Regional Update: Memphis

By Judith Dierkes



Press image for Crafting a Legacy: 40 Years of Collecting & Exhibiting at the Metal Museum. Photo by Houston Cofield.


The biggest news for Memphis in 2019 is the celebration of the Bicentennial of both the city and county. Rather than sticking with the tradition of honoring a different foreign country each year, the Memphis in May International Festival will salute the city of Memphis in 2019. Another change is that the Memphis in May organization is hosting an open call for all local artists to submit an original work based on their interpretation of the city rather than commissioning a local artist to design the poster. The public will decide which artwork will become the 2019 Fine Arts Poster beginning February 1; this may be the year to purchase a print. The Benjamin Hooks Central Library kicks off their year-long program with Birth of the Bluff on January 26. Bring Your Soul ( is a good place to follow for happenings as they emerge.


If you’ll miss Memphis in May’s practice of honoring a foreign country, start your cultural experience April 17 through 21 with the 33rd annual Africa In April on Beale Street and Robert R. Church Park in downtown Memphis. This year, the Republic of Nigeria is the country saluted.


L | Ross Gallery has a new owner, but the gallery will keep its existing name. Laurie Brown took over at the end of 2018 and former owner Linda will continue to consult for the gallery. Laurie Brown, a glass artist, was at the Washington Glass School before taking on the gallery in Memphis. It will be interesting to see what changes occur in this contemporary venue. There has already been a move to a different suite in the same building.


The Metal Museum is celebrating 40 years of collecting with Crafting A Legacy from February 3-May 12. The exhibition features work from the Master Metalsmith and Tributaries Collections, supplemented with loans from artists currently underrepresented in the Permanent Collection. Each artist is represented by one piece.  The Metal Museum is the only institution in the United States collecting and interpreting the art of fine metalwork.


The pairing of artists Justin Bowles and Melissa Wilkinson caught my attention when reviewing the yearly schedule at The Beverly and Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University. The show isn’t until August 7-September 11, so the artists are probably still figuring out what they will do. But I went to both of their websites and I predict a wildly colorful show of flora and fauna.


Orange Mound is buzzing with a new mural on the Park Avenue wall of the shopping center where Orange Mound Gallery (OMG) is located. As of January 1, 2019, ArtUp transferred the lease for and management of Orange Mound Gallery to the newly formed Orange Mound Arts Council. Tonight, I’ll be attending the grand opening of The Collective’s new exhibition and studio space, CMPLX, next door to OMG. While The Collective has been active for four years, CMPLX is the nonprofit organization’s first home. The African-American art group consists of creatives from all genres. The group has funding for a professional development series that will take place once they are up and running. Connecting visual art with music and performance is an exciting component of their mission.


Judith Dierkes is a visual artist currently working on a Film 2 Fiber installation for the ArtLab at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis and getting her online art appreciation classes uploaded for the spring of 2019.