Oxford in bloom: Monthly art crawl blossoms in talent, size

Posted on Jun 28 2018 - 8:02am by Mary Liz King

A monthly tradition hosted by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the Oxford Art Crawl features the best of the creativity in the Velvet Ditch, and each year as the art gets better, the crowds get bigger.

The famous double-decker bus takes the art crawl participants along the crawl’s route to view art on the fourth Tuesday of each month, stopping to see various collections around town. The pieces and locations for the event change each month to keep the art crawl fresh and unique.

The art crawl in Oxford began about ten years ago to promote visual art and artistic culture in Oxford while encouraging community members to go to the Square.

“The crawl really started with getting people to recognize that there was a visual arts scene in Oxford, and we wanted people to recognize that even though they came to the same locations, the exhibits were always changing and so it’s worth going back more than once,” YAC director Wayne Andrews said.

An Art Crawl goer surveys local artist Carol Roark’s 200 paintings in 200 days exhibit at The Powerhouse on Tuesday. Photo by Christian Johnson

Since its beginning, the art crawl has grown into a social event involving many local Oxford residents and those visiting Oxford. Andrews has appreciated watching the crawl become an event for people to attend before dining or hanging out on the Square.

Many of the locations chosen to be featured on the art crawl route are local favorites including the Powerhouse, Southside Gallery, University Museum and Frame Up Basement Gallery.

“I think the art crawl has grown a symbiotic relationship with the Square,” Andrews said. “People can come enjoy the art crawl before going to the Square, and that can be a really positive experience.”

Carol Roark displays her 200 paintings in 200 days exhibit in The Powerhouse on Tuesday. The Art Crawl is held the fourth Tuesday of every month in Oxford. Photo by Christian Johnson

The art crawl has seen many changes throughout the years, and over the last 10 years it has developed into a monthly tradition that the city of Oxford takes great pride in.

“The art crawl started out as a couple of permanent stops and has now expanded to include pop up locations to keep things fresh and ever-changing,” Visit Oxford director Mary Allyn Hedges said.

Even local artists have experienced the growth of the art crawl within Oxford art community.

Steven Hopper, one of the Community Supported Artists featured in June’s art crawl, has been attending the crawl since its inception and has enjoyed watching it develop into an engaging art experience.

“There were like eight people attending, and now it’s becoming a big thing in Oxford, and that’s been a positive experience for art in Oxford,” he said.

For the future, Andrews said he hopes the art crawl can continue developing into a more engaging experience. The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council recently received a grant for the art crawl from the Mississippi Hills Heritage Alliance to create an app that will allow artists to be recorded so that art crawl goers can watch videos while viewing art featured at the crawl.

Two onlookers discuss an installation at the Oxford Art Crawl on Tuesday. Photo by Christian Johnson

“We are looking at how to engage the people attending the art crawl, and looking to create a more active experience instead of a passive one,” Andrews said. “Mobile devices can really drive the accessibility, and we are looking forward creating a more interactive space at the crawls.”

With a hope for the future of the art crawl, Andrews understands that keeping consistency and fluidity has contributed to its growth and success, and these key aspects will not be disappearing anytime soon.

“Consistency is important, and that’s why the crawl is always held the fourth Tuesday at the same time,” he said.  “Other than that we try to keep it fresh and interesting so people can see the diversity of art here in Oxford. It’s really becoming a personality of the town.”