The Dizzy Gypsy is a fun, relaxed, somewhat weird mobile art gallery and creative collective. It started as a brick-and-mortar gallery in the studio space on the Lawrenceville Square several years ago. Their mission is to build a thriving community of local artists and art lovers, ensure all artists are paid fairly for their talent and support and mentor emerging artists in Lawrenceville and Gwinnett. Owned by Aura-Leigh Sanders, who has worked with almost 180 different artists in her eight years, the Dizzy Gypsy is the “anti-gallery gallery” striving to make art accessible to anyone, regardless of wealth or connections.
From the Ground Up:
The Dizzy Gypsy was opened by restaurateurs Ben Bailey and Chris Collin. The owners of Local Republic and Strange Taco Bar teamed up with artist Sarah Beth Cowart in 2014 as a grass-roots art cooperative and creative studio space. Run by volunteers, the space is designed for artists and art lovers. Find it in the “pink” building on the corner of Crogan and Perry streets on the Lawrenceville Square.
When Aura-Leigh heard about it and attended the grand opening, she fell in love with the fun, creative atmosphere and started volunteering. On Valentine’s Day in 2015, Aura-Leigh took the helm in doing something she loved. For the next four years, she held art shows, workshops, classes, concerts, model and film shoots, life drawing classes and other creative events, including yoga classes in the gallery. She also started the “Local Art World Takeover” (#LAWT) initiative, in which she made art in local businesses, restaurants and venues throughout Gwinnett available for purchase to local art lovers. In 2018, Aura-Leigh turned the Dizzy Gypsy into a proper gypsy gallery by continuing the LAWT program and hosting pop-up and long-term art shows with business partners around town. One of the most popular gypsy art shows is the “Art Loves Beer Loves Art” program in which Gwinnett breweries display local artists’ works to brewery patrons who have bought several art pieces in these shows over the years.
Recently, Aura-Leigh was invited by the City of Lawrenceville to be a part
of a task force to form the new Lawrenceville Arts Commission. Her first
big project entailed a renovation of Shoehorn Alley on N. Perry Street.
The commission now has three more public art projects in the works that
will start popping up all over town in early 2023. She is also working
with the new Gwinnett Entrepreneurship Center and Georgia Gwinnett. College to create mentorship and education opportunities for artists and
creatives seeking to start their own businesses and make a career from their art.
Q & A WITH AURA-LEIGH:
Q: “What businesses does Dizzy Gypsy partner with to spread
art around Gwinnett?”
A: “With so many businesses interested in participating, the best partners are businesses and venues that get a lot of foot traffic ,which ensures a lot of viewership for the art. Restaurants like Local Republic, Johnny’s Pizza Sugarloaf, D’Floridian and others, as well as breweries, are where I find the most success. I am always looking for new artists and new venues to hang art!”
Q: “What makes the artists of Dizzy Gypsy unique?”
A: “The best thing about Dizzy Gypsy is our artists. Many emerging artists don’t have great luck with more prominent, traditional art galleries, so our mission
is to create a nurturing, family-style culture that helps launch artists into their community. When a Dizzy Gypsy artist finds success getting accepted into a high-end, exclusive gallery or starts selling their pieces at traditional art value, I feel like I’ve done my job.”
Q: “Do you offer any classes or events at the gallery?”
A: “Even without a dedicated brick-and-mortar space, Dizzy Gypsy still hosts classes, artist talks and other events with the support of our partners. Local photographer
Dwain Vaughns hosted an artist talk at Slow Pour Brewing this past summer. In 2023, we plan to launch Live Drawing Sessions – a life drawing class for aspiring artists looking to improve their skills drawing live models.