Art has always been a part of Jamie Foreman’s life. Her mother, Sue Foster, is an artist who encouraged her daughter to be creative. Eventually Sue opened an art gallery that was later sold to the local art guild when she retired. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Jamie was recognized for her artistic accomplishments in high school, but she didn’t believe she could support herself as an artist. When it came time to attend the University of Delaware, she studied education. Upon graduation Jamie became a teacher, later transitioning into an administrative position in the school. Her need for creative expression wasn’t being met, though, and she felt disillusioned. In a conversation with her mother, Jamie expressed how unhappy she was, so her mother asked, “Why don’t you open an art gallery?”

Right then and there, the concept for Menagerie on Main was born.

Menagerie Comes to Life

Jamie defines art as “the process of bringing an idea into reality via creation,” and by that definition Menagerie on Main is itself a work of art. She started developing the project in 2018 and opened the art gallery in March 2020, just as the pandemic struck. With the ensuing shutdown, Jamie persevered by selling art through Facebook until she could reopen the gallery.

Menagerie on Main is an extension of Jamie and her tastes. “It’s a place for the public to interact with art that is professional but not pretentious,” she explains. Menagerie focuses on North Georgia artists, as another part of Jamie’s vision is for it to be a place that brings artists and the community together. She envisions Menagerie as a place where customers can describe a piece they’d like commissioned and she can pair them with a local artist best able to create it.

Jamie’s passion for the arts extends far beyond the walls of the gallery. She advocates for the arts in the community in many other ways. From appearing in the Conversations on Canton panel during Mayor Bill Grant’s 2024 State of the City address to planning the first annual West Main Arts Festival, Jamie’s name is synonymous with the art scene in Canton. The aim of the inaugural West Main Arts Festival on Saturday, March 2, is to showcase forty local artists and their works in the heart of downtown Canton’s historic corridor.

Being around other artists feeds Jamie’s own creativity. She paints—acrylics mostly—and designs, creates, and sells jewelry both at Menagerie and online through Black Butterfly Designs.

When asked about the state of art in Cherokee County, Jamie sees clear preferences for traditional art over abstract art and says art is becoming more supported. One example: the recent inclusion in the master plan for the city of Canton that 2 percent of all capital investment projects will support public art. Another example: the recent opening of Local Color Studio that provides space for artists to create. She hopes to collaborate with Local Color Studio in the future. She’d also like to bring in more fiber art to Menagerie, as she sees a strong interest in it.

Jamie loves what she does and credits her mother for inspiration, example, encouragement, and guidance. She wants Menagerie on Main to be the same force for the creative community in Canton that Sue’s gallery was in her community. The mother-daughter duo’s latest endeavor is an expression of a mother and a daughter each creating her own rendition of identical subject matter for the It’s All Relative exhibition at Menagerie opening Friday, March 1, with a reception at 6:00 p.m.

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Enjoy Cherokee / Women in Art (Photo Credit: Emily Danielle Cumana/Em Danielle Photography)