TEXARKANA, Ark. — The annual Texarkana celebration of Scott Joplin's birthday will not include a fancy shindig with the ragtime composer's music, but events to honor this seminal figure in music history continue.
To celebrate Joplin's 152nd birthday, the Regional Music Heritage Center and Scott Joplin Support Group will hold an exhibit and silent auction at 1894 Gallery, featuring a new painting of this composer and pianist created by H.M. Fort Jr.
The exhibit, auction and other events will take the place of the third annual gala that was canceled because of coronavirus concerns. The exhibit and silent auction will observe social distance precautions, including mask wearing.
The new painting dedicated to Joplin is titled "Scott Joplin at Orr School Texarkana." It will be featured at the 1894 Gallery, starting with an unveiling reception at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28. Bidding will continue through Saturday, Dec. 5.
Fort, who lives in the St. Louis area and has family ties to Texarkana, is also working on another project related to Texarkana's musical heritage.
"The artist is also close to completion of the working painting for our downtown mural dedicated to our native son and his genius music creation, Otis Williams and the Temptations. We hope to began installation in spring 2021," said Carol Collins-Miles of the Scott Joplin Support Group, in an email about the event.
Collins-Miles said auction proceeds will benefit the Skyscape "Music In the Air" Project of sculptured metal music-themed works of art, which are lit and placed on downtown Texarkana rooftops and raised areas.
She said the 2017 locally produced documentary "Scott Joplin - Hometown, Texarkana USA" will be shown on the Scott Joplin Support Group Facebook page from Thanksgiving weekend onward.
The film was shot in both Texarkana and Linden, Texas. "The documentary is a joint venture of Scott Joplin Support Group and Regional Music Heritage Center, and a co-production with O'er Yonder Video Production of cinematographer and editor, Marvin Williams," said Collins-Miles, who penned the script.
Descendants of the Joplin family participated. A sequel, now in pre-production, will further explore Joplin's heritage, including his father's arrival in East Texas.
To honor Joplin, the Regional Music Heritage Center and Scott Joplin Support Group have also partnered to air KTXK 91.5 FM radio announcements through Dec. 6, featuring the exhibit and silent auction at 1894 Gallery with information about a chance to win dinner for two at one of 10 downtown restaurants, Collins-Miles said.
The way to win? Name the titles of the five Scott Joplin songs playing on KTXK. Once you have the titles, email the list to [email protected], or text it to 903-490-5471.
A special Scott Joplin biography segment will air on KTXK during the Saturday jazz program produced by host Frank Miller. The two-hour program is scheduled to air Nov. 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
"And covers Joplin's extensive works and life," Collins-Miles said. It includes an early-1900s recording of Joplin's opera "Treemonisha." Recordings by Scott Kirby are included, as well.
About Fort, Collins-Miles said he has painted portraits of many illustrious personalities, such as the late Curtis Mayfield.
She said the subject matter of this year's painting is exciting. It includes the Arkansas State Historic Site-designated Orr School in its original two-story glory as built in 1880 by the local Orr family, she said.
Joplin was known to have taught piano at the school and performed in the auditorium that still occupies the front northeast corner of the building, Collins-Miles said, adding that a fire in 1920 leveled the top floor of the Orr School.
"The roof was replaced on the single level that stands on Laurel Street today. It is in need of renovations and several local organizations are in discussions with the owners, the original Twin Cities Federal of Colored Women," Collins-Miles said, adding, "We are excited about the growing catalogue of Fort's Scott Joplin paintings."
(More info: Facebook.com/txkrhmc.)