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