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Soda Shop Gallery celebrates 10 years

Soda Shop Gallery is celebrating 10 years on the square in downtown Sylvania promoting local art to enrich and preserve our community.  
The gallery is a project of the Downtown Development Authority/Classic Main Street. 
It is an art gallery that was established in 2005 in an unusable building. Previously a restaurant for about 65 years, the building was in terrible shape and had not been occupied for many years.
The need for the local art community to show their work had been established the previous year through and over flowing art show during the Christmas Extravaganza in the old Minkovitz building. 
The owners of the building were contacted and agreed to a year lease to allow the DDA program an opportunity to try a gallery. The City of Sylvania agreed to furnish the utilities and work was started immediately by volunteers.  
The community support was overwhelming with a large group cleaning, painting and supplying what was needed to complete the project. The DDA furnished only $700 for materials.  
In five short weeks, the gallery opening was attended by approximately 300 people.
The gallery is operated entirely with a volunteer staff of 30 to 35 people serving more than 80 hours each month. The artists involved give 20 percent of their sales to help maintain the gallery. 
The number of artists showing their work varies between 35 and 40. All work shown in the gallery is done by artists that have a direct link to Screven County. They either grew up in Screven County or they live here now.
The gallery is used by citizens of Screven County for receptions, meetings and special events. 
An elementary school Christmas Art Contest is held each December with the winners’ art matted and shown for a month. 
The Soda Shop Gallery has won many awards given by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The manager of the gallery and the DDA, Hilda Boykin, is a certified Georgia Downtown Professional.
In 2009, the building was purchased by the DDA and work was done to enlarge the display area and add a small kitchen.  Antique light globes were found that were original to the building and with the addition of new fittings they were placed back on the bead board ceiling. The building’s original fan is still at the front door. The Sealtest sign out front reminds us that this really was a soda shop from the early 1940s. 
During WWII, the back of the building was the bus stations and many Screven County enlisted men boarded the bus to go to war at the Soda Shop, some never to return home.
All types of art are shown at the gallery. Watercolors, oils, pastels, acrylics, photography, jewelry, turned wood, handmade baskets, origami, books, stained glass and shell art are some of the many displayed collections. 
The gallery is constantly changing with the addition of new work. So the question of “Will art ever replace and ice cream soda?”  
In Screven County, it has. 
The gallery is open Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.