Shawnee—Arts Trek has been an anticipated family event for 10 years.  Organized by the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, the event started as a venue for local artists and performers to share their talents with the community.  This year, the festival is experiencing big changes, including the introduction of a two-week art exhibit.

“We’ve always looked for ways that we can increase the emphasis on the art,” explained festival organizer Donna Merkt.  “It’s funny that the Oklahoma weather caused us to consider a different approach, which actually gives our artists and our community more time to interact.”

Following the freezing weather at last year’s festival, the Museum decided to move all of the artists and most of the hands-on art activities indoors, leading to the development of the exhibit.

Thirty-three artists are participating in this inaugural Arts Trek exhibit.  Each artist has a display featuring their art.  The exhibit opens at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31, with a reception that is free and open to the public.  Three lucky artists will be awarded prizes at the reception!  The exhibit runs through April 13, when folks can visit the Arts Trek Free Family Festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

One of the participating artists, is a dearly-departed area favorite.  Joel Carmichael, known throughout the community for his murals and depictions of Santa, inspired many with his exuberant live-action paintings set to music during previous Arts Trek festivals.  Following Carmichael’s passing in June 2018, the family donated many of his artworks to the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, with no restrictions on the gift. 

“Joel loved this community, so we decided to use his art to give back to the community in his name—allowing his art to continue to inspire and to support art-making and the museum,” shared Merkt, explaining that some of Joel’s art will be available for purchase at Arts Trek.  All proceeds from the sale of Joel’s art will help fund free Community Art Days.  According to Merkt, there will be something of Carmichael’s art for every budget, as some art works will be made into note cards or prints, that will later be featured in the museum gift shop.  “We want everyone who would like a piece of Joel’s art to be able to have it.  He was special to so many people.”

Many accomplished artists are sharing their talents at this Arts Trek exhibit, featuring paintings, prints, mosaics, sculptures, photographs, textiles, leather craft, and more. 

Participating artists include: Candace Abernathy, HaBasketry--Pauline Hogan Asbury, Meredith Bailey, Scott Baird, Jessica Bellamy, Alexandra BigEagle, Susan Buccilli, Becky Emerson Carlberg, Sheryl Cozad, M. Jude Delaney, William Denney, Amber DuBoise-Shepherd, Ed Combs, Gretchen Evans, Douglas Gordon, 319 Photography by Anthony Hebert, Melanie Jackson, Sebrina Lynam and Belinda Pacheco,  Mid-Del Art Guild, Glenda Mullins, Twisted Dog Leather & Chainmail—Jason Reimer, G. Patrick Riley, Glenna Royce, Barbara Taber, Daryl Talbot, Jessica Teal-Craig, Glen Thomas Art Students, Cindy Van Kley, Alisha Weston, Rick Weston, and Susan Beth Wilhelm.

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is located on the OBU Green campus at 1900 W. MacArthur St. in Shawnee.  The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.  Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors age 65 or older, $3 for students and children ages 6 to 17, and free for children age 5 and younger. Visit www.mgmoa.org for more information.

Arts Trek is presented by the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art and Visit Shawnee, Inc.  This exhibit is sponsored by: BancFirst, Chris Rick State Farm Agent, and Junior Service League of Shawnee.  In-kind support for Arts Trek is provided by Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Oklahoma Baptist University Visual Arts, and the City of Shawnee.