Crosstown Arts Invites Public to See All Spaces, Programs in Action
November 30th Open House to showcase new Crosstown Arts spaces and
equipment inside Crosstown Concourse
After eight years, Crosstown Arts is continuing to help redefine what arts can be in Memphis. Fully settled into their new home in Crosstown Concourse, the organization’s new 70,000 square feet of multidisciplinary spaces and programs are now open and operating.
Crosstown Arts is hosting an Open House event on Friday, November 30 from 5-8 pm, and the public is invited to explore the galleries, Green Room (music lounge), theater, cafe, bar, Shared Art Making, and artist residency studios. Spaces will be programmed with live music, film, performances, art exhibitions, and more throughout the event. Resident artists will be showing off work in their studios, which will be open to the public. After the open house ends, guests can stick around for an after-party in the Green Room.
Members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will be performing in the East Gallery, where John Pearson’s “Lay of the Land” exhibition is on view. In the West Gallery, guests from the Stax Museum will lead a craftivism workshop in conjunction with “Give a Damn: Music + Activism at Stax Records.”
The Kevin Walter Band and Kelley Anderson will perform in the Green Room, and guests can catch performances by Mama Africa and Cazateatro in the Crosstown Arts Theater. Students from Crosstown Arts youth programs will perform a hip-hop dance in the East Atrium.
Visitors can tour Shared Art Making and watch demos of screen-printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and other activities. Chef Raymond Jackson will offer samples of his plant-based cuisine at the Today & Always cafe, and Art Bar will be offering its menu of cutting-edge cocktails, curated wines, and craft beer.
The Crosstown Arts residency program will offer a rare glimpse into resident artist studios, which are located throughout Crosstown Concourse and the surrounding neighborhood. Crosstown Arts offers multidisciplinary residencies to visiting and Memphis-based artists and curators, working in any creative discipline. Residents are provided a free studio space, but these studios are not typically open to the public. At the open house event, guests can take a self-guided tour of those studios and meet the artists.
“After eight years of incubating and slowly growing Crosstown Arts, we’re excited to welcome the public into the full version of ourselves at Crosstown Concourse,” said Crosstown Arts co-director/co-founder Todd Richardson. “We hope the unique collection of music venues, theater, galleries, shared art making facility, residency program, cafe, bar, and other public programming will enhance the Memphis arts community and inspire even more creative exchange. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to both make and experience art in all forms.”
Crosstown Arts was formed in 2010 with two goals: to help further cultivate Memphis’ creative community and to lead the redevelopment of the historic Sears Crosstown building with a vision anchored in the arts. When co-founders Christopher Miner and Todd Richardson stood in front of the old, abandoned Sears Crosstown building, they saw great potential for a multidisciplinary, contemporary arts center.
In 2010, Miner and Richardson formed a team to complete a feasibility study for the building’s renovation. Meanwhile, Crosstown Arts began hosting a series of events — art exhibitions, DIY music shows, artist talks, dinners, collaborative art projects, and block parties — that pointed to the vibe and vision that a contemporary arts center could generate in the future building. The values of inclusivity, connectivity, and support for creative exchange among everyone in the creative community, regardless of prior experience, were central to the concept.
By the end of 2011, the feasibility study concluded that the renovation project of the former Sears Crosstown building would be possible but only with the buy-in of other founding partners. The concept of a “vertical urban village” anchored in arts, education and healthcare began to take shape as organizations like Church Health, Memphis Teacher Residency, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Christian Brothers University and ALSAC/St. Jude signed on to be a part of the project.
In 2013, Crosstown Arts opened the first iteration of its contemporary art center — gallery space at 422 N. Cleveland and performance and exhibition space at 430 N. Cleveland — in the shadow of the Sears building. The project was renamed Crosstown Concourse as the construction project broke ground in February 2015.
Crosstown Arts moved from the 422 N. Cleveland space to Crosstown Concourse in October 2017, as construction was still wrapping up in the new space. Today, most of Crosstown Arts’ spaces and programs are located within Crosstown Concourse, but the organization continues to operate the 430 N. Cleveland space, which musicians and artists can rent to host exhibitions and performances at an affordable rate.
Crosstown Arts’ Open House event will be happening concurrently with Delight at Concourse, the annual Crosstown Concourse holiday lighting installation. The switch will be flipped on a 100-foot-tall lighting installation in the Central Atrium. Guests will enjoy hot cocoa, live music, a sing-along, and other holiday-themed activities.