Tifton is three hours due south of Atlanta.  It is a rural, agricultural community with a high number of academics, who work in regional colleges, research facilities, and the sciences. For more than twenty years, Tifton hosted the Love Affair, an arts festival that brought arts and music to the area. Due to economic change and lack of support, it folded. Nevertheless, I chose to root and grow a new cultural destination in Tifton, seeded by my belief in the power of education, community, and craftsmanship. Earlier in my life, I’d wanted to start something from nothing, and that idea found a home base here. My nature as a sort of contrary human and my self-acknowledged lack of common sense at times has led me to think that moving here was what I was “supposed to do,” meaning to take all my bread crumbs of prior connections and experiences and start laying them down in rural Georgia. From all this, came the opening of Plough Gallery. 

Interior of gallery, showing artist’s work and space. Photograph by Glenn Josey.Plough is a small studio and gallery space that my partner, Glenn, and I started in 2014. The building is three blocks from our home, on a side street without much walking traffic, or much traffic at all for that matter, but perfect for two guys starting something from scratch. We set up a few sawhorses and planks and got to work. That first year when the holidays came, we invited our community into the gallery through social media, word of mouth, and a simple sign outside. We were open for business. 

People have asked me, “Why Tifton?” so often it has almost become a joke. Both locals and people farther away asked this question when I merely mentioned the idea of moving to this place, opening a gallery, and expecting to succeed. You should understand that I never expect to succeed at anything. That pure expectation of failure is at times my strength and my curse. One of the struggles of starting something from nothing is that it lacks a definition for understanding the means by which success is achieved. Our definition of success with the gallery has come down to being able to say yes to two simple questions. One, are we showcasing the work of artists with respect and admiration for their hard work and dedication to their craft?  Two, are we broadening our community’s understanding of the handmade? And I’m happy to say I think we can answer in the affirmative, or at least that we’re getting there.