Jul 30, 2014
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Artist Collects, Paints Suitcases for Foster Children

Artist Holly Jones of The Painted Butterfly is joining forces with other local businesses to launch Cases for Kids.

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Located in the city's oldest building, art shop offers a burst of color along the quiet streets of downtown Kennesaw. Almost every nook and cranny of the pre-Civil War homestead glitters with vibrant artwork made from recycled glass, bottlecaps, tin cans, scrap wood and more.

Artist Holly Jones opened the shop in January 2007 and fashions every single piece herself, using recycled materials collected around the community. Now, Jones is taking the concept of transforming trash to treasure to a new level with the launch of , an effort to collect, paint, and donate suitcases to local foster children.

Jones is working closely with Lesa MacGregor of Elle Michelle Photography to get the word out to the community. They ask that old suitcases be dropped off at the shop, as well as at supporting locations, including , Marietta Vineyard Church, and . The suitcases will then be handpainted by Jones and donated to local foster children.

Jones says foster children must often transport their belongings in trash bags, thus proliferating a sense of being "disposable."

"There's so many overlooked kids in society," she says. Through Cases for Kids, she hopes to "give them a sense of self worth" and help the kids realize, "Somebody did this for me, and I am important enough."

"It's just so awesome to be able to give this to a child," adds MacGregor, a photographer and close friend of Jones who is also leading the Cases for Kids movement.

Jones has two daughters, Caroline and Bailey, along with two cats and three dogs (among them a Great Dane named Elvis) and says she has always felt a special connection to children, animals and the elderly.

She gives art classes to kids, works with the Humane Society and also paints with residents of local nursing homes. The very young and the very old show the least inhibition in their artwork; they aren't afraid to color outside of the lines, she says.

Jones' eclectic style of art, in fact, seems to speak to the inner child through vibrant colors, lots of sparkle and creative use of materials.

Just some of the items that have received a Painted Butterfly makeover include a molded cabinet door, magnolia leaves from the backyard, an old fan blade, Christmas tinsel, jelly jars, belts, bottlecaps and buckles.

While Jones says she utilizes a mix of different art styles, her work at its core is "happy and colorful."

"I believe art should make a difference to somebody in a positive and happy way." She says a customer dropped by the other day and told her, "I've just come to get my happy fix."

The shop, itself, resembles a dollhouse, with each unique room showcasing a different theme. There's a section devoted to pet portraits, a kids room and even a Christmas room where the holiday is kept alive all year long.

MacGregor says she is amazed by the life that shines through in Jones' artwork and especially admires her pet portraits. Even Martha Stewart owns a Holly Jones pet piece.

However, Jones says she believes art should be affordable for everyone. Nothing in the shop is over the price of $200, she says.

"When I was four years old, I sold my mom a drawing on a shirt board for 50 cents," says Jones. She says she always knew she'd run an art shop one day and that she'd be able to stock the entire place herself. Jones works quickly and completes several pieces a day, working outside on sunny days or from her workshop at the front of the shop.

The artistic gene seems to run strong in the family. Jones' father, Bud, is a taxidermist who has been contracted by museums to create replicas of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Daughter Bailey, 16, draws better than her, she says, and her oldest daughter Caroline, 23, is a connoisseur of fashion.

Jones says she loves what she does and that she'll run the shop until the day she dies.

"I believe art is my legacy," she says. "Paint it forward with art."

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Drop off suitcases at The Painted Butterfly, located at 2760 South Main Street Kennesaw, GA 30144. Phone: 678-468-8927;  http://www.thepaintedbutterflykennesaw.com/

Other drop-off locations include Marietta Vineyard Church, and .

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