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New exhibit featuring works by Laura Emerson King opens tonight with reception

Lamar Arts’ newest exhibit in the Depot Gallery has been a ‘labor of love’ for the family, friends and fans of a Barnesville artist, the late Laura Belle Emerson King. There are more than 60 art pieces in the show, said LA president Kay Pedrotti, ‘an overwhelming and unexpected response to our appeal for the ‘˜loan’ of her works locally.’ Family members have contributed the largest share of the exhibit, including Bill Emerson of Barnesville, Lee and Cindy Emerson of Cumming, and Bonnie Emerson Cook and husband Tommy Cook and Guy and Lisa Emerson, both families from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Laura was a generous friend, and is said to have given away as many paintings as she sold, to friends all over the U.S. Her varied works other than paintings range from a five-foot handsaw to an old white trunk covered with pink roses, to charcoal sketches of early Barnesville buildings, to decades-old posters Laura drew to help raise money for local causes. Also expected is a ‘mud sculpture,’ a rare piece from an artist for whom ‘painting was her life,’ said Bill Emerson. She was known as a talented artist and patient teacher to art students in her home on Atlanta Street. That home, now demolished, featured figures from the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling of the basement – which she painted exactly as Michelangelo did, lying on her back on a raised platform. Laura was born in 1920 in Sycamore, Ga., to Willy Joe and Monteree Wilbanks. During her school years the family moved to Barnesville, where Laura attended Gordon Military High School. At Gordon she met and married a football player, Arthur Lee Emerson II. Her family worked for Carter’s Mill and Laura briefly had a job there will raising her children. Emerson died at age 53 of leukemia.After the older children had left home, she married Jess King, a martial arts master. She died in 2004 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. The couple had six children: Lee, Jewel, Jenny, Bonnie, Bill and Guy. Jewel died at 67 on Christmas Day, 2013, as a result of complications from rheumatoid arthritis. Jenny now lives in Ohio. ’This unique exhibit has been a delightful challenge,’ said gallery director Angela Preston. ‘It’s something everyone in the area should experience.’ The show opens Friday, Aug. 2 with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m., and closes Aug. 31. Open hours are Fridays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the addition of 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 7, 8, 14 and 15 for viewing. Call 678-603-7268 or 770-358-2834 to see by appointment.

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