By June Mathews
In 1981, a group of students taking lessons from local artist Ron Lewis through Mountain Brook Adult Community Education decided to show their work and offer it for sale. They set up their paintings against the trees along Church Street by Crestline Elementary, and the Mountain Brook Art Association was born.
The association continued its Art in the Village shows every April on the Crestline Elementary School sports field. But in 2019, as bad weather threatened, sponsors decided to look for an indoor location.
Show chairwoman Janet Sanders checked with Suzan Doidge, executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, about possible indoor venues. Doidge immediately suggested a vacant storefront in the Lane Parke area of Mountain Brook Village.
“We had one of our best shows ever,” Sanders said, “But it also spoiled our artists, who decided we should always have an indoor show.”
In the meantime, COVID-19 came along, effectively shutting down the spring shows in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic also prevented the association from commemorating a milestone.
“The Mountain Brook Art Association turned 40 last year,” Sanders said. “But because of COVID, we were not able to celebrate as we wanted.”
But the festival is making a comeback on April 30 this year, and, after discussions, the association landed on City Hall as an unusual indoor/outdoor venue.
While conferring with Doidge about changing the association’s quarterly meetings to City Hall, Doidge additionally noted qualities of the building that would make it a great place for an indoor show. Sanders saw it as the perfect compromise.
“It was a brilliant opportunity for us to satisfy all our artists, those who wanted to be outside in tents and those wanting to be indoors,” she said.
“Beyond the unusual combination of indoor/outdoor, the location of City Hall is in the very heart of the busy and popular Crestline Village, where customers will be able to browse nearby gift shops, walk the village and take advantage of the many eateries. The large oak trees around City Hall and the sitting area around the center fountain make for very pleasant spots to enjoy the show.”
Several artists who have been members of MBAA since it was formed will be participating in this year’s show, including Lewis, Kat Pilleteri, Carolyn Mitchell and the organization’s first president, Cary Baker. Works from regionally known artists Carol Carmichael, Michael Davis, Melanie O’Keefe, Sue Taylor White, Toby Klein, Cecily Hill Lowe and folk artist She She also will be shown.
Art in the Village is a free, family-friendly community art festival featur- ing local artists and showing a large variety of high-quality fine art draw- ings and paintings. The indoor/outdoor show will open at 9:00 a.m. and run until 5:00 p.m.