Talking about Art, at ArtTalk

ArtTalk is a bimonthly event at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts that allows artists from all media, skill levels, and backgrounds to come together to share their work with each other and receive feedback. Curious about this event series, I contacted Laura Bocquin, who is in charge of ArtTalk, to ask her a few questions about the events.

To my first question about when and why ArtTalk came to be, Bocquin replied, “ArtTalk has been taking place for over 25 years and it began as a means to be exactly what it is today: A welcoming environment for artists to share their work and engage in intelligent critique with fellow creatives.”

When you think about Montgomery, Alabama, the first thought that comes to mind probably isn’t “art.” It’s typically something involving Civil Rights, or maybe to you it’s that place with a bunch of lawyer billboards, so I posed this question to Bocquin too: “Do you feel that Montgomery lacks a certain passion for art?”

Contrary to my thoughts on the subject, Bocquin informed me of the status of the arts in the city. “Actually, Montgomery has a thriving creative scene with many active artists of visual, musical, performance arts. In the past, the struggle for Montgomery has been spreading the word about programs and events related to the arts (thus resulting in initially mediocre participation), but over the past several years there has been a definite shift for the positive.”

As someone who enjoys being entertained, I was glad to hear this. From past experiences, I know that an event can be presented as one thing, but actually be something much different (or lesser). To ensure that ArtTalk would be beneficial to those artists who go, I asked the simple question, “What do people get out of ArtTalk?”

Laura passionately answered, “ArtTalk offers a variety of benefits for participants. For most artists, just showing something they’ve made to others–something that was in their minds then came to life through the work of their hands–this itself is exhilarating. To bring artwork to a group and hear such intelligent discourse revolve around it is a major boost for everyone’s artistic process. Beyond that, viewing and critiquing the artwork of others further enhances personal artistic growth.” The event gives artists a chance to grow in more than one way.

Though many events cater to a certain demographic — or if it doesn’t, a very few people show up — art is such a vast concept. I’d hate for an event revolving around art to be anything short of that — vast — so I asked, “What are the demographics like for the event?” I was very glad to hear Bocquin’s response. ”

We have a delightful mixture of attendees at ArtTalk, with ages spanning from 20-somethings to 80-somethings, who all have varying levels of artistic experience. The regular group is a great combination of women and men, who are all extremely welcoming and open to new participants of all ages, races, and artistic interests, she replied.

For events like workshops and programs that continue to meet up to further a creative individual’s skill, there are typically meetings about once a week, so I was curious as to why ArtTalk is scheduled for once every other month. Perplexed, I asked, “Why are the sessions spaced so far apart?”

Boquin’s answer, much more simple than my mind made it out to be, was, “Given the variety of artistic experience represented in the group, the bimonthly schedule is meant to allow for time for creative development and individual artistic process in between sessions.”

Concluding my electronic interview, I had one  final question: why? “What is ArtTalk’s purpose?”

Bocquin replied, “This program’s purpose is to help artists share their work and receive feedback on their creations. Also, artists love seeing the work of others, as it can help spark their own creative flow and generally one makes art because one enjoys art!”

For more information about the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ ArtTalk program, visit their website. The next ArtTalk gathering will come next month on Thursday, November 16.


The Kentuck Festival of the Arts

On October 21 and 22, the 46th annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts will be held at the Kentuck Park in Northport, Alabama. This longstanding gathering and exhibition in the Deep South brings artists critically acclaimed or entirely unknown together to show their work and advertise their wares in the hope of achieving success. They gather from all across the nation, state lines and miles of road having no effect on their ambition.

Brianna Morrow, a creative writing student at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, has been to Kentuck once before. She said, “Kentuck was pretty nice. We got to see an array of art. It was really inspirational, because you could tell that these people spent their entire lives to display an important concept to them through their artwork.” To her, the festival grounds are magical every year. With the tall pine trees and the artists showing off their work, the environment can seem surreal.

If one has less interest in perusing and buying the arts and crafts, other forms of entertainment permeate the festival, including live music and painting activities for children. Sculptors and other artists also perform by creating their artworks before live audiences. Given its location in the wooded park, the area has trails to walk and looks beautiful by itself. And If one is more inclined to culinary pleasures, food trucks travel from all over the South to serve the festival-goers.

On the Festival website, you can view and download the program, which contains more information about specific artists and performances. A single-day ticket to Kentuck costs $10, while weekend passes cost $15. (Both can be purchased online.)

[The photo above of the pirate flag on Butch Anthony’s tent was taken by Joslyn Berg.]