Going with the “university approach” as Oxford Park Commission Leisure Lifestyle director Deb Helms calls it, OPC is smack dab in the middle of its winter schedule: a schedule park commission administrators try to coordinate with our local schools’ and university calendar for convenience.
On that calendar, scrunched way down toward the bottom, you’ll find listed a very popular program for seniors titled “Art With A Kick” – its name, an awesomely apt descriptor.
The class, led by local artist and art enthusiast Andi Bedsworth, targets adults aged 50 and over and touts a plethora of art and craft activities for participants including drawing, painting, collage and scrapbooking, just to name a few.
“I have been honored to teach the art program with OPC since the beginning of its Leisure Lifestyle program in 2011,” Bedsworth said. “The class (Art With A Kick) meets each Friday from 10:30-11:30 a.m.”
“In the class, we’ve covered many different media,” Bedsworth explained. “I try to give each class a survey course where they can experiment with different techniques, skills and mediums. The thought is the participants will be able to experience more with this approach than if they just took a course in painting or drawing. Participants get to explore a lot of different materials without having to pay for all of it. That way, they can see which things they like best and then can go out and acquire more of that medium and work on it at home.”
And, if that weren’t enough, Art With A Kick participants sometimes embark on field trips to support what they’ve learned in Bedsworth’s capable hands.
“We have taken field trips to the Kate Freeman Clark Gallery in Holly Springs, Oxford Treehouse Gallery, the University Museum, Yalo Studio, Bozarts Gallery in Water Valley and to New Albany to visit their museum as well,” Bedsworth said.
After five years, the classes have taken root and are well received and attended according to OPC.
“We average 12 (participants) sometimes 15,” Helms said. “Especially when we take trips to galleries around this area. A lot of people are interested in that.”
“It’s amazing what art you can find in this area, like New Albany, Tupelo, Pontotoc and, of course, Memphis,” Helms added. “Even though most of these towns are considered small, many of them have added great programs related to tourism and their heritage.”
“Our participation numbers and the really nice group we have are due to Andi (Bedsworth). She has so much to offer everybody in the group,” Helms said. “We have so much going on, a lot of things here to entice participation. In other words, if you come to one program like Art With A Kick, why not stay for dessert?”
OPC’s Art With A Kick program is free of charge and open to the public aged 50-plus. Also, there is no commitment and participants may come and go as they wish.
“We consider ourselves recycled teenagers,” Helms concluded. “We like to get out and about. My body says one thing but my brain says ‘hey, I want to do that.’”
That Deb! Among many other fine attributes, she’s definitely good for a quote.
For more information about Bedsworth, OPC, Art With A Kick or the entire Leisure Lifestyle program, visit the OPC website at OPCwebsite or call Deb Helms at 662-236-1157.
Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.