Chelsa Morahan, chair of the Athens Municipal Arts Commission, said the commission has been working to find new and exciting art projects to bring to Athens. The commission works to create new opportunities for art and artists in performance arts, exhibition arts, public art and more.
Morahan said there are multiple arts projects going on right now including a MAP Athens project, which is the creation of a walk through nature filled with murals. There’s a new community mural going up on E. State St. by Athens Community Center. Coming up will be another Athens Photo Project Youth Exhibit.
“I think because Athens is surrounded by art and artists, it's just one of those towns that has drawn artists here,” Morahan said. “It's just been one of those artistic, liberal-minded towns, and it's just such a huge part of the identity of Athens.”
Morahan said in Athens, one can find themselves faced with art around every corner, engulfing themselves in endless opportunities to experience and appreciate the art for themselves.
There will potentially be parades revolving around art coming up in the fall as well as art galleries at local businesses like Casa Nueva and The Union. Morahan also said the university hosts a multitude of art classes students should be on the lookout for.
Locally, Athens has places students are able to visit outside of school to obtain their fix of art.
The Dairy Barn, 8000 Dairy Lane, is one of these places. Holly Ittel, exhibitions director at The Dairy Barn, said some classes will be opening this fall, including a contemporary ceramics class curated by Brad Schwieger, ceramic professor at OU, starting in October.
There will be ongoing classes and workshops at The Dairy Barn and some will be held in the fiber studio. The digital studio and ceramic studios are open to artists members. Alongside classes, new art shows will be on display throughout the fall. Students are encouraged to attend the open galleries and shows for a taste of art in Athens.
Ittel said The Dairy Barn works closely with the College of Fine Arts to recruit interns and work study positions. Aside from art internships, Ittel said there is also a way to involve oneself in a non-profit through The Dairy Barn. If a student is interested in a shorter commitment, there are also volunteer opportunities on the horizon.
“The art culture in Athens is very strong and rich,” Ittel said. “There's organizations, nonprofit organizations and groups for every interest. The arts are intertwined, within the culture of Athens. So if you come to OU and you're looking to get involved with Athens and not just the university, reaching out to an arts organization here is a great first step to get to know the local culture, the local people and even learn more about the greater art world.”
Another art organization within walking distance of the university is ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. Emily Beveridge, program specialist at ARTS/West, said ARTS/West also has a busy schedule awaiting the incoming students.
ARTS/West has an art show until Aug. 28 featuring work from Hannah Sickles, Maria Freed and Terry Fortkamp. There will also be a new gallery in October, and this gallery will feature work from a retired printmaking artworker and professor. There will also be an alumni print exchange coming up in October as well. In November, there will be yet another art show to occupy the gallery.
Beveridge said she is always open to curating and soliciting new art shows and encourages students to reach out if they know someone or are interested in having their art on display. Beveridge also said ARTS/West takes community work from students.
Also at Arts/WEST, Ohio Valley Summer Theater’s production of Clue will be held in the month of October.
“Athens is kind of tucked away out of the way from a major city, and yet we are still known for having all of this amazing art,” Beveridge said. “I think that that's one of the things that draws students here, and it's one of the things that makes Athens unique.”
“Athens is kind of tucked away out of the way from a major city, and yet we are still known for having all of this amazing art. I think that that's one of the things that draws students here, and it's one of the things that makes Athens unique."—Emily Beveridge, program specialist at ARTS/West
ARTS/West and The Dairy Barn are adamant about displaying different, diversified art throughout the school year. There are multiple art outlets in Athens and even more ways for one to involve themselves.
Morahan, Ittel and Beveridge encourage incoming students to engage in a richer Athens experience within the local art.
“This is going to be their home for the next four years, and they will never be as immersed in Athens as they will be in those next four years,” Morahan said. “I would just recommend engaging and experiencing every possible thing that Athens has to offer.”