The night air is crisp, yet the warmth emanating from the windows beckons you forward. As you ascend the stairs, wearing your holiday best, you are
greeted by familiar faces. You stop to chat, each person sharing what they’ve been up to since graduation. Some work in design, some have solo shows at local galleries, some teach, and some work in retail while they freelance on the side. You all have one thing in common and it’s what brought you all here.
You enter the doors of Rust Hall, the architectural treasure of the Memphis College of Art(MCA). The gallery is a riot of color, paintings upon paintings covering the walls. Tables piled high with treasures frame the descending staircase in the center of the room. Jubilant students dressed as elves greet you at the door, while patrons and alumni shuffle through the delightful chaos. The excitement is contagious. With a cup of wine in hand, you weave through the crowd. You have a mental note of which tables you want to visit first. A table of carefully crafted food jewelry beckons you forward, and you can’t resist gazing upon the colorful paintings and sculptures inspired by sea life. There’s the familiar table of expertly crafted wooden cutting boards and spoons. Adorable plushies wink at you from a pastel-infused table. Ceramic mugs call out to you, asking to be held. As one painting is removed from the wall, another takes its place. Everyone is lively, carrying their treasures to check-out, and feeling a little drunk on wine and holiday cheer.
The Pandemic took away any amount of closure in regards to the schools shutting down. We didn’t get that final goodbye or the reunion of alumni and professors. We didn’t get to embrace each other and mourn the loss of our home. MCA died silently as COVID-19 swept the nation. There it stood, empty and hollow, reflecting that same emptiness and hollowness in us as the virus raged on.
Yet, a glimmer of hope appeared in the form of a postcard. Holiday Bazaar 2020, it read. Our beloved holiday tradition had been adopted by a local arts organization, one determined to continue the legacy of the Memphis College of Art. Arrow Creative is small but mighty, motivated by a desire to keep art relevant during these trying times. Their space may be tiny, but it is full to the brim with treasures. Quirky prints made by local Memphians greet you as you enter. A series of delicate flora painted daily during the Pandemic rest on one wall. The scent of candles made by survivors of domestic abuse remind you to stay hopeful and uplifted. Prints, stickers, buttons, and apparel communicate strength and empowerment. It’s more than just a store front; it’s a place of healing.
That is why art is so important. That is why there are still places like Arrow Creative who make it their mission to support local artists and creatives. Art heals. When we lost Memphis College of Art, a hole was left behind in our hearts. With the revival of the Holiday Bazaar, among other fantastic art endeavors in Memphis, we can begin to refill those holes and begin anew.
If you have ever been in or attended the Memphis College of Art Holiday Bazaar, I strongly encourage you to visit Arrow Creative’s Holiday Bazaar on Broad Ave. Show your support for your fellow artists and share your stories with them. Listen to what their art has to say and embrace the experience. It may not be the Holiday Bazaar you remember, but it contains the same amount of heart. Perhaps even more.
Shop Arrow's Holiday Bazaar online or stop by the shop at 2535 Broad Ave.
Hours: Wednesday 11-4pm, Thursday-Sunday 10-6pm.
We are also hosting Private Shopping Events. Read more here!
Terri Scott is an illustrator, art instructor, and storyteller. She received her Bachelor's of Fine Arts at Memphis College of Art in 2014, with a focus on illustration and painting. She splits her time between teaching art to children and working as a freelance illustrator. She currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and three cats. When she isn't watching cartoons or reading comics, she's drawing cats. A lot of cats!