ALBANY, Ga. -- No one has to tell Albany artist Cindy Davis the value of social networking on the Internet.
She is gearing up for the largest solo show of her career because of Twitter.
A professional artist for the past five years, a chance encounter with Jill Kettles of the Defoor Center in Atlanta on the social networking site Twitter provided Davis with a big boost for her artistic career.
"The show came about after I became friends with Jill Kettles (Defoor's art director) on Twitter," Davis said. "I've never met her in person and didn't even know her until we struck up a friendship on Twitter."
Kettles said Davis' unique style and sense of color were factors in her extending the Defoor invitation.
"I find that Cindy's work is a combination of color, fluid movement and a spiritual journey," Kettes wrote in an e-mail. "She is the definition of what an artist's work should be: consistent -- she has a certain style that says 'CINDY!'
"She could paint stick figures, and you'd know it's her work."
Davis has had more than 10 solo shows over the past four years, but this is her first Atlanta art exhibit as an individual.
"I am super pumped right now," she said. "The main reason is that I'm nearly finished with all the pieces for the show.
"I'll have between 60 and 65 pieces on display. The show is scheduled for mid-June, but the exact start date hasn't been set yet."
A self-described refugee from a corporate cubicle, Davis began her art career as a "relief from the stress of being a computer programer," she recalled. "Art is crazy, random and unstructured. It was exactly the outlet I needed at the time."
Still, today is not an easy time to be an artist, especially one who depends on selling his or her creations as a sole source of income.
"Many of the physical galleries have closed," Davis said. "The little store with such a huge heart (Current in Woodstock) that represented me back in 2007 closed its doors last year. Galleries across the country, both online and physical, are closing down. Even Fay Gold Gallery in Atlanta closed last year.
"Only the strongest remain."
And the most creative. Davis has blended her website design business with the selling of her artwork to help survive the economy's downturn.
"I've followed some who made it big through the Internet without traditional art galleries for over seven years now," Davis said. "I've watched a few of these big names begin to use desperate techniques to sustain their incomes. I've watched them give up on eBay and online auctions, returning to fixed-price venues.
"I just got back in the studio and forgot about the recession."
And she hit the Internet running, selling her art through her website, cindydavisart.com, and actively utilizing social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
"The social implications of Facebook and Twitter are enormous," Davis said. "They have truly and completely helped my business. Usually one contact can lead to another. I got involved in a Twitterfest in San Francisco and that helped me. The people I met online and I still stay in touch.
"The interactivity is amazing," she added. "Creating art can be a lonely and socially isolating experience. We work alone, but I like to spend a few minutes each day online chatting with friends and marketing my art."
Kettles agreed, then added that social networking sites are not really changing the art world but enhancing it.
"You don't have to send slides to a gallery anymore for consideration; you just send them your links," Kettles said. "The ways and means one artist can reach out to another is unreal -- someone from France to someone down the street from me and then to San Francisco.
"But what needs to stick is the reason why we all connect, and it's the mediums we work in. They still need to be seen by the naked eye. And that's something the Internet can't do."
So, 100 years from now when she is dead and gone and people are still admiring her creations, what does Davis hope they are thinking?
"Hmmm," Davis said after a long pause, then answered, "'interesting.' They can look at my work and say 'interesting.'
"I can live with that."