By Mickey Howley
The consistent thing about the Art Crawl is it is somewhat inconsistent. Never on the same date, it moves around depending on the Ole Miss football schedule. Football, which I once heard described as being the one true religion as it unifies all and nothing comes before it, therefore art must give way.
Not only is the Crawl date moving, but the locations. This year there are 15 locations to see in three and a half hours. And six stops are new from 16 stops last year. And even the after party and the after-after party are never the same. Look for the Crawl map in this paper or come by Yalo Studio or Bozarts Gallery and pick up a fan map. Crawling starts at 5:30 this Saturday evening and goes officially until 9 p.m. The after party starts right after, naturally.
But the Crawl is more than a consistent good party – it is a real effort to pull off, has strong and wide local support, and totally dependent of the hosting skills of a wide range of creative folks. Hosting a crawl stop is fair amount of work, having several hundred people pass though your house and entertaining them with art, food, and music is no easy task. And it is the one time of year when artists who live in and near downtown unsel-fishly support the collective arts effort and the creative community as a whole.
That once a year altruistic act benefits everyone. And because it is a relatively low-key event—there is no parade or rides or big outside assemblage of tents—you might think the effect is marginal.
And you’d be really wrong. The Art Crawl, by having visitors interacting with the Valley’s creative folks in their own houses and spaces, builds an insight and an intimacy with the town that no street festival ever will. That outside versus inside difference is the key. Outside on the street you’re just an outsider. Inside in a house, you’re a friend.
That’s the welcoming feeling, cause “crawling” is not a money-making, sales-driven outside vendor event, but it for sure leaves visitors with that warm and fuzzy feeling about the town. And while I don’t believe any event makes people want to move to a place, buy a house, or be a part of the town, the Crawl connects folks with no prior connection with this community and gives them a genuine insight into this place.
So if you’re out and about this coming Saturday night, at any of the 15 inside places, seek to have a conversation with someone you don’t know. Maybe they’re from out of town, ask them what they see and feel. You’ll be surprised, pleasantly I hope, about how they view the possibilities of a creative life in a small town.