A new Mentone Arts Center opened last week at 5951 Alabama Highway 117. The former Kamama building also offers guests a restaurant, visitor center and multi-purpose room for events and educational workshops.

The Mentone Arts Center in the Chuck Sennett Center for the Arts features a wide assortment of creations including oil and watercolor paintings, pottery, glass, jewelry, wooden works, handwoven works and sculptures by regional artists. The facility will be open Thursdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is named after late Atlanta aerial photographer Charles O. “Chuck” Sennett, the son of MACC’s two earliest supporters, Dr. Charles O. “Soc” and Barbara Sennett. The Rome, Ga. residents also maintain a home in Mentone.

It is operated by the Mentone Arts and Cultural Center, or MACC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. MACC Executive Director Randy Grider said their aim is to “promote, propagate and protect our community’s artistic roots for current and future generations.”

He said the facility had “a really incredible opening day” and sold some artworks right off the bat. MACC is also working with the Mentone Educational Resource Foundation to help sell online some student artwork that normally gets sold at a live annual auction to fund arts education at Moon Lake School but couldn’t this year due to COVID-19.

The Mentone Arts Center and the Chuck Sennett Center for the Arts also offers classes on how to paint with watercolors, create digital photography, learn black and white darkroom photography, drawing, will host an art camp for kids and teach prehistoric pottery. Grider said the art displays can move on wheels to conveniently clear space in the gallery for chairs and tables. With enough space to provide for social distancing, this keeps the venue available as a voting location and site for town council meetings and other community gatherings.

“Arts-related programming will be the backbone of the center,” Grider said. “Mentone has a wonderful heritage involving art of all forms. Many talented artists live in this area and are inspired by its artsy atmosphere, scenic landscape and wonderful citizens.”

“We are particularly excited that this building, which really is sort of the heartbeat of Mentone, will now be bustling with activities and programs,” said MACC Board President Ben Shurett. “Having this building alive again is great for every business in town.”

The arts center is complimented by a new restaurant called Elevation Bistro, operated by Kevin Dunlap, formerly chef at the Canyon Grill in Rising Fawn, Ga.

On the other side, the Gladys Blalock Crane Information Center allows guests to learn more about the area and get directions to local attractions such as DeSoto Falls, DeSoto State Park and the Little River Canyon National Preserve. They’ll also find a gift shop with Mentone-branded souvenirs like t-shirts and sweatshirts or locally made soaps for visitors to buy and take home. A history section will include items from an early post office donated by Doreen Crow Waters as a television displays a documentary about Mentone, Grider said.

To stay updated about the Mentone Arts & Cultural Center, visit https://facebook.com/mentoneartscenter.org.

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