Creativity eased Grady Abrams through some tough times in his life.
Grady Abrams, standing next to a painting of Sen. Strom Thurmond and his daughter, has built an art studio and gallery in back of his house. He plans to offer art classes for at risk youth.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Painting and drawing helped the Evans man stay strong during the past 10 years when some of his friends died unexpectedly and he lost his wife, two sisters and three brothers to cancer.
Abrams creates portraits, landscapes and still-life works. But it's the abstract paintings that are the most therapeutic for him.
"All of these paintings, especially the abstracts, grew out of pain," Abrams said. "They were almost like spiritual in that the body was controlled by what the spirit was telling my hands to do ... I have had a lot of tragedy in my life - a lot of deaths, a lot of pain. Usually when I am suffering or in pain, I have to get creative."
From his Point Comfort Road home, which is filled with his works, Abrams had a vision last May - to construct a gallery/art studio so he could use his art to reach children, especially those at risk or under-privileged.
On rough, unused land behind his property fence, Abrams built the 2,000-square-foot gallery behind his home amid his Eden-like garden backyard.
Abrams wants schools groups or even individual children to view his gallery, participate in an art class and hear how art or any other God-given talent can change their lives.
"I want to get some of the kids at risk," said Abrams, who grew up in downtown Augusta at 10th Street and Laney Walker Boulevard. "... Usually those at risk don't get the opportunity to be exposed to this kind of thing. I want to talk to them about life, the ups and downs, and how they can overcome because I came from the same environment that many of the at-risk kids are in right now.
"You have to take responsibility and do something with your life. You can't totally rely on somebody else to lift you up."
Abrams believes every person has a talent. He hopes a visit to his gallery and his studio will help children find what their talent is.
"All of us have gifts," Abrams said while standing in the gallery, which took a year and $100,000 to build. "It's a matter of discovering your gift, and that is what is going to carry you through when everything has let you down. It's that God-given gift."
As a Lucy C. Laney High School and Paine College graduate, Abrams spent his life in Augusta as a math teacher at Laney, an insurance salesman and manager, an Augusta city councilman from 1967-1971 and a journeyman ironworker. He retired as a labor relations manager from the Savannah River Site.
Many of Abrams' works depict aspects or people from his own life including an older home on 10th Street and the all-knowing authoritative matriarch that he said most black families relate to.
Abrams stripped the walls of his home for his paintings, which include portraits of icons such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Charles Young and Strom Thurmond.
Abrams has never had formal art training.
"If you ask me about a lot of the artists and things that maybe an educated artist ought to know, I probably won't know because of a lack of formal training, but I have the God-gifted talent and I don't take any of the credit for it whatsoever," Abrams said.
Abrams believes a higher power has led him this far.
"Really I didn't have the money," he said of the funds it took to build his gallery and studio. "All of the money has come through divine intervention."
For more information or to schedule a visit to Abrams' gallery, call him at 855-5968.
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