Art takes a One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel

Posted on Oct 14 2016 - 8:01am by Zoe McDonald
Motel Art Show

Art is seen displayed at the Ole Miss Motel as part of a previous One Night Stand Motel art show. Photo courtesy: Erin Austen Abbott.

Visit Ole Miss Motel for a one night stand this weekend — a one night stand with art, that is.

Saturday evening, rooms at the Ole Miss Motel will transform with photography, paintings, collages and more by local and regional artists. The One Night Stand at Ole Miss Motel is the brainchild of Amelia Presents’ owner, Erin Austen Abbott.

Abbott, a professional photographer, had the idea as she was shooting photos of Ole Miss Motel around 2005. She noticed small wooden hearts on every door locked by old-timey keys, and she recalled stories of blues musician T-Model Ford’s own room at the motel, reserved for when he’d play shows in town.

“I just kind of had this vision,” Abbott said.

So she approached Ole Miss Motel about her idea. “I said, ‘We’ll pay for the room for a night. It’ll just be up for a night, just, a one night stand. Of art. And so the name fit with the location,” Abbott said.

Jonathan Kent Adams readies his artwork at a previous motel art show. Photo courtesy: Erin Austen Abbott.

Jonathan Kent Adams readies his artwork at a previous motel art show. Photo courtesy: Erin Austen Abbott.

For artists who weren’t already displayed in a gallery, it was often a challenge to find spaces to show their work. Artists who wanted to hold group showings, like Abbott and her friends, were also limited. The One Night Stand filled that void and quickly made itself at home at the Ole Miss Motel. 

“I just was like, this is the perfect juxtaposition of fine art meets kitschy, travel-lodge vintage motel,” Abbott said.

She held the first motel art show in 2007, and since she’s held at least one show every year, save for 2008, when she held the show at the Beverly Laurel Hotel in Los Angeles. Artists’ rooms looped around an entire fourth floor, Abbott said.

While the L.A. show hosted 20 artists and brought around 2,500 people, Abbott ultimately decided to bring the show back to Oxford in the years after. After all, she said, “the motel is its home.”

This year, 10 artists will take over motel rooms, where their only creative bounds are their rooms’ walls. 

Saint Leo

Saint Leo’s wood-fire pizza oven is seen at a previous motel art show. Photo courtesy:

“They can do whatever they want,” Abbott said. “I’ve had some artists pull every piece of furniture out of the room. They piled it in their truck, took it to their house and brought it back when they were done and put it all back. I’ve had other artists use upright beds as walls to hang the art on.”

Local painter Jonathan Kent Adams, experimental photographer and painter Frances Berry and photographer Jason Cimon are among the artists invited by Abbott to be a part of this year’s One Night Stand. Adams and Berry have both been part of previous shows. Abbott said she often invites artists back to show how they’ve evolved.

Cimon, whose minimalist photography has become particularly popular on Instagram, caught Abbott’s eye for this year’s show.

“He’s a photographer that didn’t know he was going to be a photographer … He got into photography because of Instagram and he has found his aesthetic; he’s found his eye, and he is amazing,” Abbott said. “You might see the building across the street, and you only see one little line in a corner and it’s perfectly aligned with the cloud above it. And visually, it’s art. It looks like a painting.”

Abbott’s original T-Model Ford vision will come to life this year as a part of Shelby Kyser and Jake Rogers’ motel space, where Cody Rogers of Holy Ghost Electric Show will be playing live music. Shelby and Jake will be debuting their scanned collage works.

“They make weird collages with their scanner. It kind of reminds you of the sun prints you made as a kid,” Abbott said.

Indeed, the works might comprise various leaves, a dog paw or a cotton boll atop a black background. 

Peruse artists’ motel spaces, enjoy food from Saint Leo and purchase or simply admire art in various mediums from 6-9 p.m. this Saturday at Ole Miss Motel.

The first hour is paid entry — $25 for first dibs on art purchases and a meal ticket, after 6, the event is free. Children are welcome, Abbott said.

“Don’t be alarmed by the name. It’s just a friendly art show.”