Oxford streets crawl with art fans monthly

Published 6:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2016

By Cecily Lane


The fourth Tuesday of each month Oxford’s downtown streets fill with people.

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It’s for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council Oxford Art Crawl.

Not very well-known, but well-loved by frequent crawlers, the Oxford Art Crawl is a staple of the town’s many unique art nooks. With several locations and double decker bus transportation, some say there’s no better way to see all of Oxford’s art community.

Beginning at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center on University Avenue, groups of visitors of all ages, interests and demographics crowd around the art created by their children, friends and classmates. Inside the high-ceiling warehouse, brick walls are decorated with various art and displays of creativity. Crawlers admire, compliment and comment on the variety of portraits, watercolors, photographs and sculptures.

Karina Turner, a University of Mississippi student and art lover who attended the March crawl, said she was surprised the first time she went to the Art Crawl.

“The first time I went (to the crawl), there was a quilt exhibit,” she said. “I never knew quilts were so complicated and artistic. After that, I had a newfound appreciation for quilts, and now I look forward to every crawl.”

Each month, from January to October, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council hosts a tour of Oxford’s most notable art spaces free of charge. At about 7 p.m., an attraction in itself, a double decker bus arrives to carry art crawlers of all ages to the Square’s Southside Gallery, Shelter on Van Buren, High Point Coffee, and then to UM’s campus museum and the gallery at Meek Hall.

UM student Savannah Unruh said she started going to the event last year with friends and hasn’t missed a crawl since. “We love coming the crawl,” she said. “Every month, they show something different, and it’s so much fun to go from gallery to gallery and see all of the art.”

Oxford is known for being unique, and its art scene is no exception. In fact, it’s probably what makes the town so unique. And the arts crawl aims to exhibit that artistic individuality, and make known the more allusive, entertaining and impressive creative aspects it has all over town. Just like many other events in Oxford or around the Square, wine and beer is offered at each stop, but it does run out quickly.

Encouraging students and residents to be more mindful and appreciative of all the different kinds of art in town, the crawl (with the help of the double decker bus) is an enjoyable way to see downtown Oxford, be exposed to something new and socialize with friends.

Always displaying something new, unique and interesting, Oxford art galleries have something to offer every kind of artist, critic, admirer and visitor.

Shelter on the Square doubles as a cozy coffee shop and art haven. Southside Gallery, across from the courthouse, features an array of intricate paintings and drawings that are generally of high caliber.

At the industrial-style Powerhouse gallery, guests are exposed to unconventional, extraordinary art forms. Memorable and special pieces are on display, and their artists are often unheard of, but exceptionally outstanding.

In March, the Powerhouse featured paintings and drawings from younger artists. Ranging in age from 4 to 20-plus, the vast space of the brick and cement showroom was crowded at the recent art crawl. Wall to wall, and surrounding a lengthy appetizer table, young artists, parents, families and onlookers admired the ranging artistic style compositions of more than 160 pieces.

Of the artists featured, UM art student Camille Hunt had several pieces on display at the Powerhouse. The young artist’s pieces have been a fan favorite at several art shows.

“When I saw her paintings at the Powerhouse, I couldn’t believe a student had done them,” Unruh said. “It’s really nice to see art from all different types of people at these events because they all have something different to say.”

On display, Hunt’s painting depicted a female torso, her face covered by a hanging cloth, attracted many viewers who stood in awe at its powerful message and paint strokes.

“It’s definitely my favorite piece of the night,” said Turner, “but the crawl has just begun.”