After Hurricane Sally splintered and uprooted the old oaks in Bienville Square, it was natural to wonder about Cathedral Square, just two blocks westward, and the fate of Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) on its southern edge. The arthouse’s three stories of glass faced Sally’s severe north winds.
Luckily, their front glass didn’t shatter, but they weren’t unscathed. Roof damage brought outside elements inside.
Sources told Artifice water soaked the interior. One stairwell was said to have been “a waterfall” and the offices and rooms on the third and second floors were soggy.
Thankfully, ACAC staff had the foresight to de-install artwork on the ground floor before Sally came calling. Word has it those exhibits remained unscathed.
ACAC will remain closed until Oct. 8. Once they reopen, exhibits will be extended. They have some outdoor events scheduled to take up the slack, which includes hosting the third-annual Mobile Animation Film Festival in late October.
In one instance, the temporary closure of ACAC’s exhibit space still retains a timing component. That’s because the show “A Different Kind of Weapon” was set for Sept. 11 through Nov. 15 to coincide with the ramp-up to the Nov. 3 elections.
“I was originally going to put something together for the ‘Four Freedoms’ event a couple of years ago — this big, massive thing in the whole gallery. Then things shifted to this,” guest curator April Livingston said.
A local artist and instructor with a keen interest in social measures and activism, Livingston’s exploration of arts and advocacy is certainly her bailiwick. It was also indulgence.
“Very selfishly, I wanted to know for myself how I can better advocate with my art. I want to spread out and ask people from all over how they’re doing it,” Livingston said.
While assembling the body of work, she started with those she knew.
“Brandon Dean’s actually from Birmingham and we had some people in common, but then he moved to Brooklyn and now he’s in Cleveland,” Livingston said.
Artist Jillian Crochet was an easy choice. The Baldwin County resident made a splash in the Mobile area with her large-scale textile works in the last decade before heading west to earn her Master of Fine Arts at California College of the Arts earlier this year. Crochet’s focus on physical disability was key to Livingston’s interest.
“Although there are artists with disabilities, it doesn’t happen that people talk about health issues in art as much as other issues. I thought it was awesome someone I know is dealing with this,” Livingston said.
Livingston solicited other artists around the country. The team of Robin Baker and Christyn Overstake created a piece about environmental and extinction concerns that utilized old shotgun shells and “hundreds of little bronze passenger pigeon skulls.” Then came difficulties endemic to 2020’s character.
“Bless their hearts, half their artwork got lost in the mail somewhere in Oklahoma,” Livingston said.
Shipping necessitated other improvisation. Jasmine Murrell created a piece specifically for the show, a lifecast of a human body in dirt.
“Because of COVID-19, we couldn’t get it down here, so she ended up making a small video of the piece,” Livingston said.
The curatorial duties were energizing. When it came to the Guerrilla Girls — a feminist, activist artist group who have created over 100 street projects, posters and stickers in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Istanbul, London, Shanghai, Bilbao, Spain, Rotterdam, Netherlands, and other international sites — Livingston was elated.
“That was a nice perk for me. I got to trade emails with them and they were all excited. It’s really a great moment when you get to work with your heroes,” Livingston said.
Tweaking continues for the Mobile Arts Council’s (MAC) Throwdown. Still set for Thursday, Oct. 29, it will be an online-only event. MAC scrapped the idea of any get-together for the evening.
Silent auction items go on display Oct. 1 in MAC’s gallery, Room 1927 (6 S. Joachim St.).
A $10 Throwdown ticket provides special swag, access to bid in the silent auction, a code to the exclusive premiere of the livestreamed art competition and live auction, plus more surprises.
Participants in the timed event are Monica J. Beasley, Soynika Edwards-Bush, Steve Joynt, Kathleen Kirk Stoves and Abe Partridge. Each artist gets 90 minutes to create on an 18-by-24 surface while incorporating items from a mystery box.
Darwin Singleton will host the event. Details are available at mobilearts.org.
Prospective sponsors can contact Angela Montgomery at 251-432-9796.
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