From the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast

I’ve been traveling so much lately that I haven’t had a chance to write about where I’ve been and the art I’ve seen. Balancing traveling and blogging is still something I’m working on.

Art Crawl sign_750

On September 19, I was at Water Valley’s Art Crawl.

Art Crawl tailgaters Danny Rodgers, Jason Green, Sherry Green, and John Green enjoy Main Street in Water Valley.

Art Crawl tailgaters Danny Rodgers, Jason Green, Sherry Green, and John Green enjoy Main Street in Water Valley.

I stayed a couple of extra days in Water Valley to continue interviewing Katrina Geenen and Pati D’Amico and to talk with Coulter Fussell of Yalo Studio.  At Pati D’Amico and William Warren’s home on Panola Street, which was one of the stops along the Art Crawl, one room became a gallery for Jack Gurner’s photographs, which depicted Panola Street in decades past. A native of Water Valley, he was a photojournalist in Memphis and has retired with his wife to his hometown. I’ll tell you more about all of these artists in later posts.

Willie "Butch" Fox on Main Street for Art Crawl

Willie “Butch” Fox on Main Street for Art Crawl. J. R. Larson’s exhibition, HOT BLIND EARTH, at Yalo Studio and Gallery features a portrait of Butch Fox.

Also that week, I had the privilege of interviewing three creative, young men in the YOU Program for youth offenders at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. They had recently painted a mural, and I left feeling hopeful for them and grateful for their stories, which you’ll get to read after the interviews have been processed.

Yesterday, I was a guest at Mississippi Art Colony, held twice a year at Henry S. Jacobs Camp near Utica.

A mosaic on the Cultural Center at Henry S. Jacobs Camp

A mosaic on the Cultural Center at Henry S. Jacobs Camp

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Henry S. Jacobs Camp, Utica, Mississippi

The oldest, artist-run, art colony in the country, it has been meeting at Henry S. Jacobs Camp since 1973. Randy Jolly, Director of Gore Galleries and instructor in the Department of Art at Mississippi College, arranged my visit. There, I met about 40 artists, including Byron Myrick, who directs Mississippi Art Colony, and Colony president Judy Berry.

In white shirt: Elke Briuer. In pink shirt: Susan Cox Davis

In white shirt: Elke Briuer. In pink shirt: Susan Cox Davis

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Randy Jolly gave me directions to the Colony and told me he would either be painting under the pavilion or in the woods, cutting vines that he could paint and incorporate as snakes in his paintings.  The Colony artists start about 8:30 in the morning and some paint until as late as 7:00 p.m., missing Happy Hour (although it’s an hour and a half-long happy “hour” someone told me with a smile).  Each artist occupies at least one table during the entire five days of Colony, and their focus was evident when I strolled through the pavilion with my camera and hardly anyone looked up at me.

Happy Hour at Mississippi Art Colony

Happy Hour at Mississippi Art Colony

There is much to say about the Mississippi Art Colony and about the artists I met there. I’ll share images and more about them in future blogs.

View from the balcony of the board room, Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, Mississippi

View from the balcony of the board room, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, Mississippi

Monday, September 28, I was at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi for a Mississippi Museums Association meeting.  Director Kevin O’Brian generously showed me the current exhibitions: The Mysterious Play of Water with photographs and paintings by Susan Guice; I Come From Women Who Could Fly, featuring Delita Martin‘s large-scale works that layer multiple mediums from quilts to drawings to gelatin printing; The Ooma Collection of Toshiko Takaezu’s “closed form” ceramic vessels; and two George E. Ohr installations of a total of 151 pots by the master potter. I saw 151 Ohr pots in one place in one afternoon!

The Mysterious Play of Water is an exhibition of photographs and paintings by Susan Guice. On view at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art through Dec. 6, 2016.

The Mysterious Play of Water is an exhibition of photographs and paintings by Susan Guice. On view at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art through Dec. 6, 2016.

I Come From Women Who Could Fly is an exhibition of work by Delita Martin on view through Nov. 29, 2015 at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art.

I Come From Women Who Could Fly is an exhibition of work by Delita Martin on view through Nov. 29, 2015 at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

George E. Ohr, Pitcher, c. 1895. glazed ceramic, 9 in. x 5 7/8 in. Private Collection, Biloxi, Mississippi.

George E. Ohr, Pitcher, c. 1895. glazed ceramic, 9 in. x 5 7/8 in. Private Collection, Biloxi, Mississippi.

 

One more visit that I want to mention happened last Thursday, September 17, at the Gore Galleries at Mississippi College.  I saw the alumni art show being hung and got to select the purchase prize for MC’s art collection.  Walking through the library to the coffee shop (Students don’t have to sneak coffee under their jackets when they enter the library.  They can even have pizza delivered at the library!), I passed a painting by Elizabeth Pajerski and a triptych by Kenneth Quinn. I met Dr. Quinn and will be interviewing him next week.

Elizabeth Pajerski painting at MC library_750

A painting by Elizabeth Pajerski hangs in the library at Mississippi College.

A triptych by Kenneth Quinn in Mississippi College's library.

A triptych by Kenneth Quinn in Mississippi College’s library.

Artists Randy Jolly (left) and Kenneth Quinn at Mississippi College

Artists Randy Jolly (left) and Kenneth Quinn at Mississippi College

Kudzu Crossing by William Warren

William Warren’s paintings of kudzu depict roadside sculpture gardens of fantastic, sometimes alien-looking forms. He told me there was good kudzu between Water Valley and Taylor.

“Kudzu Crossing” by William Warren is on view at Bozarts Gallery, Water Valley. Acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

“Mound Moguls” by William Warren. acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

Kudzu from the car_Taylor & WV

I wanted a photo of the kudzu near Water Valley and Taylor, but was in a hurry and took this photo from a moving car, so it doesn’t do it justice.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, by the time William Warren was in third grade, the other children in his class were impressed by his drawing abilities and asked him to draw dinosaurs and other things. By eighth grade, the political cartoons by David Levine that appeared in New York magazine inspired him to make his own pen and ink drawings of political satire. A versatile artist, he has been sculpting since high school. At Rhode Island School of Design is where he says, “I really started to paint. And that’s become, you know, sort of a lifelong pursuit. It’s really my primary passion.”

“Journey of the One Eyed Egg” by William Warren. acrylic on canvas. Copyright (c) the artist.

Warren and his wife, Pati D’Amico, started the Waiting Room Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island, as they were waiting for their house to sell so that they could move to the bohemian Bywater area of New Orleans. This was 1996. Warren recalls an accomplishment of his and D’Amico’s that happened in Providence that year before they moved to New Orleans:

We started Gallery Night. It was kind of like another overnight success because it grew from about eight galleries in the beginning to sixteen the second time and then we had a Charlie bus that took everybody around. So it was a great rejuvenator for the city arts scene. People had thought about it for years but it was that catalyst of a couple people getting together and saying ‘Let’s do it.’

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William Warren, who goes by Bill among friends and clients of his sign-painting business, sits in front of one of his sculptures on his porch in Water Valley.

They arrived in New Orleans on April Fools’ Day, 1997. In a big, double shotgun house in Bywater, Warren and D’Amico lived on one side and eventually opened the Waiting Room Gallery on the other side. He reflects upon the positive effect that affordable housing and real estate can have on an arts scene:

Bywater was very affordable at that time. It was really a bohemian art scene. Quintessential. And that really suited me. I always thought that sort of inexpensive, funky area really suited me. There were many painters, many writers, musicians galore. So it was a place that people could afford, and that’s a main ingredient in any art scene I think is affordability. Hopefully, affordable so that artists can buy their own spaces because I think we have a lot more control over the situation. Now, after the storm, that all changed. Everything got very expensive, very quickly actually. [. . .] Our gallery was kind of a pioneer of the area. We, another gallery around the corner from us, and then one on St. Claude. [. . .] in that area, there were only about three or four galleries and now there are about ten to thirteen galleries in the area.”

Warren and D’Amico moved to Water Valley in 2008. Warren’s hand-painted signs are found on storefronts along Main Street. In fact, last year, The Huffington Post published an article about him that was written by Lauren Walser for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A hand-painted sign by William Warren in Water Valley.

William Warren painted this mural in 2013 in Water Valley. The design is from a 1907 illustration by J. G. Boyd.

Warren and D’Amico have been instrumental in the growth of the artistic community there. (Read more about their involvement with Bozarts Gallery in my previous post.) Their studios will be on the Art Crawl tour on September 19, 2015.  For more information about the Art Crawl, go to the Water Valley Arts Council’s Facebook page.

Thanks to William Warren for allowing me to interview him and to share the images of his artworks. To see more artworks by William Warren, contact Bozarts Gallery at (662) 473-2484 or visit http://bozartsgallery.com/.

Follow me through the kudzu and byways of Mississippi and learn about the art I see and the artists I meet along the way.

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Bozarts Gallery & the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Bozarts Gallery is owned by Annette Trefzer & Mickey Howley and has helped several New Orleans expatriates find a sense of community post-Hurricane Katrina.

Bozarts Gallery on Main Street in Water Valley, Mississippi

“Katrina Fatigue” is a common complaint among Hurricane Katrina’s survivors who lived along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Mississippi and in New Orleans. People died, became physically ill, suffered mental breakdowns, lost beloved pets and irreplaceable artworks and property as a result of the hurricane.

Bozarts Gallery owners Mickey Howley and Annette Trefter (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

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

Ten years after the hurricane, despite the painful memories, three artists and two gallery owners gathered on August 26 at Bozarts Gallery to talk with me. The artists were Pati D’Amico, Katrina Geenen, and William Warren.  The gallery owners were Annette Trefzer, PhD, who teaches English at University of Mississippi, and her husband, Mickey Howley, who directs the Water Valley Main Street Association. Even though Trefzer and Howley own Bozarts Gallery, early in the conversation, Geenen referred to Bozarts as “our gallery.” Through the artist cooperative, called the Bozarts Alliance, a sense of community has been created.

Bozarts Alliance, which has 15 members, including D’Amico, Geenen, and Warren, is described on the gallery’s website as:

[. . .] a supportive network of artists and gallery owners dedicated to discussing new ideas, collaborating on projects, and supporting one another. Members of the Bozarts Alliance have freedom to choose the gallery projects they wish to explore, collaborate on shows and projects, schedule annual shows, and pursue curating opportunities with the Bozarts Gallery owners.

The Mirror Gallery is reserved for Bozarts Alliance artists to exhibit year-round.

The Mirror Gallery is reserved for Bozarts Alliance artists to exhibit year round.

Artists Pati D’Amico and her husband, William Warren, were among those who returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  Prior to New Orleans, they lived in Providence, Rhode Island, for 22 years where they started an event similar to an art crawl and were involved in an artist cooperative.  In New Orleans, they ran the Waiting Room Gallery in Bywater for 11 years. Geenen says they were pioneers in that neighborhood; however, after violent crime in New Orleans increased in mid-2006, they began to consider leaving the city they loved. They moved to Water Valley in June 2008 and helped to start the Water Valley Arts Council the following year. Warren is the co-director of the arts council. Their experience with and knowledge of artist cooperatives contributed to the founding of the Bozarts Alliance.

Katrina Geenen had hosted a Brazilian music radio show for 25 years in New Orleans. Her show was one of the last, if not the last, show that was broadcast prior to Hurricane Katrina’s making landfall. After her radio show, Geenen drove the back roads — all lanes of the interstate highways were flowing north away from the coast — from New Orleans to Gulfport to pick up her mother from a nursing home.  They moved to California and lived there until Geenen’s mother passed away in 2010. Geenen had exhibited at D’Amico and Warren’s gallery in New Orleans, and got in touch with them in Water Valley.  D’Amico told her that there was “a burgeoning art scene” in the Valley. Geenen moved there on April 10, 2010; D’Amico remembers the exact date.  Like her friends, she found the housing in Water Valley to be more affordable than in New Orleans and was able to buy a house.

Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, Annette Trefzer and Mickey Howley, former New Orleanians who were living in Water Valley, purchased the circa 1880s building that is now Bozarts Gallery.  Their time during the first couple of years after the hurricane was divided between Water Valley and New Orleans helping to clean Howley’s mother’s flooded house. (Howley tells the story of a chest freezer at his mother’s house that had floated up to the ceiling after the levees broke. The freezer wedged itself over the door and blocked the back door from opening. They stabbed a hole in the bottom of the freezer and “liquid putrification” spilled out. After that, he says, nothing fazed him.)  Trefzer says that fate stepped in because if they had not purchased the building in Water Valley, they might have returned to New Orleans to help Mickey’s family.

“The fact that you bought the building—fate made you buy the building—gave all of us somewhere to go,” said Katrina Geenen.

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“Powerhouse Collaboration: Dressed in Oxford | Undressed in Water Valley” is on view through September 19, 2015. Figures depicted in artworks in the Water Valley show appear in their birthday suits. In Oxford, they must be clothed.

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Artworks in “Undressed in Water Valley” are installed on the exposed brick walls and on walls separating the front half of the gallery from the Mirror Gallery.

My time in Water Valley was too short to get the full stories of the artistic production of Pati D’Amico, Katrina Geenen, and William Warren. What I heard and saw is worth telling, and I’ll be going back on September 19, 2015, for the annual Art Crawl. So, stay tuned.

Many thanks to Annette Trefzer, Mickey Howley, Pati D’Amico, Katrina Geenen, and William Warren for sharing their time, art, gallery, and memories with me.

Water Valley

This will be a quick, brief post about my delightful time in Water Valley this afternoon. I’m going back in the morning to Bozarts Gallery.

Yalo Studio & Gallery is under the narrow, white awning. At the B.T.C. next door, I ate a delicious plate lunch special of sausage, cabbage, corn-on-the-cob, and marinated tomatoes & cucumbers.

Yalo Studio & Gallery is under the narrow, white awning. At the B.T.C. next door, I ate a delicious plate lunch special of sausage, cabbage, corn-on-the-cob, and marinated tomatoes & cucumbers.

I had the good fortune to meet Coulter Fussell, artist and owner of Yalo Studio & Gallery, and Mary Lapides, who founded the Pinehurst Artist Residency.

A hand-painted sign by William Warren decorates the door of Yalo Studio & Gallery.

A hand-painted sign by William Warren decorates the door of Yalo Studio & Gallery.

On view at Yalo Studio & Gallery was a beautiful exhibition, called HOT BLIND EARTH, of ambrotypes, sculpture, and other mediums by J. R. Larson, who was the summer 2015 Pinehurst Artist Resident in Water Valley.

This is an installation photograph of J. R. Larson's HOT BLIND EARTH exhibition at Yalo Studio & Gallery. For better images of the artworks, go to jr-larson.com.

This is an installation photograph of J. R. Larson’s HOT BLIND EARTH exhibition at Yalo Studio & Gallery. For better images of the artworks, go to jr-larson.com.

Installation shot of HOT BLIND EARTH by J. R. Larson.

Installation shot of HOT BLIND EARTH by J. R. Larson.

I also met with five artists & gallery owners who moved to Water Valley from New Orleans. Pati D’Amico and William Warren welcomed me into their studio and home. After seeing their work, about which I’ll write more later, we met gallery owners Annette Trefzer and Mickey Howley as well as artist Katrina Geenen at Bozarts Gallery. I’ll tell you much more about them later and will try to retell some of their stories of Hurricane Katrina and of life now in Water Valley.

Bozarts Gallery is owned by Annette Trefzer & Mickey Howley and has helped several New Orleans expatriates find a sense of community post-Hurricane Katrina.

Bozarts Gallery is owned by Annette Trefzer & Mickey Howley and has helped several New Orleans expatriates to create a sense of community in Water Valley after surviving Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Ashley

As I mentioned in previous posts, I interviewed Michael and Laura Ashley of Ashley Studio Pottery in Tupelo in early March, 2015.

Michael Ashley of Ashley Studio Pottery

Michael Ashley of Ashley Studio Pottery

Michael Ashley makes pots to be used and to be experienced, not in an abstract way, but in a daily-life way that brings us to notice the food that we’re about to enjoy or to feel the warmth of the hot tea on a chilly evening. In 2005, he went to Taiwan as Artist in Residence in the Masters Ceramics Program at Tainan National University of the Arts. He took few belongings with him and lived in a small room with basically one suitcase and a tatami mat. He recalls making some pots when he arrived, to add to his small collection of pots from his friends and purchases in Tainan.

I sort of lived with them everyday, and they became my friends and I understood them in a different way because I was actually using them and I hadn’t really used pots before. [. . .] I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned in Taiwan was making and using handmade objects sort of everyday and I realized that it was something I wanted to do no matter where I was.

Prior to moving to Tupelo, Michael and Laura traveled together for school, to attend workshops, to teach, or for other work. Michael, who is passionate about cooking, said he paid attention to the cultural differences among regional foods, music, and climates, as all of it affects what he does. For example, he talked about a recent gathering they hosted in Tupelo:

We had a crawfish boil this weekend, and I want to make some big pots with the right kind of foot and just fill it with crawfish and have the corn on the top of it. You know, you don’t have crawfish whenever you’re in New England. You have clams and shrimp, so you have other things, but there might be a different idea associated with it.

A footed pot by Michael Ashley

A footed pot by Michael Ashley

Michael sums up his artist statement with one sentence: “Make something, use it, and then make more.” He explains:

That’s really kind of a credo that I’ve adopted, that I make something, and then I go cook, and I use it, and I put something in it, and I see what that does. Not necessarily just from the standpoint of, well, it’s too heavy or it’s too light or gravy looks good in this or potatoes look good, but more about just taking the pot and putting something in it and then making another pot. That’s pretty important to me, actually. I think not just because I get information from it, but [. . .] you know, I think it does something to me inside. Like if you’re a musician. [. . .] I just get fuel for the next thing by using pots.

 

Laura Ashley

Beth interviewing Laura Ashley 3-3-15_photo by M Ashley

Laura Ashley (left) being interviewed by Beth Batton on March 3, 2015. Photograph by Michael Ashley.

Most of this post is excerpted from my interview with Laura Ashley at Ashley Studio Pottery in Tupelo in early March, 2015.  At the studio, Laura and Michael Ashley design, create, and sell ceramic wares for the house and table.  They also teach classes there.

Laura's vase_750

A vase by Laura Ashley

Laura also is executive director of Gumtree Museum of Art. After having grown up in Tupelo, Laura earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics at the University of Mississippi in 2010. She talks about leaving Mississippi for graduate school:

Whenever I decided that I was going to be an artist, I sort of resigned myself to following the wind, I guess, or, following the jobs is more like it, because I knew that it was going to take leaving a place to learn from other people, especially the teachers that I wanted to learn from. They were not here.

I went to New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred University. It is a graduate program very, very specific to ceramics and also glass. [. . .] There’s a lot of material knowledge there that’s available to artists, which is really great. [. . .] It’s a very big program. There’s six faculty [members] as opposed to maybe two or three in the typical sort of art program. And so I got a huge range of opinions and thoughts from. . . and also technical knowledge from these sort of giants of the ceramic art world.

After graduate school, Laura spent a year at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia as Artist in Residence. Working in an urban experience taught her a lot and was enjoyable, but required working in a tight space with others and being as efficient as possible. “You know, again, there’s the whole issue of kiln firing and we were working in old city Philadelphia.”

She describes the transition in her work after graduate school from conceptual based tableware to focusing more on “functional, archetypal vessels that people can use in their homes and want to use”:

My work changed whenever I left graduate school to go to Philadelphia because all of a sudden, I wasn’t making work for the gallery per se anymore. [. . .] I wanted to sell to a specific person who would then take it and assimilate it into their domestic space. My pots at that time had a lot of ego attached to them: they had their own personalities, and it was almost as if they didn’t need you. You know, they had a very specific aesthetic. They were sort of a finished thought, and they didn’t need to travel to a domestic space to complete the concept. They were done. [. . .] I think I changed toward making more functional, traditional shapes and work when I went to Philadelphia and even more so when I came to Mississippi.

Glazed stoneware canisters by Laura Ashley

Glazed stoneware canisters by Laura Ashley

Being back in Tupelo, she says,

It’s really interesting, especially, you know, you leave maybe a place not knowing exactly who you are and what you’re going to become and then you come back and that’s completely changed and you have a path and sort of a purpose. I felt like it was time to come back. I think Mississippi is a really great place to be, especially to be an artist. I’m finding that I’m drawing a lot of inspiration just from being back home and feeding off that.

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Michael & Laura Ashley

Ashley Studio Pottery

Michael and Laura Ashley in the showrom of Ashley Studio Pottery, Tupelo

Michael and Laura Ashley in the showroom of Ashley Studio Pottery, Tupelo

The visual arts in Tupelo got a boost with new residents Laura and Michael Ashley.  Tupelo is Laura’s hometown, and she grew up learning art at the Gumtree Museum of Art, where she is now executive director. She and her husband, Michael Ashley, established Ashley Studio Pottery in the Renasant Center for IDEAs in downtown Tupelo in 2014.

Before returning to Tupelo, Laura was Resident Artist at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Michael was Visiting Artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.

I interviewed Laura and Michael Ashley in their studio in early March, 2015. They were moving that week, it was rainy and quite cold in north Mississippi, and they were dealing with getting the heat on in their new place.

So, it was a cold, dark night when I got to their studio. They fixed green tea, which I drank from a cup they had made. It was the perfect size, weight, and thickness when I held it.  It was the kind of cup I would imagine drinking tea from if I were ever to go to the countryside in Japan.

In a later post, I’ll write about them and their work.

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Pots by Ashley Studio Pottery on display

Catching Up

I’ll be moving on from The Frog Farm to Ashley Studio Pottery in Tupelo; or to Kimberly Jacobs, former director of Gallery 1 at Jackson State University; or to Dane Carney, a glitch artist; or. . . there are so many! These are just some of the artists I’ve met and have yet to blog about, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Which artist(s) should I meet and what places should I visit next?  Use the response below or email bbatton@msmuseumart.org to give me your suggestions.

Follow this blog to stay caught up on the Mississippi Byways project and to learn about artists in Mississippi.

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Attractions at The Frog Farm

Describing what a visitor would encounter at The Frog Farm, Louise Cadney Coleman says about her creation, “When you first walk back into the garden, you would see some frog Beefeaters. They’re the guards. And they’re dressed in the costume, like the . . . British Beefeaters. But they’re frog Beefeaters and they guard The Frog Farm. And that’s the castle of The Frog Farm. It’s a garden, and, in that garden, [are] different attractions.”

A frog sculpture outfitted as a British Beefeater guards the entrance to The Frog Farm.

A frog sculpture outfitted as a British Beefeater guards the entrance to The Frog Farm.

Ms. Coleman’s imagination and wit drive the stories, environments, and activities that she invents for her sculptures. The installations also attract visitors, which is why she refers to them as attractions.

Past the Beefeater in the sculpture garden, a raised, wooden, plank walkway keeps visitors’ feet out of the mud and leads to the center of a clearing. Along the perimeter, under a grove of mulberry trees, four-feet-tall frogs appear on various structures and are painted sky blue, lime green, lemon yellow, and fire-engine red. Live frogs make themselves heard but not seen.

LCC on platform in garden_cropped, even smaller

Ms. Coleman lists the attractions at The Frog Farm:

One of them is the Mud Rockers, which is a frog band. And then we have a bird arbor back there, and there’s a Penguin Hill. There’s an alligator hill. We call it the Gator Hill. And you’ll see frog houses . . . You’ll see the . . . G & P boathouse. That’s for George and Peewee because the frogs in that boathouse are called Peewee and George.”

Louise Cadney Coleman, Mud Rockers

Louise Cadney Coleman, P & G Boathouse

Some of the outdoor attractions have been damaged by spring storms, fluctuations of the weather, insects, creeping vines, and time. The sculptures that cannot be spruced up with a fresh coat of paint are replaced. Ms. Coleman found that alligators made from logs or limbs were especially prone to decay, so she now uses treated wood for their bodies.

There are also attractions inside her showroom, the Frog Nest.  She describes one of them:

When you walk into my atrium, the first thing you see is my aquarium. And that’s one of my favorite things because you don’t have to change the water. You don’t have to feed the fish. And it’s a stunning thing, I think, when you walk in there. It really shows my imagination in full.

Tropical Fins, ca. 2010, is an indoor attraction by Louise Cadney Coleman at The Frog Farm.

Louise Cadney Coleman, Tropical Fins, ca. 2010

She continues:

The background is made from old tin and the fish are placed just along there. It’s about eight feet by eight feet. [. . .] It’s filled with tropical fish and some catfish. And there’s a couple of turtles in there, too. It’s called Tropical Fins.

Tropical Fins (detail), ca. 2010, by Louise Cadney Coleman

Tropical Fins (detail)

She shapes her critters from sticks or limbs that she finds, “Wherever I am and I’m looking around.” The natural shape and curve of the stick suggests the bird or fish it will become. Sometimes, Ms. Coleman uses a pocketknife and a wood file to shape it. She likes colors, so she coats each creature with acrylic paint. “I try to be true to nature or what people would like,” she says about her color palette.

She hopes that visitors to The Frog Farm will leave with “Joy and an appreciation for the art world and for art, especially folk art . . . This is another form of art that I want people to appreciate and to understand . . . For most folk artists, it’s a natural thing.”

Louise C Coleman portrait copy

Louise Cadney Coleman works in her studio at The Frog Farm every day that she’s not at her cytology job, which she does on Mondays and Wednesdays. The regular admission fee is $10.00, the discounted fee for seniors is $3.00, and coupons are available at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The Frog Farm is located at 186 Old Highway 61 Road, which is south of Lorman as you travel on Highway 61 South. The Frog Farm is on Facebook and can be reached by phone at 601-493-3420.

Read the other MS Byways blog posts about this artist at Introducing The Frog Farm, Natural Creativity at The Frog Farm, and How Frog Farm Got Its Name.

All artwork is copyright (c) Louise Cadney Coleman. All photographs are copyright (c) Beth Batton and the Mississippi Museum of Art.


Articles and other blogs about The Frog Farm:

How The Frog Farm Got Its Name

outdoor Frog Farm copy

The Frog Farm as seen from the road in early March, 2015. The brown building on the left was Louise Cadney Coleman’s first studio, which she eventually outgrew. On the far right is the entrance to the sculpture garden. It is guarded by a frog Beefeater.

On the edge of the woods in Harriston, artist Louise Cadney Coleman and her husband own a piece of land, which became home to The Frog Farm, a folk art sculpture garden.  Before it became The Frog Farm, it was called Woodland Court. In addition to her husband’s hunting cabin, on the property was

. . . a low area and frogs do jump around and kids from the community like to come because they like frogs. And they came to me one day and they said to me, ‘Miss Louise, this is not Woodland Court. This is a frog farm. And I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ So I started making frogs, birds, alligators, turtles, and other things to go with that theme. And it’s grown from there.”

That was about 1999. She hopes to expand The Frog Farm one day, possibly to St. Francisville, Louisiana.

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Two frogs servers prepare the day’s special, fried crickets, at the Sunbreeze Café at The Frog Farm.

Artist Louise Cadney Coleman stands on the walkway in a low area of her Harriston, Mississippi, property.  A natural frog habitat, this area also is a folk art sculpture garden that local children named The Frog Farm.

Artist Louise Cadney Coleman removes a fallen branch from the walkway in a low area of her Harriston, Mississippi, property. A natural frog habitat, this area became the folk art sculpture garden that local children named The Frog Farm.

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“Penguin Hill” is one of The Frog Farm’s attractions. Read more about the attractions in a future post.

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Turtles shaped from found wood are camouflaged on a log.

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In this sculpture, “Woodland Shops,” miniature frog figures pose in front of store fronts that advertise fresh crickets and cool mud for sale.

The Snack Shack and The Frog Nest are two of the structures that Louise Cadney Coleman and her husband have built at The Frog Farm. The Frog Nest houses her studio and showroom.

The Snack Shack and The Frog Nest are two of the structures that Louise Cadney Coleman and her husband have built at The Frog Farm. The Frog Nest houses her studio and showroom.

The Frog Farm is located at 186 Old Highway 61 Road, which is south of Lorman as you travel on Highway 61 South. The Frog Farm is on Facebook and can be reached by phone at 601-493-3420.

Click on the following links to read other posts on The Frog Farm: “Introducing The Frog Farm,” and “Natural Creativity at The Frog Farm.”

All artwork is copyright (c) Louise Cadney Coleman. All photographs are copyright (c) Beth Batton and the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Use the form below or email bbatton@msmuseumart.org to comment on this post or to suggest other Mississippi artists for this blog.