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Gallery ‘a dream come true’ for Opp artist

“It’s a dream come true,” said local artist Anita Ellis of her new home gallery, which officially opened Thursday night and is currently showing a variety of her work.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” she said. “And thanks to a lot of hard work and the help of my brother-in-law, Jerry Ellis, who let me use his vacant home for my gallery, it was possible.”

Ellis said she’s always been interested in drawing and the arts, but got her first “formal education” in painting in 1973 from Robert Brawner, an instructor at then- MacArthur State Technical College.

“He taught us perspective and how to draw from photographs and on the grid,” she said. “That was the beginning of my artwork. In school, I used to draw and excelled in science, especially when we had to draw things like amo–ebas. I always had color crayons and such. I would always draw in the sand.”

Since 1980, Ellis has shared her love for the arts with students by teaching them the techniques of painting and other forms of art.

One way Ellis teaches her students is by having them paint a banty rooster.

“I have taught that painting many times,” she said. “The first one I did from a photograph of him. My husband, Michael, and I raised him.”

Ellis said she began remodeling the home that’s now her gallery in November 2007.

“I give a lot of credit to Kim Boutwell for keeping the project going,” Ellis said. “She has helped me tremendously and did a great job.”

Ellis said she has many ideas in the works for the gallery and is excited about what the future holds.

“The plans are to recognize an artist in the area once a month and let them have a one-person show here,” she said. “People can come and they can advertise their artwork.”

Ellis also is heavily involved in the Opp Cultural Arts Council as well as the Heart of Dixie Gourd Patch, which is a group of local artists who use gourds for artwork.

“We are also going to have a gourd showing in February,” she said. “I have a lot of things in the works. Teresa Vaughn is probably going to have something going on with sewing to help get people interested in sewing, and I’ll do some demonstrations.” Ellis plans to do a presentation and demonstrate painting techniques.

“And at some point I want to do something for students,” she said. “But it won’t be something we do in the studio. I have a separate studio for that.”

Ellis said she has a lot of ideas running through her head and is excited to see what will pan out.

And the good news is “for the most part, everything is free,” meaning admission to the gallery and special demonstrations.

Ellis said there will be packets and paintings available for purchase.

Overall, Ellis is pleased with her new gallery and what the future holds, the gallery will be open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 212 Ellis Road in Opp.

“This is a dream come true. I have wished and planned for this for many, many years,” she said.

Local artist Anita Ellis works in her studio. Ellis opened her home gallery Thursday night. She says it’s a “dream come true.” | Kendra Bolling/ Star-News