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HAM: Experience art in Odessa

August 17, 2018

One of the best parts of my job is that it gives me the opportunity to work with and experience the multitude of cultural offerings here in Odessa. In any given week, I’ll be at the Ellen Noel Art Museum, a performance at the Permian Playhouse, and visit with an up-and-coming artist for our traffic boxes.

I am constantly inspired by the passion and hard work of my colleagues. More importantly, I want to go out and tell our community about the great things that are happening right here in Odessa. I’m also a bit of a reader and one of my proudest achievements was founding One Book Odessa in 2011. When we started, no one even knew what a city-wide read was, or what to do. Seven years later, Odessans have embraced the program. We have turned the solitary act of reading into a communal experience. Together we hunted down criminals with Brad Meltzer, learned about the world of Utopia, TX with Karen Valby, welcomed the unexpected arrival of The Night Circus with Erin Morgenstern, laughed at the antics of the Sedaris family with David Sedaris, and drifted through the magical world of the Hempstock clan with Neil Gaiman.

This year, I am humbled and proud that we have been selected as one of only 79 communities to receive an NEA Big Read grant. Having our program recognized and financially rewarded at a national level means that we have the resources to take this program to the next level. I knew when I read ‘Station Eleven,’ by Emily St. John Mandel three years ago, that this was a special story. Set 20 odd years after a viral outbreak that wiped out 99 percent of the Earth’s populace, ‘Station Eleven,’ follows a group of actors, artists and musicians moving from enclave to enclave. Known as ‘The Traveling Symphony,’ they perform the works of Shakespeare and the music of Beethoven, in order to keep Art and Culture alive. Because ‘Survival is Insufficient.’

Rather than simply host community book discussions and program our own events, we have partnered with many of the cultural institutions here to create 12 weeks of programming that address the themes and plot of the novel. Starting on Sept. 11 and continuing to Nov. 21, The ArtPocalypse will be coming to Odessa. You will be able to watch a performance from MOSC principal cellist Amy Huzjak, visit an exhibit of library card art at The Ellen Noel Art Museum, participate in numerous book discussions around the city, see the return of The Literary Death Match at the Wagner Noel, and meet the author at The Globe Theater at Odessa College. We will even have our own Traveling Symphony concert during the Odessa Shakespeare Festival! Five hundred copies of the novel will be distributed free to the community.

Follow us as we countdown: odessaartpocalypse.com. We are inviting you, the community, and the visitors to our city to take a Cultural Tour of Odessa. We’re issuing Cultural Passports for our participants. Just like a real passport, you’ll be able to get stamped at each event, and exchange your passport for ArtPocalypse swag. If you have never experienced any of the Art in our community, or if you only patronize one or two organizations, now is your chance to take in all that we have to offer. You’ll find that Odessa has much more than you realize.

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