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A Town Called Athens: A canvas for artistic endeavors

Now for something that doesn’t get very much media coverage but still deserves the spotlight: the arts.

Athens offers a unique blend of the arts not commonly found in cities of this size. It really is a case of “great stuff you didn’t know about in your own backyard.”

Open mics and performances of all kinds characterize the culture in Athens.

A massive number of bands and artists have come out of Athens, and while very few have made the “big-time,” that does not mean that Athens isn’t packed with substantial musical talent.

That talent ranges from young musicians to those who are long out of college and the workforce.

Ever wander into the Donkey Coffee and Espresso or the The Front Room on a Friday night for Open Mic? Or stumble into The Union or Jackie O’s when they are offering live music?

Chances are that if you did, you weren’t disappointed, and those are just a few of the local venues that routinely offer live, local music.

But the talent begins even before college in Athens with events such as the annual Battle of the Bands at Athens High School and other musical performances put on at places such as ARTS/West.

The entire purpose of ARTS/West is to provide a facility for artists of all types to come together and share their talents. It isn’t just for music and plays.

But maybe music isn’t your thing. Well, how about the local art or museums?

You can argue they don’t exist or that you don’t know where they are. But just because they are not subject to substantial public exposure doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

The Dairy Barn offers exhibitions of local artists for a nominal fee, seven days a week. In fact, the Dairy Barn is nationally recognized for its quilt collection, and that is just one example of a place to experience local art.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is superb. While not very large, it has multiple exhibitions that cover vastly different areas of interest. In particular, the Kennedy has a serious strength in Native American artifacts. It is worth a visit for sure.

The Athens County Historical Society and Museum also offers exhibits about local history that are worth seeing for anyone — student or resident — interested in learning about the history of this area.

Another artistic area that is rarely recognized but is very strong in Athens is drama.

The plays put on by Ohio University and Ohio Valley Summer Theater are fantastic productions with top-notch acting. A few nights of performances and the few hundred or so people who see those plays do not do them justice.

But it is not only at the college and professional level that good plays arise. From the local elementary schools to the high school, students put lots of effort into their work, and the finished product is often impressive.

I am a longtime actor, so maybe you can call me biased, but I am very proud of many of the productions I’ve been in — and not because of myself, but because of the people around me. The creativity that stems from people of all ages in Athens continues to amaze me.

So this week, instead of partying, staying in or even leaving Athens, consider all the entertaining things close to home. Ask around; check your local listings; catch a play; see a show; visit an art gallery.

You might not know what you’re looking for, but I’m sure that, whatever you find, you’ll be glad you went looking.  

Will Drabold is a junior at Athens High School enrolled in Ohio University classes and a columnist for The Post. Want to be a part of the arts scene? Email Will at dd195710@ohiou.edu.

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