Although most people in Rockdale County knew the late Robert Lamar Lane simply as "Bob," his close friends and family called him "Bobby."
When Lane's widow Freda Lane was asked to offer a suggestion for the title of his posthumous art exhibit set for display at the Nancy Guinn Library, she had the perfect idea in mind.
"When he ran for the school board, he was Bob Lane," said Mrs. Lane. "But I fell in love with Bobby Lane, and I though that would be a nice way to refer to the show. He passed away two years ago and is still missed and loved by me and our family."
Mrs. Lane said she was recently contacted by Sue Chappell, executive director of the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts, who said there were folks in the community who were interested in purchasing some of Lane's work, which included creations in watercolor, oil and pen-and-ink.
"I told Sue that none of Bobby's original work is for sale," she said. "And then Sue asked me if I'd be interested in hanging an exhibit of his work at the library. My family and I are extremely proud of Bobby and the ability and talent the good Lord gave him. We feel so honored that the community is honoring him in this way."
"I Fell in Love With Bobby Lane" can be viewed in the library's lower level from March 7 to March 30. An opening reception is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7.
"We had wanted a local artist's show, and Freda was very gracious in giving us this opportunity to show Bobby's art," said Chappell, who added the exhibit dovetails nicely with the Festival of Lights and the upcoming Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival. "This will probably be our last art show in that portion of the library before it closes for SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) improvements. The timing was right, the planets aligned and the show will open Friday."
A native of LaGrange, Lane owned and operated Lane School of Art in Decatur from 1973 until his death in 2006. While many of his paintings featured wildlife, landscapes, historical sites and religious themes, Lane may be best known for his paintings of the 16 covered bridges still existing in Georgia, and he also compiled a series of works offering his impressions of lighthouses in Georgia and the Southeast.
Lane also earned a master's degree in education from the University of Georgia and was a classroom teacher for 25 years. His works have been viewed throughout Georgia and the Southeast, in places like the Southeastern Art Exhibit, Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, the Atlanta College of Art Alumni Exhibit, Oxford College, Southern Heartland Art Festival, Decatur Art Festival, Arts Clayton and the Golden Isles Art Exhibit in Brunswick.
Bobby and Freda met in LaGrange, where her father was a Methodist minister. The youngest of seven children, Lane served two tours of duty in the Marines and the couple was married in 1950. Once his military service ended (although his wife pointed out that "A Marine is always a Marine"), he was able to complete his arts studies at Georgia State University and the High Museum of Fine Art (which is now know as the Art Institute of Atlanta).
"Our paths crossed at a wedding at my father's church," recalled Mrs. Lane. "He was an usher and I sang. He volunteered for the service right out of high school and was later called back as a reserve during the Korean Conflict."
The Lanes had six children, who in turn gave the couple 15 grandchildren. Mrs. Lane said that several of their children live out of state but will be on hand for Friday's opening reception.
"They all loved their father very much," Mrs. Lane said. "I'm grateful and proud of all of them, and they'll all be there."
There will be about 40 pieces on display at the library. Mrs. Lane said many of the paintings have hung in the Lane home and some have never been publicly displayed. The show was curated by local artist Coyle Justman, who serves on the CRCA board of directors.
"It's not brand-new, but it will be new to many people," she said. "We're very excited that people will be able to see the talent in this man, who was so dear to us. His work is a treasure to us, but we're proud to share it with the community for their viewing pleasure."
"It's an amazing display of technique and media through the years," said Chappell of the exhibit. "He's got everything from a Mexican village in wonderful colors to his pen-and-ink work, his lighthouses and his covered bridges. All the elements of Bobby's work will be in the show. We're very pleased with it, as his body of work was fairly extensive."
When asked if she had ever taken up painting, Mrs. Lane laughed and said, "Oh, I'm just an appreciator. Several of our children inherited Bobby's ability and I'm happy to enjoy the talents he passed down to them. But if I have (artistic) ability, I haven't discovered it yet. But who knows?"
For more information on the art exhibit "I Fell in Love With Bobby Lane," call the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts at 770-922-3143.
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens, Ga. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: If You Go
What: "I Fell in Love with Bobby Lane" art exhibit
When: March 7 through March 30, with a reception on Friday, March 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nancy Guinn Memorial Library lower level, 864 Green St. in Old Town Conyers
Cost: The reception and exhibit are free. For more information, call the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts at 770-922-3143.