Hood Street Art Center Creative Director Lucas Garzoli sits down with Rusty Taylor, the owner of Second Hand Smoke Guitars out of McDonough, GA, to talk about the first ever Cigar Box Guitar Festival in the state. The festival is coming up soon, on Saturday, September 9th, from Noon until 10PM, and will feature local artisans, live musical performances from musicians from around the Southeast, and of course, cigar box guitars. Rusty talks about the inception of the festival, and also tells us about an integral moment in the creation of the Hood Street Art Center.
Hey Rusty, tell us a bit about how we managed to bring the First Georgia Cigar Box Guitar Festival together here to McDonough, Georgia? Tell me the whole story.
[What] kind of what happened was, I think I was off one day and I was looking on my phone and I ♡ McDonough came up, and it had the first story about Andy opening up Hood Street. It was that iconic interview with him sitting in front of Hood Street on the couch. I think that day Channel 2 [news] had just left. It was a big day to get interviewed. Andy had just gotten the commission on the Turner Field project [with the Atlanta Braves]. It was one of those deals where his studio needed to expand, [and] he found the place and decided that [the center] was the direction he was going to go in.
But I happened to ride up after all that had cleared up, and Andy was in the parking lot. I stopped and talked to Andy. It was one of those chance things. We had a conversation– “What is this thing going to be?” and I think he was up in the air with how private or public [the establishment] was going to be. And we got into a discussion, [and I said] “Well, it sounds like it’s going to be an art center.”
You could tell the wheels were turning in his head. The dreamer in him started, and he got to see the potential and surrendered to it and said, “Yeah, it’s going to be an art center.” It was kind of a eureka moment for him; I think he saw that it could be bigger.
The following weekend, we had a build day, because the lease had been signed. I helped tear out the old church…That first day we were there all day, and I brought a couple of [cigar box] guitars over, and he got really interested in how it was made and how it works, and he was interested in the found objects, up-cycled [materials]. He saw the art in it.
[I think that when the gallery was dedicated at the memorial], me and you started talking in continuation of when I was talking with Andy about how the space could serve the community, and how to get the community involved in this space— to realize that it is an asset.
The fact of the matter is, everybody is into art, whether they turn the TV on or not. I think Andy had a vision to bring approachable art to people, from the fact that the resident artists are local and are just wonderful…
With Andy gone, [The festival] got put on the shelf, and then you and I got to talking, and the reason I’m drawn to ya’ll, is that it would make an impact in my community… I just kept the idea in the back of my head the whole time, and I think that Andy would have been enthusiastic about it and excited about it.
We do feel like this place is nurturing the city, and it’s starting to happen the other way around, little by little.
Yeah, you can’t bring it all along at the same time. That’s what impressed me with Andy, is that he didn’t give you the runaround. I have the feeling that if he didn’t want to deal with it, that he would say “This is not what I want to do!” You know? But it is kind of funny that it was the first day that he announced [that he would make the art center] that we met. Everyone knew him on the square. I think the first time I saw him is when they dedicated [the Patrick henry sculpture on the square.]
That was really great. It means a lot to hear a little of how we are affecting others because at the end of the day, that’s why we do it. For others.
And the thing about it is, is that sometimes it’s accidental…There’s always someone who paints or does folk art, I call that accidental art, because that’s the only outlet he has, and he just does it. Artists sometimes don’t have an outlet; at least we are lucky enough that we have a place where we can see and buy art!
Well, we are excited to have you at the Cigar Box Guitar Festival, and collaborating on this event has been a pleasure!
Thanks to Dale Torbett & Steve Arvey we are able to offer this great promotional bundles:
Georgia’s 1st Cigar Box Guitar Festival pre-sale bundle!
- Georgia Cigar Box Guitar Festival Ticket 09/09 ($5)
- GCBG T-Shirt ($20)
- GCBG Sticker ($3)
- Clarksdale International Cigar Box Guitar Festival Ticket 09/21 ($20)
$48 value for only $22!
Spread the word!