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Block Party to Celebrate Creative Economy at the Powerhouse Friday

Celebrate Lafayette County’s creative-economy small businesses at a summer block party from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center.

The networking event honors the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council community-supported arts program and its June exhibition as part of the 2023 Powerhouse Gallery Series.

It will feature Jamaican cuisine by Boswell’s of Oxford, owned by Brandon and Kesha Atkinson.

The reception is free and open to the public.

As part of the CSA, participating artists self-identified small business goals and professional development to move their small businesses forward. Artists attended special CSA mentorship sessions with experts and experienced entrepreneurs and the free Big Bad Business monthly workshops offered by YAC in partnership with the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation.

YAC encourages the public to become a part of the creative process of the CSA artists by pre-investing in their work by following the community-supported agriculture model and purchasing a share. Artists distribute shares on a schedule that matches their small business-typically monthly or at the CSA reception on Friday.

Kate Donovan of Kate Donovan Studio working on her hand-painted terracotta plates.

Artists who are a part of the 2023 CSA are: David Hamilton of Anubis Improv, Brittney Malone of Bee’s Designs, Crystal Jones of Crystal’s Custom Craft Creations, Graham Hamaker and Macon Humphries of Grapefruit WV, and Kate Donovan of Kate Donovan Studio.

Jones, whose custom creations include custom wreaths, home decor, and party decor, worked on building her website and social media presence. She also expanded her equipment and met with experts to strategize on how to expand into retail stores. Her CSA share was a custom wreath or swag.

“I love to help people in the different ways you can beautify your home for the season or a special occasion,” Jones said.

Grapefruit, a boutique apparel company in Water Valley, hand dyes overalls and custom shirts. Their share is a raffle ticket to win one of their unique Dickie’s overalls. Hamaker and Humphries connected with Blake Dubinski of GenTeal apparel and Catherine Smith. Their business goal was to source originally designed overalls and convert to bulk ordering. 

Brittney Malone of Bee’s Designs working on her vinyl decorations for her woodcut signs

“We’d like to build our own couture company. It would be wonderful to have our own storefront in Water Valley–that would be fun–and we’d like to wholesale in smaller boutiques as well,” Hamaker said.

Anubis Improv expanded its community presence during the CSA program by working with the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals of Oxford and holding a show called the Armando, an improv show, on June 1 based on the lived experiences of Kaye Bryant. 

Brittany Malone of Bee’s Designs specializes in custom wood-cut signs and decor and custom-printed t-shirts. Her share was an Oxford-themed, wooden door sign. Malone’s goal was to purchase a much-needed textile and dye sublimation printer with the goal of enhancing the apparel side of her business. Malone is an Oxford native and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Kate Donovan Studio, features work that’s inspired by the natural world, Kate’s garden, and rural landscapes. Her pieces range from tiny paintings and shadowboxes to large-scale, sculptural lighting. Kate’s shares included painted terracotta plates, shadow boxes, and curated picnic boxes. New to the area, Kate’s goal was to network and meet new people in order to grow her business. 

“The block party on June 23rd is about acknowledging the efforts of creative small businesses in Lafayette County, which help define and make Oxford a unique and attractive place to live and visit,” said Wayne Andrews, YAC’s executive director. “These artists, from Faulkner to the small businesses featured in the CSA today, help us understand where we live and who we are better, and improve our quality of life.”

For more information related to Friday’s event or the CSA, visit oxfordarts.com or call 662-236-6429.

Grapefruit WV Graham Hamaker and Macon Humphries (foreground) hand-dying overalls on their front porch.

Courtesy of YAC

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