Sanctuary Arts Festival and Crawl set for Aug. 4-5

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

From Wayne Andrews
YAC director

The inaugural Sanctuary Arts Festival will add a new festival to the cultural landscape of North Mississippi. The event will be unveiled in Oxford on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 4-5.

Festivities include an art crawl, studio tours, an art slam/storytelling competition and an art lounge/disco. This is the reimagining and revitalization of the popular community wide art crawl with a more in-depth and personalized view of fine artists in Mississippi’s communities.

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The art crawl will be held on Friday, Aug. 4, from 6-9 p.m., and the locations include Southside Gallery, S & J Gallery, Heartbreak Coffee, The Growler, City Grocery, The Graduate Hotel and The Powerhouse.

Studio tours will take place on Saturday, Aug. 5, from noon-6 p.m. and will include local artists’ studios such as Jere Allen, Southside Gallery (live painting by Brooke P. Alexander), University of Mississippi Sculpture Studio (welding by Stacey Rathert), Michael Satterfield Pottery (Clear Creek), Bradley Gordon and Oxford Treehouse Gallery, which includes the gallery and Walter and Vivian Neill studio spaces.

The art slam and storytelling competition will be in The Graduate Hotel ballroom from 6-7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5. This event reimagines the traditional artist talk. The event will be a storytelling competition focused on the artist’s inspiration and “place” in regard to a specific art piece or process. This is an intimate look into the featured art. All who attend will take part in voting for his or her favorite story. One artist will win a $500 cash prize.

The festival will conclude with the art lounge/disco in The Graduate Hotel ballroom on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 7-9 p.m. The public will be invited to sip cocktails with attending artists and enjoy music played by DJ Bradley Gordon, a featured artist.

Thirteen featured artists that will form a collective pop-up show in The Graduate Hotel ballroom for the duration of the festival, including Brooke P. Alexander (painter, Oxford), Mike Cinelli (ceramicist, Oxford), Sierra Dexter (photographer, Water Valley), Bradley Gordon (painter, Oxford), Joe MacGown (painter, Starkville), Susan Mah (photographer, Oxford), Hannah McCormick (painter, Water Valley), Chesley Pearman (painter, Merigold), Stacey Rathert (sculptor, Oxford), Rosa Salas (ceramicist, Oxford), Jared Spears (painter, Taylor), Pannawat Thamutok (painter, Oxford) and Amy Webb (painter, Oxford).

All featured artists participated in a documentary film project with MSPN in partnership with Oxford Magazine that recorded their biographies, inspiration and process and connection to “place.”

Mississippi is recognized as a place that inspires creativity. The contributions of artists from Mississippi are often spoken about as those in the past; Faulkner, Walter Anderson, Kate Freeman Clark. The initiative of the Mississippi Presenters’ Network (MSPN) and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council is to promote visual artists active in Mississippi and provide opportunities that recognize their contributions to the communities they reside in order to ensure these artists in the state.

In turn, visual arts help with cultural expansion and overall economic improvement for all. YAC and MSPN’s goal is to unite the Oxford and surrounding Mississippi communities with artists from and residing within them in one communal space. Sanctuary Arts Festival ensures artists’ place in Mississippi by highlighting the role of artists as community figures and as prominent cultural figures in the fine arts community in the state.

Learn more about this event at and on social media @mspresentersnetwork.