Perhaps it’s the mountains’ majesty as they rise to the north and west of our city. Or perhaps it’s the history of this place—once known as Peacock Alley—where artistry and necessity fueled locals to design and hand tuft intricate and imaginative cotton chenille spreads. Or perhaps it’s because hundreds of the flooring industry’s graphic designers and creative thinkers make Dalton their homes. Whatever the reason, Dalton values the arts and attracts and inspires a creative class of people who crave and covet cultural stimuli. Indeed, our rich, vibrant artistic offerings differentiate Dalton from ordinary towns of the same size and composition.
Dalton streams with an array of musical offerings throughout the year. From the Spiegel Concert Series to the In Concert Series, our own Creative Arts Guild (CAG) organizes dozens of performances to suit a variety of musical palettes, and Dalton State College (DSC) hosts a ten concert series (Concerts on Campus) featuring gifted regional musicians from singers to guitar trios to woodwind quintets to string quartets. The highly rated Woodsongs’ Coffeehouse Concert Series features emerging and established performers of Americana, Country, and Bluegrass music as they perform their selections for charity in the historic and intimate setting of the Dalton Freight Depot. Chorus Peregrinus, a choir of adults sponsored by the Dalton Arts Project (DAP), studies, perfects, and performs melodic arrangements of classical, sacred, and choral music. Sixty musicians from the region perform with L’Abri Orchestra wowing audiences with symphonic experiences and mentoring amateur musicians. If you miss being part of a band, Dalton Whitfield Community Band, a performance band comprised of adult musicians with some previous experience, invites you to join them. Or if you never got around to taking music lessons, the CAG offers private instruction in brass instruments, flute, guitar, percussion, piano, recorder, saxophone, violin, voice, and more. If you like Celtic music, you might catch a Ceilidh Celtic Ensemble show. If folk music is your preference, you’ll enjoy The Brookwoods. Literally hundreds of musicians live and jam here, and performances are simply commonplace.
From pirouettes to arabesques, who isn’t captivated by the grace and beauty of ballet? Ballet Dalton, the official school of the Creative Arts Guild (CAG), enchants dance enthusiasts with classic and innovative choreography and shows highlighting their athleticism and passion. Dalton Dance Company is a committed, auditioned performing group boasting levels I, II, III, and IV at Dalton Art Project (DAP)’s Dance Theatre of Dalton. Among other annual galas, these pre-professional dancers present eight performances of The Nutcracker each December featuring 370 local and guest dancers and performers—a Dalton tradition for over 20 years. Both the CAG and DAP offer dance instruction for all ages and all skill levels in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and other forms.
Creation in the form of visual arts flourishes in Dalton and Northwest Georgia. Overlooking Waugh Street on the grounds of the CAG, over 20 outdoor sculptures in the Robert T. Webb Sculpture Garden call to the eyes and imaginations of passersby. The works represent many forms of modern and contemporary sculpture—mostly abstract or non-representational in nature. Just inside the CAG, their splendid Main Gallery houses dozens of paintings, fine art photographs, sketches, collages, mixed media pieces, carvings, and other works of art waiting for quiet contemplation. Peek inside the classrooms and see the creative process at work, as the Guild’s instructors work with students of all ages and abilities. When the leaves change color, CAG’s Fall Festival is an annual show and market of artists, craftsmen, collectors, and musicians lined along the sidewalks and perimeter of the Guild’s property. Prater’s Mill Country Fair also falls in the autumn and attracts craftsmen (weavers, potters, artists, instrument makers, carvers, etc.) to showcase and sell their handcrafted wares in a beautiful bucolic setting. The community’s value of the arts is also demonstrated in the existence of the Bernice Spigel Scholarship, the Oscar N. Jonas Memorial Foundation’s Artist Residency Program, and at least three art competitions—the Congressional Art Competition, the Student Arts Expo, and the Art of Giving Prize. Aside from the CAG, two smaller venues offer the public exhibits and instruction. Michael’s Fine Arts and Framing houses a small gallery and hosts regular shows and receptions for selected artists, and the Heartworks studio and workshop provides easy step-by-step instruction for parties so participants can create their own works of art. Dalton is just minutes away from the Hunter Museum of American Art, Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens, and the Booth Western Art Museum.
Dalton is home to the Dalton Little Theatre (DLT), one of Georgia’s oldest community performance theatres (established circa 1869). DLT presents several productions throughout the year with local talent front and center and hosts the Firehouse Film Festival. And their Spirit Walk introduces walking audiences to significant Dalton pioneers buried in West Hill Cemetery, as actors—or spirits—tell the history of local families, battles, and industry. Just south of Walnut Avenue, the Artistic Civic Theatre has reached thousands of citizens through major musical, comedy, and drama productions. Both the DLT and ACT work with children, youth, and adults.
The Dalton-Whitfield County Library, established in 1921, encompasses a surprising collection of adult fiction and nonfiction titles giving readers a two-week period to devour the books on loan. A large, colorful children’s section and scheduled Storytime events inspire young readers. Our library also houses hundreds of historical and genealogical materials including Civil War records, cemetery and marriage records, and county historical guides. And occasional Meet the Author events allow readers to meet and talk to authors. On Hamilton Street, The Book Nook, a hot spot for readers and book lovers alike, provides a great literary venue for lunchtime browsing, book signings, poetry readings, and local book clubs. DSC and CAG periodically host writer receptions, book signings, and writing workshops for both seasoned and aspiring writers of all genres in the region.
Historic Prater's Mill