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Art Crawl coming to the Square on May 10

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 at 8:00 am


Clover Honey and Crystal O’Neal. (Photo by Zoe Watkins)

The Bedford Arts Collective will be hosting its first ever Art Crawl on Friday, May 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. along the Historic Shelbyville Square.

Some 20 stores along the square will be open and hosting art displays from 25 local artists. Guests will have a punch card for a door prize as well as the ability to purchase the displayed art, according to the event organizers Crystal O’Neal, Clover Honey, and Michelle Sweatt.

People will stroll around the square from artist to artist and business to business. This is a chance for both the artists and the businesses to be supported by this community.

And even for those who don’t plan on purchasing art, both Honey and O’Neal emphasized the importance of simply showing up and providing support for the artist’s and their work.

O’Neal and Honey have been involved in other art crawls in Franklin and Murfreesboro and decided Bedford County had enough talented artists and was ready to host its own.

O’Neal, Honey, and fellow artist Michelle Sweatt, formed the Bedford County Arts Collective in June 2023 after recognizing there was a need for local artists to feel supported and encouraged. “We have the freedom to do the events we want to do and this is one of them,” said Honey.

After meeting with 30 or so artists, they found their needs included having accessible places to exhibit, being able to collaborate with other artists, host classes, and feel supported overall.

“The community support for our artists has been phenomenal,” said Honey. “I feel like the Art Crawl came together so easily. I feel like this is so desired.”

And if you ever stop by the Coffee Break on the Square, you’ll notice local art for sale hung on the walls. That’s the Arts Collective’s doing. They and the artists even rotate the displays every six weeks to reflect certain themes or challenges the Collective puts together. For example, the most recent “Challenge” theme was a butterfly and the next one will be a parrot. Artists create their interpretation of the “Challenge” photo using their favorite art medium and post their work on the group’s Facebook page.

“It is just a fun activity for the group,” said O’Neal.

“Artists are selling their work at The Coffee Break! This tells us that having a place for them to display their work where it is seen everyday increases the likelihood that it will sell,” said O’Neal. “Exhibiting in a place that has such a large flow of customers has been great for our artists. Rita Davila, the owner, has been an amazing supporter of the Bedford Arts Collective and our artists.”

One of the first events the Collective put together was a group booth at last year’s “Edge of the Duck” event, organized by Calvin Cannon. Honey said their artists had nearly $1,000 in sales.

The Collective also worked with the Bell Buckle Arts Council to get artists involved in Art Alley at the Bell Buckle Craft Fair last October and will be participating again this year.

Doing such community displays also draws more local artists out. Currently, the Collective has around 250 members on their Facebook group with approximately 75 of them being active artists.

“I know it matters for them to hear, ‘You’re good enough, your stuff is ready to go,’” said Honey. “It’s a real big deal for creatives to be in contact with other creatives.”

Having a community for collaboration is essential– even down to helping each other handle criticism, both constructive and abrasive.

“I have made a conscious decision to try and find value in all criticism,” said Honey.

“My view of criticism changed when I had to criticize someone else. said O’Neal, who works on a lot of commissioned pieces. “It’s like, criticism is not a reflection on one’s skills or abilities. It is coming from a place of love and the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.”

Both Honey and O’Neal are artists themselves: O’Neal says that she creates “fun art” and not so much “fine art” through working with acrylics and watercolors. She is also a mural artist working on large scale paintings, while Honey enjoys working with oil paint and creating collages.

“There’s something really fun about tearing paper and gluing it down. It’s very childlike,” said Honey with a laugh.

But there’s also something more spiritual about their work and in creating their work.

O’Neal, who also works full time leading the Art Ministry for The Experience Community Church, said, “It wasn’t until I started volunteering at the church that I connected my creativity with my walk with the Lord. I was able to take the creative gifts that I have been blessed with and give back to the church and the community… through something as simple as art.”

Honey said, “It’s definitely a God-given talent. It’s a gift, and I think we should use that gift for His glory. To use it for a way to connect with people.”