Published on September 17th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Scratching the Surface of Oxford’s Vibrant Art Scene
Outside of the Mississippi Delta, birthplace of the Blues, Oxford is made out to be the cultural mecca of our fine state. But newcomers often wonder when they arrive here where all the art is hidden. I promise, there’s plenty of art here, and it’s not hidden—you just have to know where to look!
Perhaps the most far-reaching arts organization we have here is Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC for short), which is based at The Powerhouse on University Avenue. The Powerhouse itself serves as a gallery, a theatre, a workshop—pretty much anything it needs to be for the artistic community. The Arts Council believes in “art for everyone,” and they strive in their programming to reflect that ideal—between acting classes, theatrical performances, dance, and visual arts, they always have a lot going on. Visit www.oxfordarts.com to learn more and find out about upcoming events; I suggest clicking on the “Contact” link at the bottom of the webpage and following the link to sign up for YAC’s friendly weekly email update of arts events. Last year YAC became the proud custodians of Oxford’s first art vending machine—Artomaton—which is currently housed at Cups Espresso Cafe. Next time you’re picking up some joe, check out the awesome local art you can score for just $5.
On the first Saturday of each month, Maker’s Market sets up on the Courthouse lawn, featuring many local artists with wares for sale, and local music for your entertainment while you browse—look for Maker’s Market on October 4th.
Oxford Artist’s Guild also features its members selling on the Courthouse lawn a few times a year, and getting connected with OAG is a great way to be part of the art community. Visit oxfordartistsguild.blogspot.com for more info and arts news.
The fourth Tuesday of every month features the Oxford Arts Crawl, with free exhibitions and receptions, and free transportation between stops via the Double Decker bus. This monthly event begins at 6 pm, and often there will be a “Precrawl” event an hour before the Arts Crawl, such as an exhibit’s opening reception.
Each April, artisans and crafters take part in Oxford’s Double Decker Arts Festival, a two-day event featuring live music and the best of the area’s food and visual arts. Former Oxonians flock back to town just to party down for Double Decker. This is a can’t-miss event—mark your calendars for the fourth weekend in April!
Located at the edge of the Ole Miss campus, The University of Mississippi Museum is usually referred to simply as University Museum. It boasts a collection of over 20,000 objects to see. University Museum’s collection includes the Millington-Barnard Collection of Scientific Instruments, the Theora Hamblett Collection (the core of the museum’s folk art collection), The Seymour Lawrence Collection of American Art (including original works by Georgia O’Keefe, Kurt Vonnegut, Glennray Tutor, and many others), the David Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and The Mary Buie and Kate Skipwith Collections. Current exhibits at University Museum include the Bloomingdale’s Fashion Touchdown exhibit and A Light Passage by Lee Renninger, pieces from his new body of work Botanica.
Southside Gallery (southsideartgallery.com) is located on the Square next to City Grocery, and has the following exhibits scheduled: Kelley Sharp, September 2–27; and Blair Hobbs, September 30–October 5. Stop in and see some beautiful work in this professional gallery setting. Also located on the Square, The Frame-Up/Basement Gallery is a great place to see work by local artists such as J-Man Art’s “Meet the Faulkers” exhibit (he’s one of our favorite painters around). And S&J Art Gallery is located across the Square on Jackson Avenue.
Oxford Treehouse Gallery (oxfordtreehousegallery.com), formerly Neill Studios, is located on Fudgetown Road (Rd. 418, off Hwy. 334) and is open Thursday through Saturday, 12-6 pm. Currently being exhibited are artworks by Patti Henson, Richard Kelso, Ron Lindsey, Matt Long, Benny Melton, Jim Pigott, Sarah Teasley, Ed Williford, and Bob Willis. OTG also holds workshops for artists—check their website or Facebook page regularly for updates.
Sometimes all you need to do to see art is to look around. City Grocery features local art on its walls, and Ajax Diner is lined with paintings by the talented Lamar Sorrento. Bette’s Flowers is a great place to snag some local art, whether you’re interested in the colorful paintings by Joyce and Noel Street, or the handmade-in-Mississippi Kudzu Pottery. On North Lamar, Local Color has been “keeping Oxford weird” for over 20 years, with a great selection of unique items including art by locals—just ask Willie (curator of the weirdness), he’ll be glad to help you find what you seek.
Oxford also has a number of “antique malls,” like The Depot on North Lamar Blvd., chock full of old and new items, art interspersed among the booths. Take the time to look around and you may find the art of your dreams! Sugar Magnolia and The Mustard Seed are the city’s other notable antique malls, both located on University Avenue.
Like dancing? Ole Miss Ballroom Dance Club may be right up your alley. They hold workshops for members and non-members, and hold a monthly dance, usually casual or semi-formal. Search for “Ole Miss Ballroom Dance Club” on Facebook and join their group today.
Oxford’s got you covered when it comes to the art of live radio, too. Thacker Mountain Radio features both a Fall and a Spring season, with a live radio broadcast going out once a week. The show is always free and is usually held on Thursdays at Off Square Books, though this year’s TMR season opener was at Nutt Auditorium on September 4th. Each show features a reading from one or more featured authors, and live music by house band The Yalobushwhackers and other scheduled musicians. We’ve seen some great Thacker shows over the years.
There’s plenty of art to be seen and experienced here in Lafayette County. This is by no means meant as an all-inclusive guide, but a starting point to finding your way around our art scene. Enjoy!