By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor (Courtesy photos/The Bison)
Despite the recent closure of St. Gregory’s University, Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, located on the St. Gregory’s campus is alive and thriving even though it’s nearly 100 years old.
Although located on the St. Gregory’s campus, the Museum operates separately and has remained open despite the college’s recent closure, according to NewsOK.
Now, the museum is gearing up to host its largest event of the year: Arts Trek, which is a free, public arts festival April 14 from10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
According to Mabee-Gerrer curator of education and Arts Trek event coordinator, Donna Merkt, “Arts Trek promotes the arts in Shawnee and Oklahoma. It is an educational, entertaining activity for adults, students, and families and it encourages community collaboration. Annually, an estimated 3,000-4,000 people attended Arts Trek.”
The festival is one of the most popular arts events in Pottawattamie County and spans a large expanse of art styles and forms.
Started in 2010, Arts Trek has included numerous performances and demonstrations both inside the museum, in the neighboring Sarkeys Performing Arts Center and on the surrounding grassy and shaded lawns.
The events webpage lists some of the vendors and performances that the festival offers, including the ever-favorite face painting booth, or booths, that appear almost every year.
Throughout the festival, children can be seen with their faces covered in decorative butterflies, flowers, or animal faces – displaying the handiwork of these booths.
One of the most unique regular participants of Arts Trek is Knights of Canterbury/OKC Joust Club. The Joust Club sets up a tent and displays full reenactment equipment.
They also frequently cordon off a small jousting area at past Arts Treks.
This year, the Arts Trek performances will include several dance groups.
All About Irish School of Dance will return to the festival again this year.
Diana Rodgers directs this school of dance, teaching traditional Irish step dance to youth in Meeker, Okla.
The group’s past performances at Arts Trek have been highly received and displayed a
variety of levels of experience and training, from young beginning students to more advanced teen performers.
Another dance group, A Mirage Dance Company, will perform as well.
A Mirage Dance Company features elements of modern Egyptian dance, Turkish sword dancing and veil dances, among other styles.
Also a returning act, having been featured in several previous Arts Treks, A Mirage Dance Company’s performances combine highly specific specialized movements with
smooth, steady rhythms and great control of movement.
The festival’s musical performances will include contemporary Christian music group CrossWalk 316 performing original music; and a performance from the Grey Wolves Jazz Band.
Festival goers will also have the opportunity to watching Joel M. Carmichael perform painting to music.
Perhaps most wellknown to the OBU community, the 2018 Arts Trek will include a
performance by OBU’s very own Dr. Benjamin Shute, who will perform on violin, continuing a longstanding relationship between members of the OBU community and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum event.
“OBU faculty, staff, and students have served as volunteers or performers,” Merkt said.
“Julie Blackstone has shared her weaving talents, helping introduce patrons to the art form, each year at Arts Trek. This year, Benjamin Shute is playing the violin in the gallery. OBU students have also had art booths at the festival. In the past, OBU theater and music students have also performed, and I’d love to see that happen next year.”
OBU community members can register to participate in next year’s Arts Trek as a vendor, performer, sponsor or volunteer by visiting the Arts Trek website at artstrek.org.
Yet, the museum can provide OBU students educational opportunities outside of the festival as well.
“The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art offers internships to college students in a variety of areas, including museum collections, museum education, event planning, and graphic
design,” Merkt said.
“Many OBU faculty bring their classes to the museum, where their admission is provided
for by scholarship funds donated by community members. OBU students who are working on projects for class are allowed free admission at any time.”
To learn more about internships and other academic opportunities at the museum visit mgmoa.org.