While attending high school, Debbie Meyer remembers, “walking around campus and discovering art in unexpected places in nature. I decided that when I graduated, I would make my home like that.”
Come Out & Play is her realization of that dream. But it didn’t start out that way.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001 a group of artists and art lovers in Chatham and Orange counties wanted to remember the day as part of a series of art shows called 5000 Flowers. Instead of expressing their sadness, Debbie recalls that she and creative colleagues, Anke Gassen, Jackie Helvey, Hunter Levinsohn, Hollie Taylor and others wanted to “remind people that there’s good in the world. The event was to be a celebration of love.”
Soon after the first event, attendees who liked seeing art outdoors and artists who don’t often have places to display large sculptures asked for the art show to continue. Fourteen years later, the 17-acre home of Debbie and her husband Eric Brantley and their family, continues to be a gorgeous stage for showing art from over 80 artists using every medium imaginable from steel to plastic bags.
Work from artists in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Tennessee and Virginia is included this year as well as from Chatham artists including Steve Cote, Forrest Greenslade, Joe Kenlan, Kevin Kuhnel, John Makowski, Bill Moore, Rusty Sieck, Jane & Zen Palkowski, Janice Rieves, and Edwin White.
“The first year, we had about 100 people at the show. We had just one reception,” Debbie recalled. “Then we extended the show for several weeks with a reception every Saturday. About six or seven years ago we added live music to all the receptions.” This year, musicians from the North Carolina Songwriters Co-op will play at all four receptions. The organic evolution of this event seems to be working. Last year Come Out & Play welcomed 1700 guests.
“My favorite thing,” Debbie said, “is when people email me to ask when the show starts. They can’t wait to be a part of it. I love when people come up to me…and tell me that now that they have discovered the show, they will be back the next weekend and bring friends. To be able to offer something that makes people feel this good makes me and my husband truly happy.”
This generosity of spirit is expressed in other significant ways. Artist participation is by invitation only but there is no application fee and artists keep 100% of the sales of their work. Admission to the grounds is free for attendees, too. It’s no wonder that Come Out & Play has developed such a following.
Everyone is welcome. Children are especially encouraged to attend as are dogs on leashes. Even on opening day, people with accessibility issues are invited to park on site. Wheelchairs have crossed most the property over the years without problems, though some parts of the farm may offer challenges for a wheelchair to maneuver.
Go See This: Come Out & Play 2015
- When: Launching Saturday, August 29, 2015, Noon-dark
- Additional receptions on Saturday, September 5, 12, and 19, 3pm-dark
- Where: JimGin Farm at 150 Wild Horse Run, Pittsboro, NC 27312
- Parking: Please park at Storybook Farm, 231 Storybook Lane, Chapel Hill, 27516, about 2/3 mile from the art show, and take the free shuttle that runs all day.
- How Much: Free
- For More Info: www.comeoutandplay.info / Facebook / 919-942-3252
- Accessibilty: Accessible parking and grounds