"Spooky" The Word with
Heather René Dunaway

Some people start prepping for summer vacation in the spring. Some people get out their Christmas tree in September. Me? I start thinking about Halloween on November 1st of every year. If you grew up in or around Augusta, GA you probably remember Fat Man’s Forest at Halloween. My parent’s would kick off the start of the holiday season with a trip to Fat Man’s for our Halloween costumes.. The 90s: what a time to be alive. One year, after years of dressing like Disney princesses, my mom finally let me be death, little plastic scythe and all. It was something my older brothers had been and I had been dying to be. Not that I really understood what Death did at that age, I just wanted to wear a black cloak and swing by little blade around. Such is my spooky girl origin story. My one spooky wish is that someone will bring Fat Man’s Forest back. Spirit Halloween is great and all but it just doesn’t come close enough for me. Call me nostalgic.

Sky City flyer for the first October Spooktacular

Flash forward to 2013. I wasn’t really making art. I was burnt out from art school and working in a restaurant trying to figure out my next step in life. Then a friend from art school asked me if I wanted to participate in a Halloween themed art show. Suddenly, I was alive with ideas and immediately began pouring myself into creating, only to have the show get canceled. As huge of a bummer as that was, it really sparked something in me. I told myself I would host my own Halloween show one day. Low and behold, just a few years later, Coco Rubio asked me if I had any ideas for an October art show at Sky City (shout out to Coco and RIP Sky City’s 80s nights). So, the October Spooktacular was born.

This first show was mostly my artist friends from Augusta University. Just seeing that artwork up on the walls was it for me. This was my origin story of local art show curation, themed exhibitions, etc. As it turned out, there were a lot of spooky arts lovers out there and they begged to have another Halloween show the following year. It became an annual thing, traveling around Augusta at different venues every year. Sometimes in bars, sometimes in galleries, one time in a coffee shop. It’s changed a lot over the years and grown even more.

The Next couple of shows were held at The Bee’s Knees then the Hive on 10th Street. Those were pretty successful, but I wanted to go bigger. I had ideas of doing a spooky art market to coincide with the visual arts showcase. Then Covid happened and I wasn’t even sure if we would see another Spooktacular for a while. With some adjustments, regulations like masking in place I was able to team up with 4P Studios for 2020’s show.

It was a refreshing to say the least. After having the first few iterations of the Spooktacular in bars/restaurants and then being stuck at home during Covid, it was great to get out (sanitizer in had) and see some familiar masked-faces and show art again, in person. I feel like lots of artists have this same story from 2020. We were all just excited to get back out there.

We had the space to host a “masquerade market” with spooky fine arts and crafts, incorporate some fortune telling, a haunted mini-trail, as well as raise foods and funds for Golden Harvest Food Bank’s It’s Spooky to be Hungry campaign. 


I will say I did miss having the show in Downtown, Augusta. There is just something about Downtown. Maybe it’s because it’s the Arts Hub for Augusta. Maybe its the spooky vibe that permeates through these old, probably haunted buildings. Or, a little bit of both.


Last year we held the show in New Moon Cafe on broad street with coordinating events with the Book Tavern. We hosted local author, Charles Campbell, to do a scary story reading. Held another mini-arts market, this time featuring a live auction of paintings created during the opening reception by local artists to again raise money for the It’s Spooky to be Hungry campaign.


While this show is an incredibly awarding experience, it does have its challenges. One thing about getting shows like this together is, for a lack of a better word, herding the artists. Artists, at their core, tend to have an air of whimsy to them. We float on a breeze like that feather at the end of Forrest Gump. Organization isn’t typically our strong suit. Personally, I’ve had to change a lot about my process and how I work in order to ensure that the show goes along as smoothly as possible. This includes keeping track of dates, times, sending out all the show info in advance, social media promotions (including designing those promotions), getting flyers printed in advance (including designing flyers). It takes a lot. My paper-back schedule has been a real life saver when it comes to keeping myself on track. When I’m on track I can better keep my artists on track.

Photo of Francie Klopotic, wearing a blue face mask and black graphic tshirt. She has brown and purple hair, brown eyes. Standing infront of her artwork which is portraits of classic horror films including Nosferatu
Local Artist Francie Klopotic in front of her works at the 4th Annual October Spooktacular at 4P Studios

This year’s show has been chugging along like a creepy version of Thomas the tank engine, or like Jason is chugging his drink in Erica Pastecki’s Fresh Squeezed Lemonade piece on the show card to the right. We’ve got 18 artists this year with over 25 artworks all freshly squeezing into the Augusta & Co. Gallery. Since I began my work as Gallery Director with the Greater Augusta Arts Council, I really wanted to incorporate this showcase into one of the galleries I am managing. After seeing the excitement for the staff at Augusta & Co. I knew it would be appreciated in this space.

The 6th Annual October Spooktacular will be available to see for the entire month of October, from Sept 29th to November 3rd. The opening reception to be held on First Friday, October 7th from 4pm-6pm. Of course, we encourage visitors to dress up in their spookiest Halloween costumes. Augusta & Co.  will also be participating in the Broad Street Trick or Treat! This year on October 29th.


Everyone loves a good theme, am I right? If you want to RSVP to the reception, you can click here.


If you are interested in contributing to Golden Harvest’s It’s Spooky to be Hungry, you can donate with the Spooktacular team by visiting our page here. You can also plan to bring non-perishable food items to Augusta & Co. starting October 1st and put them in the collection bin. In addition, if you want to take some art home, can also purchase select artworks during the reception on October 7th that have all proceeds going toward feeding the hungry in our community with Golden Harvest.

The 6th Annual October Spooktacular e-flyer featuring Erica Pastecki's work "Fresh sqeezed lemonade" which features horror movie icon, Jason, wearing his iconic hockey mask and green jump suit, drinking a jumbo cup of lemonade in front of a blue background.

I’m really excited to be putting this show together again. Six is my favorite and most lucky number. Getting this show to its 6th iteration is really special to me. If you came here looking for advice on how to get your own shows on track, here is a few things for you to put in your own shoulder pads. 

1. Find something that makes you happy to do. Chances are, you wont be the only one. 

2. Get you a calendar and get organized. 

3. Ask for help. You can’t just have one ghost in your haunted house.

Now get out there and get spooky. Stay weird, friends.