If you’ve read this column space in previous Decembers, then what comes next is no surprise. It’s my regular plea to direct your Christmas spending toward local artists and arts organizations.
When this newspaper began nearly 20 years ago — that phrase makes me feel ancient — marketing was built around its vital role in “keeping Mobile funky,” or locally oriented. Nothing is “funkier” than our cultural backdrop and its players. It is difficult for it to be otherwise.
When you buy art as a gift, you aren’t just tailoring it to your recipient’s tastes. You are giving something that continues to give. Every time the recipient looks at visual art, it stimulates reflection. When they share moments with performers, it stirs revelation or emotional response that echoes through their life. Books create ripples that last decades, too.
And it rewards the artist. It keeps money here.
Go to the Mobile Arts Council’s website (mobilearts.org) and browse their directory of artists and organizations. Visit local galleries or art supply stores, online or in person. Contact the art departments at our colleges, where the instructors are artists themselves or have inroads with particularly talented students.
Pay someone’s adventure in a workshop or with lessons. Buy books by local authors.
Other options are memberships in museums, in art centers or with performing groups. That is more important than ever, considering how many of those are rebuilding from the pandemic’s effects.
Keep your money local and aim it toward the artistic. It enriches all our lives.
The Mobile Symphony Orchestra (MSO) brings seasonal joy to the Saenger Theatre (6 S. Joachim St.) with “Joy to the World” on Dec. 11 and 12. The show is billed as loaded with seasonal classics, including works from Tchaikovsky and Handel along with popular carols. Hints of “Latin holiday favorites” and “operatic arias” allude to the inclusion of Puerto Rican baritone Ricardo José Rivera on the program.
The Saturday concert begins at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 2:30 p.m.
Masks/face coverings are encouraged, but not required for the performance. MSO will review its COVID-19 safety policies on a concert-by-concert basis and updates will be posted online.
Tickets are $20-$89. Student tickets are $10. They can be purchased at 251-432-2010, at the symphony box office (257 Dauphin St.) or online. More details are at mobilesymphony.org.
Sponsors are Alabama Power, Ernestine L. Lenoir Charitable Trust, Mark & Alane Hoffman, and WKRG-TV is the media sponsor. Concerts are made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Speaking of rebuilding from the pandemic, the Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed (MOJO) continues with a regular schedule of live music in its traditional digs, mounting a gradual reassembly of supporters. Though down to a third of MOJO’s average attendance numbers from just a few years ago, they’re embracing the moment with their most calendar-specific performance of the year.
MOJO hosts their Winter Solstice celebration on Monday, Dec. 20, 6:30 p.m., at Club 601 @ The Elks (601 State St.). The building at the corner of State and Warren is MOJO’s emotional hearth and will be filled with the hot sounds of the ensemble Swing, featuring vocalist Gabby Merz, guitarist Danny Mollise, pianist Scott Jolly, bassist Bill Gardner and drummer Chris Kern.
Entrance is $15, $10 for MOJO members. A cash bar is available as well as food service.
For more information, go to mojojazz.org.
The deadline for the Baldwin County Remembrance Project’s racial justice essay contest is Dec. 10. Open to all Baldwin County public high school students, $5,000 in scholarship funds will be awarded as prizes.
Essayists are asked to examine the history of a topic revolving around racial injustice and discuss its current legacy. Essays should explain the chosen theme using a local historical event or events, explore the persistence of injustice, and imagine solutions for a future liberated from racial injustice. Students are encouraged to reflect on the impacts on their own lives and communities.
Essays between 800 and 1,000 words will be judged by a panel of local history, education and racial justice experts. Contest winners will be announced at the Jan. 17, 2022, Martin Luther King Day celebration in Foley.
The Baldwin County Community Remembrance Project is working with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to memorialize documented racial violence victims from 1877-1950 and foster meaningful dialogue about race and justice. The contest is adapted from an EJI model.
All resources necessary to participate in the contest and to submit entries are at baldwincommunityremembrance.org.
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