Ending today (today!) is the exhibit at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art -- really, a great small museum -- in Laurel, Mississippi of 'Take Time to Appreciate: Photographs of Mrs. L.V. Hull and Rev. H.D. Dennis by Bruce West'.
Well of all the art environments in Mississippi, Bruce picked two great ones. Av and I have visited Miss L.V.'s and Rev. Dennis' places several times - following are some pics we've taken. This set is of Miss L.V.'s home in Kosy, taken about a year after her passing:
Early this week, the Daily Mail in the UK ran a story about Herb Williams who is from Alabama and lives in Nashville now -- the article reads in part:
Meet the artist who was inspired by a dream to start making these spectacular 3D sculptures out of hundreds and thousands of Crayola crayons.
---Each sculpture then takes him a staggering four to six months to create and can sell for thousands of dollars - with a nude Marilyn Monroe portrait and a fully-clothed Barack Obama piece selling for a combined sum of $50,000.
---The Alabama-born artist, who is the only person in the world to have a personal account with Crayola due to the amount of crayons he buys from them, said: 'My art career wasn't really taking off and I was starving, beating my head against the wall, and alienating my friends.
'It got to the point where I thought 'this is not worth it'.
'So I gave up on art and even burned a few of my works. But that night I had the most powerful dream and was inspired by someone in my dream to start using crayons as an artistic medium.
'The next morning, as soon as I woke up, I jotted down some ideas in a notebook by the side of my bed - and I've been making a living from them ever since.
---Herb's work has caused such a splash in the art world he has even been commissioned to create personal pieces for President Obama.
He said: 'The White House now want to commission me to make 3D crayon sculptures which will be used as gifts for them to give to delegates on foreign trips, like kings, queens and important political figures.
'Each one will be custom made for the delegate depending on which country they are from.
'It's such an enormous honour - I'm very humbled.'
Av and I had a wonderful supper this week at Veranda in B'ham. It's been my favorite restaurant in town -- in fact, my favorite in the state. We've been to all the top-tier restaurants in the city and whenever we have something to celebrate, we aren't at Hot and Hot or Highlands -- we're here at Veranda.
The day that Leslie and I went antique shopping in NE Alabama, we stopped in Ashville. In the downtown square was a shop called Sante Fe South with a nice selection of pottery and baskets:
Last month when we went to see the SPACES sculpture exhibits in Huntsville, we went by Oakwood College. My WPA book mentioned that Oakwood was built on what was at one time the Job Key and the Peter Blow plantations. Dred Scott, who became famous for suing in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court for his freedom as a slave, had at one time been at the Peter Blow plantation.
This is the slave cemetery for both plantations, where Dred Scott's first wife and two of his children are believed to be buried. The flat monument was dedicated April 4, 1999 with the words of Delbert W. Baker, President, Oakwood College. It reads:
In the annals of history simple things often illustrate great things -- sacrifice, courage, bravery, great deeds or exploits, so it is with this cemetery. Established more than one hundred years ago - slaves - Black men and women, caught up in the inextricable chains of bondage, buried their loved ones on this site. From the Job Key and Peter Blow Plantations (the latter where Dred Scott hailed) now the site of Oakwood College; from the other plantations and homesteads they buried them -- slaves and former slaves, we remember them, we honor them.
The day that Leslie and I went antique shopping, we found this old service station on the side of Hwy 11 near Steele, Alabama. From looking at the stripes and the curved details, it was part of the old Pan-Am chain that existed across the Southeast. Later on, I think many of them were re-branded as Amoco (which is now BP). This one just didn't make it but looked so different we explored a little:
THORNTON DIAL has never been one for talking much about his artwork. Ask him what inspires his monumental assemblages, made from twisted metal, tree branches, cloth, plastic toys, animal bones and all manner of found materials, and he is likely to respond tersely, as he did while showing me around his studio here one bone-chilling day last month.
Because Mr. Dial is self-taught and illiterate, he has generally been classified as a folk or outsider artist. But that pigeonhole has long rankled his admirers, because his work’s look, ambition, and obvious intellectual reach hew so closely to that of many other modern and contemporary masters, from Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg to Jean-Michel Basquiat. “If anybody else had created a major opus of this scope,” said Joanne Cubbs, an adjunct curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, “he or she would be recognized as a major force in the art world. Instead Dial struggles at the margins.”
But his marginalization may not last much longer. Mr. Dial’s first career retrospective, “ Hard Truth,” opens at the museum in Indianapolis on Friday. And on March 19 the Andrew Edlin Gallery in Chelsea will open Mr. Dial’s first solo gallery show in New York in 11 years. “This feels like the moment when the cultural world is ready to understand Mr. Dial and perhaps to embrace him,” said Ms. Cubbs, who organized the museum survey.
Certainly Mr. Dial has one of the more amazing art historical biographies on record. Although he had little formal schooling, he developed an intimate acquaintance with postmodernist art-making materials early in life.
Born in 1928 in a cornfield in the tiny rural hamlet Emelle, Ala., and raised by his great-grandmother, Mr. Dial went to work as soon as he could walk, harvesting sweet potatoes and corn, and gathering twigs and “the stuff my great-grandmother needed to make fire,” he said. After her death Mr. Dial and his younger half brother went to live with another relative in Bessemer, a small industrial town, where he hauled ice, poured concrete, raised cattle, did carpentry and laid bricks, among other things, until he found employment as a metalworker at the local Pullman-Standard boxcar factory. He worked there on and off until it closed in 1981.
Mr. Dial was so prolific, he added, that his wife often made the boys tidy up by burying his old work in the yard. (Mr. Dial has said in the past that he sometimes hid his work himself because he feared the attention it might attract during the Jim Crow years.)
Life changed dramatically for Mr. Dial in the late ‘80s, when he was discovered by William Arnett, a wealthy white Atlanta collector who was obsessively scouring the South for unheralded African-American work.
For Mr. Dial the meeting was transformative. “He didn’t have to bury stuff anymore,” his son said, “because Mr. Arnett would give him money for things, and Daddy was kind of fascinated. There was a point where he said, ‘Ya’ll been laughing at me, but look at what the man just paid me for doing this.’ ”
Mr. Arnett gave him a monthly stipend in exchange for right of first refusal, which allowed Mr. Dial to make art full time. Mr. Arnett visited frequently, and introduced Mr. Dial to curators and other collectors, including Jane Fonda, who remains a major supporter. He also set the wheels in motion for Mr. Dial’s first museum exhibition, “Image of the Tiger.” Organized by the critic Thomas McEvilley, it opened at two New York institutions, the Museum of American Folk Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, in November 1993. The show seemed poised “to break down the border between outside and inside,” Mr. McEvilley said. Critically it was successful: “He has a genuine talent that he brandishes fearlessly,” Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times. But soon after the opening “60 Minutes” ran a segment that suggested Mr. Arnett was exploiting the folk artists whose work he had championed, particularly Mr. Dial. Suddenly “my show died on the vine,” Mr. McEvilley said. And so did several other major exhibitions of Mr. Dial’s art in the works.
(Mr. Dial, who remains close to Mr. Arnett, memorialized the debacle with the 2003 self-portrait assemblage “Strange Fruit: Channel 42”: it involves an eyeless scarecrow-like creature wearing a bloody tie strung up from a television antenna.) Yet the event had one positive effect on Mr. Dial, Ms. Cubbs said: “It made him re-evaluate what the relationship would be between his art and its audience, and his work became more complex and powerful.”
Another in the (architectural) series of "Not Your Momma's Baptist Church":
Last month when we were in Huntsville, we took time to view all the new sculptures that have been up since December (they'll be up through August 2012 so there's plenty of time...) at A&M, UAH, Lowe Mill, and in the downtown / museum / VBCC part of the city. It's called the SPACES Sculpture Trail.
Without even realizing what was in Havana, Alabama, I saw this stone monument on the side of the road -- prominent were the names Dr. Henry Tutwiler and Julia Strudwick Tutwiler. Anyone who paid attention in Alabama History class knows at least one of those names:
I've saved one of my favorite annual posts for Valentine's Day. It seemed only right since it's the 2011 Wedding Register from Mississippi Magazine.
There seemed to be fewer 'original' brides than in years past. No mention of chicken-on-a-stick from McPhail's Chevron in Oxford. No 'From Dixie with Love' performed by the Pride of the South. And no groom's cake with fondant shotgun shells.
That's what makes it wonderful and *fun* -- all these couples really enjoying themselves and personalizing it. Av and I had the super-traditional wedding with a cocktail hour and gorgeous seated supper reception. It was formal and fantastic...but there's a part of me that reads these and thinks "oh we should have done this or this or wouldn't that be so fun!?"...
Here are the brides who went for something different and made the register so enjoyable.
"The salad bar featured a catfish ice sculpture... The groom's table, the conversation piece of the reception, was a ten-foot-long aluminum boat that held a four-foot-long red velvet cake in the shape of a motley catfish..."
"The groom's room mocked Cafe Du Monde, as chefs wore aprons and hats while serving fresh, hot beignets accompanied by coffee and cold milk."
"Favors also included small bags of peanuts tied on old glass Coke bottles."
"Guests enjoyed music from St. Paul's United Methodist Gospel Choir...during a "dinner on the grounds" reception. Long buffet tables were filled with Southern favorites such as fried chicken, squash casserole, green beans, and cornbread, plus a grits and biscuit table and a summer salad station.
The groom's table was the bride's grandfather's 1972 Chevrolet truck bed filled with homemade ice cream, pecan pies, cupcakes, and all the trimmings."
"One of the highlights of the evening was the bride, a former Auburn University majorette, and friends performing a baton routine to Auburn's fight song, 'War Eagle!'"
"The groom's table featured a three-dimensional strawberry cake of a largemouth bass jumping out of a lake and embellished with fondant fishing lures."
A Southern bride married a boy from New York "in the historic Cannonball Factory in Hudson, New York" and...
"Before the ceremony, the bride and her mother exorcised the building, built in 1861, with sage to eradicate any remnants of anti-Southern militarism."
I'm going to get busy this weekend making this year's crop of Valentines for Av, but here are some I've made previously.
It's easy: pick an image that sums up your idea, then import into Photoshop. Add text to the image, save as another file, then upload to whichever photo lab you like.
Each year, I think "how can I give a card that someone at Hallmark in Kansas City dreamed up, and it express my real feelings?". This is why I like this so much. Av knows these pics because I've taken them, and adding my feelings to them makes them into a genuine valentine. Plus they're funny.
This is how I really feel:
Hi, I'm Ginger, a 7th-generation Alabamian.
I am married to the best person I have ever known, and we are just smitten with our two sons -- who are just 15 months apart!
I love to travel, cook, read (nonfiction), and study folkways.
I enjoy self-taught / vernacular art, bottle trees, dioramas, chenille, seersucker, toile, Indian mound sites, WPA books, letterpress, gardenias, camellias, orchids, festivals, handmade things, and Southern traditions/culture/folklore.
I am a graphic designer. I like to make things look pretty.
I try to be a collector of experiences.
And I'm so happy you're here.
You can email me at:
ginger [at] deepfriedkudzu (dot) com
1. The cover of Juke Joint Soul CD
2. Courthouse protest in Harvard College Economics Review
3. Archibald's BBQ in Southern Belly
4. Katrina pics in Louisiana PBS documentary, Surviving the Storm
1. Home pics in an urban design and architectural pattern book for Michigan City, IN
2. Perry County Courthouse pic in Thicket Magazine
3. Boll Weevil Monument pic in the French Journal Insectes
4. Bryant Store pic in the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, magazine OnStage
5. Boll Weevil Monument pic and Coldwater Books pic in Thicket Magazine
6. Talladega Courthouse pic in Thicket Magazine
7. Various pics, Encyclopedia of Alabama
8. Several pics of Joe Minter's art environment for exhibit including him at Vulcan Park and Museum
9. Organizing feature at Apartment Therapy
10. Doe's Eat Place tamales at Gourmet.com
1. Mississippi Amish community pic in the Jackson Free Press
2. Interview with me about DFK in Thicket Magazine, Summer Issue
3. Several pics of B'ham and Alabama for an exhibit at Vulcan Park and Museum
4. Causeyville General Store pic used in web interactive game 'Adventure A-Go-Go' for Starwood Hotel's new brand, Aloft Hotels
5. Oxford Mound pic in the Indian Country Today newspaper (and a hundred other places)
6. Monroeville Courthouse / Mockingbird pics in Good Reading Magazine
7. Pensacola Futuro house pic used by New York Daily News
8. Benjamin Butler pot in the National Park Service's literature at Lowell National Historic Park
9. Moundville pics in educational film on indigenous people by University of Chile
10. Slugburger at SeriousEats
11. Oxford Mound for the Institute of Southern Studies
12. Indian mound pics used in the movie The New Daughter
13. Gift wrap station idea produced for Lowe's Creative Ideas Magazine
14. Snowman cutout for yard fun idea produced for Lowe's Creative Ideas Magazine
15. Star of David idea produced for Lowe's Creative Ideas Magazine
16. Dreidel pad game idea produced for Lowe's Creative Ideas Magazine
1. Several pics in the book Alabama's Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom
2. Article featuring Deep Fried Kudzu in Exodus, the Samford University Magazine
3. Contributor, Best Road Trip Ever! iPhone App
4. Peaches Cafe pic for Barefoot Workshops Documentary
5. Poster in Crit Architecture Journal
6. Consultant on MS Culinary Trail for MS Tourism
7. Stone bath mat idea produced for Lowe's Creative Ideas Magazine
8. W.C. Rice's Cross Garden image at Art21
1. Crawfish boil pic for Avia Boutique Hotels
2. Feature about DFK and making Easter baskets for children in homeless shelters, with a tutorial on naturally-dyed eggs, for the Publix Supermarket FamilyStyle magazine
3. Interview with me about DFK and travel in Alabama on the arts program, Tapestry, on the Bham public radio station, WBHM
4. Cover photograph of All Saints Chapel at Sewanee for UDC Magazine
5. Pics of Julia Tutwiler's church and monument for Escambia County Historical Society newsletter
6. Photograph of J.W. Renfroe building for company literature
7. Pic of American Village sounding board for Society of Colonial Wars book
8. Adjudicated grant applications for folk art fellowship, apprenticeship and roster for the Mississippi Arts Commission
9. Pic of a Koolickle for FoodandWine.com
10. Pic of Vincent Oliver's Hippodrome for Black & White
1. Gee's Bend Quilt Mural pic for Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement book
2. Rural Studio Animal Shelter pic in Moundville Times
3.More images at Encylopedia of Alabama
4. Koolickle image at the BBC
5. 'I Heart Alabama Gulf Seafood' feature for Alabama Gulf Seafood promotion
1. The Hermitage, Nashville, TN
2. Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, LA
3. The Alluvian, Greenwood, MS
4. Le Royal Meridien King Edward, Toronto, ON
5. Le Meridian (now Golden Tulip) Apollo, Amsterdam, Holland
6. Imperial Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark
7. W New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
8. Le Meridien, Eilat, Israel
All-Time Favorite Shows:
1. The Waltons (The Waltons will always be my favorite show!!)
2. Downton Abbey, Little House on the Prairie
3. Six Feet Under and The Sopranos
4. Homeland and Curb Your Enthusiasm
5. Mad Men and Big Love
1. Sunset Boulevard
2. Gone with the Wind
3. Coal Miner's Daughter
4. Urban Cowboy
5. Muriel's Wedding
6. Mommie Dearest
7. Driving Miss Daisy
8. The Color Purple
9. Lost in Translation
10. Romantics Anonymous
Book: 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' by James Agee
Play: 'The Last Night of Ballyhoo' by Alfred Uhry
Poem: 'A Supermarket in California' by Allen Ginsberg
Singer: Eva Cassidy
Inspiration: Eugene Walter
1. Commander's Palace, New Orleans, LA -
Don't Miss: every single thing there is *amazing*. Be sure to have Creole cream cheese cheesecake for dessert, too!
2. Antoine's, New Orleans, LA -
Don't Miss: the fish, the soft shell crabs, and the baked Alaska...and the service is incredible.
3. Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, MS -
Don't Miss: steaks (one steak serves two easily) and tamales.
4. Chez Fonfon, B'ham, AL -
Don't Miss: everything here is great...even the hamburger is amazing!
5. Taylor Grocery, Taylor, MS -
Don't Miss: catfish, catfish, catfish.
6. Lusco's, Greenwood, MS -
Don't Miss: pompano, and the atmosphere - with the tables with curtains and the little buzzer.
7. Jacques-Imo's, New Orleans, LA -
Don't Miss: 'Godzilla Meets Fried Green Tomatoes'. Oh yes.
8. Big Bob Gibson's, Decatur, AL -
Don't Miss: barbecue and white chicken sauce. White sauce got started here.
9. Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn, Hattiesburg, MS -
Don't Miss: beef ribs.
10. Drago's, Metairie, LA -
Don't Miss: charbroiled oysters.
11. Ninfa's, Houston, TX -
Don't Miss: (the original Ninfa's on Navigation) ohmygosh this place makes me so happy I can't wait to go back and have the entire rest of the menu.
12. The Bright Star, Bessemer, AL -
Don't Miss: trout almondine, snapper throats, prime rib.
13. Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca, AL -
Don't Miss: Ezell's is a *real* fish camp - right on the water with excellent catfish (obviously), fried pickles, and hush puppies.
14. Duchess Bakery, Cullman, AL -
Don't Miss: doughnuts early in the morning while they are still hot.
15. Gambino's Bakery, Metairie, LA -
Don't Miss: the Doberge: it is six layers of yellow butter cake with custard between each layer and the whole production is covered in fondant.
16. Rabideaux's Sausage Kitchen, Iowa, LA -
Don't Miss: anything and everything they have there is wonderful!! Bring a cooler.
17. The Dillard House, Dillard, GA -
Don't Miss: the process: your table automatically gets everything on the menu that day, and you can ask for more of whatever you like. Expect three or four main dishes, six or so side dishes, and dessert.
18. McGuire's Irish Pub, Pensacola, FL -
Don't Miss: Everything there is wonderful - especially the prime rib.
19. Wintzell's Oyster House, Mobile, AL -
Don't Miss: Wintzell's is just fun! Go to the original - the one downtown on Dauphin Street. Obviously famous for their oysters.
20. The Dinner Bell, McComb, MS -
Don't Miss: it's a revolving tables restaurant. Especially good dressing and eggplant.
21. Walnut Hills, Vicksburg, MS -
Don't Miss: making friends with everyone at your table. Another revolving tables restaurant.
22. Niki's West, B'ham, AL -
Don't Miss: whole fried flounder, and dozens of vegetables available, all of them excellent - when ordering, just think of your two or three favorite and chances are, they're available. Don't miss the rutabagas.
23. Bob's Clam Hut, Kittery, ME -
Don't Miss: Bob's may be a clam hut, but they make the most *amazing* lobster rolls.
24. Faidley's, Baltimore, MD -
Don't Miss: The crabcakes. Best ever. Ever.