Thursday, September 26, 2013

Art from the Heart

I typically wait until after a show is already hanging before talking about it on this blog.  I like to be able to look at the work first, but for this post I am going to promote a show that has yet to be hung. HeARTWorks is an exhibition of artwork created by individuals who call the streets of Jackson their home. 

One reason I want to go ahead and promote it is because unlike a normal exhibition that will be up for close to a month, this one will only be open one day.  Another reason is because it is so incredibly important to so many people.  And I'm not talking about the people who put this together; though I'm sure this is important to them and they have hearts of gold.  I'm talking about the people who are struggling day in and day out to find the things that I take for granted... food, shelter, respect.  

How does someone garner respect from being allowed to push paint around? Stacy Underwood, local artist and creator of HeARTWorks told me "Everyone deserves respect and acceptance, and I hope the clients feel that at HeARTWorks.  They have a standing 'appointment' every week where they will be missed if they are not there, and that is oh so important.  I think the most fulfilling aspect of working with the homeless is to see how a simple compliment or a simple word of encouragement can change someone's outlook… art is a wonderful way to instill in someone self-worth, and the belief that 'Yes, you can do it!'  Everyone needs that and yes … I truly do believe that given the opportunity, anyone can create something beautiful and give back to the world something positive."

For the fifth straight year Stacy and Stewpot Community Services has allowed these individuals the opportunity to "give back to the world something positive" with an exhibition and sale of their creations.  It will be held at The Cedars next Thursday, October 3, 2013, from 5-8 pm.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Show 'em some love

When the winners of the 2013 Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts were announced last year I was shocked, aghast, even disturbed.  Not because of who was selected, but because there wasn't anyone selected in the visual arts category.  Did you notice?  It was the first time that I was aware of that someone had not won an award for Excellence in the Visual Arts.  I couldn't imagine how the MS Arts Commission (MAC), which is in charge of the program, could leave the visual arts out.  How could visual artists who have given their lives to their work be overlooked?

I contacted a friend at MAC to inquire, and she said that there simply weren't many nominations.  Oops, sorry MAC for blaming you.  It's us to blame.  It is those of us who have been inspired, influenced, and enriched by the work of seasoned artists around the country with Mississippi ties that are responsible. MAC actually has nothing to do with who is selected.  Anyone can nominate someone, and an independent panel of experts in the different fields make the selections.  There are too many deserving artists who have been leading visionaries for our state and country, and have been trail blazers for young artists like myself for this to happen again.  So please show 'em some love.  Nominate someone before June 28th by going here.

Past winners include the late textile artist Gwen Magee and portrait painter Marshal Bouldin III, as well living legends like wood worker Fletcher Cox and glass artist Andy Young.  To see a full list of past winners contact Susan Liles with MAC at

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mississippi Colorists

There is an exhibition of paintings that I curated at the Cedars titled "Mississippi Colorists" up through the end of May.  The show highlights a group of painters influenced by Mississippi Delta painter Sammy Britt who has been passing down ideas on color theory and representation of light through color for over 30 years.  To read an article I wrote about the show for Find it in Fondren Magazine go to...

Dianne Bryan

 David Taylor

Gerald DeLoach 

 Julie McCartney

 Richard Kelso

Sammy Britt 

 Susan Russell

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two shows

I wanted to highlight two shows that are in the Fondren area right now.  They have been up for the month of April and will be coming down soon.  Currently at the Cedars, which is a community center and part time gallery run by the Fondren Renaissance Foundation, is an exhibition that I am part of.  Exhibiting with me are two long time friends David West, and Ky Johnston.  David teaches drawing at Belhaven University, and Ky teaches pottery at Delta State University.  Also in the show is the collaborative glass work of Elizabeth Robinson and Kay Holloway (Spirit House Glass), and ceramic work by Courtney Peters who owns the Fondren interior design retail store Mosaic Interiors.  It is an incredibly diverse show with pottery, printmaking, drawing, painting, and glass work, but it all comes together nicely.  The spots of bright color contrasts well with the frequent black and white graphic pieces.  

Just down the street is a show at Fischer Galleries with photography by Gretchen Haien, and paintings by Vicksburg resident Martha Ferris.  Gretchen teaches photography at Belhaven University with David West, and this series of "Incidentals" showcases her ability to combine quiet, meditative, and minimalistic images with her vast technical knowledge.  Martha's series of European architecture inspired pieces are some of my favorite things I have seen in the area in the past couple of years.  She had a show of work from the same series last year at Fischer.  The flat shapes of color and play with perspective have a nice connection to her recent mosaic and tile work.  There is a particularly strong connection with the fountain mosaics she did at the Mississippi Museum of Art.  They are beautiful, playful, and very well executed which to me makes them very strong.  

 Pottery by Ky Johnston and painting by Jerrod Partridge (me)

 Mixed media piece by David West

 Main room at the Cedars

 Glass work by Spirit House Glass

 "Incidentals 041.10" by Gretchen Haien

 "Berlin" by Martha Ferris

 "Italy" by Martha Ferris

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A boon for Brown's

In the past four years we have seen at least five art galleries close in the Jackson area.  It is a tough business,  both the selling and making, that is set aside for the exceptionally determined and thick skinned.  We have also seen the rise of some alternative and temporary exhibition spaces like those in the Mid-town area.  Bryant's, Nunnery's and Jackson Street Gallery were all well established galleries to close, and Lisette's barely opened before they moved out to Canton.  But this year saw the passing of the staple gallery in downtown Jackson, Gallery 119. 

Local photographer James Patterson opened Gallery 119 on South President St. in 1999 in the building that was formerly the MSU architecture school.  James had a gallery just around the corner in the Capitol Towers building called Suite 103 for several years prior to the move.  Marcy Nessel was working with James at Gallery 119 where they maintained a high standard in both what work they showed and how they presented the work.  Add to that the incredible atmosphere of the building with its high ceilings, north light, and hardwood floors, and it became a space that would arouse envy in the trendiest of New York galleries.  Sales wouldn't sustain it for long.  Watching the renaissance of the Fondren neighborhood, James moved Gallery 119 to North State St. in Fondren in 2003.  The downtown space was not used as a gallery again until 2005 when Marcy opened it back up as Highland's Fine Art Brokers.  In 2008, Marcy also felt the pull of Fondren and opened what is now one of the most respected galleries in the city, Fischer Galleries.  Highlands Fine Art Brokers, however, stayed open this time.  James Patterson closed Gallery 119 in Fondren deciding to dedicate himself full-time to his photography again, which allowed Highlands to change its name back to Gallery 119.  It was under the direction of Ellen Bordeaux when Marcy left, and then in 2010 Mike Nunnery closed his Meadowbrook Dr. gallery of repute and merged with Gallery 119 downtown.  Mike brought with him his frame shop in an attempt to make it through the severe downturn of the economy, but it wasn't enough.  Gallery 119 closed its doors in March of this year.  

This may sound like a snafu of gallery openings and closings, but it was really a beautiful baton passing by a few people that know the importance of art to a community and have a passion to help distribute it in our society.  News alert: they aren't doing it for the money.  

Gallery 119 may be closed, but the baton continues to be passed.  Mike Nunnery, following suit from his 119 predecessors, has moved back to Fondren and joined forces with what has to be one of the oldest art establishments in Jackson, Brown's Fine Art and Framing.  This is actually a return for Mike in more than one way.  Before he opened his own gallery on Meadowbrook he worked at Brown's for many years.  There is no question that he is now going to be a great asset in his new position.  

Hanging at Brown's until the 15th of this month is an exhibition of paintings by Jackson artist Chad Mars.  This is actually Chad's first solo show. Having experienced in the not so distant past the nervousness, confusion, and excitement of a first solo show I know that it is something that should be celebrated and encouraged.  Chad's work is worth a gander.  These non-objective paintings are all about texture, and Chad is enthusiastic about it.  His approach is completely intuitive and responsive to the medium.  He claims inspiration from the work of Gerhard Richter and Mark Rothko, but stresses that he wants the work to have a very natural organic feel.  

Chad expressed concern to me about people not understanding his work, and therefore it might not be easy to sell.  In response to that I will pull a quote from the book I am currently reading God in the Gallery by Daniel Siedell.  "... art is too often assumed to be merely verbal communication pursued by other (and inferior) means, that the artist is trying to send 'messages' that we as viewers must receive and understand linguistically.  This is distinctly not the case with art.  Art requires contemplation that focuses attention on the viewer developing a relationship with the work of art, not merely passively receiving a message." 

Until we can convince our fast paced society to slow down and contemplate, galleries will continue to close around us.  Let's hope not.  Here's some of Chad's work...

Cloudburst #3

Cloudburst #5 



 The End

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Number: an independent journal of the arts for Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas has published an article which I wrote in the current issue, No. 73. The article is about the Mississippi Art Faculty Juried Exhibition at the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, MS this past spring.. I was fortunate to be included in this incredible exhibition which highlights artwork being produced by Mississippi's Art Faculty of colleges and universities.  Click here to see the current issue of Number:.  And here is my painting that was included in the show...

Pearl River #5
Oil on collaged handmade paper

Friday, November 2, 2012

Worth Reading

Recently, my friend and fellow Mississippi artist Ron Lindsey introduced me to a twice-weekly newsletter by the artist Robert Genn . I wanted to read the newsletter for a month or so before recommending myself, and have found that there are some very accessible insights in his writing.  It is worth reading.  Here is his most recent write-up...

Two artists

November 2, 2012

Because this is a bit personal, I'm not using their real names. They're both about 
40 years old.

"Jack" got a BFA and then an MFA from a Midwestern University. He's visited 
many of the major contemporary art museums and follows the work of several
 "important" contemporary painters. He's written articles on Philip Guston and 
others. He subscribes to several art magazines and is "the most knowledgeable 
art-guy in any discussion." After university he worked for a while in a commercial 
art gallery. He sometimes writes me long, well-informed letters. He's painted 
eleven large paintings (two unfinished) since leaving school. He's not represented
by any gallery. He thinks you need to move to New York and "get lucky" with a 
dealer who  "really represents you."

"Jill" took two years of art school and then quit. She pays little attention to other 
artists. She subscribes to no art magazines but has taken several workshops. Her 
hobbies include bowling and travelling. At one time she also worked in a 
commercial art gallery. On two or three occasions she's written to me. She's 
painted "approximately two thousand paintings" since leaving school. She's
 represented by four commercial galleries in four, well-separated mid-sized 

There's a great story in David Bayles and Ted Orland's Art and Fear. Here it is: 

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class 
into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded 
solely on the quantity of the work they produced, all those on the right solely on 
its quality. His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in 
his bathroom scales and weigh the work in the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of 
pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B" and so on. Those being graded on "quality,
" however, needed to produce only one pot--albeit a perfect one--to get an "A". 
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest 
quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that
 while the "quantity" group was busy turning out piles of work--and learning from 
their mistakes--the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the 
end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of
dead clay."

Best regards,


PS: "Artists get better by sharpening their skills or by acquiring new ones; they 
get better by learning to work, and by learning from their work." (David Bayles 
and Ted Orland)

Esoterica: Both subscribers Jack and Jill are thoughtful and enthusiastic artists. 
Art is central to their lives. And while success and "being able to function as a
full time artist" may not be important to some of us, their current situations are 
quite different. Jack rents an apartment and makes $2150 per month (plus tips 
and benefits) as an airport porter. Jill works daily in her converted garage in a 
home she now owns. These days she's averaging $18,000 per month. She has "no 
To receive the newsletter click on this link...