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Cigar Box Guitars, Art, and the Blues - Tony Davenport and Phillip Wooley

By Sarah Crites, Public Relations Coordinator

I recently had the privilege of interviewing two Mississippi artists, both longtime employees of Jackson Public Schools, who will be showcased as part of the Museum’s series of monthly pop up exhibitions. Tony Davenport, an art teacher, and Phillip Wooley, a librarian, met me in the library at Chastain Middle School. Tony, originally from Vicksburg, has been with JPS for ten years, and Phillip, a Jacksonian, just signed his 32nd contract as Chastain’s school librarian.

Davenport is widely known for his signature acrylic paintings. But in addition to newly minted canvasses, the Museum After Hours pop up exhibition on Thursday, December 18 will showcase some new and different collaborations. Cigar box guitars, built by Phillip and painted by Tony, are conversation pieces not just for the people who own them, but between the men themselves.

I asked them how this creative collision came to be. It began when Phillip saw an etching from the Civil War era of a union soldier playing a cigar box fiddle. Mississippi Delta men at the turn of...

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Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Marie Hull

Credit Line: Marie Hull (1890-1980), Sharecroppers, 1938, oil on canvas.

This double portrait is of two men who served as models for approximately twenty paintings that Marie Hull accomplished during the thirties. Marie Hull was the only Mississippi artist invited to exhibit in the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939 in San Francisco.

The sharecropper paintings evolved naturally. The Depression, spring floods and crop failure all contributed to the dire conditions in which these noble men found themselves. They were going around Jackson sharpening scissors or doing any other day labor that might provide a little money. They were people of integrity and character who were down on their luck. Hull commented, “They were, I think, among the finest things I’ve ever done, but I was doing them for quality, not sentimental appeal.”

From “The Art of Marie Hull”, by Malcolm Norwood, Virginia MgGehee Elias and William S. Haynie.

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Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014 by MMA

Don Norris - 2014 MS Invitational Artist

​“I am a native of northwestern Indiana and an emeritus professor of biological sciences. I live in Hattiesburg.

As a photographer of landscapes, I am interested in the everyday. I intend my images to be realistic, straightforward, and simple. Most are in black and white, with a modest subset of color. My portfolios, drawn from across America, center on the South. All are about visual elements that contribute to our rich sense of place: our distinctive vernacular architecture, our regional and seasonal vegetation, our broad landscapes and small commonplaces.

My photographs have been selected for numerous national and regional juried competitions and have won several awards. My work is part of both private and public collections, including those of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Alabama’s Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Museum of the University of Kentucky.” Learn more about the 2014 Mississippi Invitational.

Artwork credit line: Don Norris, Carpenter’s Shop (1861) Gainesville, Alabama, 2009. Photograph.

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Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014 by MMA

Intelligent Design - Spanish Sojourns

By Amanda Lucius, Graphic Designer

When promoting an exhibition at the Museum, we work to spark interest without overshadowing or contradicting the art. This means selling not only the show, but also the idea of the show. In my own process, I always start with a history book. What was going on in the world in general, and the art world, when this art was being created? How does the artist fit into their time?

If you’re like I was last January, the name Robert Henri doesn’t mean much to you. So here’s the big idea:

Robert Henri was an accomplished American painter and educator at the turn of the 20th century; a founding member of the Aschan School of thought and instructor at the New York School of Art. Like most of the country during that time, he turned his attention to the romantic notions of Spain and Spanish culture. (see the work of: Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, Washington Irving, Walt Whitman, and Helen Hunt Jackson) Henri rejected...

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Posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Credit Line: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), William Faulkner, 1947, gelatin silver print.

The French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, took photos using the gravity of art during the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

“My passion,” he wrote in 1994, “has never been for photography itself, but for the possibility-through forgetting yourself-of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of a subject, and the beauty of the form.”

His portraits are known for bringing personalities to life by merging the complexity of psychologies with the economy of formal elegance. Skillfully zeroing in on gestures and glances, he captures movement in time- and subjects set in environments charged with aesthetic tension. He masterfully connects observation with feeling and a remarkable sense of how to construct a picture.

“To take photographs,” he once said, “...is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.”

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Posted on Monday, December 8, 2014 by MMA

Ruth Miller - 2014 MS Invitational

Ruth Miller, The Evocation and the Capture of Aphrodite

“Working in the medium of hand-stitched embroidery, Ruth Miller uses her art to explore the inner landscapes all people traverse alone or with companions. Motivations, longings and the effects of everyday encounters are the subjects she dissects with each piece. She also seeks to pass on hard-won life lessons. Most of Miller’s art takes the form of portraiture. These are not mere reproductions of the subjects’ appearances. Rather, most often she decides on a theme she’d like to explore and then searches for a model who can embody that concept, proceeding from there to photograph the individual. Lately, she has worked from the opposite direction: finding the likely photograph first, searching it for universal themes embedded within and creating highly-patterned backgrounds to enhance the concept.

Once the reference photograph has been decided upon, a line drawing is derived from it. Grids are used to transfer this image to fabric. This simple drawing also forms the basis for more complex shaded drawings and photocopies made for color experimentation, both eventually providing references...

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Posted on Monday, December 8, 2014 by MMA

Invitation to Discover

On a recent weekday, we caught up with a pair of visitors in the galleries of the 2014 Mississippi Invitational. Danny Vong, a nine year old boy, and his tutor, Margie Culbertson. Danny had chosen to visit, from the various activities and attractions in town, the Museum. Why did he pick an art museum, and not a more traditionally-thought-of child-friendly destination?

“Because art is so amazing,” he said. “And it can be made out of anything - Legos, wood, anything.”

He was busy creating in the family corner of the exhibition in the free-form space constructed by our Education department. Margie, a mother of two, grandmother of seven, devoted community volunteer, and artist in her own right, was exploring the Museum’s exhibitions with Danny and helping to demystify the artworks on the walls. When talking with children about art in museums, she said, she talks about the choices an artist makes. Why Robert Henri faithfully renders a representational body part in one portrait only to employ looser, more expressive brushstrokes on the next. “We talked about how it wasn’t because...

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Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Give Thanks for Art

Credit Line: Tina Mason (dates unknown), Hunter’s Paradise, no date. oil on board. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of the artist. 1954.010. As we reflect on Thanksgiving week and the holidays ahead, this painting’s festive fall colors and bounty represent all that there is to be thankful for; art, turkey, and family!

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Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by MMA

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