The Bicentennial is bursting out all over

Published 3:08 pm Monday, July 3, 2017

By RENE’ DAY / Community Columnist

I was in high school in 1976 – barely, mind you, but definitely old enough to remember. And, I know what a good bicentennial can do. The 200th birthday of America ushered in a renewed sense of pride in the place we call home. Red, white and blue became de rigueur in fashion and home decorating. Books, poetry, music and art celebrated the glorious experiment in democracy that started as a crazy idea from a bunch of up-start colonists. Some would say it lasted well into the 1980s.

And, now, we are in the early stages of celebrating another bicentennial. This time, it’s a little closer to home, as Alabama edges toward its 200th anniversary of statehood. And, it remains true that a bicentennial celebration can be a very good thing.

Many communities in Shelby County date to the same time as statehood, so over the next few years, we will see multiple celebrations. You are probably already seeing signs as you go about your daily lives. But, in addition to the signs, are special events that you won’t want to miss – and for which we should be thankful. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a showing at the Shelby County Arts Council called “History as Art.” Arts Council Director Bruce Andrews secured a grant through the Alabama State Council on the Arts to initiate a call for work in all sorts of media inspired by items housed in the partnering Shelby County Museum and Archives in Columbiana. Sketches, photography, paintings, mixed media, quilting and sculpture were among items entered in the show. I was delighted and amazed at the results – but was also informed about history. Now, just take a minute and think about it. Together, state and private funding provided a way for the Arts to participate in this historically significant occasion. It just goes to show you how this Bicentennial thing can be good for us all.

And the recent SCAC exhibit isn’t the only one. Montevallo has planned a special celebration during July to highlight and honor Montevallo Artists and Authors. Plan to visit the Gallery at the Parnell Library during the month of July. A reception planned for July 13 will provide another way to feature those who delight our eyes with either their art or written words. Other communities are sure to follow as we approach culminating events in 2019. The state’s Bicentennial Committee has chosen “Alabama history is my history” as a reminder that this anniversary is for us all. The same thing could be said for our communities here – “Shelby County history is our history” – because it has produced the people and places we love. But, it’s good to see that this history is going beyond the typical dates, places and events. It is including those who write, create, dance, sing, paint, sculpt and engage in the artistic process. Celebrating History as Artdefinitely a good thing.