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Hill Country Living

No Exclusive Vibe Makes Art Crawl Welcoming For All

By Coulter Fussell

I have the feeling that most of the Herald this week will be devoted to promoting the Art Crawl we have coming up this Saturday in Water Valley. As it should be! It’s an event worth more than one column. The Art Crawl is such a great thing for Water Valley. I have participated in Art Crawl in some form or fashion from it’s beginning six years ago and have seen it grow and expand into something way beyond what I ever thought it would be.
In case you don’t know, The Water Valley Art Crawl is put on by the Water Valley Arts Council. It’s an annual one-night event where a big handful of artists around town open their homes and studios to the public. From 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. everyone who’s breathing is invited to meander in and out of these homes and studios. Each stop provides drinks and food and some places have live music. There is always an after party starting at around 9 p.m. and this year it’s at D & D House of Bar-B-Que.
The whole thing is laid back, low-key and casual. You can small talk, if you want, or you can walk in a home, look around at the work, not say a word, grab a cookie and leave. Not that I’m suggesting you do the latter, although it’s certainly been my preferred method of viewing before. I’m just trying to get the point across that it’s easy to go to this thing. You don’t have to dress up, there’s no commitment to talk about art. Admittedly, art world stuff can be guilty of putting off an exclusive vibe and this event is definitely innocent of that crime.
And, if you’re like me (i.e. super nosy), then this a great opportunity to look in these houses and secretly judge the decor. In this way, the Art Crawl sort of serves a dual purpose as not only a way for artists to show their work but as a lively little walking tour-of-home.
As a person who likes to do things my own way and literally shudders at the words “committee” or “board,” I find it wondrous that I love the Art Crawl. I owe this to one person: Ramona Bernard. If you don’t know her then I’m sure you’ve seen her…blonde lady that’s always smiling and holding her elderly father’s hand.
She is the president of the Water Valley Arts Council and manages to get these artists together once a year to pull-off a town-wide event that involves people from across the spectrum. It’s one thing to throw a show in your own gallery… I mean, I work for months and months on shows and my gallery space is only 10 feet wide and is set up for the sole purpose of showing art. And it’s one thing to throw a festival, where the party is contained in one city block. But to throw an event that covers an entire town? And involves a whole bunch of artist-types who all feel they have something important to say? (Not criticizing! We all have important things to say…just speaking from experience here. It’s no small job to pacify a bunch of “expressive” people.)
And here’s the thing about Ramona. She’s not an artist. Well, she is…she’s a performer, but what I’m saying is that she doesn’t make paintings or sculptures or perform on the night of Art Crawl. She doesn’t benefit financially or get exposure for her work like the rest of us do that night. She just does this massive, huge, and inclusive community event for us because she is a good person who loves art, people and Water Valley. And to her credit, Art Crawl successfully encompasses that. That’s what it’s all about.

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