
[00:26:41] Jennifer: I have some of my best ideas when I’m doing those.
[00:26:44] Rico: That’s funny. You probably see different shapes on them as you’re creating those shapes. Or patterns and stuff.
[00:26:49] Jennifer: Well, they could come across as a leopard or they could come across as a horseshoe. So depending on which, what region you’re in.
[00:26:56] Rico: Right, right, right. As you’re doing it, that’s interesting. It’s like I hear writers say that, yeah, my character took me there. I didn’t even know I was going there. Or it’s like that.
[00:27:07] Jennifer: This material is very loyal to me and I’ve learned to, I have to iron every one to set it. However, if you look at my studio clothes, you might see that it probably doesn’t have to be ironed all the time, but they’re a certain color because it’s just very colorful studio clothes. But I have to iron every piece to set the ink, the paint into the textile. And not every textile reacts the same. So I have to learn how to either manipulate it. Or to where, if you put down the paint and it will expand. And if it does expand, like I have to make sure that my strokes are really smaller, so where it doesn’t end up overtaking the fabric. So you kind of learn the fabric and you then you just kind of get in sync with each other.
[00:27:50] Rico: It’s just amazing. Every form of art has its own little details that people don’t even think about, that aren’t familiar with the process of the art and what you have to think about and what goes into it. If they knew, then they could see the hard work and the inspiration that you got out of it.
[00:28:05] Jennifer: And I think that’s why I’ve, right now I’m in the middle of trying to tell that story for the pastel and wood panel. Because when you first see the piece, you probably don’t even understand what’s happening. Like what the process was prior. And there’s about 20 steps before the final piece. And so I’m trying to, I have a videographer helping me tell the story of that.
[00:28:26] Rico: Excellent, excellent.
[00:28:27] Jennifer: And we’re working on that together.
[00:28:28] Rico: I was going to say, you have to do video on that. They have to be able to see the drama and the tension of like, you did this beautiful piece, now I’m going to pour this resin on it. It better turn out right.
[00:28:40] Jennifer: Yeah. Right, right. And every time still, like with, I use the same pastels. I use the same resin, but every batch is different. Every wood’s different. Every like environment, temperature, all of it’s so different that I’m still surprised with this technique to the day. And certain colors just disappear. Certain colors blend. And that’s the thing with pastels, it’s all about a layering technique. So you can’t blend pastels. It’s a layering. And so with the resin it just melts.
[00:29:11] Rico: Geez. Well, we could go on and on about this. Art is a tough, tough world. It’s tough to be creative and it’s actually tough to produce it apparently. But you’re going to be showing your work at the Wesleyan’s Artist Market. That’s going to be end of April. Around April 28th and 29th, Friday and Saturday. 75 other professionals from around the Southeast will be there. Here in Peachtree Corners. Do you wanna share with us in brief what type of art? I mean some of the stuff that we’ve seen already during this podcast. What other stuff are you bringing? What can people expect?
[00:29:47] Jennifer: Well, first off, I love this. This is such a great show. I mean, really last year was my first year joining and I was blown away. They’re a great collection of artists. A lot of creativity under one roof. Fantastic people all around. I’ve been, the campus, just the vibe there is just all very happy and just a good heart. Big, big, good, big hearts. And I have a collections of the animals and then I’ll have the fly guys. And then I’ll have the off to the races, which are like my three go-tos.
[00:30:22] Rico: Right.
[00:30:23] Jennifer: And so I’ll have a variety of those, all new works. And I’ll have some of my newest pastel and wood panel off to the races, which I’ve just did for the first time about three weeks ago. So that was a fun experience. Because I’m used to painting those and that, so I used the drawing pastel and then the resin. So I’ll have a variety. All new works though. All hand painted, all original. But I will probably have my wallpaper, which is, this is my only thing I’ve ever printed. I have my fly guy wallpaper and my animal wallpaper. I’ve just finished. Now I just am trying to figure out how to talk about it and promote it, so.
[00:31:03] Rico: Right, right, right. Wow.
[00:31:05] Jennifer: Maybe I’ll send you a picture of it. Maybe you can add it in. It’s so, it’s so neat.
[00:31:09] Rico: Yes. I’m waiting for some high-res photography from you.
[00:31:13] Jennifer: And I’ve got that coming for you.
[00:31:14] Rico: Excellent. So if people want to follow you, where can they find out more information about Jennifer Keim?
[00:31:20] Jennifer: Okay. They can find more information on my website, which is www.JKeim.com, and that’s J-K-E-I-M.
[00:31:28] Rico: Okay.
[00:31:29] Jennifer: Or you could find me on my Instagram, which is @JKeimStudio.
[00:31:33] Rico: Cool. And Facebook, I think?
[00:31:35] Jennifer: Yes. On Facebook too.
[00:31:37] Rico: Cool. Great. Check her out. Lots of stuff on there. I was just on there. I saw her dive with her GoPro, not dive herself, but into the waters, the blue waters of Hawaii. But you can follow Jennifer on social media and see what’s up with her and what she does and stuff. It’s kind of interesting to see the behind the scenes of what an artist has to do to create the stuff they bring to these shows. So check that out. Check her out. To find out a little bit more about the Wesleyan Artist Market go to, just search Wesleyan Artist Market. Google that and you’ll find the place. And it’s being held at the Wesleyan School, which is a private prep school here in Peachtree Corners. Great school and a great supporter of ours as well. And we’re a sponsor of the Wesleyan Artist Market. So, great stuff. Great artist. Jennifer, this was a pleasure talking with you about art.
[00:32:24] Jennifer: I really enjoyed having this time with you.
[00:32:27] Rico: Yeah, no, same here. I appreciate you spending the time, especially from Hawaii. So, and the wifi seemed to work out just fine. So we’re all good.
[00:32:35] Jennifer: And no kids barged in wanting to go to the pool.
[00:32:39] Rico: And my cats didn’t show up on my desk either this time.
[00:32:42] Jennifer: Yes.
[00:32:44] Rico: So hang in there for a minute while I just sign off. Thanks again for being with us. This is Peachtree Corners Life. My name is Rico Figliolini. You can find out more about our publications at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. These podcasts, and we’ll be sharing three artists profiles and then upcoming issue of the, I think it’s our April/May issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine. And Jennifer will be one of them. So, check that out and have a great week.
Arts & Literature
North Metro Academy of Performing Arts Settles into Peachtree Corners
Gwinnett County’s first themed elementary school aims to incorporate arts education into a robust, imaginative, and collaborative environment.
“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Music, dance, painting, and theatre are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.” — William Bennett, former US Secretary of Education
Those words were declared many decades ago, long before students and even some staff members at North Metro Academy of Performing Arts (NMAPA) were born. But the sentiment rings as true today as it did then.
Gwinnett County Public Schools’ first themed elementary school, NMAPA is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Dr. Rodriguez Johnson, principal since the school was established in 2014, along with students, staff, and the community are working to change that.
“It’s amazing that we have over 40 different elementary schools represented in our community here. We have kids that come from Lilburn and Lawrenceville and Duluth and all over to attend our school, and it’s really about that close-knit family community,” said Johnson.
“We have our kids learning the same curriculum that they do at every other elementary school,” he continued. “I think it’s just really our personal connections that really separate us from our sister schools.”
The purpose of the K-5 school, open to every Gwinnett County resident, is to give students the opportunity to develop unique interests, uncover hidden talents, experience satisfaction in accomplishments, gain a sense of responsibility and pursue education as a way of life through educational programs tailored to their own specific needs, according to the school website.
This hidden gem didn’t pop up overnight. It has been a dream of lifelong educator Beauty Baldwin. After decades of dedication to educating students in Schley, Muscogee, and Gwinnett counties, Baldwin retired in June 1994 as the first Black female superintendent of Buford City Schools, as well as the first in the entire state of Georgia.
Her commitment to education and her community is evident with a school and a municipal building named for her. In 2016, the Gwinnett County Board of Education dedicated Baldwin Elementary School in Norcross in her name. In 2020, a ceremony was held to dedicate Gwinnett County’s newly- renovated elections office as The Gwinnett Voter Registrations & Elections Beauty P. Baldwin Building.
Perhaps her passion for education and commitment to children and the community is most evident in the former Hopewell Christian Academy that opened in 1997, shortly after Baldwin thought she had put away her educator hat. Many years later, she admitted that one never stops being a teacher.
Baldwin served as Hopewell’s administrator for 16 years until it became a Gwinnett County Charter School. The move to the public school system came with a name change — North Metro Academy. In May 2021, the Gwinnett County Board of Education approved transitioning NMAPA from a public charter school to GCPS’s first themed elementary school.
But the work doesn’t end there.
Room for everyone
North Metro Academy of Performing Arts engages students in instruction that integrates the academics and performing arts in ways that address the unique needs and interests of each student, said Dr. Johnson. He added that, unlike the fictional school of the arts in the movie “Fame,” there’s no auditioning for a spot at NMAPA.
There is currently no wait list and no child within Gwinnett County is turned away.
“Before we moved onto this campus, we had around 320 students. We expect to continue to increase our enrollment each year,” Johnson said. “We’re really excited about our future and our continued growth. And we’re extremely excited about being here in Peachtree Corners and Norcross.”
Although Peachtree Corners is considered a more affluent area than many other parts of the county, the student body is quite diverse and there’s a place for everyone.
“I think a lot of families choose us because they know that when they come here, we are an extended part of their family and there is no judgment. Every kid is one of our students and we make sure that we build a rapport with all of them,” said Johnson.
“We have such a small staff that I think that really helps us build those relationships, too,” he added. “Our parents know the teachers and we treat everyone like family.”
The first group that started kindergarten at NMAPA will be transitioning from fifth grade to middle school at the end of the academic year.
He said he gets requests from parents who want to see the theme extended to middle school, and perhaps even high school. However, Johnson is focusing on the ones in his care and preparing them for their best futures.
“Right now, we’re just trying to embrace our new space and continuing to grow our program,” he said. “Hopefully, one day, we will have so many students on the waiting list that we’ll have to have a bigger building.”
Photos by George Hunter
Arts & Literature
“Light Is Hope” Exhibition Holds Grand Opening
On February 4, about 85 people were on hand to celebrate the Grand Opening and Juror’s Talk of the “Light Is Hope” photography exhibition at the Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) in Peachtree Corners.
The crowd included photography enthusiasts, friends and family members of the artists, as well as community leaders such as Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason.
“Light Is Hope” is the first juried print exhibition hosted by the Peachtree Corners Photography Club. It consists of 100 photographs by 30 local artists.
The Grand Opening also included a Juror’s talk. Judge Amanda Gardner described her process of selecting the 100 photos from those submitted in the call for entries.
She said she selected photos that embodied the “Light Is Hope” theme, were technically excellent, and had high impact, generally using the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) “12 Elements of a Merit Image.”
Amanda then led a walk through the Exhibition for 45 minutes and discussed many of the photos on display, pointing out specific elements that she found particularly compelling.
Artists’ Talk on February 25
On Saturday, Feb. 25, there will be an Artists’ Talk from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the GCPL Peachtree Corners Library, 5570 Spalding Drive in Peachtree Corners. The event is free and open to the public.
The Artists’ Talk will begin with an introduction of each of the artists. After that, the audience will be welcome to roam through the Exhibition and talk one-on-one with the artists.
Attendees will learn the details and backstories of the photos. The artists will also share what attracted their eye to take the photos, how they took them, and how they edited them to make pieces of original art.
Everyone is invited to drop by the library to view the exhibition. The library is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 12-5 p.m.
Featured Exhibition Artists
- Gary Beck
- George Kaffezakis
- Eric Richter
- Marcia Brandes
- Mario Lombardi
- Chanel Saliah Soares
- Bob Chadwick
- Linda McLaurin
- David Schilling
- Chuck Cimarik
- Anna Niziol
- Tom Simpson
- David Dunagan
- Joseph Peake
- Vipul Singh
- Ken Esser
- Paul Peterson
- Jim Skurski
- Margaret B. Gallagher
- Richard Phillips
- Darren Straka
- Rafael Garcia
- Jody Pollack
- Bob Walker
- Robert Gates
- Andrew Potts
- Mike Walker
- Philip Hart
- Tracey Rice
- Brian Walton
- The HP Graphics Experience Center
- The Gilman Brothers Company
- Aristo J. Shyn, DMD, Link Dental Care
- Atlanta Tech Park
- Mad Gillz Fishing
- Peachtree Corners Business Association
- Peachtree Corners Magazine
- The UPS Store, 7742 Spalding Dr., Sandy Springs
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