Beginning June 5, a new “happening” will highlight the area’s vibrant array of bars, restaurants and other businesses, as well as give a sampling of local artists and performers.
Birmingham Art Crawl will aim to bring people to the central city area of downtown to check out different showcases of art in venues ranging from the Signature Salon to Rogue Tavern to the offices of Weld for Birmingham (Weld, which is running the Art Crawl map in this issue, is a sponsor of the event).
Art Crawl is the brainchild of Miranda McPherson and her husband Richard Burton, along with one of McPherson’s coworkers, Derrick Strong. “It is a happening on the first Thursday of every month, so that everyone can get to know the city a little more, get to know local artists more, and maybe even find their own inner artist,” McPherson said. She serves as the creative director at Birmingham-based Clear Marketing and Design.
Participants in Art Crawl can find local art on display between 5-9 p.m., rain or shine, each month, organizers said. “The footprint is 25th St. to 20th St. North, and Morris Avenue to 3rd Avenue North,” Burton, a local attorney, said. There will be more than 20 participating venues featuring more than 30 artists and groups. Visitors will be able to sample – and possibly decide to purchase in some venues – pottery, jewelry, photography, folk art and digital media work.
Burton said that the impetus for this new nonprofit initiative came from time he and McPherson spent in Florida. “We modeled our Art Crawl, as far as rules, regulations, and structure, off of the one in Jacksonville, which we had experienced while living there,” he said. “And that one actually had been modeled after another Crawl in Seattle, Washington, which had been modeled after one in Phoenix, Arizona.”
Strong, who works as a developer and co-owner (alongside McPherson) at Clear Marketing and Design, grew up in Columbus, Georgia, and experienced a similar art happening there. “Art is everywhere,” he remarked. “It’s up to your interpretation on what it is that makes it important.” He hopes that being immersed in art, even once a month, will help people support those who already are creating material as well as inspire others to find their own vehicles for expression.
Some spots to look out for on the inaugural night include Sara Cannon’s visual and mixed media artwork at Carrigan’s Public House, Beth Wilson’s pottery and clay ceramics at Levy’s Fine Jewelry, Chris Garrison’s caricatures-on-demand at Paramount, Jennifer Gamble’s jewelry at Harold & MOD, and Littia Thompson’s paintings at Weld headquarters. Thompson is the Birmingham Art Association’s first selected artist.
In addition, there will be food, drink specials, fashion shows, musical acts, art scavenger hunts and other extras that will serve to complement the artistic exhibits at the businesses. After the festivities, Matthew’s Bar and Grill will host an after-party where there will be a performance from the Birmingham Vaudeville Company along with a musical act. “We have intentions to rotate the after party to different participating venues in the area each month,” Burton said.
For those venues, artists, or performers interested in participating, in addition to those who are curious about the happening, the best source is the official website. From there, everyone can find out more details about the event, including contact information and forms for rules, regulations and tips.
For venues looking to get involved, there are two choices, depending on the location. If the business is inside the central city area, an offer can be made to play host during a future Art Crawl. If outside of central city, a business (or nonprofit) either can choose to partner with a participating downtown venue or to become a sponsor. Sponsorships range from $100 to $3,500. Individuals and others can also financially support the event by making a donation.
As for the artists and performers, they can submit an application on the site. The fee for submission is $10. Twice a month, a review committee will look over the applicants, generally to make sure that the material looking to be showcased is in line with the family-friend nature of the event. If approved, the participant can either exhibit for $20 per month or annually for $180.
“We try to keep the fees low to support the artists, so they won’t have to price up their work to hit a certain margin,” Burton said. McPherson added, “The fees will go back out to marketing efforts in print and digital spaces for upcoming Crawls.” The deadline to apply is the first Friday of the month, one month prior to the Art Crawl for which someone interested would like to participate.
The reception to the idea of an Art Crawl in Birmingham has not only been met with enthusiasm by business and artistic interests, but it also has received the partnership of – among others – REV Birmingham, Birmingham Artwalk and Weld . Every month in Weld, there will be a map of what readers can expect to find at the next Art Crawl. And both REV’s Robert Emerick, along with Joy Myers, who is the executive director of Artwalk, have been key in coordinating and spreading the word for the Crawl.
Planning for these monthly events requires much work, so extra coordination and help is always welcome. “I joke with people that I work for Birmingham Art Crawl, and on the side, I’m an attorney,” Burton said.