1012 Bluff Park Art Show
Bluff Park resident,sculptor and show exhibitor NadaBoner.
For many area residents, the Bluff Park Art Show – “Always the first Saturday in October” – as it is branded, is a cherished autumn tradition.
An amalgamation of more than 140 artists, with artistic media representing 13 different categories, local high school jazz bands, Deep South comfort food (barbecue and brownies, anyone?) and the bright yellow school buses zipping up and down Tyler Road, it’s easy to see why the show remains a popular draw.
“The park is small (we prefer to call it cozy) for a show of our size, but the venue is what makes it special,” said Jeff Pierson, show chair of the Bluff Park Art Association (BPAA). “The venue and the people. The trees, the rocks, the fall weather, riding the buses, the barbecue, eating the Methodist Women’s Group’s homemade baked goods, seeing old friends, meeting new artists and finding the artists whose work you’ve collected for years – that is Bluff Park.”
Sculptor Nada Boner, a Bluff Park resident and Art Show exhibitor, agreed. She emphasized the show’s scope of influence on the next generation of artists and art collectors alike.
“The location of the show brings families and folks that otherwise would not attend,” she said. “The mild weather brings out crowds young and old. Parents don’t shy away from including their children in the appreciation of art due to both the playground and kids art activities.”
According to Pierson, BPAA has already seen the impact of this multi-generational passion come full circle.
“We have members who were brought to the show in diapers, and every year afterwards, and now have taken their parents’ place on the board,” he said. “We have one founding member, Cary Moore, who is still active on the board and another, Sally Johnson who is an advisory member. Their continued influence guides the future of Bluff Park with an eye to our storied past, traditions and reputation. Cary’s son got his start exhibiting at Bluff Park. You may recognize his name – Daniel Moore.”
Longtime BPAA board member Billy Pennington spoke of the shared familial loyalty not only for art, but for this show in particular.
“When I joined 33 years ago, Lois Albright was on the board,” he said. “At that time, her daughter Beth was just a little girl running around, scooting all over the park, and today she’s president. I think that says something about the show that now second generation people are involved.”
For Marla Kenney, Hoover High School art teacher and BPAA board member, the event also provides an outlet for voluntarism on the part of her students, all within an environment focused on art appreciation.
“The Bluff Park Art Show is like our village fair,” Kenney said. “As a teacher, I have always encouraged and organized student participation. It is part of the community service program and allows art students and others to participate in a community event. They realize also that monies earned from the show support the community and the schools as a result.”
Invitations to participate as an exhibiting artist only come after a rigorous jury process.
“We require an artist to submit three representative works and a booth photo showing their work displayed,” Pierson said. “A jury consisting of randomly selected members of the BPAA view these submissions in a blind process, meaning that, for fairness, no artist names are attached to the works. We accept applications in 13 categories of artistic medium. The members of the jury vote independently after viewing the artists submissions, grouped by medium. Based on the total number of artists we can invite that year, again constrained by the size of our venue, we have a cutoff score. Those above that score are invited, and those below are not.”
What this means for the event-goer is a vast and diverse collection of artistry to enjoy.
“Only original art is allowed to be exhibited at the Bluff Park Art Show,” Pierson said. “No commercial reproductions or work composed from commercial molds or the like can be exhibited. As the focus of the show, original fine art is available to the patrons directly from the artist.”
And thanks to the BPAA’s use of proceeds, art purchasers are supporting a cultural win-win.
“Their stated mission is to promote art in the community,” Pennington said. “Toward that, they put on the show, but they also have a permanent collection which is composed of prize-winning pieces. Every year, one or two pieces from the show are selected and purchased to go into the permanent collection, now up to over 100 pieces, and they are hanging all over Hoover – in the schools, in the libraries, in the municipal buildings.”
Show proceeds have also been used to commission artwork.
“There is a Ted Metz sculpture, ‘Becoming,’behind City Hall, a Frank Fleming sculpture commissioned for Aldridge Gardens, and another Ted Metz sculpture, ‘On the Nature of Building,’ installed at the entry plaza of Aldridge Gardens this past February,” Pennington said. “These are commissioned $20,000 to $40,000 pieces; in addition we’ve given thousands to the Birmingham Museum of Art, probably upwards of $50,000 over the last 49 years.”