Saturday party in Williams' honor supports, celebrates arts

March 25, 2011 10:24:00 AM

Garthia Elena Burnett -


The Tennessee Williams centennial celebration continues Saturday with a gala and auction/birthday party at the Rosenzweig Arts Center in downtown Columbus. 


Saturday marks what would have been the famed playwright''s 100th birthday, and his hometown has no shortage of events to mark the day -- from a big band concert to performances of one of his early plays, "The Strangest Kind of Romance," to historic marker unveilings and a scholars seminar. 


In the heart of downtown, the Arts Center also is opening its doors as part of the celebration, combining its annual auction with a birthday party for Williams.  


"It''s just a real fun evening, (and) it''s a celebration of Tennessee Williams," said Elizabeth Johnson, interim director of the Arts Center. "We''ve coordinated with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tennessee Williams Tribute Committee, to really throw a big birthday party in his honor." 


A Tennessee Williams film will be projected, silently, onto a screen, and the evening will include musical performances from blues/rock band Big Jim and the Hot Shots, short vignettes from "The Glass Menagerie" and a poetry reading from "Night of the Iguana," as well as both silent and live auctions. 


There are more than 80 auction items, including original artwork from Joy Phillips, Elayne Goodman, Angie Basson, decorative pieces from Beard''s Antiques, Lighting Plus and Joy''s Gifts and Flowers, a hand-carved wooden chair by Dale Talley, jewelry and pottery. The vent also offers various gift certificates for spa services, gym memberships and more. 


"The auction items range from high end to low end, so there''s something for everyone," Johnson said. "And it''s a really fun night." 


For Johnson, it was only natural that the center take part in the Williams events. 


"It was important for us to be a part of the celebration for Tennessee Williams," Johnson said. "It''ll be a great party, and funds that are raised will support the programs and arts education we provide to the community, not just in the Golden Triangle, but also West Alabama." 


In addition to monthly gallery showings, primarily of local artists, the Arts Council offers dance and art classes for children and adults, brings such performers as the Mississippi Symphony and Second City to the area and also offers professional live theater to more than 800 area children through the Young People''s Artist Series. 


The gallery attracts visitors from such places as New York and California, Johnson said, noting the center is impressive for a town of any size. 


"It''s a big attraction, like what you would see in major metropolitan areas," she said. "It''s a real unique place for this area to have." 


For more information, call the Arts Center at 662-328-2787.