Gadsden Reads News:


Celebrate Gadsden Reads with Frog Creation and Events

The Gadsden Reads committee has a full schedule of events planned to highlight this year’s reading project. For the fourth consecutive year, Gadsden Reads has selected a book for the entire community to read and share through events and projects. This year’s selection is The Prince of Frogtown by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Northeast Alabama native Rick Bragg.

Though the novel is not actually about frogs, (in fact it describes life in the mill village near Jacksonville known as “Frogtown”) the committee chose to focus on frogs as the vehicle with which to promote the project and serve as an artistic element similar to the Big Fish in 2007.
Throughout the month of July, the Hardin Center’s exhibition hall will serve as frog creation central. Daily art activities, as well as special events, will allow visitors to have an active, creative role in this year’s Gadsden Reads. Included with the price of admission (Free for Hardin Center members, $6 for adults, and $5 for children), each visitor will receive two frogs to take up the escalator and into the creation room. Using provided art supplies, visitors are encouraged to paint and decorate both of their frogs, take one home with them, and leave the other to be added to a giant frog art installation at the Hardin Center for all to enjoy.

Volunteer artists from Walnut Gallery and Gadsden Community School for the Arts will be available each day to assist visitors with creating their frogs, and several special days will include guest artists providing unique artistic opportunities.  The first two guest artist days will feature Lynnette Hesser, noted artist and JSU art instructor. On Tuesday, July 13 at 10 am Lynnette will lead a frog drawing program for children. This event is included with regular admission. She will return on Tuesday, July 20 at 5:30 pm to hand build clay frogs with teens and adults. Each participant will create their own clay frog using provided clay and tools. The frogs will be fired and available for pickup at a later time. The cost of this program is $25 for Hardin Center members and $30 for non-members.

On Tuesday, July 27 at 5:30 pm Mario Gallardo, Gadsden State Community College art instructor, will lead a session on raku firing. Several styles of frogs are available for purchase now. The cost of glazing and firing the frogs is $25 for Hardin Center members and $30 for non-members.

In addition to the frog creation going on inside the Hardin Center, frogs for the project are being created all over Gadsden and in all regions of the state. One of the most noticeable elements of the project will be the Pole Frogs of Broad Street. From early August through November 4, each of the 90 street lamp poles on Broad Street will be adorned with a two-dimensional frog silhouette. The frogs are for public sale and each purchaser is allowed to paint or decorate their frog however they wish. includes a map of the Broad Street Pole Frogs and a link to purchase frogs online.

Ten larger frogs are also being created by noted Alabama artists from various parts of the state. These ten frogs will be displayed inside the Hardin Center from August through September, displayed on the lawn of City Hall during September’s First Friday, and offered for auction at the Hardin Center’s annual charity auction on Friday, August 13.

Many other events are planned for this year’s Gadsden Reads project, including brown bag lunch discussions, lectures, and special speakers. The Prince of Frogtown author Rick Bragg has generously agreed to participate in several events and will be in Gadsden for a grand celebration of the project on First Friday, September 3 on the lawn of City Hall. September’s First Friday is also being recognized by the Alabama Tourism Department as The Great Gadsden Homecoming and will include bluegrass music from Foggy Hollow and the unveiling of a historic marker at 5 pm highlighting Gadsden’s founding and growth. Rick Bragg will address the crowd from the gazebo after the unveiling and the public is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the fun, festivities, and music. The 10 large frogs created by Alabama artists will be moved from the Hardin Center and placed on the lawn of City Hall for this special evening.

Rick Bragg will return to Gadsden on Thursday, October 7 for a series of lectures and appearances, including a public lecture at 10 am at Wallace Hall.

Other notable speakers and events include a brown bag “Lunch n’ Learn” with Mike Goodson and Glenda Byers at noon on Tuesday, September 7 at the Gadsden Public Library, a brown bag lunch discussion with Dr. Don Nobel at noon on Thursday, September 16 at the Hardin Center, another session with Goodson and Byers at 6 pm on Thursday, September 23 at the historic Nichols Library, and a special noon lunch presentation, “Ava’s Grandson: The Works of Rick Bragg,” on Tuesday, October 12 at the Gadsden Public Library.
Gadsden Reads is intended to be an all-encompassing project that seeks the participation of everyone in our community. It is the committee’s hope that everyone will read the book The Prince of Frogtown and join the discussions, attend the lectures and events, and partake in the artistic frog creation. For more information on Gadsden Reads, please visit or call the Hardin Center at (256) 543-2787. Gadsden Reads is a joint project of the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden State Community College, Gadsden Public Library, the University of Alabama Gadsden Center, and the Nichols Library.