The Grand Old Lady of Oxford would have been at her happiest on May 5. The Oxford Performing Arts Center building’s nickname is “The Grand Old Lady,” and at age 97 she is still going strong. All who know her will agree: She must have rejoiced when 800 people were in her home to celebrate the upcoming music and theater lineup.
Her history is detailed by Oxford Arts Council member Jane Batey, in which the Lady’s service as a building at 100 Choccolocco St. has taken four directions. First it was Oxford Elementary school, then Oxford City Hall, next the Oxford Police Department and now a performing arts center with the addition of a theater with about 1,200 seats.
Her opening event on May 17, 2013, featured the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
At the celebration May 5, more than 50 shows for 2018-19 were announced, and the audience clapped and cheered.
“Her growth in five years is phenomenal,” said OPAC board member Marilyn Clark, one of the speakers at the celebration. “The center has brought so many people together, and that’s one of art’s major advantages.”
Clark recounted some memorable moments, including a marriage proposal before the audience at one concert and children rushing to see Santa in an 1800s Santa outfit at a holiday event.
The Reveal Celebration will be added to the list of major memories due to the audience response as the new lineup was announced. The categories include country music, Broadway, chamber music, children’s theater and musical legends and extras.
Clark is reminded of her grandmother when she thinks of OPAC as a venue now. She, like the Grand Old Lady, was always dressed up and happiest when she could host friends of all ages. She loved seeing them enjoy art, music and good food. She would be delighted with her life’s mission now.
Ticket sales for the next season begin in June, and the center’s renovations will be in progress throughout the summer.
Also, the summer will feature three full-week camps for students entering 1st-7th grades. Students will produce “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “King Arthur’s Quest” and “Blackbeard the Pirate.”
Visit oxfordpac.org or call the box office at 256-241-3322 for more information. To register for the first camp mentioned above, call the box office by June 8.
Oxford student art exhibit
“My students are talented. Their talent really shows up in this display,” said Anne Carr, Oxford High School art teacher. She is speaking about her students, whose work is on view in the Martin-Lett Gallery at the Oxford Performing Arts Center.
Self-portraits and other forms are part of the Oxford City Schools System exhibit, which continues through May.
Carr’s young artists have learned to draw from life, to paint tints and shades and much more, she said. “They are learning that art is about responding. Responding to history, feelings or reality.”
Anita Ambrister teaches her sixth graders at C.E. Hanna that without art, people would not know who they were as a civilization or who they are now. She has emphasized this by encouraging them to do research on world cultures and presenting them with symbols of these countries’ traditions and customs.
“This helps them to learn about communities on other continents,” she said. “We have had many discussions on the countries that strike a chord with these students. Then we zoned in on Oxford. Their watercolor paintings reflect their interests in local places. I want them to realize the significance of art and artifacts in order to understand a culture.”
Bluegrass and Barbecue in June
Nothing goes better together than enjoying bluegrass music and barbecue. The two flavors — an Appalachian style of folk music and barbecue piled high on the plate — make for a winning combination at an outside event on a spring day. Save the date for this pleasure: June 2 on the grounds of the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels in Anniston from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
The entertainment features The Foggy Hollow Review and Three-on-a-String. Carl Brady from TV 24 will be master of ceremonies.
Volunteers will be cooking on site, and vendors will be selling crafts. Tickets are $10 per plate. Advance sales are available by calling the church office at 256-237-4011.
Tables and chairs will be available, or bring your own. “Plan to stay all day!” the volunteers encourage ticket-buyers.
The event benefits St. Michael’s Free Medical Clinic. The clinic is the sole provider of health care for the uninsured in West Anniston, the highest concentration of uninsured in Calhoun County. Approximately 13,000 Calhoun County residents are uninsured, according to the clinic fact sheet.
“If they are at risk and these peoples’ health problems go unmanaged, the results are complicated, costly and can be, in fact, disastrous,” said Nanette Mudian, the clinic’s director.
“We serve on the average 22 patients per day, providing free primary care to low-income uninsured, and we think it makes a huge difference in their quality of life. We are a small clinic but want to continue making a big impact. Support from the community is very much needed.”
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.