By Mickey Howley
The numbers sometimes tell the tale about an event. At the 4th Water Valley Studio Art Crawl there were 54 artists exhibiting at 16 different locations. Live music by 15 musicians at 6 of those locations. Available parking spaces on Main Street if you came just a bit late: Zero. Map fans distributed: 1,000. Youngest artist: 17. Oldest artist: 82. Compare that to the first crawl four short years ago with 16 artists and 9 locations.
And new this year there was a performance art piece to end the crawl; a fashion show. Held at Bozarts and showing some 25 dress creations by designer Julia Ray, nine fashion models walked a runway and wowed a crowd. James Ray organized that group of models and I have to say the gallery never looked so good.
But while the Crawl has grown in sheer size, with larger crowds and having regional and statewide recognition, it is still the same event with the same purpose as it was from the gitgo. It still is all about the art, about the creative economy and energy in this town. In a way you can define the Crawl by what it is not. It is not about street stages or contests and games or retail sales and street vendors or festival food or car shows and foot races or t-shirts and porta-potties or fund-raising for a group or cause or even “branding” the town with a theme. The Crawl is none of what you find at those big multi-tasking street festival things. It is real simple; the Crawl is about the art and artists. And proof positive that if you are in the creative economy, Water Valley is a good place to be. It is just the studios and the galleries and the local artists and that’s it. Simple and creative at the same time.
What has been very consistent is the Water Valley Arts Council, a hardworking dedicated group who believe the creative life is important. It is significant organizing effort to host an event like this (okay artists are a bit like cats, they don’t herd well). Six local sponsors really helped out with funds to cover expenses this year and WVAC members put in serious volunteer hours sweating the details.
Here’s another Water Valley Arts Council event not to miss; Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3, is the 3rd Annual Community Sing Along – last year’s Mississippi Main Street’s winner as Best Special Event in the State – an award category that goes up against all those street festivals and outdoor concerts across the state. An award that two years ago the Water Valley Studio Art Crawl won—should tell you that the WVAC is good at this. Real good. So if you see WVAC co-chairs Bill Warren and Ramona Bernard or any of the many WVAC members, thank them for what they do in bringing the creative life back in this community.