Best of Savannah: Culture

Best Artist winner: Panhandle Slim. Photo by Devin Ray Smith

From thousands of reader surveys comes our inimitable Best of Everything list. Categories run from appetizers to desserts, bike shops to barbershops. Here, the year’s best of culture, from galleries and artists to bands and festivals. 

Artist

Panhandle Slim

Prolific folk artist Panhandle Slim accents his big, bright portraits of acclaimed celebrities and activists with a single storytelling quote. Iconic images of Maya Angelou, Nina Simone, Jimmy Carter and others inspire guerrilla installations all across town, leaving Slim’s Technicolor mark. 
Runners up: (two-way tie) Tiffani TaylorBellamy Murphy 

Art Gallery

Kobo Gallery

33 Barnard St.
For the past decade, contemporary gallery and artists’ cooperative Kobo Gallery has featured a beautifully curated collection, exhibiting locally made art along with one-of-a-kind jewelry and wares.
Runner up: A.T. Hun 

Museum/House Museum

The Telfair Academy

121 Barnard St.
The Telfair Academy, said to be the oldest public art museum in the South, provides a spectacular walk through Savannah history. First built for the Telfair family, the neoclassical Regency mansion features 19th century furnished rooms, as well as 19th and 20th century American and European art, including paintings, decorative arts and sculptures.
Runner up: Jepson Center for the Arts

Band

Liquid Ginger

Liquid Ginger has been honing their high-energy sound and eclectic shows since 1999. The band of six, helmed by frontwoman Ginger Fawcett, mashes up musical sounds and styles for a dynamic live experience.
Runner up: Velvet Caravan

Charity Event/Fundraiser

Relay for Life

Each spring, hundreds of Savannahians step up to the fight against cancer by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which honors lost loved ones, celebrates survivors and raises money for American Cancer Society research and programs.
Runner up: Ronald McDonald House’s Wine, Women and Shoes

Festival

Savannah Music Festival

200 E St. Julian St.
From country to folk to jazz to chamber, the Savannah Music Festival delights and unites audiences, artists and fans of all stripes in a joyous two-week celebration of music. The nearly 30-year-old event is performed in venues around the city each spring.  
Runner up: Savannah Food and Wine Festival

Independent Bookstore

E. Shaver, Bookseller

326 Bull St.
It’s easy to get lost in a book and even easier to get lost in the aisles of E. Shaver, Bookseller. The quaint bookstore on Madison Square features seven tiny rooms, each devoted to various topics ranging from popular fiction to local and regional history. The shop also hosts authors’ events and reader meetups, and passersby can catch the occasional glimpse of an indolent cat napping in the display windows.
Runner up: The Book Lady

Group to Volunteer For

The Humane Society for Greater Savannah

7215 Sallie Mood Dr.
Savannah is passionate about animals, and it shows. Volunteering for The Humane Society for Greater Savannah makes a difference in the lives of thousands of animals in its care. Opportunities include dog walking, becoming a foster parent, pitching in at the shelter, donating to the wish list or thrift store and, for younger philanthropists, reading aloud to pets in the Nuzzle Buddies program.
Runner up: One Love Rescue

Public Park/Garden

Forsyth Park

Drayton St. & W. Gaston St.
Forsyth Park is the most lauded of Savannah’s public spaces, featuring 30 acres worth of prime spots for play, picnics, public performances and people-watching. The arboretum near the fountain might be the most photographed place in town, while the vast surrounding green expanses make for an ideal nap zone—with plenty of live oaks providing shade.
Runner up: Lake Mayer

Radio Station

97.3 KISSFM

Yes, people still listen to the radio in Savannah, and chances are, they’re tuning into the No. 1 hit music station 97.3 KISSFM. The local channel from iHeartRadio spins a mix of today’s top songs, and features well-known personalities like the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show.
Runner up: Q105.3 WRHQ

TV Station

WTOC

If there’s a parade, WTOC is there. High school football game? There, too. The CBS affiliate station is dedicated to providing local news for the locals, in addition to the requisite national news, weather, traffic and more.
Runner up: WSAV

Columnist/Blogger

Tom Barton, Savannah Morning News

As the conscience of the Savannah Morning News, columnist Tom Barton has a tap on the city’s pulse that keeps people coming back to his editorial page. On staff for 30 years and counting, Barton has got some serious Savannah cred.
Runner up: Bill Dawers, Savannah Unplugged

Best Place to Work

Gulfstream

In 1967, the fledgling company that would become Gulfstream dedicated its first building in Savannah. Since then, it’s gone on to expand its workforce from 100 to 15,000-plus people worldwide. To celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary in full-circle fashion, Savannah magazine chatted with Community Investment Consultant Al Wright (the company’s longest-serving employee and “the last of the original 100,” as he puts it) and Flight Capabilities Innovation Director Bethany Davis, who came on board in 2011.

How did you get your start at Gulfstream?

Al Wright: I came in through the Savannah Vocational School, now called Savannah Technical College. You went to school for about six weeks and based on their review, you got a job at Gulfstream. When I came in, we built aircraft and that’s all we did. I was 17, the only one in the class who had to get a work permit.

Bethany Davis: I’ve been flying business jets since I was a teenager. My father, grandfather, uncle—everyone’s a pilot. When I was flying, I realized I was interested in how things work on the technology side.

How has your career evolved with the company?

Wright: Back in 1967, we were so proud to have those Gulfstream badges that when we left work, we kept them on so everyone would know we worked here. From the beginning, there have always been training programs to get you to the next level. I started on the materials side, moved on to appliances and sustainability, and am now in public affairs and community relations.

Davis: My role is to design, develop and mature technology that makes tomorrow’s airplanes even better. I went through the Management Development Program, a combination of leadership skills training, book knowledge and team-building activities, which included a real-world challenge where we presented our ideas. 

Can you describe how Gulfstream fosters professional and personal development?

Davis: There’s a formal program and a lot of ongoing, informal leadership development. We also do a lot of community volunteering. As the largest private employer in the city, we’re very involved in philanthropy.

Wright: To get employees involved, we ask them, “What is your passion?” and set up related charity programs so they can get out and do those things. I also get to work with a lot of young people through the Youth Apprentice Program and other student programs. I’ve been asked to walk students through my journey at Gulfstream, to let them see what opportunities await them. It’s always fun to see their faces light up.

What’s your favorite part about working at Gulfstream?

Davis: As both a pilot and engineer, it really doesn’t get any better. We have cutting-edge technology, but we’re extremely customer-driven. We don’t do technology for technology’s sake. It has to benefit the customer.

Wright: When you come to work every day and you see the products that we produce, you feel like sticking your chest out. If you see a fancy aircraft in a movie, ad or on TV, nine times out of 10, it’s a Gulfstream. Even rappers sing about Gulfstream.
Runner up: Old Savannah Tours

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Best of Savannah: Culture

From thousands of reader surveys comes our inimitable Best of Everything list....
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