Tuesday, September 9, 2014



By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA- Lunch down South is a ritual of friendship where conviviality is matched with good food. Few performing arts centers have lunch combined with book discussions and signing, but Art Station, the acclaimed theater literally sitting under the shadow majestic Stone Mountain near Atlanta, long ago defined itself as a cultural center where boldness is commonplace.
Susan Coletti (L),. David Thomas, Doc Lawrence and Pat Wheeler

On this late summer day, the crowd gathered to enjoy food prepared by two of  Stone Mountain’s civic and political leaders, Mayor Pat Wheeler and city council member Susan Coletti. Other than the great tastes and flavors of the chicken salad, fruit salad and macaroni and cheese, the added distinction was that each recipe came from Chef Lara Lyn Carter’s fascinating stories in the hit book, Southern Thymes Shared.

Art Station’s managing artistic director David Thomas took the stage to introduce the book and me, reading passages from Southern Thymes Shared that centered on family dining, food heritage and the culinary and wine legacy of Thomas Jefferson. “This book,” Thomas said, “is loaded with poetry and  is a work of art. The recipes and wines include great stories that honor the art of cooking for family and friends, demonstrating that wine has a prominent place on our dinner table that began at Monticello where America became more than a dream.”

The relaxed program encouraged dialogue and for a good hour while guests enjoyed lunch inside the comfortable theater, questions were posed about particular wines and the art of pairing. Dr. George Coletti, author of the Civil War novel, Stone Mountain: The Granite Sentinel (which is being considered for a Hollywood movie), asked which wines would pair with fried chicken livers and gizzards. “Riesling, dry or off-dry,” I replied, acknowledging the brilliance of the query while thinking about how delicious such a meal would be.
Art Station in Historic Stone Mountain

The afternoon included a book signing. Books were bought and signed for personal use at home and for holiday gift giving. The cover of Southern Thymes Shared is gloriously beautiful and as many critics have observed, the advanced aesthetics qualify it to rest on a favorite coffee table.

Lunch ended with a happy and satisfied audience. Everyone headed home or back to work carrying their copies of Southern Thymes Shared. David Thomas went back to work preparing for the Cabaret in a few days-always a sellout- while taking time to call the book publisher. “We sold out and need more books in a hurry. The holidays are just around the corner.”

“Lunch Time Series” is a popular monthly event at ART Station with a mission to create a fresh and stimulating lunchtime option for the extended community. Each “Series” presentation showcases an exciting performance, lecture, or art experience. Art Station serves over 50,000 patrons each year, earning an exalted status in the cultural community of Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. Founder David Thomas is a playwright and director whose works were featured in the Cultural Olympiad of the Winter Olympic Games for a National Tour in Norway and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in South Carolina plus many other prestigious venues. Art Station is in a magnificently refurbished trolley barn, once part of metropolitan Atlanta’s early transit system. It is on the National Register of Historic Places located in Historic Stone Mountain Village, adjacent to Stone Mountain Park that attracts over five million visitors annually.

Southern Thymes Shared is available at Amazon, Art Station, the gift shop at Monticello and bookstores everywhere.

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