2011 ‘a banner year’ for cultural arts in Pike County
Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The arts are alive and well in Pike County.
And, to say that 2011 was a banner year for the arts – both cultural and folk – would be an understatement, said Mack Gibson, president of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center.
“It’s so exciting to see all that is going on in Pike County in the area of the arts,” Gibson said. “Troy University has long been a venue for the arts and the Troy Arts Council has a long history as a presenter of outstanding arts entertainment. The Brundidge Historical Society is well known for its folklife presentations and most recently the Johnson Center for the Arts has become actively involved in the cultural enrichment of Troy, Pike County and the entire area. Pike County has become a center for the arts and it just amazes me at what all is offered here.”
Gibson said the mission of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center is the cultural enrichment of the lives of all citizens through the exposure to and education in the arts.
“Everything the arts center does, we do with our mission in mind,” he said. “This year was a banner year for the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center. The year got off to a great start with the ‘Artists of Montgomery’ exhibit and was followed by the exhibition of artwork by Troy art students.”
“Projekt: Recon,” the works of Gregg Skaggs and Sarah Dismukes, Chris Beck, the winner of the TroyFest Best of Show award and “Two Men 3-D” with Duane Paxson and Larry Godwin were popular spring and summer exhibits.
“Celebrating Contemporary Arts in Alabama: The Nature of Being Southern” and “The Roots Exhibit” were very popular exhibits,” Gibson said. “They were opportunities to showcase Alabama artists and there were about 90 of them and 40 of our local artists.”
Gibson said the Johnson Center is unique in that it provides a venue for artists who might not have an opportunity to exhibit their work at a larger gallery.
“Another way that the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center is supporting the arts in Pike County is through our summer teacher workshops,” he said. “The Art Bridges program gives teachers instructions on how to incorporate the arts into the core curriculum and also provides opportunities for students to have guided tours of exhibits at the Johnson Center.
“A variety of arts entertainment is offered on Thursday Night at the Studio each month and also at special events. Troy University presented ‘Smokey Joe’s Café at The Studio and it was a smashing success. And the Annex is used for art and music lessons so we have a thriving arts complex in downtown Troy. And the exhibits at the Johnson Center are all free, so anyone can benefit from what we have to offer.”
The Troy Arts Council brought a variety of performances to the Claudia Crosby Theater during 2011 that included the Southeast Alabama Community Band concert under the direction of Dr. Johnny Long and the Shelia Jackson and Friends Concert.
Dr. William Denison, TAC president, said his organization always includes local talent in its calendar of events.
“We try to bring a variety of entertainment events so that we have something that will appeal to all interests,” Denison said. “The Sheila Jackson concert was again a great success and continues to be one of our most popular events each year. It showcases, not only Shelia’s outstanding talent, but that of others as well.”
Denison said the Hunt Family Fiddlers performance was extremely popular and was one of the most popular performances over several years.
“Les Arts Florrisant” was produced by Troy University and brought opera to the offerings of the TAC.
Denison said 2011 was a very successful year for the TAC and 2012 will get off to a fast start with the American Chamber Players in February.
The Brundidge Historical Society was equally successful with is calendar of events which included the Fifth Annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival, the spring and fall productions of “Come Home, It’s Suppertime,” Alabama’s Official Folklife Play, the June Buggin’ storytelling event and the Chili Country Christmas.
“We are very fortunate that people continue to enjoy what we do at the We Piddle Around Theater,” said Lawrence Bowden, BHS president. “Our 2011 events were very successful. Each year, the BHS brings four of the country’s top storytellers to our storytelling festival and the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival has earned a reputation as a great storytelling event. Donald Davis, Michael Reno Harrell, Barbara McBride-Smith and Sheila Kay Adams were outstanding.
“People ‘come home’ for the first time and for the fifth time and that’s a real credit to the dedication and commitment of the cast, crew and musicians.”
Bowden said Gary Carden was masterful at the June Buggin’ and Barbara Bates-Smith brought special meaning to the Christmas season with Deck the Halls Southern Style.
“We appreciate the support of the arts in Brundidge and all across the county,” Bowden said. “We are proud to be a part of something that brings so much positive recognition to our county.”