Time to apply for Holiday Arts Tour!

I can hardly believe it’s true, but it’s already time to sign up for Holiday Arts Tour! The 17th annual event will be held the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 20-23. As usual, this special weekend will feature visual artists and musicians, and we’ll be bringing back the poetry reading that was such a hit last year. We are also looking into carriage rides on Friday and theatrical street performers on Saturday. To close the weekend, we will be holding our second Community Variety Show, which will feature dancing, drumming, choirs, theatre and more. This free show, held at the Dixie Center for the Arts, packed the house last year and offered entertainment for the entire family. We’ve already been working on our print promotion for the Tour this year, including the brochure, and I’m excited about the new look. Graphic designer Rosalynne Fluty has been working this summer on the project. In order to get this amazing promotional brochure completed, it’s now time for our artists and merchants to sign up!

We are seeking shops in downtown Ruston who would like to host visual artists and/or musicians for Holiday Arts Tour weekend. This will involve staying open Thursday night for Main Street Christmas Open House, ad Friday evening and Saturday for Arts Tour shopping. Last year we had twenty-three merchants to participate in the Tour, including boutiques, flower and framing shops, furniture stores and more. Saturday is always a wonderful day with artists on site to talk to Tour-goers about their work. This is one of the special things about the Arts Tour: the public can interact so personally with creators from our region…people who make beautiful, interesting, inspiring, functional, unique items. It’s a perfect way for people to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping, and with all the visitors coming in to experience the artists, it brings more people into our beautiful downtown to shop with our local merchants.

We are also seeking artists who would like to exhibit their work at a Tour site. After entries are submitted, they are reviewed by our Gallery Committee to ensure

Rhapsody Quartet performing at Serendipity during HAT 2013

quality and variety, and then we work to match artists and sites based on aesthetics, space, etc. We insist upon artists who make  unique works of art, rather than imported items or kit crafts. We also strive to have a variety of media represented in the Tour, so that shoppers can easily find jewelry, pottery, paintings, photographs, prints and more.

Because of the longevity of this program, and because of the consistent quality of the work presented, people travel for this event. Each year I meet people who say they’ve been “driving over for years!” for Holiday Arts Tour. This year we will have musicians in several shops on Friday and Saturday, with the schedule staggered so that Tour-goers can attend each performance. We take great care in pairing artists and shops, so that everyone involved has a good experience. One highlight for me from last year was an a cappella performance by Rhapsody Quartet in the window of Serendipity. The sound was lovely, and the visual of the sequined ladies singing in the shop window was so festive.

If you’re a downtown merchant who would like to participate as a host, or if you’re a visual artist interested in exhibiting your work, download an application from our site or pick one up at our office in the Dixie Center for the Arts, located at 212 North Vienna.

We will accept entries for sites until September 17, and for artists until September 22, at which time we must make pairings in order to finalize the postcard and brochure.  We will be happy to talk about this program with you if you have questions; call us at (318)255-1450.

This week's Art Talk Monday is written by Jessica Slaughter, NCLAC Executive Director.