Small Town Life & My Personal Views On &.

I grew up in Cookeville. So, of course, I have that hometown love for it. However, I must admit that after ten years of living in Cape Town, South Africa, this year I’ve lived in Cookeville has been kind of a strange experience. No offense to Cookeville, but there’s just a lot less “going on” here than there is in Cape Town. And, to be fair, that’s what many people love about this town, “It’s quiet. Chilled. Great place to raise kids,” and what not.

But for me, I’ve found myself needing more stimulation, activity, and happenings. On any given day in my life in Cape Town, there were about a trillion things happening. Ok, ok, that’s a huge exaggeration, but you understand, right? This past year I’ve just been hungry for something different, something out of the ordinary. After a while I had a monologue playing on a loop in my head, complaining about how “nothing’s happening in this town” and “I’m so bored”. Poor old pitiful me. Hmmm.

I’m usually a doer, and I firmly believe in Gandhi’s quote, “be the change you want to see”, but somewhere along the way I got bit with the bug of apathy that plagues many small towns. You know, where we complain about stuff, but aren’t proactive in doing anything about it. I had to slap myself in the face. No, not literally, but yes, metaphorically. I decided if I want more “happenings” then I need to be a part of making them happen, even if only once. And after a couple of conversations with my buddy Andrea, this Ampersand Event was born.

Now it’s happening. And I’m excited about it. We’ve gotten the word out there, and hope to get it spread further. I went around town yesterday and took flyers to TONS of local establishments. I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of genuine interest and support I received from people. Only one single person, out of the many I approached, said that they would not hang up a flyer. That is absolutely amazing. I was feeling the love. And for the most part, the average person I speak to about the event seems to be excited about it.

Of course, it’s not been all love and excitement. The “& signs” we hung up around town before we even announced what the event was were a topic of discussion on a local online forum. Some people were just curious, whilst another person was pretty angry with them because they look “trashy”. After we announced what the event is someone posted, “It sounds like shit but free bear means i will go,” and then, “*beer” in a next post. Funny and sad. I hope people of this attitude are in the minority, though all are welcome.

I also think some people just maybe don’t understand the event. Some people have asked me, “Ok, so besides the work of the three artists, and the snacks, and coffee, and beer, and selected merchandise…what else is happening?” To answer that question simply, the art IS the event, and everything else is an extra added bonus, and pretty cool bonuses at that. Art galleries are open all day every day and that’s the only purpose they serve (plus most of them don’t have coffee and beer).

This event is a once in a lifetime chance to see this art, in this place, in this way. It’s a pop-up exhibition. We will take over this vacant building on 2 East 1st. St. in Cookeville…

…and for one night only there will be artwork from three extremely talented local artists (Andrea Patterson, Nate Patterson, & Rhyan McReynolds), and then the next day it will all be gone again. And there will never be another opportunity to see that very same art, in that very same place, in that very same way. Throw in the extra added bonuses I mentioned, and a bunch of people who are committed to coming out and having a great time, and we really should have a memorable night on our hands.

When all is said and done, we can’t make this an amazing evening without your help. We need your help in spreading the word about it, and we really, really want to see you there. And if you’re anything like me and have ever complained about how “not much is going on”, then this is your chance, as it is mine, for redemption; a chance to be a part of something different, to be a part of the happening. And if you’ve never complained about how “not much is happening”, well, then we most especially want to see you there! Let’s create something beautiful together. I hope to see you there!

Oh, &!


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