Big Hearts with ESP

Extra Special People is known for the love and encouragement they pour into their community. For Jamie, being able to witness that love has been an incredible experience.


Jamie has become part of the ESP community through his work as an artist. He painted a mural outside of their community center in Watkinsville and live painted the Big Hearts Pageant in February.


While doing art for ESP, Jamie said he has been particularly touched by the passion and dedication the leaders of the community have to loving their children.


“As a parent, it’s the best thing in the world to watch your child get loved on. We all feel like those kids don’t get it enough sometimes, or get hurt, and so that just adds to it.”


Throughout the pageant, people of all ages performed their talent for a supportive audience that sold out the Classic Center in Athens. Jamie said he believes God working in the ESP community.


“To me it’s very easy to go to God talk. And I don’t do that, hopefully too much, but I mean that’s God working in that, because it’s so positive,” Jamie said. “So to try to recreate that in a picture, it’s very motivating.”


The Big Hearts Pageant created a kind of energy that moved through the crowd and took the audience through many emotions. Several times, the hosts talked about tears and the overwhelming emotion that comes with witnessing such a wholesome event.


“To watch a lot of young people, people in their 20s who don’t have kids themselves, to see them loving on other people’s children was just, wow,” Jamie said. “They talked a lot about tears, and I went to that place, I got very weepy and could’ve gone all out because it’s just positive.”


As one of Jamie’s interns, I was able to witness just how incredible the ESP community is. I received a warm welcome at the pageant, and the same level of enthusiasm and encouragement from guests that Jamie did.


The support the ESP community has for each other touched Jamie. He said the excitement everyone has for what he’s doing seems to make the stress of his job go away.


“It’s a lot of pressure to think of something that’s Godly, to try to recreate that on a canvas or paper, but they make it easy to try-- which I guess is what they do for the kids, and the adults.”


Sparrow's Nest Mural

The Sparrow’s Nest has been an Athens staple since the early 1990’s. It began as an outreach ministry of Christian Life Church, but today is an independent ministry working with several local churches.

Jamie Calkin has been an active member of the Athens community for years. Through his work, he captures the vibrant and unique atmosphere that Athens has to offer. It made sense that Jamie would be involved with the community at the Sparrow’s Nest as well. Jamie was familiar with the work that the Sparrow’s Nest does in the community and felt the need to contribute. He says the whole thing started with him thinking about ‘What do I do best?’. Thus, the Sparrow’s Nest mural project was born.

 The mural project started in the spring of 2016 with the help of Reverend Jamie Scott. The six-part mural depicts the story of the prodigal son and his journey from receiving his inheritance, to blowing it all, and then to being accepted back by his family. Like most of Jamie’s work, he started by sketching some studies of what each panel will look like. The entire project took about a year. Throughout the duration of the project, Jamie would spend about two hours at the Sparrow’s Nest every other week.

“The idea was that’s how I can serve them because if I had just sat at my studio and done it, I never would have gotten it done. It helped me to be there. The best thing for me was to actually see what was going on and interact with Jamie and the other employees and volunteers. It’s an amazing place and they do great charity work. They are selfless. To me, it’s what Christians should be doing and what it’s all about.” –Jamie Calkin

There were points where the project got off track, but Reverend Jamie was there to bring it back to center. Jamie says that without him, the project could’ve taken much longer than year.

                  Jamie incorporated himself and Reverend Jamie into the murals by using them as inspiration for the figures depicted. He used Rev. Jamie to model the prodigal son because he felt he identified with the story, and used himself to depict the brother.

Reverend Jamie says that he loves the part of the story where the prodigal son is welcomed home by loving grace. It’s a perfect depiction of how God is all about love and acceptance.

All six parts of the mural are currently installed in the Sparrow’s Nest. Jamie believes this project to be “One of the best series I’ve ever done in terms of trying to tell a story through my art”. He also feels that this experience has taught him lessons and helped him to grow spiritually.

 Reverend Jamie Scott (right) Jamie Calkin (left)

Reverend Jamie Scott (right) Jamie Calkin (left)

Virginia-Highland Summerfest 2016

Outdoor Show Season

By: Mattie Cannon

Jamie Calkin is a well-known Athens artist and has slowly been branching out into other parts of the country. He has painted a plethora of other cities, landmarks and college towns.

Recently, he has been venturing out into the Atlanta area. He has had coffee shop shows and participates in outdoor shows. Just last weekend, he attended the Virginia-Highland Summerfest. Check out a Q. and A. below on his thoughts from the festival. 

Q. What about the Virginia-Highland Summerfest appeals to you?

A. The quality of the artists' are great, and it's a serious crowd that's also having fun. (There's also great kettle corn!) 

Q. What have you learned from outdoor shows?

A. I think the displays of my commissioned artwork and event art has really helped generate interest because they're some of the most special things I do.

Q. What's an ongoing lesson for you?

A. I think my booth arrangement and what makes the booth walls eye-catching is still an exciting challenge for me. It's also a challenge to keep a positive attitude in the face of bad weather, and the added pressure I give myself with high expectations.

Q. What's something you've learned that others can take away?

A. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be accepting of them. There's a certain audience for every artist and knowing yours is key.

A Piece of Advice Jamie Keeps in His Back Pocket:

Virginia-Highland summerfest is a perfect example of 'be smart about who you listen to.' I've had great, positive people enter my booth and some not so positive. Keep yourself upbeat!