By Talbert Toole
As Oxonians and out-of-towners fill Vaught Hemingway stadium to watch the Ole Miss Rebels take on the California Golden Bears next month, another event will take place prior to the faceoff on the gridiron.
ArtWorks Foundation—a Memphis based nonprofit focused on helping artists grow—debuts The Great Oxonian Exposition Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19 and 20, at the Powerhouse.
The exhibit is free and open to the public on Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attendees of the exhibition can expect Cousins Maine Lobster—a food truck that specializes in seafood—and a cash bar.
The inaugural exhibition will draw artists from seven different states across the southeast.
Greg Belz, coordinator and director of the exhibition, created the foundation after his time in broadcasting. Belz’s first encounter with the arts happened when he created his first nonprofit nearly 36 years ago. However, this time he changed his focus from paintings to what he considers “fine crafts.”
Artists who specialize in fine crafts work with glass, metal, clay, fiber, wood and other media, but Belz said he does welcome painters, photographers, and other visual artists, occasionally. He said The Great Oxonian Exposition will focus mainly on art that takes on realizations from someone’s imagination that are 3-dimensional and can be held, felt and functional.
“[Functionality] is very important…art permeates your life,” Belz said. “The clothing you wear can be art.”
Although the exhibition was originally planned for a larger venue, Belz said Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, reached out willing to lend a hand.
“Wayne came to our rescue,” Belz said.
The switch of venue was decided when the exhibition did not draw as many artists as it originally planned. With a Thursday, Friday date over a traditional Saturday exhibit, Belz said many artists were hesitant to attend.
“Many artists couldn’t comprehend Saturdays don’t exist in Oxford during football season,” he said.
Although the exhibition had to make a slight adjustment, Belz said he is hopeful that next year’s exhibition will be even larger. He said he believes the artists who attend this year will be overwhelmingly surprised by community turn out that they will report back with positive information.
Belz said although the exhibition advises attendees to purchases pieces, he simply wants LOU community members to come and experience the art exhibit.
For more information on The Great Oxonian Exposition, visit the event page.