Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Artists by Artists

Written by Jerrod Partridge

Recently, while flipping through Ken Murphy’s new book Jackson I came across a picture and was shocked.  Shocked because I had been at the same place within days, if not hours, of when the photo was taken.

Kelso

A couple of years ago I was asked to participate in a group show called “Artists by Artists” at the Mississippi Museum of Art.   It was to be a collection of artwork to highlight the unique relationship among visual artists. I immediately knew that I wanted to do a painting of Jackson artist Richard Kelso; both because he has been a very influential mentor, and because I had wanted an excuse to try  to paint the beautiful light of his studio which he captures so well.

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Notice that the painting on the easel is the same in both my painting and Ken’s photo.  The difference is that I made Richard’s painting a rectangle, with his permission of course, rather than the square format because it worked better with my composition.

So I was shocked to see the photograph, but also very excited to see that the studio of who I consider to be one of the finest painters in Mississippi was included in this remarkable survey of Jackson sights.

David West and I are very excited to be bringing Art Space 86, our pop-up gallery, to Banner Hall  on August 5th, in conjunction with Lemuria’s release of this remarkable book.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: No, I’m not on business in Borneo

Steve Yates is winner of the Juniper Prize for his 2013 collection Some Kinds of Love: Stories (University of Massachusetts Press). In 2010, Moon City Press published Morkan’s Quarry: A Novel, and will follow it in 2015 with The Teeth of the Souls: A Novel.

 

I moved from the Ozarks to begin work in Jackson in 1998 at University Press of Mississippi. My favorite vista in Jackson is in the long courtyard leading to the Education Research and Development Tower (University Press of Mississippi takes up half that tower’s fifth floor). In that courtyard are six raised concrete bays in which reside the six most beautiful crape myrtles in all of Jackson. These bays abut Jackson State’s Universities Center and its Information Services Library on the east and dazzle the offices and back lobby of Mississippi Public Broadcasting to the west as the trees lead northward in a royal road of pink, olive green, mottled amber, and shredded taupe to the nine-story edifice of the Paul B. Johnson Tower. The best time to view them? In the resultant sauna following a morning, summer rain. The bark along the trunks always seems to be shedding in reptilian fashion, and rainwater flows in crystalline rivers along the exposed red and orange inner flesh. Pools of water, whole miniature nullahs accrue and tremble. And above you the boughs arch low, pendant with dripping, candy pink blossoms backed by light green struts and shot through with bright yellow stamen. Crape myrtles did not thrive and were never properly valued in the chilly, hilly Ozarks. When I have sent home via Facebook photographs of these six majestic canopies, my hillbilly correspondents and confreres have been mystified as to what sort of trees these could possibly be. They ask if I am on business in Borneo or on a holiday in Haorangi. Even in winter, the bare silver webs and mad chandeliers these giants raise up to the cold ivory and bureaucratic tan of the office tower make for a brilliant meditation and somehow suffice when I pine for snow and a touch of ice.

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

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Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: Mississippi Reads

Clarion Ledger

As I read Janna Hoops’ very fine interview with William Ferris about his book and work, located on the “Mississippi Books” page in the Sunday Clarion Ledger, I became moved to write about our Jackson newspaper.

I’m not sure how many cities, especially in the South, have a weekly “Real Book” section in their local newspaper. Few, I suspect. However, our city and statewide newspaper makes such a statement showing care and concern for Mississippi’s literary presence and heritage.

Over the last 1 1⁄2 years, under the guidance of Steve Yates, of the University Press of Mississippi, and Annie Oeth of the Ledger, a legitimate Bookpage has grown. Mississippi Bookstores report weekly sales of our state’s top reads. Book signings happening all over the state are also listed. Jana’s interviews are thoughtful, with a variety of questions that are precise and revealing. Lisa Newman’s short, concise and interesting column features the unusual aspects of Mississippi writing, publishing and book collecting. It’s a rare weekly treat and I suggest her work is unique for any community newspaper in the USA.

How lucky we are to have this well-earned page by the folks mentioned above. For over 30 years, I’ve requested in every way for the Clarion Ledger to support our writers. With this statewide page we have the opportunity to feature not just our locals but all the fine authors that visit our state. Oddly, in my opinion, with the “Mississippi Books” page, Gannett has made our paper more local than it has ever been before.

What’s next for the “Mississippi Reads”? I hope interest and support grows. Mayhap more type and space can be added for our literary happenings. Can we hope for 2 full pages and photography?

My dream paper: Has a Sunday section each week featuring “Books and Blues”. A combined effort to support, encourage and advertise Mississippi’s Culture featuring the realities of reading and music.

Written by John

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by John

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Central High School

Written by Coleman Lowery

If you grew up in Jackson in the 1940’s and 1950’s you thought the city had only two parts, one was North Jackson with the main drag of North State Street and the other was West Jackson with main drag of West Capitol Street.

The number 2 bus went from downtown out to North State to Council Circle, where it turned around and went back down North State to Capitol Street and West Capitol. It then turned at the city limits where West Capital became Clinton Blvd and the bus went back downtown.

North Jackson people went to Bailey Junior High and West Jackson people went to Enochs Junior High and we hated each other. The Bailey-Enochs annual football game was the highlight of the year. Little did I know then that 20 years later I would fall in love and marry I.C. Enochs’ great granddaughter!

Jackson Central High_DSC8167

In the 10th grade, we all came together at Central High School and became classmates and good friends. Built in the 1920’s, CHS had a military fort architecture style and an outstanding faculty. Generations were taught math by Miss Spann and Mrs. Latta, English by Miss Breland, Miss Hutchinson, Miss Musselwhite, and Mrs. Russell. Speech was taught by Miss Patton, Latin by Miss Johnston, and French and Spanish by Miss Tizon. Biology by Mrs. Harris and Physics and Chemistry by Miss Fletcher, History by Mrs. Sykes, Miss Ruff and Chief Taylor, and Miss Carter and Mr. Weems were the counselors. There were many other great teachers but these are the ones that I had and knew. For many years the principal was Mr. McEwen and his assistant was Mr. Holiday, who later became principal. The Big Eight Football championship was brought in many years by Coach Doss Fulton.

After school every day we went to Primos on Capitol Street where the fried cinnamon rolls were a dime and then we boarded the bus with our school tokens, which were 2 for a nickel and went home.

Central High School is now closed but in a great example of historic preservation the building is now the office for the State of Mississippi Department of Education. The CHS alumni association is very active to this day and each May has a picnic in the front yard of the building which is still well attended by all the graduating classes; and memories of being a CHS Tiger are shared and laughed over.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: A Change for the Better

Written by Vijay Shah

From Ohio, I never thought that I would visit Mississippi, let alone live here. But last summer I took a promotion at the University Press of Mississippi in Jackson!

Upon my move here from Illinois, where I also worked in publishing, Mississippi was commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Medgar Evers’ assassination, the New York Times ran a positive travel account of Jackson, and Mayor Lumumba was just taking office. Indeed, within my first few weeks here, I attended the inaugural ball. It felt like everything was converging with my arrival.

Since then, I have delved into the local arts’ scene. I attended Faulkner’s literary festival in Oxford, and literally live around the corner from Eudora Welty’s house. Besides Faulkner and Welty, I have been finding out about all their literary precursors and successors from Mississippi, including Jesmyn Ward and Kiese Laymon.

At Gallery One, near Jackson State, I checked out Mississippi native John Jennings’ vivid illustrations of blues musicians. Downtown, Jackson’s own Scott Crawford exhibited an imaginative vision of his city in Legos. Despite the issue of gentrification that we must confront, I remain excited about all the artistic activity in the Midtown neighborhood. There the laid-back club Soul Wired offers quite a creative venue.

Over the last year, I have also learned much about segregation and civil rights. Upon the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, I attended a panel of valiant Mississippians who risked travel to the capital for that historic event. Sure, I could have heard those potent testimonies elsewhere, but somehow it felt more meaningful here. Even today I have witnessed dedicated local people struggling mightily for justice.

Actually, I have been working with some advocates who are trying to improve public transit in Jackson. I could not believe that JATRAN’s buses halt at seven p.m., for this limit seems unhelpful to workers with later schedules and inconvenient to young adults and others who simply want to enjoy the city at night. So we intend to extend the service into the evening. Actually, I managed to raise the issue in the recent mayoral campaign. As a result, I feel very involved in Jackson, such a powerful feeling!

I have met some fine drivers and passengers on the bus, learning a lot more than if I had merely driven around in my own car. When telling people that I ride the bus, they look at me like I have a hole in my head. Yet, I believe that Jackson needs much better public transit truly to become a city of the future.

Despite the many regional differences, somehow Jackson reminds me of my native Cleveland as neither are destination cities. During my first year in Mississippi, a veritable southern adventure, I have mainly heard about how Jackson is changing, for the better. This process of becoming reminds me of that children’s story about the caterpillar that miraculously turns into a butterfly. Will Jackson ever transform into that splendid butterfly? Only we will determine if that Monarch will ever fly skyward.

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Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: Pick Yourself a Peach

Mississippi in the summer time:  let that roll over you for a minute.   Let’s face it, in the summer time this place is hot, humid, sticky, and one step closer to the sun, but I adore it.

You see, summer is a special time for me.  Yes, summer is special for any kid growing up, but I am a teacher’s kid; therefore, summer was a pinnacle for my family.  Just like any aspect of Jackson, there are a few special places that are near and dear to my heart, one of those being the farmer’s market.  Filling up the old Ford Taurus and making the trip down to the farmer’s market stands meant that summer had actually begun.

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I can still remember the heat from the pavement on my flip-flopped feet and trying not to run to Miss Doris’ stand to see the colors of the summer.  Vibrant reds, greens, purples, and yellows were something to behold and be treasured.  Purple hull, green bean, snap bean, tomatoes, okra, peppers, bushel, and hot pepper jelly were jargon that were as common to me as breathing.   I remember watching my mother carefully inspect each vegetable as she put them into the large brown paper bags, wrap them up, and place each one at the counter.  It seemed like my mother had always come to this farmer’s market because Miss Doris knew her by name but called her “Hon.” Miss Doris knew me too.  Each time we came to the farmer’s market she would always tell me, “Make sure you get a fresh peach!”  I would know this before her even telling me, and I would have scoped out the biggest, softest, and the most heavenly smelling one that I could.

We would load back into the car, peach in hand, and drive through Jackson as my mother accounted where old friends lived, where she lived as well, all of the banks my grandfather managed, and where she taught.  I did not know at the time how much those trips would become ingrained in my person.

I never feel as Southern as when I go to the farmer’s market with the same discerning eye that my mother used and say the same words that she did.  Miss Doris now calls me “Hon,” even though she knows my name, and reminds me to make sure I take a peach for the trip home.

 

Written by Laura

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Laura

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: The Ramey Roof

Written by Kathy Potts

When Ramey management apprised the agency of our relocation options in 2008, the group made it no further than the location boasting “rooftop access”.  Forget cost per square footage; visions sprang immediately of cool late-afternoon soirees and a Fondren perch to observe those less fortunate souls below with no such perks.

At least that was my vision.  Turns out other ideas were spawned reflecting the diverse nature of the shop that is Ramey.

A traffic manager saw a rooftop urban garden.  We formed a group sharing that interest and have produced quite a bounty of heat-loving flowers and vegetables … but mostly banana peppers.

Our musically inclined, of which there are many, saw it as a venue resulting in a variety of sessions with local musicians.  One particularly lively night ended with the Delta Mountain Boys treating us to hours, beyond their agreement, of bluegrass delights and a shared bottle of bourbon.

Our more competitive set immediately jumped into action creating a space for win-at-all-cost corn hole. (Come to think of it, there has not been a game in quite a while due to some unattended ill will.)

However, the best times on the Ramey Roof have been spontaneous.  Releasing a leftover “wish lantern” with clients at the end of a productive day embedded a fond memory for all. On any given (cooler) day, you might find a group enjoying lunch or having an update on a creative project.  However, I have personally noticed that, yes, late afternoon will bring a gathering to enjoy a cold beverage while perching to watch those without perks below.

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Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

 

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: The Feta Dressing

I’ve always thought the phrase comfort food as utterly redundant, and anyone who’s spent a modest amount of time around me can testify to my love of all things edible. But Keifer’s is, to me, extra comfortable food. Before I lived in Jackson, I knew about Keifer’s. Coming to visit friends or volunteering a week at Camp Bratton-Green just north of Canton, Kiefer’s was a place I could always count on seeing while in town. While I was a Millsaps student, the restaurant offered a nearby escape from the bubble of academia and non-academia that filled so much of my time. Few things are better than a table on the restaurant’s wraparound porch. Add to that hypothetical table a group of friends, several plates of food, a few pitchers of beer, and the carefree laughter that a good meal can produce. Keifer’s was my first experience with humus, and I had never seen fries quite like their cottage fries.

And the feta dressing.

The Feta Dressing.

I fancy myself proficient in the kitchen, but I’ve never been able to recreate that stuff. Friends who have moved away from town wax poetic about dunking their cottage fries in it. I’ve even handed a container of the salty ambrosia, on ice, off to a former Jacksonian living in Birmingham as I drove through to Atlanta.

Keifer's_DSC2860

When I heard that the house the restaurant was in was being torn down to make way for The Belhaven building, I was a little concerned. Despite assurances from the staff that the new building would be almost identical, I was still unconvinced that the new digs would have the same raffish charm of the old place. As is often the case, I was wrong. The new location, literally across the street from its predecessor, is almost a mirror image of the old one with a few improvements. It’s easier to move around, for one, and I’m not worried that my girth will be too much for the old hardwood floors. It’s a touch cleaner, but still comfortable. Kind of like an old high school friend whom you haven’t seen in years, Keifer’s is still the same, if a bit more mature. And if you see me there, on the porch with a smear of feta dressing in my beard, hand me a napkin.

Written by Jamie

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Jamie

Let’s Talk Jackson: My Spiritual Home

St Andrews

My spiritual home is the cathedral of St. Andrew’s Church which is built from the floor to ceiling to represent an upside down boat.  It was where all my children were baptized in the mid 70’s and where Hinky and I continue to worship and share in its communal life.  I am proud of its rich history, especially in the 60’s, when it stood tall and strong in the move toward racial reconciliation.  It continues that tradition as we join other groups and people in a new program called Growing Together Jackson, to revitalize and re-energize our beloved city.  It is a place where it is safe to question anything and celebrate the great mysteries of life.

Written by Pat

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Pat