Exposing art in Oxford

Published 9:36 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

By Andi Bedsworth

As I walked around Double Decker this past weekend, I was reminded how much our town is known for its cultural offerings including literature, art and music.

Thousands of people flocked to celebrate that culture as they sampled our culinary offerings, bought art and enjoyed fantastic live music. It is always a day of socializing, revelry, and excitement.

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I’d like to spotlight some of the best of the arts events during this past week as I hope you will check out the work, visit the galleries and support the artists represented. Though some of these shows are closing and artists have packed up booths, please check out the artists’ websites, see where they are showing next, and get familiar with their work if you are not already.

Last Thursday, the reception for Jere Allen’s latest exhibition, Transitions at Southside Gallery was packed with people coming to see what the artist has been up to. Curated by his wife, Joe Ann Allen, the show comprised works from the last few years, and as usual his bold, expressive works were well received. Portraits of women often with other images superimposed are compelling, intriguing and almost always mysterious. The evocative work is alluring and captures the viewer’s attention causing one to get lost in the paintings. Allen, who lives and works in Oxford, shows at Southside on a regular basis. This exhibition will be up until Saturday.

If you were lucky enough to check out Becky Zee’s 366 Days at the Powerhouse, you know that artist Rebecca Ziemer spent 2016 creating a different creature out of clay each day. The massive showing included photographs of each creature as well as the actual creatures themselves in glass exhibition cases. This fun, zany show brought smiles to everyone who walked in, as children and adults alike commented on their favorites. Ziemer lives and works in Memphis, and her show will be traveling to the Crafts Center in Ridgeland before it makes its final showing back in Memphis on this three-gallery tour which began here in Oxford this past month.

Festivals like Double Decker help expose artists to larger audiences and help them build up their customer base. It also gives collectors and art lovers a chance to speak with and ask questions of the artists. I saw this happen firsthand as I strolled from booth to booth watching artists explain their processes and inspirations to interested attendees. That is what the artistic process is all about — inspiration, self-expression, and telling a story-true or fantastical and sharing that with the world.

Andi Bedsworth is owner of Art To Go, which brings free art opportunities to children in the community.