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Carried Away Art in Arroyo Grande promotes culture for all

For Shawn Collins, the business he opened in early November is not just a venue to sell art. You might say he got "carried away" with what started as a little niche and expanded as more room became available.

The result is the Carried Away Art, a gallery in Arroyo Grande.

Collins said the idea was to create a space to promote art and culture for children and adults. Once he found the perfect building to rent, everything flowed.

"This is like a stepping stone for a bigger foundation for promoting arts in society," said Collins.

His assistant, Erin Cable, said the formerly serious-looking space has been spiffed up with "bright and happy" colors. Now its oranges, yellows and warm browns are inviting, and the room is no longer intimidating.

Fall’s grand opening featured 15 artists. The upcoming exhibit, "Tour de Fours," is more focused. It’s an admittedly silly title, said Collins, a play on tour de force because four artists are featured. But he expects it to be eye-catching. The show opens Saturday with a reception and continues through March.

The event highlights Rebecca Brockway’s torn paper, collage and mixed media; Drew Davis’s oils; Dan Holland’s acrylics, collage and mixed media; and Sarah Winkler’s mixed media.

Collins has lived in the area for a dozen years, so finding local artists to display their work has been a breeze, as they were already friends or people he met at other shows, galleries and on Open Studio tours, he said.

A few of those artists, such as Dorothy Riggs, will be teaching classes for Collins at Carried Away Art. Sessions ranging from watercolor to life drawing are scheduled for adults. Kids’ workshops offer collage, acrylic, crafts and ceramics.

The classes, especially the ones for children, are what really stoke Collins’ fire.

For him, making the lessons possible is a commitment to the future of his daughter, Alexandra, age 8, and to other children. He’s been observing changes in the younger students as they get involved.

"You see how giving them the opportunity to do art empowers them," Collins said, and he has first-hand results.

Alexandra is already showing her colors, according to her father.

Although he’s an artist himself, Collins said he feels he’s taking a back seat to his daughter. "She’s the one with the talent," he said. "I’m just sort of riding her coattails."

What makes him even prouder is observing the pep talks she gives others.

"I encourage her, and I see her encouraging other people."

Art works toward the betterment of all, he believes. "I think it’s a wonderful process, healing."

If you go ...

What: "Tour de Fours"

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Carried Away Art, 1200 Grand Ave., Arroyo Grande

Contact: 481-4364

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