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Looking ahead 2010: The Arts

Often it’s difficult to look ahead without first looking back.

Richard Metzger, Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center executive director, paused a few minutes to look back at that successes of his organization’s past year before looking toward its bright future.

“Last year was a wonderful year for us,” Metzger said. “It was a time of growth and a time when support for the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center continued to increase.

“Celebrating Contemporary Art: The Nature of Being Southern” was an extremely successful exhibition.

“The exhibition feature 41 Alabama artists who were all Alabama State Council on the Arts fellowship award winners,” Metzger said. “The show was well attended by local residents, students and people for from large cities, including Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville and Atlanta.”

The New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music was equally as successful and ran at the same times as The Nature of Being Southern.

“In conjunction with ‘New Harmonies,’ we had six concerts at the Gazebo on the square in downtown Troy and a lecture series at Troy University,” Metzger said. “We also had the Beijing Olympic Photography exhibit, an exhibit by local artist Ruth Walker, Bill Wright’s photos from around the world, and we closed out the year with the Conrads’ exhibit and our Christmas Tree Extravaganza.

If it’s true that success breeds success, then the year 2010 will be another great success for the arts in Troy.

“The future of the Johnson Center looks very bright,” Metzger said. “We continue to get stronger every year as we build on solid business and museum practices. The Johnson Center is looked upon in a favorable light. We continue to receive grants and sponsorships and most importantly we are touching lives and many of the children. We are really excited about the coming year. The future looks extremely bright for the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, which includes the Johnson Center for the Arts, the Cultural Arts Studio and Cultural Arts Annex.

“The Annex includes two classrooms and the youth orchestra meets there,” Metzger said.

“One of the classrooms is used for docent training and for our hands-on art classes. So, it is a great addition to our arts complex. Of course, there is always room for expansion, and we already need additional space but we will have to be on firmer financial standing before we go forward with that. The community needs it. The county deserves it.”

Metzger said public interest in the arts has increased tremendously and Troy is now looked upon as a thriving arts community.

“We are bringing world class art exhibits to Troy and the Johnson Center for the Arts has come a long way in name recognition,” he said. “All across the state, people are aware that Troy has become a center for the arts.”

Metzger said the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center has an ongoing commitment to young people through arts education.

“We are currently planning a series of art camps for kids,” he said.

The Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center’s calendar of events for 2010 has been completed, and it’s one that will rival any arts organization big or small.

January 15-March 15: “The Alabama Clay International Presenter’s Exhibit” which the Johnson Center is hosting in conjunction with the 25th Alabama Clay Conference at Troy University.

 February 19-21: The Johnson Center exhibit will feature the works of the four presenters that will be in attendance at the Clay Conference. They are Juan Quezada, Lana Wilson, Marko Fields and Brian Nettles.

February 19: A reception will be held in the Johnson Center during the Clay Conference at the University.

January 15- March 15: “Soul’s Journey: Inside the Creative Process” The exhibit features the work of 22 contemporary artists living in the South, from Virginia to Florida, and working in ceramic, fiber, glass, metal and wood. It originates from The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design of the University of North Carolina.

 April 1-30: Underwater baptism photographs by Caroline Davis and landscapes by Sandra Hicks Barnes.

 May 15- July 17: 69th Watercolor Society of Alabama Juried Exhibition, Upper Level

May 16: Opening Reception, Watercolor Exhibit

May 13-15: Watercolor Workshop with instructor Marilyn Phillis, Juror, 69th Watercolor Society of Alabama Exhibition.

June: Steve Savage and Ted Metz, Lower Level August-November: To Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Troy Post Office building— “Looking Through the Lens: 100 Years of Photography,” featuring the exhibits, “Holman Johnson (1910-1990): Pike County and Beyond” and “To Remember a Vanishing World,” D. L. Hightower (1899-1993).

 November 2010: “Handed Down and Passed Along,” an exhibit of generational family artists from the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan.

November-December: Christmas Tree Extravaganza

 January-March, 2011: Artists of Montgomery

Dr. William Denison, president of the Troy Arts Council said his organization has had a successful year and, in spite of recent cuts in funding by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, is looking forward to a successful New Year.

“This fall, the Troy Arts Council tried some different things without programming, such as Tuck and Patty and the Austin Lounge Lizards,” Denison said. “With this new programming, we picked up some addition people and many of them were young people and that’s a good sign. Of course, we would like to attract more in the way of a crowd for our programs.”

Denison said the Shelia Jackson and Company Christmas Concert was the most highly attended and probably the most successful event of the fall.

“The Troy Arts Council have given out several school grants and they were well received,” he said. “We also presented concert pianist, Robert Cowan, at Banks Middle School and also at Pike Liberal Arts School. It’s been some time since we brought a performer in to the schools and we were proud to be able to do that again.”

The year 2010 is a promising one for the Troy Arts Council and one that should have appeal to a wide range of art patrons.

“We have the Rose Ensemble, which is a vocal group,” Denison said. “Although they may not be well-known in the area, they are internationally known. We are excited to have them and also excited that they will conduct a workshop for high school students.”

In February, the Dallas Brass will come to town and the musicians will also work with high school students in addition to a concert for the public.

“From what I understand, the Dallas Brass will work with students in the school and some of the students will perform with them in the concert that night,” Denison said.

In April, the Troy Arts Council will join the Pike County Chamber of Commerce in sponsorship of the annual Troy Fest Arts and Crafts Show.

In May, the TAC will present Dr. Johnny Long and the Southeast Community Band in concert.

“Troy Fest is a big event for us as is the community band concert, which is a highlight of our calendar,” Denison said.

The mission of the Brundidge Historical Society is to preserve and promote the physical and cultural heritage of the rural South. In so doing, the arts have become an important vehicle for accomplishing the society’s mission.

The Brundidge Historical Society is the producer of Alabama’s Official Folklife Play, “Come Home, It’ Suppertime,” which received the 2008 Governor’s Tourism Award, and also sponsor the annual Peanut Butter Festival, a harvest and heritage celebration, and the annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival as well as other storytelling concerts throughout the year.

Lawrence Bowden, society president, said the year 2009 was a good one for the historical group.

“Both our spring and fall productions of ‘Come Home’ sold out and our Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge and the Trojan Center Theater were at capacity. In June, the storytelling committee presented “Ivy Rowe” for Lee Smith’s award winning novel, ‘Fair and Tender Ladies.’ Barbara Bates Smith was featured in the one-woman show.”

The Brundidge Historical Society works from a set calendar each year beginning with the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival the last weekend in January.

“We always bring in four of the top storytellers in the country and we have been very please with the response to professional storytelling which is relatively new in our area,” Bowden said.

Bowden said this year’s Pike Piddlers Stroytelling Festival will feature four Jonesborough regulars, Davis, Kevin Kling, Barbara McBride-Smith and Elizabeth Elllis.

“As long as we keep bringing the best professional storytellers to the stage, I believe we will continue to be successful with the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival.”

Bowden said the future continues to look bright for the folklife play.

“The spring performance will be our 17th season and people continue to come and enjoy ‘Come Home,’ and we enjoy doing it so, if we can hold out, we’ll kept inviting people to come home to supper with us every fall and spring,” he said. “Our Christmas storytelling events have been success and that’s something that we’ll keep doing and probably our June storytelling event, too. And, of course, the Peanut Butter Festival. The year 2010 will be our 20th Festival and we hope to make it the biggest and best ever.”