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Emerging art scene, growth potential

Published 8:53pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

Although I can say with honesty that I enjoyed all my journalism classes in college, there was a different set of classes that I always looked forward to. Art history, for me, was like a special treat. Learning about history in a visual way was something that never got old. Whether is was a classic Van Goh, an abstract piece from Jeff Koons or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics — it all fascinated me.

I’ve always had a special appreciation for those who can make masterpieces from images that are simply conjured from the mind. And although I have this deep appreciation for art, I’ve never been very artistic myself — leaving me with more appreciation for these individuals.

What I’ve discovered in the past few weeks is that Selma is somewhat of a hub when it comes to the arts. I’ve met artists who work with watercolors, ceramics, fused glass and even basket weaving — all right here in Selma. There is definitely a strong undercurrent of an arts culture in Dallas County, and I think that’s something we should all embrace and be proud of.

If you look around Selma, and much of the Black Belt, it kind of makes sense that we have such deep roots in the arts. Selma alone has an array of rich architecture, most dating back to the 19th century. With ornate details and unexpected colors, these buildings immediately draw the eye and contrast greatly with modern cookie-cutter housing developments.

Also, our turbulent history has made us a melting pot of strong ideas and movements — which are key ingredients, I have found, in stimulating great art.

You could also say that our natural makeup taps into the arts as well. Our trees draped with Spanish moss, for instance, look like they could be a scene out of a Manet masterpiece.

And great art in Selma is not just limited to the visual. We have plenty of musical and performing artists here too. ArtsRevive’s annual Tale Tellin’ festival is an excellent demonstration of art used through performance and word.

With all these artists — musical, performance and visual — in Selma and Dallas County, I believe we have strong potential to attract tourists from all over the region.

The Selma Art Guild and ArtsRevive have already recognized this potential and have begun to attract resident from around the state. People are beginning to notice Selma for more than just our history but what we’re doing right now — making great art. I encourage more Selmians to step up and expose their artistic talents.

Who knows, maybe centuries from now Selma could be a featured art Mecca in art history textbooks.

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