Pryor Art Gallery Presents Columbia State's Dedication Day Exhibit

Columbia welcomes Lady Bird Johnson
Photo Caption (Sydney McClain_Dedication Day Photo):
Sydney McClain, Columbia State Foundation trustee and owner of Inside-Out Stained Glass, holds up a sign welcoming Lady Bird and President Lyndon B. Johnson to Columbia, Tennessee.

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – July 31, 2015) - - - Columbia State Community College’s Pryor Art Gallery will host the “Columbia State’s Dedication Day” exhibit that will begin Aug. 5 and run through Aug. 31.

“This exhibit is offered to the Columbia State community, especially to those who have fond memories and stories about Columbia State’s startup and in particular, it’s dedication day,” said Michele Wilkinson, Pryor Gallery curator. “Dr. Hawkins, Columbia State president emeritus, has worked diligently with the college and community to take visitors of the exhibit back in time and to understand what that day was like some 50 years ago and how it changed the lives of so many.”

On March 15, 1967, Lady Bird Johnson and President Lyndon B. Johnson came to Maury County to dedicate the new college – Tennessee’s first community college.

“From the college’s beginning in 1966-1967, cultural enrichment through the visual and performing arts has been a proud part of Columbia State’s rich history,” Hawkins explained. “Lady Bird, during her dedication day remarks, presented Columbia State with gift copies of the film “I Leonardo” and a volume of Shakespeare. You could say Columbia State’s dedication to the visual and performing arts all started right then on its dedication day, a “Red Letter Day in the Life of Maury County.” 

“Columbia State’s Dedication Day” exhibit is a display of artifacts from students, faculty and community members who were part of or were influenced by Columbia State’s startup and dedication. Several are still practicing artists.

Fred Behrens was hired as Columbia State’s first full-time art faculty member in summer 1966. For more than 40 years, he helped many budding artists refine their talents or just enjoy art for the pure fun of it. Many enjoy Behrens’ abstract oil paintings in the college’s permanent art collection throughout the Columbia State campuses, in Middle Tennessee homes, public buildings and elsewhere.

Having studied under Behrens, Anne Carothers was a nontraditional adult degree-seeking student who completed her Associate of Arts degree at Columbia State, transferring to Middle Tennessee State University where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In this exhibit, expressionistic painter, Carothers, displays her vibrant, nature inspired oil paintings.

Jennifer (Ball) Grisham, a sculptor and one of Columbia State’s first students, was commissioned in 2007 by the college to create a bronze sculpture of Lady Bird Johnson. Normally displayed in the college’s administration building, the Lady Bird sculpture is on display in this exhibit along with other pieces of Grisham’s current work.

Pitts Hinson, active community member, college supporter and retired dentist, will display his fine pottery and porcelain pieces. Also a Columbia State alumnus, Hinson began creating a custom platter for the college that he donates as a gift for each commencement speaker.

Mary Margaret Lovell, Harriet Quinn, and Olivyn Hardison are all regionally known needlework artists. They and their fine needlework pieces represent some of the early continuing education and cultural enrichment classes offered by Columbia State during its startup in the mid-1960s.

During the exhibit, a soundtrack of Lady Bird Johnson, laced with music from the 60s will filter through the gallery as guests enjoy their journey back in time.

The Pryor Art Gallery is in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus, located at 1665 Hampshire Pike. The gallery is open and free to the public Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Please visit for additional information. 

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at

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