Thanks, Y'all Art Exhibit
- by Vicki Niolet
On Saturday, August 29, artists from around the country will take part in ceremonies commemorating Hurricane Katrina’s 10th anniversary, by exhibiting work at a very special invitational art show.
The reception for the show will be held from 5:30pm to 8:00pm on the 29th at the Ground Zero Museum, 335 Coleman Avenue in Waveland. The public is invited to come meet - and to thank - the people who helped coast artists rebuild their lives. Admission is free and the art will be for sale.
The show celebrates many bonds that began forming ten years ago. In 2005, Hancock County was among the most fertile and celebrated arts meccas in the southeast. The area was touted in national publications as an art colony, and Bay St. Louis was proclaimed as “One of the Top Ten Art Towns” in the US.
When the Chamber of Commerce landed in temporary offices after the storm, they generously carved out a small space for “The Arts, Hancock County,” the local organization devoted to the promotion of resident artists and their work. Working with many groups around the country offering help, two dedicated artists, Ruth Thompson and Gwen Impson, collaborated with the Chamber and the willing benefactors to match contributors with the needs in the impacted coastal areas.
In addition to sending art supplies and materials, countless communities reached out to offer gallery shows, housing, and even traveling expenses for artists, to continue showing their work outside the storm stricken area of South Mississippi.
Originally from Waveland, Claire Haun relocated to Little Rock post-Katrina and planned the first exhibit, “Hearts for Art” in February 2006.
Not only did the Arkansas angels do this once, but also a second time, when a citywide ice storm - crippling Little Rock on the morning of the show - cancelled the first event. Not to be discouraged, the benevolent donors paid twice for airfare, as well as re-publicizing the event, and re-organizing sponsors and host families.
The main purpose for the exhibits was to offer viable economies that could focus on buying art, not rebuilding walls. Most of the artists sold work at all of the individual shows, many returning home with sizable checks. But when painters, sculptors, photographers, and musicians travelled to these charitable havens they were given a more valuable gift than money.
The escape from “Katrina Fatigue” was an immeasurable boost to morale for the participants. Hosts welcomed artists into their homes with friendships and luxuries such as home-cooked meals and bathtubs with plenty of hot water. In many cases, bonds were established between artists and families that remain to the present day.
These artists and visitors will experience the legendary southern hospitality in repayment for the assistance they extended to local artists ten years ago. The exhibit, entitled “Thanks Y’all” borrows the phrase from an early statewide campaign recognizing the volunteers who came to our region.
Artists from other parts of the country will reunite with Hancock County artists and display their work in Bay St. Louis for a reciprocal exhibit. While the basis for the event is primarily to express gratitude for their generosity, it will also demonstrate how their actions revitalized the local arts community. “The Arts, Hancock County” will also show the progress we have made with their help since 2005 by hosting a mini studio tour and workshop opportunity for our guests with local artists.
Most visiting artists will arrive late in the anniversary week and leave Sunday. Along with other events, “The Arts, Hancock County” members and visitors will intermingle and reacquaint over the course of several eventful and emotional days.
For more information about the ”Thanks Y’all” exhibit, please contact Vicki Niolet at 228-671-9790, or firstname.lastname@example.org.