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Roswell family-owned art gallery to end public showings after 50 years

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ROSWELL, Ga. — Downtown Roswell was a happening place in 1971, Valerie Jackson of the Ann Jackson Art Gallery recalled.

With only 5,000 people at the time, it was the “bubbling, bursting energy” of Roswell. The square was filled with small businesses like dance studios, pottery, Public House restaurant, small boutiques and lots of art.

Fast-forward to higher rent and less parking, Jackson said the Roswell she once knew is gone; and has lost its loving feeling.

“Canton Street was a shopping district and now it’s an entertainment district. It’s a whole different vibe, different clientele,” Jackson said. “The old Roswell, which was so charming, is gone, and it’s really sad.”

Ann Jackson Art Gallery

Valerie Jackson stands outside of the Ann Jackson Art Gallery with a Dr. Seuss-inspired mural from his piece, "Firebird," which represented Seuss's move to the West Coast.

Jackson is preparing to showcase the gallery’s final art show at the end of the month. It will be their 31st and final showing to the public of Dr. Seuss’s ¬— also known as Theodor Seuss Geisel’s — artwork. The show will be July 31, but Jackson said the gallery will be open starting July 12 from 11-3 p.m. each day up until the showing date.

Although Dr. Seuss was most known for his more than 50 published children’s books, Jackson said he did not even like children, as endearing as he was. His artwork goes beyond his children’s books, and Jackson said the gallery is dedicated to showcasing the man who has a lot more to offer than “The Cat in the Hat.”

From 1941-1943, Dr. Seuss distinguished himself as was recognized for his work during his employment in the animation and film divisions of the U.S. Army. He had more than 400 political illustrations published. He served as the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM from 1940-1948.

Jackson said that his work during that time had been just as popular as Norman Rockwell, who was a good friend.

Out of all the shows the gallery has hosted over the years, though, the Dr. Seuss gallery has been the most memorable, unique and popular, Jackson said.

“People have no clue what this man was really all about,” Jackson said. “He was quite the genius.”

It is also Jackson’s favorite gallery showing because she has always felt a strong connection to Seuss’s work.

The Ann Jackson Gallery is one of 50 galleries in the world eligible for Dr. Seuss’s art. Jackson said their Dr. Seuss collection is the most extensive because she has taken pains to preserve it over the years.

She said she is sad to see the gallery leave downtown Roswell but will continue to sell artwork from her home and do personalized framing by appointment. The gallery has been a pioneer of what it means to be a true family-owned business.

“I will continue doing what I do,” Jackson said. “After going through COVID, it taught me that I can still [pursue my business].”

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