Historic Oakland Cemetery kicks off special events season with Arts at Oakland Presents: Persephone

For one night only on Saturday, May 20, visitors to historic Oakland Cemetery will find the Victorian gardens at the height of springtime bloom and accentuated with installations from artist Sanithna Phansvanh during Arts at Oakland Presents: Persephone.

Phansavanh’s life-size acrylic on canvas works for Persephone reflect themes of spring and rebirth, utilizing a vibrant palette of pinks, blues, purples, and yellows that contrast with Oakland’s natural hues.

“The whole idea of the show is inspired by the Greek myth Persephone, the goddess of both vegetation and the underworld. For a few seasons of the year Persephone is allowed to leave Hades and come back to the land of the living, and when she does, the land flourishes,” said Phansavanh. “So there’s a sense that we’re only allowed here for a few seasons. And when we’re here, when life has its bloom, that’s cause for celebration and respect.”

Phansavanh’s work can be found around Atlanta, from installations along the Atlanta BeltLine, in Cabbagetown and Colony Square, and even adorning cans of Orpheus Brewing’s Maenads Tripel.

Accompanying Phansavanh is improvisational music and movement troupe Flight of Swallows, who’ve performed at 7 Stages Theatre, Atlanta Contemporary, Art on the BeltLine, and Atlanta Fringe Festival. At Persephone, Flight of Swallows will stage seven aerial, dance, and musical performances throughout the evening at Oakland Cemetery’s North Public Grounds.

Persephone is the third installment of Oakland’s annual arts event and marks the start of Historic Oakland Foundation’s special events season, which culminates in October. Arts at Oakland pairs HOF with local artists who interpret the cemetery’s unique history and natural beauty through art. Arts at Oakland debuted in 2015 with The Cryptophonic Tour, a sound art installation produced by ROAMtransmissions. In 2016 artist and gardener Cooper Sanchez produced Illumine: An Evening of Light and Art in the Gardens.

“Persephone will be an engaging, multi-sensory experience, and one of the rare opportunities to visit Oakland at night,” said Betsy Trope, manager of special events at HOF. “We are excited to show visitors the cemetery like they’ve never seen it before.”

Gates open at 6 p.m. and the exhibition closes at 10 p.m. Advance tickets are available at Freshtix.com.

Tickets are $18 in advance (plus fees) and $25 at the gate. A $75 (plus fees) Patron Pass includes admission for one; a limited edition screen print T-shirt featuring original artwork by Phansavanh; access an open bar which includes soft drinks and selections from Eventide Brewing, Orpheus Brewing, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and an exclusive cocktail from Old 4th Distillery and 18.21 Bitters; and complimentary fare from Good Food Truck.

Proceeds from the event benefit the participating artists and HOF’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta’s oldest public burial ground and most tangible link to the past.

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Arts at Oakland Presents: Persephone is sponsored by