Millie Howell & son, David Howell


Portrait of Millie Howell by Homer Casteel (1919-1972)

On Monday, I was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, at the home of artist Millicent “Millie” Howell. Born in 1927 in Meridian, she may be the only living artist who attended art workshops at Allison’s Wells resort in Way, Mississippi. The tradition of artists gathering twice yearly to study with a guest artist became known as Mississippi Art Colony. It met at Allison’s Wells from 1948 until 1963 when the resort burned. Millie Howell participated in the Mississippi Art Colony in the spring and fall of every year, she says, until the past couple of years.


Photograph of Millie Howell by Florence Mars, who wrote Witness in Philadelphia (1977), about the murders of three civil-rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Mars was a native of Philadelphia. Her obituary is on the websites of NPR and The Washington Post.


Millie’s son, David Howell (b. 1954), is also an Abstract Expressionist painter. After a career in New York as a faux-finish painter, he returned to his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi. In Mississippi, he continued to work as a faux-finisher and returned to fine art painting. In recent years, he has exhibited at the Neshoba County Fair, at the Meridian Museum of Art’s Bi-State Art Competition, and at the Horne Gallery in Meridian.

I’ll post images of Millie’s and David’s paintings very soon: hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, has anyone seen other photographs by Florence Mars?

9 thoughts on “Millie Howell & son, David Howell

  1. Thank you for celebrating MS artists! Millie’s work is wonderful, she still shows her paintings periodically at the Meridian Art Museum. So many artists took a class from Homer Casteel in Meridian at one time or other and still talk about the education they got.


  2. Oh! BTW, my sister’s name is Alison Wells. She remembers being totally embarassed when a little girl in school and the teacher recognized her name and made a big deal out of it in class! I would proudly say to local people, my sister is Alison Wells….and wait for the name recognition to catch. Not everyone is aware of the art colony.


    • How funny! Yes, Allisons Wells is a legend among art lovers in Mississippi and among folks who went to Camp Bratton Green. As a counselor at that camp, I remember hearing stories about the fire that probably were a little embellished.


  3. I also took art from Homer Casteel my 2nd year at Meridian Community College, 1969. I changed my major then from business to art. Others who also took and still paint: Leslie Jenkins, Michael French, Van McElwee (video art in St. Louis, MO), William Godwin.


    • I love hearing about this! This would be a good blog post in itself. What do you remember from Homer Casteel’s teaching? What medium did he teach you? Was it his class that made you want to change your major to art? If you would be willing to email me some images of your work, I’d love to post them on the blog, if that’s all right with you.


  4. Beth, thank you for the excellent article and pictures of my mother and her art. I would love to see a follow-up on my brother David. His art is an interesting counterpoint to hers.


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