A familiar face and artist in Athens, Broderick Flanigan became interested with art at a young age. He learned basic art skills by watching his mother, and since then he’s been developing his craft that teachers, friends and family quickly noticed.
Flanigan lived in Athens his whole life, which led him to open Flanigan’s Portrait Studio specifically in East Athens. Flanigan used his studio for community outreach, student mentoring and art.
“I’ve always been connected to the Eastside of Athens. I lived in the projects, or Nellie B. The East side has always been a place that created who I am. I met one of my first mentors there,” Flanigan said.
Flanigan has also worked with Clarke County schools to work on murals with students, including murals at Howard B. Stroud Elementary, Hilsman Middle School, and Cedar Shoals. These partnerships have also aided in his involvement in creating youth programs to reach out to students who live in East Athens. One specific youth program was called “Show us a better tomorrow” in which he worked with students on a mural dedicated to MLK and Malcom X.
“When I go into a school to work on a mural project or something like that, hearing them say something like I can’t paint and following up with them after or during the project and seeing their eyes light up when they are actually painting. That’s really special to me,” Flanigan said.
Though these programs were successful and appreciated by students, the pandemic unfortunately slowed them down and contributed to Flanigan’s decision to close down his studio. The pandemic was not the only factor, however. With the studio as his artistic home for many years, bigger paintings and opportunities also led to the closing of Flanigan’s Portrait Studio because he needed more space.
“I have gotten to a point where I have outgrown the space … The [studio] was kind of small. I had a lot of paintings and I started to paint bigger paintings and many of them were just laying around. I had a lot of materials in my studio,” Flanigan said.
Describing the process of looking for a new studio as “full of twists and turns” with inflated prices, Flanigan says he will miss the neighborhood in the Iron Triangle plaza near Nellie B. as he will not be able to see the community there as much as he used to.
“I am sad to close the doors in the old studio and excited about the opportunity for growth and expansion,” Flanigan said. He hopes to continue his activism on the East Side, even though he won’t physically be there.
“I do want to say I appreciate the community on the East side who embraced me and supported me for all these years. I really want to say a special thank you and remind people that I am not leaving, even though my studio is closing down. I’ll still be in the community. I’ll still be there delivering food when appropriate and doing social justice work,” Flanigan said.