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After a couple of pandemic years, I am happy to report that Water Valley’s Art Crawl is finally back to normal! And that is to say it is back to being a big success again! That’s the word on the street, at least. Personally, I’ve never gotten to actually walk around Art Crawl since I’m typically a participating artist who is stuck in one spot for the entirety of the event. But I trust the opinion of a friend of mine who wisely judges the quality of each Art Crawl by how long it takes her to get out of bed on Sunday. This was a 1:30 p.m. year for her, if that tells you anything.
I can only report about Art Crawl from my station at Joe and Kathryn York’s house on Panola Street. I’m not partial or anything, but I’m pretty sure I was at the best spot in town simply because I can’t envision how anywhere could have been better! There was a front porch table of flowers, various hors d’oeuvres and an icy pitcher of gin/basil/grapefruit punch greeting guests right at the front door. It only got better from there.
You couldn’t turn a corner in the York’s house without there being a tray of appetizers somewhere within your line of vision. There were bowls of roasted rosemary almonds or small plates of specialty chocolates or little piles of cheese straws on every visible surface in their home. One could blindly reach a hand out in any given direction and happen to grab a handful of sea-salted crackers. Their home was essentially an Appetizer Crawl set within the greater context of the Art Crawl.
And that is what it’s all about anyway, right? This is all one big Tour-of-Homes with people kindly acting as open hosts to the entire town and beyond. The art is sort of secondary – part of an excuse to look around inside everyone’s houses. As an artist I think that’s great! Art in homes is what makes artists’ careers sustainable – so a focus on the home is always good in my book!
It’s no small deal to prepare for the Art Crawl and the coordinated efforts on behalf of the hosts, the artists and the Main Street Association is significant. There are also lots of unseen helpers that deserve recognition such as nine-year-old Emma York who did a fine job vacuuming her house in preparation for guests, and little five-year-old Herschel York who squirted the water hose into his mom’s open car window a few minutes before Art Crawl started while she was inside preparing spinach dip for a veggie tray. In retrospect, I think Herschel’s contribution might have been a performance piece. All this to say, Art Crawl wouldn’t be the same without the help and participation of the town’s kids. It’s great for kids to see the adults out supporting the arts.On behalf of the artists, I send a big thanks to the Main Street Association and Arts Council for a successful event and to everyone from Water Valley and Oxford for attending. And an even bigger thanks to the hosts who opened their homes to our work and audiences.