Art Collections at the Funk Heritage Center
The Rogers Contemporary Native American Art Gallery
The exhibits in this gallery include paintings, sculptures and other creative works by Native American artists. All of these items were donated by Clarence and Margaret Rogers and are on permanent display. These works of art represent the talents of many people with a wide range of styles and subjects. A majority of these works were created by descendants of the Southeastern Indians, many of whom now live in west of the Mississippi due to the removal of their ancestors during the Trail of Tears in the 1800s.
The Buffington Gallery
The exhibits in this gallery change from time to time. Beginning in November, 2013, the gallery will feature a mural painted by the renowned artist Athos Menaboni. An Italian-born painter, he worked almost exclusively in Georgia and is known throughout the art community as one of the foremost artists of wildlife, primarily birds. His work was commissioned by several prominent Atlanta residents to paint murals in private residences and public buildings. In 1951, Menaboni was commissioned to paint this mural for the Citizens and Southern National Bank located in Atlanta at Michell and Forsyth Streets. He was assisted by Duff Sutton, Jr. The work was removed and conserved in 2011.
Dr. Joseph Kitchens said, "We are so fortunate to be able to exhibit this wonderful mural at the Funk Heritage Center. It depicts the Cherokee County countryside and we know art lovers will appreciate the opportunity to view this unusual piece of art by this famous painter." Menaboni was formally trained in Italy and came to Atlanta in 1927 to paint murals. Later, he became acclaimed worldwide for his illustrations of birds.
This mural takes up a full wall in the Buffington Gallery. It was started in late Fall 1951, and appears to have taken around eight to ten weeks to complete. The mural depicts what bank president Mills B. Lane called “a typical Georgia landscape.” The scene is actually based on sketches Athos Menaboni made in Cherokee County. Menaboni had drawings of rocks and magnolia blossoms, and the pine tree was drawn from branches the artist brought to the bank to use as models. Mickey Lane, son of the bank president, posed for a short period for the boy in the foreground. However, Menaboni reported the young man could not hold still, and continued to run back to see how he was being painted. The eighteen foot magnolia tree took Menaboni and Sutton three weeks to complete. No models were used for any of the birds because the artist was extremely familiar with these subjects. No one is sure if a model or photograph was used to paint the hound. Lovers of Menaboni's work have known about the C & S Bank murals for years and consider them a highlight of his career.
By early 1952, the new bank building was opened. As you entered, the mural could be viewed across the entire length of the bank since it was painted on the far wall opposite the front doors. The date when the bank closed is unknown, but by 2011, the building was in disrepair and empty with no running water and limited electricity. However, the mural was found to be stable and in good condition. The building’s owner was determined to save the work. Durrett Studios and Gallery, under the direction of Freda Durrett Nichols, was contracted to remove and conserve the painting. The mural is now divided into panels on individual stretchers, so it can be easily exhibited for the community to enjoy. The mural was first loaned to and exhibited by Kennesaw State University in 2012.