Mapping a Modern Mississippi < Places < Bozarts


The name "Bozarts" is a literary pun on the French term beaux arts. Despite H.L. Mencken's famous 1929 assessment that the South is "the Sahara of the Bozarts," you can find plenty of fine arts in the South and, of course, here at Bozarts Gallery.

Bozarts Gallery offers Water Valley and the surrounding community an opportunity for viewing, experiencing, and purchasing original art works.

The gallery displays works of local, regional, and national artists on a rotating basis and promotes a fresh and contemporary approach. It is also the home of the Bozarts Alliance, a cooperative of artists who display their work at Bozarts on a permanent basis.

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The Stories

Mickey Howley, the irrepressible director of the Water Valley Main Street Association (WVMSA) and owner of perhaps the best New Orleans accent north of Louisiana, has led the charge for much of the town’s revitalization. The WVMSA is accredited by the National Main Street Center. Most of the district’s 110 structures are eligible for state and federal tax credits for historic rehabilitation. More simply, Howley says, “My job is economic development through historic preservation.”

Howley moved to Water Valley in 2002 with his wife, Annette Trefzer, and bought a 96-year-old, 2,500-square-foot home for $80,000. “It was a no-brainer,” Howley says. they had purchased an 1880 storefront on Main Street they opened an art gallery in the space and cheekily named it Bozarts Gallery (after H.L. Mencken’s 1920 essay “The Sahara of the Bozart,” an indictment of arts in the South).

Howley sees much of Water Valley’s promise in the very structures built here more than a century ago. Turnage Drug Store, a 109-year-old purveyor of milkshakes and prescriptions, is in its fourth generation of family ownership; the North Mississippi Herald, a small-town paper if ever there were one, first started printing in 1888...

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Credit to: Nic Brown, for the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Annette Trefzer teaches American literature and literary theory. She is the author of Disturbing Indians: The Archaeology of Southern Fiction (UP of Alabama, 2007) and the co-editor with Ann J. Abadie of several volumes of critical essays on William Faulkner including: Global Faulkner (2009), Faulkner’s Sexualities (2010), and Faulkner: The Returns of the Text and Faulkner and Mystery.

She co-owns Bozarts with her husband Mickey Howley. They are both very hands on in the gallery and have created a wonderful forward thinking creative community around the gallery.

Bozarts Gallery owners Mickey Howley and Annette Trefzer (back row, far left and far right, respectively) with three Bozarts Alliance artists (from left to right): Pati D’Amico, William Warren, and Katrina Geenen.

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Annette Trefzer says that she lives a double life. She's an English professor by day at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and the Bozarts owner and operator in WaterValley (along with her husband Mickey) at night.  Bozarts Gallery, is a haven for experimentation, synergy, and collaboration.

Artist Cindy Aune of Water Valley paints with her fingers. She's developed the technique over the years and sees it as a way to create intuitively. In her words, it offers her a "freedom of movement." She is one of many makers who showcase their work at Water Valley's artist-fueled Bozarts Gallery.

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