ArtsRevive gives Carneal building new life

Published 8:44 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Carneal building does not look like much.

Birds live in a portion of the building where the roof collapsed. Somebody left trash on the floor, which is overgrown with wayward vines.

But the members of ArtsRevive, an artists collective in Selma, see possibilities instead of disrepair.

Email newsletter signup

For example, A.C.Reeves, one of he organizers of the organization, walked through the building at the end of Water Avenue and looked at the fallen roof.

“We are going to open this up and make it an outdoor space,” she said. “We want to do an outdoor workshop or maybe a band out here. Part of this will be covered.”

She walked into the building’s main room.

“This is going to be a multipurpose space,” Reeves said. “We are going to have a commercial kitchen in the back, so people can rent it for functions. We’ll also have for workshops because we want to bring artists to Selma.”

And, that’s the ultimate goal of this group of artists to enhance community development through the arts.

Fran Pearce talks about the organization, “The mission of ArtsRevive is to operate an Art Center in Selma, Alabama, where artists representing all disciplines will be able to attend and conduct workshops and seminars; where local artists can acquire permanent, affordable studios in which to work; where the public will have the opportunity to enhance their appreciation of art, thus creating a sustainable arts community that will increase tourism in Selma and the Black Belt.”

That’s a target of a portion of this project with the Carneal building.

“It is very exciting,” Reeves said. “We already have an architect working on the porject. It’s Chris Johnson, who is president of ArtsRevive.”

That’s the organization’s style, not to sit for very long. You can tell by the record of what’ it has accomplished in the five years as a non-profit.

Each year, the group holds an annual art show in conjunction with the Selma Pilgramage. The juried show brings in artists from all over the state to Selma and gives local artists an opportunity to show off their work.

In 2007, ArtsRevive, the Alabama State Council of the Arts and The People’s Bank and Trust Co. (now BankTrust) sponsored The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Gee’s Bend.”

“This play was a resounding success,” Pearce said. “It brought people to Selma from as far away as Mobile to see the production. And it brought our diverse community together, under one roof, to share a rewarding experience.”

Through a cooperative effort with the Alabama State Council of the Arts, ArtsRevive and the Selma Links sponsored “The Tribe of Judah Gospel Concert.” Prior to the concert, members of the Tribe of Judah worked with members of the Selma High School choir, training them for the concert.

And, ArtsRevive sponsors art workshops. For instance, in 2007, nationally renown artist Albert Handell of Santa Fe taught a plein aire watercolor workshop in Selma.

No year would be complete without the annual Mystery Night, the organization’s fundraiser. Local writers partner with local actors to produce a mystery solved by ticket holders.

There’s so much more.

“All these successes have taught us that we need a home,” Pearce said.

This home, the Carneal building, needs help through donations, added Reeves. And it’s easy, she added, just go to the Web site at