When the Old Town Bay Minette Arts Council formed a year and a half ago it had seven members who shared a desire to be a vital part of enriching the life of our community. Recognizing those who were improving and impacting the quality of life of our …
When the Old Town Bay Minette Arts Council formed a year and a half ago it had seven members who shared a desire to be a vital part of enriching the life of our community. Recognizing those who were improving and impacting the quality of life of our community, often without most people being aware of their contributions, was one of the earliest goals the council set for itself.
The original group has now grown to well over 40 and we have been proud to bestow our first art appreciation awards upon two deserving teachers in our area schools – Jessica Merchant and Corrine McKinney. The two were presented with certificates of appreciation along with a gift card to purchase art supplies for themselves or their classrooms.
Merchant, a graduate of Troy University, obtained her Masters in Art Education this May from the University of South Alabama. Teaching in the Baldwin County school system for the past six years, she now instructs kindergarten through sixth grade at Bay Minette Elementary and Intermediate and Perdido School. Merchant’s passion is passing along her love of art to her students. “I love my job!” Merchant said. “I love seeing the innocence and imagination of my kids every day. In their eyes everything is possible.”
Drawing and painting on anything and everything since she was a child, Merchant wanted to share this passion and give those who needed it that “something extra to make it through the year.” Her excitement and that of her student’s is infectious and it shows not only in their work but her work as well.
Merchant has been a regular vendor at the OTBMAC Market Days in Blackburn Park where she showcases her talent in mixed media with whimsical door hangers. If you missed them at Market Days you can still see and purchase them via her facebook page.
Corrine McKinney also shares her love of art with her students at Delta, Loxley, Pine Grove and Stapleton, where she teaches kindergarten through sixth grade. Now into her ninth year of instructing, McKinney is also a University of South Alabama alum with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education. Having a concentration in ceramics as a part of her educational background McKinney dreams of one day owning her own kiln.
“I love clay, but unfortunately have not really had opportunities to work with it over the years since graduating,” she said. McKinney has branched out to other mediums and sells an assortment of items at a shop in Mobile.
“I have stenciled on upcycled suitcases and baby clothes,” she said. She has also made giant mustache pillows and paper wreaths. “I love to experiment with whatever I can get my hands on,” she added. She also loves trying projects she has found on Pinterest.
These two talented and dedicated art teachers have made sure that their student’s art work is shown throughout the year at various arts council shows and events and through their efforts opened a valuable window on the arts to our children. “That’s what it takes to get the entire community involved in the arts,” said Judy Pimperl, OTBMAC founding member and treasurer. “These teachers love what they do, and are helping to develop future artists.”
The arts council will be very busy until the end of the year with several events planned including Antiques, Funky Junk and Art and Candy Cane Christmas. Our October Market Days will be replaced with the Antiques, Funky Junk and Art event during Shrimp Fest Weekend October 11th, 12th and 13th that will be held on the grounds of the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce. We hope to capitalize on the festival traffic and promote our organization and events. If you are interested in participating, please call OTBMAC member Dorothy Parker at 377-4667 for details.
The arts council will also be playing a big role in our community this Christmas. Members will be making bows for the Christmas wreaths that will decorate the light posts all over town. “It’s our way of giving back to the City of Bay Minette,” Pimperl said. “Our labor will save them hundreds of dollars.” This exciting year will culminate with our second annual Candy Cane Christmas in Rex Courtyard. The event, which will be held during Christmas Fest, will kick off on Thursday, Dec. 12 featuring high quality arts and crafts created by our members. You will be sure to find wonderful handmade and homemade gifts for those on your Christmas list. You will certainly have yourself a merry little Christmas in Rex Courtyard by marking those names off your Christmas list!
In other news, local author Lloyd Albritton will have a book talk and signing on Tuesday, Sept. 24 in the Bay Minette Public Library program room to promote his debut novel Baby Blue.
Also, be sure to stop by the library next week and check out a banned or challenged book to celebrate Banned Books Week – Sept. 22 – 28!
Joanna Bailey is the director of the Bay Minette Public Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org