Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) continues to widen its impact beyond the immediate central Gulf Coast with a new project reaching across the state and into other regional states. The downtown Mobile art space will be a key facility in what’s called the “Patchwork Symphony” project.
ACAC Director Elizabet Elliott said it started with a New Yorker-turned-New Orleanian resident named Bryan Gottshall. After his relocation, the former recording engineer paired up with Mobile musician Jimmy Lee in forming Cartographer Records and utilizing the equipment Gottshall had in storage. Lee was already helping ACAC implement its “deeply underused” third-floor space, so carving out a recording studio there was an organic result.
Meanwhile, Elliott crossed paths with poet and musician Jerald Crook. The Bay Minette native lives in Atlanta and helms the Higher Ground Society, a Georgia Humanities Foundation-affiliated nonprofit. A collaborative idea sparked.
What started as an idea in conjunction with Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration was extended. They would give a dozen genre-spanning musical artists from across the state the opportunity to record their work in a professional studio.
According to a press release, the goal is a compilation album reflecting Alabama’s “vast and rich musical culture.” The project has already “recorded three musical acts from central Alabama” and now wants to draw from more northern and southern regions.
“We’ll be bringing all these people to Mobile. We provide the physical space for all these things to happen. Also, our umbrella reputation does them a lot of favors in fundraising for the project,” Elliott said.
ACAC’s clout and administrative resources are expected to streamline further grant writing. An initial album will add to the strength of those proposals for upcoming years.
Higher Ground will compile a panel to select album artists. An open call is slated to begin this month and run until an April deadline.
“Jerald’s working on that piece of the puzzle as we speak. It will be set up so you could take an iPhone video of your song or similar, but that doesn’t mean that’s the way you want it recorded in the studio,” Elliott said.
The open call details will be posted to highergroundsociety.org and eventually to alabamacontemporary.org.
Book shop spot shaping up
If you’ve noticed that The Haunted Book Shop (109 Dauphin St.) proprietor Angela Trigg doesn’t turn up in the store until around sundown, don’t get spooked. She hasn’t gone full-on Anne Rice, but she is utilizing every second of winter’s shortened daylight to ready the shop’s soon-to-be-new location at South Joachim and Conti streets.
“My dad taught me carpentry so I’m building bookshelves. I have to be able to see, though,” Trigg said.
The entrepreneur is doing Papa proud with the sturdy construction she posted to Instagram on Feb. 6. She has standard retail shelves that were acquired for free, but certain spots require custom shelving. Trigg told Lagniappe in Spring 2021 she had roughly 15,000 books in stock. Her aim was to reduce it before the move, but that’s still a lot of hammering in store. Next comes staining, then there’s the buildout of her small café section.
Back then, October 2021 was targeted for opening in the new spot across from the Saenger Theatre. That was before roof and HVAC issues arose. Now that they’ve been addressed, the roughly 2,000-square-foot ground floor — the second story is about the same size — is yielding to Trigg’s persistence.
Asked if Mardi Gras might present some unforeseen obstacles, Trigg wouldn’t guess. There are parade barricades, schedules and crowds to circumvent. Her required buildout permits are in hand, but inspections are another matter.
“I’m not going to say when I’ll be open, but I certainly hope it’s before summer,” Trigg said.
Of course, the closer summer draws, the more daylight increases. The calendar is working for her this time.
Jazz Age show by the surf
Musical theater lovers still have another weekend to take in the first fully theatrical production from the Expect Excellence Community Theatre in Orange Beach. Their presentation of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” continues Feb. 11-13 in the 710-seat theater of the Orange Beach Performing Arts Center (23908 Canal Road).
The show follows a young flapper who aims to marry a Big Apple fat cat but falls into intrigue involving scurrilous schemes. Filled with big dance numbers, it is about as light-hearted as a show involving human trafficking can be.
Friday and Saturday curtain is 7 p.m. Sunday matinee is 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15.
For more information, email [email protected]
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