In addition to celebrating the holidays, December is also a time to commemorate the area’s visual arts by way of Meridian Museum of Art’s annual Holiday Gala.

The celebration will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, from 6-8 p.m. in the downtown Meridian art gallery. According to MMA Executive Director Kate Cherry, the gala is a special event that combines a reception for the Museum Members Show with a program that remembers and honors individuals who have helped to build and support the Museum over the past 49 years.

The evening’s program will begin at 7 p.m. and will include the honoring of MMA’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year: Cary Haycox.

Meridian Museum of Art Annual Holiday Gala featuring Museum Members Show coming Dec. 14

Red, White & Blues, Linda Baxter

“The Volunteer of the Year Award is a special recognition by the Museum,” Cherry said. “Over our 49 years of existence as the Meridian Museum of Art, we have had many to give countless hours to begin and keep the museum running. We would not have survived if not for our volunteers. During this time of year, I am always extremely grateful to the individuals who have made the museum great.”

In addition to serving on the museum’s board of directors, Haycox also supports the community in several capacities, with a special emphasis on youth-based programs.

“Cary gives much of his free time to making sure the youth are taken care of in some way or another. He’s so involved in the lives of youth in Meridian,” Cherry said. “He teaches art at Meridian High School, is involved with the National Art Honor Society and takes art projects on the road to the Boys and Girls Club, Meridian Freedom Project and other organizations.

Meridian Museum of Art Annual Holiday Gala featuring Museum Members Show coming Dec. 14

Lee's Offering, Kathy Dearman

“He is also a huge supporter of the Meridian Council for the Arts and the Meridian Art Walk. Both organizations benefit from him providing demonstrations at events,” she said

Additionally, the Carruth Family and Southern Pipe and Supply Company will receive special recognition for their contributions to the community.

According to Cherry, the Carruth Family (Bill, Leslie and William) has taken a tragedy and turned it into a way to help the community through the “Donate to Life” event, the Allie Cat Run and Festival.

Meridian Museum of Art Annual Holiday Gala featuring Museum Members Show coming Dec. 14

Wooden Bowls, Ed Gough

Through proceeds from the festival and the Community Foundation of East Mississippi, Meridian Museum of Art has been awarded an educational grant to benefit the community’s youth. Projects that will be funded through this grant include homeschoolers and craft workshops, art supplies for community events, a mural project with the city of Meridian, scholarships for underserved youths, and a project through Meridian Public School District’s Any Given Child Initiative to bring 489 third graders to the museum for lessons and an exhibit of Edgar Parker’s works.

Southern Pipe and Supply Company will be recognized for its in-kind support of the museum this year.

After a significant amount of on-hand cash was spent for museum renovations in Summer 2019, the facility’s HVAC System quit. According to Cherry, Jay Davidson of Southern Pipe stepped up and provided not one, but two HVACs for the building.

Meridian Museum of Art Annual Holiday Gala featuring Museum Members Show coming Dec. 14

Box Car Blues, Linda Baxter

“Knowing that we had a new system that could last for many years and no longer having to worry about repairs to the dinosaur we had was a significant relief to MMA,” Cherry said.

The annual Holiday Gala also serves as the opening reception for the Museum Members Show.

“This exhibit means a lot to us,” Cherry said. “For our members, it’s one of the special privileges of being a member. For us, it’s a wonderful chance to show off their artistic talents.”

Member artists invited to participate in the exhibit are: Anne Dowdle, Kris Gianakos, Bebe Gianakos, Laura Carmichael, Keith Everett, Tim Allred, David Barr, Jill Hammes, Martha Hopkins, Bob Jeffares, Karen Rush, Patsy Temple, Charlie Busler, Kathy Dearman, Cooper M. French, Neil and BJ Hatten, Gary Howse, Pat Kent, Julie Martin, Charlie and Linda Munoz, Mouise Richards, Dan Talley, Tanya Truelove, Kenny Watts, Ralph Weimer, Oreon and Allison Williams, Dianne Agnew, Orville A. Anderson, Linda Baxter, Martha Buckley, Susan Clark, William Crudup, Denise Dengler, Robert Evans, Sylvia Follis, Peggy Harmon, Susan Huey, Marsha Iverson, Rosemary Kahlmus, Nancy Landrum, Jan Mardis, Elisabeth Murphy, Bonnie Parr, Kay Pelligrin, Wandra Price, Richelle Putnam, LaSandra Ruffin, Debra Ruleau, Joy Seybold, Randy Shoults, Lisa Spinks, Jimmy Smith, Brenda Stevenson, Butch Stuart, Ross Tingle, Steve Westbrook, Caulene Wilkinson and Ed Gough.

The Museum Members Show will remain on display at the museum through January 2020.

Another highlight of the evening will be musical entertainment, which will be provided by the Museum Preservation Society Band.

Admission to the annual MMA Holiday Gala is no charge for current members, $25 for nonmembers.

Sponsors for the MMA Membership Exhibition and Holiday Gala are the city of Meridian, the Phil Hardin Foundation, the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Riley Foundation, Meridian Airport Authority, the Community Foundation of East Mississippi, and the National Endowment of the Arts, and The Paul and Sherry Broadhead Foundation.

Meridian Museum of Art is located at 628 25th Ave. Admission is always free to the museum. For more information, contact Kate Cherry at 601-693-1501, or visit the museum’s website

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