With the addition of a new mural on University Avenue and Oxford’s arts center, the Powerhouse, located there – this semester Oxford Stories is embarking on a small solutions journalism project. Our reporters are starting a community conversation about the possibility of a continued arts emphasis in the University Avenue area.
It’s no secret, but every year, a group of artists have a One Night Stand on University Avenue.
In addition to the mural and other artistic and creative businesses and organizations on the street, Oxford writer and photographer Erin Austen Abbott has been planning and hosting The One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel Art Show for 13 years.
The event was held Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Ole Miss Motel at 1517 University Avenue.
For one night, each artist transforms his or her room into a mini art gallery. Local artists, writers, musicians, chefs, professors, families, and college students view and participate in the show.
“The One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel Art Show is always a great event that brings the Oxford arts community together,” said Wayne Andrews, executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “YAC is honored to be involved in an event that brings artists from all over to Oxford.”
Abbott said the show is a place where artists can get practical advice about pricing or learn how to hang work in an unusual setting. It also helps them become more comfortable conceptualizing and testing out their body of work.
“It is a space that allows them to get their feet wet,” she said. “I have never been afraid to take a chance on an artist if I see drive in them, which is why so many artists will start here.”
Abbott said the event is special because of the juxtaposition of fine art in an older, travel style lodge motel.
“It is very unique and could not happen just anywhere,” she said. “The Ole Miss Motel is the perfect setting. The rooms are not too precious, so it is okay to move from one to the next. The Ole Miss Motel has been incredibly supportive of this show from day one. I do not see it anywhere else.”
In 2008, the show was held in Los Angeles.
“While it was great, and so many people showed up for it, it was not Oxford,” she said. “It did not have the same spark as the many held in Oxford have had.”
Abbott grew up in Oxford and moved back to the area in 2005. She lives in Water Valley, but frequently travels to Oxford for business and events. Her career has taken her all over the world for the last 19 years, but Oxford has always been her home base.
“Being an artist in Oxford has allowed me to take chances, like the One Night Stand,” she said.”If it had not worked out, it would have been okay. But it did, which has only pushed me to keep the idea growing year after year, while also working on new ideas all the time.”
Abbott said she loves Oxford’s supportive arts community.
“It is a place that shows up for each other, while also creating an arts scene on par with a larger city,” she said, adding that she believes Oxford is the perfect place for a designated arts district, or area with a continued arts emphasis.
“I think art will always bring people together, both local and from out-of-town,” she said. “If it needs to be named and designated, then I am all for it.”
Abbott likes the new mural added last summer to University Avenue and hopes another one will be painted there.
“I love to find great murals when I am traveling with my family,” she said, “which I think a lot of people do too, and now that I can do that from home is great.”
Events like the One Night Stand bring more color to the area, and Abbott said Oxford is a great place to be an artist.
“It is small enough to get around with ease, and close enough to Memphis when you need a big city,” she said. “There are events and things to do every single day. After living all over the country, in big cities and small towns, at the end of the day, Oxford is still my favorite place.”
Abbott works as a freelance writer and photographer, allowing her to spend time with her family. From 2009 to 2018, she owned Amelia on the Square, a handmade goods, art, and design shop within The Lyric Oxford lobby.
Her first book How To Make It offers a peek inside artists’ studios and explores how they make it as working creatives. She is working on her next book, Family Field Trip, set to be released in April through Chronicle Books.
“Family Field Trip brings the tips and tools to you, to create a citizen of the world through art, nature, food and culture,” said Abbott. “My travel blog called ‘Field Trip’ is the subject of this story and what inspired me.
“Field Trip is a place to help parents teach children about different cultures, art, design, music, food and more. It is a place to instill the love for travel, as well as how to be a traveler rather than a tourist.”
Her advice to Oxford artists.
“Get out and meet people. Go to readings, gallery openings and get involved,” she said. “This community is incredibly supportive, unmatched from all the other places that I have lived over the years.”
Artists who participated this year’s One Night Stand show include Michael Foster, Nadia Alexis and Thomas Grosskopf from Oxford; Adrienne Brown David, Bill Warren, Pati D’Amico and Nicci Hunkley from Water Valley; Hollie Chastain from Chattanooga; Champneys Taylor from Washington; Heather Sundquist Hall from Austin, Texas; Michael Doyle from Seattle; Zet Gold from Des Moines, Iowa; Kaylan Buteyn from Paris, Tennessee; Church Goin’ Mule from New Orleans; and Emily Wallace from Durham, North Carolina.