In the last 12 months, Mobile’s arts quarter has been especially topsy-turvy. Performances and classes have been scaled back, postponed and canceled. Museum exhibits and guidelines have shifted or been switched. Our experiences have been distant, distanced and virtual.
Along with the gradual dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines, signs of hope are budding in the warming spring. One of those prize blooms — the Mobile Arts Council’s (MAC) annual Arty Awards — is still germinating but looking to be as robust as ever.
The primary rule for the yearly fete: Virtual won’t do.
“We feel like it just takes away so much from the excitement of getting the award and being able to speak and be on stage, so we want to, if at all possible, host it in person this year,” MAC Executive Director Lucy Gafford said.
That would mean waiting on much-touted herd immunity and the pandemic ebb expected in warmer weather. All that to say, maybe summer is when we’ll see them.
Since 2004, MAC has bestowed the honors to a cross-section of Mobilians responsible for providing the artistic bones and support to area culture. More than painters or performers, awards are given for patronage, volunteerism, sponsorship and sweat equity. As much as it thanks their efforts, it also ballyhoos their dedication to the larger population and hopefully builds appreciation.
The last rendition was Feb. 6, 2020, so this is a long stretch. We’ll just take it as a sign of better days to come, like the swallows returning to Capistrano.
That means the period for submitting nominations will last longer than ever before. There’s currently a deadline of March 12.
“We’ve got a lot of nominations for artists right now and have had a lot of people asking about it,” Gafford said.
There are 11 award categories listed — educator; business; cultural innovation; performing artist; literary; musical; organization; patron; visual; lifetime achievement and arts soldier (volunteering, giving or making) — and a space to add another category you think deserves recognition. You’re asked to provide your write-in nominee’s qualifications and images, if possible.
They’re also asking the public for contributions to a newer portion of the annual event: the Final Curtain. It’s designed to pay homage to those who passed away since the last ceremony and were responsible for impacting the area’s arts and cultural scene.
A link to the nominations can be found at mobilearts.org.
Will MAC go back to the customary midwinter date for 2022? Gafford’s not saying, but acknowledged complications with gathering advertising and sponsors right after the holiday season. There’s advantages, too, so it all has to be weighed out.
Despite the pandemic’s dampening effect, Gafford said the times have made MAC busier in ways.
“It’s a lot more work. We’re sitting behind computers more, doing the in-person ArtWalk stuff plus the virtual on top of it, and it’s been a lot more time-consuming than it normally would be,” Gafford said.
She considers it worth the effort spent for those who “want to stay engaged and can’t go out.”
Speaking of awards, the Nappie Awards have expanded for 2021 and this columnist was energized to hear categories were added to the Arts section. I haven’t seen the listings, but according to one of the Lagniappe publishers, there will be new awards for local authors, poets, filmmakers, classical musicians and art photographers.
Hopefully this can pull in more votes and participation from Azalea City arts aficionados. There are truly earnest and creative souls who toil in relative obscurity here but deserve more praise than they currently enjoy.
If the warming temps have you yearning for the outdoors, rush to the Mobile Museum of Art’s website and sign up for their Plein Air Soft Pastels workshop with Victoria Udovikina on March 6 and 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum’s location in West Mobile’s Langan Park makes the perfect setting to get outside with a full palette of color.
Soft pastels can provide opportunity to combine painting and drawing simultaneously, with tactile results. It’s a great medium for exploring technique while reducing the tools and supplies needed with mediums like oil.
The instructor will walk students through the stages of drawing and composition, underpainting and final application of pastel.
No previous experience is needed. It’s open to teens and adults aged 16 and up.
They’re limited in class size to maintain social distance, so interested parties will need to register at mobilemuseumofart.com quickly.
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