About

Created in 2011 by Georgia artists and photographers, this exhibition series is dedicated to the American small family farmer, their dedication to the land and the craft that has fed countless people.

They’re everywhere in the countryside...ignored by most, completely overlooked by many. The changing face of America has sprouted numerous abandoned farms and rural houses. 

Left to decay by their former owners these structures eventually deteriorate into the landscape...first losing the paint coating, window glass cracking and falling out, roofs being penetrated by tree branches, small animals setting up their own housekeeping, floors falling in and then a side buckling allowing the roof to slowly cave in. Often the chimneys are left standing for decades after the main structure is gone.

To the interested viewer, it can be a mystery, these empty old buildings standing decades after they’ve been vacated. The windows displaying the emptiness inside and sometimes curtain remnants and even bits of furniture left behind.

At one time someone, perhaps a family with hopes and dreams of a bright future lived in these homes, built the fences and outbuildings, tended the gardens and farmed the fields, raised farm animals for a living. All gone now leaving behind the remnants of their lives, the spirit of their passing. Much of what they had built with their bare hands is gone now, like them, from these fair lands. The lawns, gardens and fields themselves overgrown with weeds and briars. What remains are little bits to remind us that once, people lived here. In the wood, old peeling paint, rusted vehicle and farm machinery, maybe even a toy or two, and often you can see domestic flowers growing among the weeds and grasses. Someone tenderly cared for the properties that are now vacant reminders of a by-gone era.

The works in this exhibition include photographs, pintings, drawings and video representing the farmland and houses that were once the dream of some American family, now changed forever. Photographs by Blake Smith, Charles St. John Dyer, and Peter Muzyka. Paintings and drawings by Don Jolley, and Peter Muzyka.

The Abandoned Rural America™ video is produced by Peter Muzyka and John McCarthy and features music by "Keepers of the Sound" musicians Joe Reynolds and Tom Sparks.

Email peter@abandonedruralamerica.com for purchase information.

    Abandoned Rural America
    The changing face of America has sprouted numerous abandoned farms and rural houses since it was first settled in the 1700’s. Abandoned farmhouses dot the countryside everywhere in rural American; yet are almost totally ignored by those who pass by.

    Left to decay by their former owners, these structures eventually deteriorate into the landscape, first losing the paint coating, then window glass cracking and falling out, the roof penetrated by tree branches, floors falling in and then a side buckling allowing the roof to slowly cave in. Small animals set up their own housekeeping becoming the new tenants of these houses once lived in by human families with a promise of a prosperous future. 

    To the interested viewer it can be a mystery, these empty old buildings standing long after they’ve been vacated. The windows display the emptiness inside and sometimes curtain remnants and even bits of furniture are left behind.

    The chimneys are often left standing for decades after the main structure is gone, becoming the only trace that a family once lived there.

    At one time perhaps a family, with hopes and dreams of a bright future for many generations to come, lived in these homes, built the fences and outbuildings, tended the gardens and farmed the fields, raised farm animals for a living. Children played in the yard, ran in the fields, climbed the oak, mulberry, or apple tree that grew near the house.

    Gone now, leaving behind slight traces of their lives, the spirit of their passing. Much of what they built with their bare hands has disappeared, like them, from these fair lands. The lawns, gardens, and fields themselves are overgrown with weeds and briars. What remains are little bits to remind us that once, thriving people lived here. You can see it in the beams and joists of the building, the old peeling and faded paint, a rusted vehicle or farm machinery, maybe even a toy or two. Sometimes you can see domestic flowers growing among the wild weeds and grasses. Once this was a sanctuary, an almost sacred place for people’s lives to develop. Someone had tenderly cared for the property that is now just a vacant reminder of a by-gone era.

    On occasion, one of these farmhouses may cause us to long for simpler times. Thoughts begin to flood into our minds creating a longing for a way of life to which we can never return.

    The Abandoned Rural America Exhibitions

    Allied Arts in Milledgeville  Abandoned Rural America has had 2 previous showings to date, the first in March-April 2012 was held at Allied Arts' Marlor House Gallery in Milledgeville, GA. It was well attended and began a dialog about the rural farming countryside and the art that it inspires.

    http://peterjewelmz.blogspot.com/2012/04/abandoned-rural-art-reception-images.html

    Steffen Thomas Museum of Art  The second exhibition was held at the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art in Buckhead, GA in august-October 2012. That showing was also well attended and opened the door for a long term event that may span additional state venues in the near future.

    http://peterjewelmz.blogspot.com/2012/09/abandoned-rural-america-2-reception.html

    SNCA in North Georgia Mountains  The showing of Abandoned Rural America is being held at the Sautee Nacoochee Community Center in Sautee, Georgia from June 14 through July 28. The Sautee Nacoochee Center is located in the beautiful Sautee & Nacoochee Valleys of Northeast Georgia near Helen on Highway 255 North, 1/4 mile off Highway 17. The address is 283 Hwy 255 N, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571, Four miles southeast of Alpine Helen.

    Praise for Abandoned Rural America from SNCA  "The Sautee Nacoochee Center presented the Abandoned Rural America exhibition to overwhelming acclaim.  This colorful exhibit brings into focus, the familiar and forlorn landscapes of the rural south. These agricultural scenes remind us that many farms, once so vibrant while in the care of families, are now neglected or being taken over by large scale commercial farming. Many of the scenes depicted in this exhibit will soon vanish from the landscape as they fall into ruin or are torn down. Featuring diverse artistic mediums, this beautiful exhibit attracted one of the largest crowds in our gallery’s history.  We also experienced a large number of sales from the show as a result. 

    The Abandoned Rural America exhibit is a wonderful tribute to a vanishing way of life; to the land and those who lovingly tended it."  

    Judith Barber, Execcutive Director, SNCA

    Sunflower Farm Festival  There was a mini showing of Abandoned Rural America at the Sunflower Farm Festival in Rutledge from July 6 through July 7. Over the last 10 years the festival has grown into a much anticipated community and regional event with over 9,400 in attendance last year. Heritage crafter's and artists set up to demonstrate their hand-made items. Wonderful home-grown music was played, delicious, local, and traditional 4th of July food was served, and kids participated in games and art projects and took a hay ride in a tractor-drawn wagon. Everyone enjoys "cut-your- own" sunflower bouquets to take home with them. The 1811 McCowan-McRee house and the 1891 Sharecropper’s Market are the center of the festival and tours of both houses and their heritage gardens are a must.

    Monroe Art Guild Gallery  The Winter 2013 Abandoned Rural America™ show will be held at the Monroe Art Guild building this coming November 10 through December 20. The MAG is located on Broad Street in downtown Monroe. The Monroe Art Guild is a member of the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries and the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies.

    Monroe Art Guild Gallery

    Mommies & Poppies Festival

    Mommies and Poppies Festival There was a mini showing of Abandoned Rural America at the Mommies and Poppies Festival in Rutledge on Mother's Day, 2014. This was a first time event for the Holt Farm just south of Rutledge, GA. The festival included heritage crafter's and artists who demonstrated their hand-made items. Wonderful home-grown music was played, delicious, local, and traditional Southern food was served, and kids participated in games and art projects. Attendees enjoyed the large planting of poppies and many had their photographs taken in front of the massive poppie display. The 1811 McCowan-McRee house and the 1891 Sharecropper’s Market were at the center of the festival and tours of both houses and their heritage gardens are a must.

    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/202943526933333790/

    Cotton Gin Festival

    On November 4, 2013, Nov 1, 2014, and Nov 7, 2015 the ARA artists displayed for sale some of the work that reflects the Abandoned Rural America Project. We also showed an ARA video version throughout the show in the lobby of the Lucy Agnes Hotel in Bostwick, GA. Many of the visitors who came to see the parade and shop the crafts and artists booths also visited the ARA exhibition in the Lucy Agnes Hotel.

    In the newest version of the ARA show we included the work of Kate Lebherz-Gelinas. Kate is an artist-craftsman with a focus on fiber arts and hand carved tools. Kate has created crochet hooks from a variety of materials. She lives on a small homestead in Middle Georgia with her husband and daughter and there, she harvests many of the materials for her hooks.

    http://www.bostwickga.com/events.html

    PLAZA Arts Center - Eatonton GA

    After holding an exhibition of the works in ARA during June and July 2015, the ARA group held an exit reception at the PLAZA on July 31 with a special guest visit by Evan Karanovich, Special Projects Coordinator for Georgia's United States Senator David Perdue. Evan addressed the reception assembly regarding the Senator's appreciation for the ARA artists' project and workmanship and presented certificates of appreciation to the ARA artists whose work is now hanging in the Senator's Washington DC office and conference areas. 

    http://theplazaartscenter.com/ for information on the PLAZA Arts Center

    The ARA exit reception at the PLAZA Arts Center theater in Eatonton, Georgia
    Evan Karanovich presents certificates of appreciation for ARA's contribution to the arts in Georgia

    ARA Artist Kate Sherrill exhibiting at the Georgia Botanical Gardens in Athens

    Through Aug. 9. Kate Sherrill has worked as a professional artist and designer for over 20 years. She has created many commissioned portraits and murals, and enjoys working in oil, pencil, watercolor and pastel. In 2011, she and author Russell Horres published "Jack the Cat." Sherrill's favorite subject matter is just about anything in nature: botanicals, fruit, landscapes and animals. Kate's art can be seen on her website at www.kateinthestudio.com

     

    ARA_Short-version.m4v

    ARA at the historic Crawford Depot in Crawford Georgia – September 25th through October 25th, 2015

    The newly renovated Crawford Depot, just 12 miles east of Athens, Georgia was the site of the Abandoned Rural America exhibition. Hundreds of local and regional people turned out over the course of the month to view the exhibit and to see the beautiful Crawford Depot's renovation. Decades in the making, the depot hosted the ARA exhibit as the very first public presentation in this beautiful space. Several ARA artists, along with Linda Parish from the County Register, worked tirelessly for a week in preparing the space to hang artworks and photography. Link to an article in the AThens Banner Herald's On-line AThens can be read here: http://onlineathens.com/mobile/2015-10-01/art-exhibit-events-restored-crawford-railroad-depot

    Following are some scenes from the exhibition.

    The Crawford Depot



    Here are more highlights from the recent Crawford Depot show:

    https://youtu.be/FfUq8ROyJT4


    Also, the County Register of Georgia has an article and ad on the back page of their Fall 2015 Issue which is currently being distributed across north Georgia.


    Abandoned Rural America in Alabama

    The ARA Exhibited on the second floor of the Wetumpka, AL, Administration BLDG, January 19th through April 22nd, 2016
    The Abandoned Rural America exhibit was showing in Wetumpka, Alabama at the Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery January through April, 2016. Local Alabama artists also added their own touch in an excellent adjunct exhibit entitled The Land: God's Gift. Visitors get the opportunity to see 2 excellent exhibits reflecting rural America's farming land.

    The exhibition was sponsored by Central Alabama Electric CooperativeThe ARA Writers' reception entitled "Words and Music"was also held at The Wetumpka Depot on Sunday, April 3rd.

    The photographs below showcase the exhibit's Alabama reception on February 12th. The Wetumpka ARA Exhibit had over 150 pieces of art representing the small American family-owned farm, both past and present. The KELLY is a series of galleries on the top floor of the Wetumpka Administrative Building at 408 South Main Street.
    Refreshments were provided by local growers and restaurants.
    Here are a few photographs taken by Wetumpka photographer Wayne Atchison and ARA member Peter Muzyka of some of The Land: God's Gift exhibit, a related art exhibit by local talent from the Wetumpka, Alabama area, also showing along with Abandoned Rural America at the KELLY.
    The Land: God's Gift, paintings

    The Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin (http://www.agr.georgia.gov/about-the-market-bulletin.aspx), which is distributed throughout the state of Georgia, has highlighted ARA in its September 2 issue. 

    Abandoned Farmhouse Model

    States with the most zombie homes

    Reprinted from Yahoo.com


    More than 770,000 homes are in foreclosure in the U.S. According to the latest data provided by RealtyTrac, roughly one in five of these -- over 150,000 in all -- has been abandoned by its owner and remains unclaimed. These properties are referred to by the industry as “zombie” homes. 

    RealtyTrac provided 24/7 Wall St. with the latest foreclosure data by state, including the number of homes in foreclosure and the proportion of those homes that are vacant. In some states, the problem of zombie homes is particularly severe. In the worst-off state, almost a third of its 16,618 foreclosed homes have been abandoned. | By Michael B. Sauter and Thomas C. Frohlich, 24/7 Wall St. 

    Old Abandopned Farmhouse 480.mov

    Georgia Ag Commission Visit 12-18-2014-SD ‎(480p)‎.m4v