The annual ArtsAlive! event in Bay St. Louis is no average art festival - it's a hands-on learning experience geared toward the next generation of artists. Peek behind the scenes and check out the 2018 schedule of events!
- by Denise Jacobs, photos Ellis Anderson, Brenda Comer
ArtsAlive 2018 Schedule
Juried exhibition and Patron' Party
530 pm Friday March 23
200 North Beach Restaurant
Arts Alive Artist / Artisan Showcase
Saturday, March 24, 10am - 5pm
Throughout Old Town
Live music til 7:30pm
110 South Second Street
Student Film Showcase
7:30pm - 8:30pm
110 South Second Street
In the new MakerSpace tent on the corner of Second and Main, a whole lot of hands-on “making” with upcycled materials will be going on. Activities include drum-making with Bay Ratz Marching Battery Director Brian Wilemon; screen printing with Kerr Grabowski; basic wiring, soldering, LED lighting, and control with David Schwartz; and clay ocarina flute-making with Rosie Demoulin.
The MakerSpace is also the go-to place for face painting. Then, over at the French Potager on the second block of Main, the Raw Oyster Marching Club will lead an interactive workshop on oyster decoration.
Volunteers of all ages will decorate and paint trash cans along the beach under the artistic direction of Chris Stebley, a successful Ocean Springs artist whose love for the Gulf Coast’s natural beauty shines through in watercolors, block prints, decorated pottery, and murals. Barney refers to Chris a “real exciting draw.”
Arts Alive! is free and open to the public; however, some events, like the Patron's Party and selected hands-on activities, require an Arts Alive! button. A voluntary contribution of $5 will buy a clever and colorful button designed by John Anderson, architect at unabridged Architecture. Buttons will be available all day during Arts Alive! and can be purchased in advance at Mockingbird Café, French Potager, 200 North Beach, and C&C Italian Bistro.
“The next generation” isn’t just an expression; Barney can put names and faces to those future artists.
Since the beginning of this academic year, a small posse of volunteers from Arts, Hancock County has met with the next generation of artists at the Bay/Waveland Boys and Girls Club on Thursday afternoons.
The after-school meetings grew out of the 2017 Magnolia Bayou STEM Project via Mississippi State University. You might say that Barney and Ann Madden, the lens in Smith & Lens and current vice president of the Arts, Hancock County, put the “A” in STEAM-based projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.) With the conclusion of summer, Barney thought, why stop there?
“Maintaining the connection to students is important,” Barney explains, noting that art education has essentially been de-funded in the public schools. For Barney, continued involvement with students is “an opportunity to give back in a really meaningful way.”
“Success,” Barney muses, is “dependent on community involvement and the generous sponsorship of local businesses and individuals.” For their part, individual businesses will host and sponsor a wide diversity of artists in partnerships that are sure to benefit artist and business alike.
Social Chair’s Yuki Northington, president of the Old Town Merchants Association, attributes the success of Arts Alive! to the accessibility of artists to the public: “Arts Alive! is always a well-attended event because customers have the opportunity to speak with each artist directly, and there is always something new to discover. Our town is bursting with artists, and this event is really their time to shine.”
Special funding and volunteer efforts will really apply the shine. The Hancock County Tourism Bureau has made possible “an aggressive plan” to draw more visitors from neighboring markets like New Orleans and Biloxi. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors made the beachfront beautification project possible.
“The traction of people who like art is gaining momentum,” says Barney. Astoundingly, over 400 people regularly attend family-friendly First Fridays at the Lazy Magnolia Brewery, events that feature local artists, sometimes in demonstration mode. In fact, the March 2 event included 12 artists from Arts, Hancock County.
“We’re real excited about this growing partnership with Lazy Magnolia Brewery. Leslie and Mark Henderson have been great supporters of the arts, both personally and through their business.”
Barney views the buttons that are being sold this year as a mechanism for those in the community who want to support the arts as another way of giving back. For its part, Arts, Hancock County will distribute buttons to next-generation artists at both CASA and the Boys and Girls Club. As Barney says, “Even $20 pays for materials for hands-on activities for four kids”
Tax-deductible donations can be made online or in person at Mockingbird Café, French Potager, 200 North Beach, and C&C Italian Bistro. Every donation directly enables the participation of those who otherwise would not be able to attend.
Barney encourages would-be volunteers to register online and indicate their volunteer preferences.