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Honoring the Work of Artists and the Community: Art for Jobs

When Advance Memphis started the Art for Jobs fundraiser nine years ago, it seemed like a good fit for the workforce development organization on Vance Avenue.

“Our work is focused on bringing training and work opportunities to this neighborhood. Art for Jobs gave us the chance to host an event here in our building, in our community, to bring guests here to learn more about what we do —while they buy some art and support the mission,” says Executive Director Steve Nash. 

Meredith Olinger is a featured artist and committee member for Art for Jobs 2019.

It wasn’t until the third year of the event that event organizers made an important connection between the art event and the mission of Advance. Kate Lareau is a former staff member and current supporter of Advance who recalls the shift.

“Everything Advance Memphis does is focused on the dignity and value of work—all work—and empowering Memphians to find, develop, and use their God-given gifts to do work they enjoy and earn a living. So it suddenly seemed really crazy to call artists and ask them to just give away their work, even though it’s kind of a ‘norm’ in fundraising.”

Since then, Art for Jobs has offered artists the choice to receive up to 50% of the profits from the sale of their work—a standard gallery split. “Many artists still contribute 100% of their sale,” says Meredith Olinger, artist and Art for Jobs committee member, “but for those of us who have made art our careers, this is a much more viable way to be involved. We also like the fact that there’s a set price on each piece. Guests don’t have to fight their friends to sneak in another bid, and artists don’t see their work undervalued.” 

Brenda Joysmith is a featured artist for Art for Jobs 2019.

Each year, Art for Jobs organizers create beautiful temporary gallery spaces in one of the Advance Memphis warehouses where job training takes place and outsourced projects create jobs. “It’s fun to take a giant warehouse and make it a party! The artists and guests and the community all win when we create a unique event space and show the artwork in the best light possible,” says Audrey Hurst, event planner and Art for Jobs committee member. “When you get to show off the work of artists like Megan Hurdle, Brenda Joysmith, and Meredith Olinger, just to name a few, you really want the event to honor their talent and contributions.”

Megan Hurdle is a featured artist for Art for Jobs 2019.

Another unusual thing about Art for Jobs? It’s free and open to all! It’s a true community event, welcoming everyone: art lovers, graduates of the workforce development and GED/HSE programs, volunteers, and owners of businesses that hire program grads. Organizers bring art together at many styles and price points, too, so there’s truly something for everyone at this event. Art for Jobs 2019 will also celebrate Advance Memphis’s 20th year of service to the South Memphis community, so expect to see some great photos and stories celebrating the accomplishments of hundreds of men and women who have gotten jobs, bought cars and houses, and earned their GED/HSE through the classes and programs provided by staff and volunteers at Advance. 

Art for Jobs
When: Thursday, September 26, 5:30-8:00
Where: Advance Memphis Warehouse: 575 Suzette, 38126
Free and open to the public. Valet parking available.

Learn more about Advance Memphis on their website and follow them on Facebook.

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