As a photographer, Mississippi writer Eudora Welty captured people and situations as directly and honestly with the camera as she did with the pen. “A good photo keeps the moment

from running away,” she is quoted as saying at her one-woman photography show in the 1930s. It conveyed the rural poor during the Great Depression.

Local portrait photographer Tom Wilczek shares that philosophy. In an exhibit of 30 of his images displayed in the Ayers Room of the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County, he has seized meaningful moments in individuals’ lives that reflect their very spirit.

“A photograph is a story already being told,” he explained as he gave a tour of photos around the room, most of which show his friends and acquaintances. “Actually, reflecting the expressions in the eyes is not about how savvy you are with the camera’s technical aspects. It’s more about forming a genuine connection with the client.”

Portrait photography is a serious avocation for Wilczek, who is Information Systems Security Officer at the Center for Domestic Preparedness at McClellan.

The exhibit will be up through June.  

Next CAST production needs volunteers

This may be the production singers have been waiting for. The upcoming CAST community theater production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” is a musical revue for singers only — no dialogue, just 39 songs.

Auditions this week attracted singers from several counties, according to Tony Ivey, musical director, but volunteer help is needed for decorating and building the set and from experienced sound and lighting volunteers.  

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” which won a Grammy in 1996, will be presented Aug. 10-13 as CAST’s season opener. It showcases rock and roll, ballads, rhythm and blues, and more. “Those who danced to the songs of the 1950s and ’60s will especially enjoy this show,” Ivey said.

To help out with the production, contact Ivey by calling CAST at 256-820-2278.

Oxford student art show

To me, the Oxford Student Art Show just seen at the Oxford Performing Arts Center recalls classroom days in that building when it was a school. In the early 1950s, students did artwork for various teachers and learned from a special visiting teacher who taught music, according to Jane Batey, who attended school there.

In the OPAC gallery earlier this month there were wall-to-wall paintings, drawings and crafts in a rainbow of colors by students directed by instructors Anne Carr, Anita Ambrister and Teresa Edwards.

Spotlighting Oxford student art will be an annual event at OPAC.

Ambrister’s students at C.E. Hanna Elementary School worked from the theme “Our Hometown Project.” “It was a significant learning experience,” she said, “especially for the large percentage of students new to Oxford. We discussed many of the changes that had taken place in Oxford. Then, they chose their favorite places in the city and had a choice of a ‘Now or Then’ view regarding our landmarks.”

One child was interested in saving the Boiling Springs Bridge and chose that subject, she said. “We studied the old Oxford College and the new Oxford High School. Some were interested in the old boathouses at Oxford Lake and the new boathouses there as well.

“Because of the 200th anniversary of Alabama coming up in 2019, this research was important,” she added. “It fueled the  importance of knowing your local history, how you fit into the community and how you can make a difference in the world.”

Art pieces from Edwards’ classes at Oxford  Elementary School were selected on the quality of artistic composition and overall design, creativity, overall impression and how the piece stands on its own. They were created with paint, tempera paint, watercolor paint, marker, pencils, construction paper, soft chalk and pastels.

Artworks by Carr’s students at Oxford High School came from “best of” selections from various major projects completed throughout the year. “We also looked at examples of various famous artists’ work that represent the style, medium or genre studied,” she said. “We also had an architecture unit.”

OPAC’s gallery will feature the work of Jerry Marks in June and July.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at