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On Midtown Pond
Henry David Thoreau in On Walden Pond said that he had traveled widely in ...
Henry David Thoreau in On Walden Pond said that he had traveled widely in Concord. After forty years in Midtown, I can say much the same about Midtown Jackson.
I was on Millsaps Avenue for many years at Pearl River Glass Studio, a proud pioneer of Midtown. I started the studio 40 years ago and moved it to Midtown in 1976 before buying our first two buildings in 1989. Four years later, we completed renovations adding space, equipment and, most importantly, more artists into the business.
Though we weren't on a picturesque pond, living in a self-made shed, we were in a wilderness of sorts. Many times I have thought that the great top soil I found when starting to garden there, how it must have been very fertile fields long before the train yard appeared at the end of the avenue.
For many years I liked being the "pioneer artist" in Midtown. It gave us lots of privacy. In the beginning, getting the work done and making the business viable was first priority that didn't need too many distractions. I venture to say that this was Thoreau's point for moving away from Concord. "Solitude is the well spring for inspiration", was the advice of Maria Rilke for anyone pursing an art form. I agree.
Later on, I started thinking about sharing the idea of Midtown as an arts district with others. One holiday break in the early 80's, I got in my truck and drove around the eight block midtown commercial area. I wrote down the addresses and what I estimated was the total vacant empty square footage of the building space. I recall the number being well north of 200,000 square feet.
Artists, craftsman, musicians, and innovators all need a space, a place to create the solitude, so when the muses arrive, there is a place for them to all take up residence. The residency afterwards, and with hard work, creates production and finally commerce.
From that time, I knew that the arts district could happen in Midtown. And, there is still room to grow in-and-around the current exciting projects.
I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and reminiscences with you. Stay tuned. Stay creative and creating.
Photos of Andy Young (1 & 3) taken by Frank Farmer for Find It In Fondren™
<- Promotional graphic was created by Stephen Flinn Young
A Perspective on Creativity
Creative workers have long been subject to the prejudice that they’re just free ...
Creative workers have long been subject to the prejudice that they’re just free sprits who don’t work very hard.
Creativity, by its raw meaning is introducing something new to the world — hardly an easy task. Creating is the only form of pure magic left to us.
We make things that seconds before did not exist. We consider the needs of our community and the world and approach our tasks with passion and diligence — always trying to fill our workspace with meaningful accomplishment.
The workspace is our magician’s hat, where we pull our next trick.
It’s the blank slate.
It’s the empty notebook.
It’s the block of clay.
It’s the blinking cursor on this word-processing software.
It’s also the rich, flat soil before crops are planted.
It’s the raw steel before it’s stamped into a part that controls an engine.
It’s an empty hard drive, ready to be filled with code that organizes a business.
Creativity is making. In Mississippi, we make more than stuff and things. Art, music, machines, food and even stories are some of our exports.
Whatever we’re making, we should all have a common goal in mind: If we’re going to make anything, we have to make a difference.
Letter from a Mississippi State Student
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Josh Mabus is the President and CEO of The Mabus Agency.
Read his recent article published in the Mississippi Business Journal: "Why I Stayed?".
Learn more about Shearwater Pottery, featured in this post's cover photo, here: www.shearwaterpottery.com
Duncan, Miss. to Receive Blues Trail Marker
Duncan, Miss. will soon unveil a new marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail, honoring the ...
Duncan, Miss. will soon unveil a new marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail, honoring the city’s blues legends. Eddie C. Campbell, renowned blues guitarist and singer, is one of several artists included on the marker. The unveiling will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, April 10, at East Main and Park Street in Duncan. Campbell will perform at the unveiling.
“We are very excited to be able to honor these special people and their connection to Duncan,” said Kelli Carr, director of Cleveland Tourism. “Bolivar County has such a rich musical heritage, and it not only appeals to the ever-growing tourist sector traveling the Blues Trail, but also serves as a wonderful education component to residents who might not have known these connections. It brings a certain amount of civic pride. We are very excited that Eddie Campbell can come home to Duncan and attend his marker unveiling. It makes it quite special when those we honor can see the impact they have made on music history.”
The Mississippi Blues Trail's 185th marker dedication ceremony will mark both a homecoming and a comeback for Campbell, who was born in Duncan in 1939. Campbell left Mississippi as a child and was raised in Chicago, where he joined a legendary circle of musicians, including fellow Mississippi transplants Otis Rush and Magic Sam, who created the famed West Side sound. Campbell, who toured and recorded widely, lived in Europe in the 1980s and appeared in a German production of William Faulkner's "Requiem for a Nun." On his last tour to Germany in 2013 he suffered a stroke, and though he still battles its effects, he has been playing again at his home in Chicago. With support from the Mississippi Blues Foundation he will be leaving Chicago for the first time since his stroke to perform at the marker dedication and on April 11 at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale.
Campbell shares connections with other Duncan and Clarksdale area musicians, notably blues icon Jimmy Reed, who lived on the nearby McMurchy plantation before moving to Chicago, and Robert "Bilbo" Walker, a familiar figure in the juke joints around Clarksdale, Bobo, Alligator and Duncan, who knew Campbell in Chicago in the 1960s. Duncan native Ernest Lane, best known for his work with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm, was also recruited to play piano on one of Campbell's albums.
Others honored on the Duncan marker are local favorite Willie "Rip" Butler, a longtime member of the Wesley Jefferson Band who also worked with Robert Walker; pianist Willie Love, who made historic recordings for the Trumpet label in Jackson in the 1950s; Percell Perkins, who sang the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi and other gospel groups; young Clarksdale bluesman Anthony "Big A" Sherrod, whose birth, as he tells it, took place on a Greyhound bus traveling through Duncan; and Rosetta Patton Brown, who was not a performer who but who was known to many visitors and aficionados as the daughter of Charley Patton, the man often called "the founder of the Delta Blues."
“As the Mississippi Blues Trail continues to grow, the story of how our state produced the foundation of modern music is told in more detail,” said Malcolm White, director of Visit Mississippi. “The markers tell of musical legends, their influences, and the history of area that gave birth to the blues. The Blues Trail is one of the best ways to experience the richness of Mississippi and we are so pleased to add Duncan to the list of markers and celebrate Eddie Campbell in his hometown."
For more information about the Mississippi Blues Trail, visit www.msbluestrail.org, explore the state’s official tourism website at www.VisitMississippi.org, or contact Mary Margaret Miller, Visit Mississippi’s Creative Economy program manager at email@example.com.
Lurny D's & the Food Truck Revolution
We are LurnyD’s Grille Food Truck, the first gourmet food truck of its kind to hit ...
We are LurnyD’s Grille Food Truck, the first gourmet food truck of its kind to hit the streets of Jackson, Mississippi. My wife and business partner, Betsy opened our food truck in October 2012. In March of 2012, I was at a crossroad in my life with 2 business plans in hand, one to take over a retail store that I had managed for 6 years and the other to open a gourmet food truck. Betsy and I love cooking and are self-proclaimed foodies. We both felt that the food truck was the best decision and went all in. And now 2 ½ years later, we feel that we not only add to the MS Creative Economy, but we play a major role in bringing a new food truck culture to the state. Food trucks are sweeping the nation and since we’ve been in business we’ve seen a vast increase in the metro area, as well as around the state. Our passion is unique, creative cooking with an ever changing, evolving menu. We have loyal customers on all social media platforms that follow us, which in turn increases revenue for the state. We can be seen at major events in the Jackson/Metro area, local events in Fondren, Belhaven and Midtown as well as Smith Park Downtown. The lure of food trucks is a major plus for tourism.
Betsy and I had a vision from the very beginning of creating a food truck association, not only for the Greater Jackson area but the entire state of Mississippi. We knew it would be only a matter of time when we’d begin to see more trucks rolling around and so the Mississippi Food Truck Association was born. Tupelo is one of the cities leading the way for the food truck movement and has an ongoing Food Truck Friday event that is very popular. Food Trucks, trailers and carts can be seen in cities such as Batesville, Grenada, Greenville, Natchez and Oxford. Jackson has 7 trucks rolling and has already begun to see Food Truck Round-up type events around the city at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Millsaps College, Mississippi College, the MS Museum of Art and numerous events in Midtown. In fact, we are talking now with Lucky Town Brewery about hosting the very first MS Food Truck Association event this summer. We would love to expand this event in the future by taking it to different cities. Big things are happening and we are so happy to be a part of it. We love our job and are very excited about what the future holds.
Kinsey Collection Brings History to Life
“History” is a loaded word. It covers it all – the good, the bad, the ...
“History” is a loaded word. It covers it all – the good, the bad, the ugly. Our contemporary compartmentalized perspective often needs a reminder of the reality of history. It is a continuum in which triumph occurred in a succession of failures, good flourished in the midst of evil, and creativity rose from despair. Few if any collections portray history like The Kinsey Collection.
The Kinsey Collection is an extraordinary mix of manuscripts, artifacts, and art spanning centuries. This private collection was amassed by Bernard and Shirley Kinsey to tell the story of African American achievement, not in a compartment, but in the broad context of American history. Objects in the collection range from an 1863 U. S. Colored Troops recruitment poster to a Mathew Brady photograph of Hiram Revels of Mississippi, the first African American United States Senator.
The Kinseys’ perspective is perhaps as interesting as the collection. During the opening of “African American Treasures from the Kinsey Collection” at Mississippi State University, Bernard Kinsey said that while we must know the past, our view of it must not prevent us from moving forward. Looking at the collection as Mr. Kinsey spoke, I was reminded of the real meaning of history. History is not merely a timeline; instead, it is the collective story of people – their lives and their accomplishments. Our future is determined by how well we know and build on those accomplishments. The Kinsey Collection is therefore not just a history lesson, but also a story of accomplishment.
To have the Kinsey Collection at MSU is an accomplishment in itself. At the exhibit’s opening, Mr. Kinsey described the university’s library staff and exhibit space as “museum quality” – pretty impressive considering the Smithsonian is among the museums at which the exhibit has been shown. Noted Mississippi journalist Sid Salter mentioned the significance of having the exhibit at MSU, for the university’s civil rights history includes one of the greatest stories of collegiate sports. In the segregated days of 1963, the university defied state political leadership and a court injunction by allowing the MSU basketball team to play the integrated Loyola team in the NCAA tournament. That match became known as “The Game of Change” and the beginning of the end of segregated collegiate sports. Two years later, Richard Holmes would become the first African-American student at MSU and peacefully integrate the university. Richard Holmes’s wife Judie attended the opening of the Kinsey exhibit at MSU, while her husband, now a respected physician, tended to patients at the student health center. What an exhibit opening it was, and what an exhibit it is – stories of accomplishments from people of all walks of life who have worked toward a greater society.
The Kinsey Exhibit is in the John Grisham Room at Mississippi State University’s Mitchell Memorial Library until June 20. For further information, go to http://lib.msstate.edu/kinsey.
Thimblepress – Design & Letterpress Studio
Hi! My name is Kristen Ley and I am the founder, owner and creative director of Thimblepress®. ...
Hi! My name is Kristen Ley and I am the founder, owner and creative director of Thimblepress®. We are a design and letterpress studio in the heart of downtown Jackson, Mississippi. We create, produce, and ship over 250 products from our downtown studio space. The front part of our studio space acts as a retail shop for customers in Jackson to shop our products along with a handful of curated lines that work well with our products. We are a team of seven full time, six part time, and four animals give or take specific days. We have three antique presses that we print on in our studio. We use these presses to create our letterpress products that we sell. You can view the products we create on our website, www.thimblepress.com, or follow our process on social media platforms @thimblepress.
I started this business out of my house in January 2012. I had one press in half a garage and I went to sleep with paints and boxes next to my bed every evening. I had a marketing and graphic design business with one of my best friends in Charleston, South Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi, for four years before I started Thimblepress®. We moved into our downtown Jackson space in April of 2013, so we are just shy of our two-year "buildingversary" as I like to say. We love being in downtown and growing our business in this part of Jackson.
I have a lot of creative processes. I guess the most important creative process is coming up with new products. I do a lot of research; I mull through color and paint studies, I sketch out ideas, and put up mood boards to get my creative juices flowing. I love a challenge and coming up with new and unique products is my favorite thing in the world to do.
I feel like passion is one of the main driving forces for what I do, other than my faith and God. I definitely do not do this for the money. I go to bed dreaming and then get to go act out that dream every single day. Some days are harder than others, but I love being able to create a product that can seriously make an impact in the world and in my own community. I am proud that I am able to run this business from Mississippi and shine a spotlight on our awesome state. I am passionate about making my community better through the creative endeavors at Thimblepress®!
Check out "Mississippi Monday" on Thimblepress' blog "The Thread".
In what ways does your work contribute to the state’s Creative Economy? How does your work (or your line of work) foster a stronger state economy overall?
I really hope it does. I feel like our work has gained us, in the humblest way of saying this, an international audience. That international audience then sees we are in Mississippi AND passionate about Mississippi. That passion then gets filtered into our state and people have something to cheer for and be proud of. And I am not just referring to my company, but to a lot of companies that have popped up in Mississippi in the past few years. These unique and Mississippi-loving companies give our citizens something to rally behind. We need MORE positive energy into this state. The more we show the world what Mississippi is capable of, the more we grow, the more our state becomes a better place for residents and visitors. When you help build upon the creative industry in a state many things can happen. People can get inspired to go out and do their own creative adventure, even if it is in the same field and something similar to what you do… you are building a stronger community by doing that.
How has your line of work positively impacted your community?
I think just being present in the community and downtown has been a great thing for the people of Jackson. I feel like a lot of times people don't want to get out of their comfort zone and adventure downtown, but being here provides a destination and a conversation that adds a little variety to what already exists downtown. I love that we are growing and are able to bring on more new team members each new season, so we are creating more jobs in the community, which is another win.
What are some aspects of your work, and the broader Creative Economy, that people in traditional sectors may not be aware of?
We are proud to say that we sell internationally, not just through our retail sectors but our wholesale sectors. We are carried in Paper Source, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and many other retailers that can be found on the retailer’s page of our site. We have recently collaborated with Keds® on a custom product for their holiday gifting and the lifestyle blog Glitter Guide on a 20+ item product line that we created and sell on our site and retail shop.
We are represented by three different rep groups throughout the U.S., and we are constantly pushing ourselves creatively. We love collaborating with different companies and artists, especially local, to create new and unique products to bring to the marketplace. We are also working on a collection of work with a large national company, but we can't talk about it until January 2016, so we will let you know then!
What is your interpretation of Mississippi’s Creative Economy? From your perspective, how has the growth of this sector influenced Mississippians?
Mississippi's Creative Economy is so broad: Film makers, chef's, city planners, artists, popsicle makers, beer and spirit makers, photographers, floral designers, musicians and singers. I feel like “creatives” can change a city and state for the better. I feel like creatives are the innovators and unique thinkers to make amazing things happen for our state. I feel like the growth of this sector has influenced Mississippians in the best way. I think it has opened their eyes to a newer market and elevated their understanding of what good design is. It’s kind of like a trickle-down effect: The more we can bring to our state only elevates its citizen’s awareness to it, which in turn makes for a better place to live. I am telling you… creatives are really the ones who need to be in charge.
How does the emergence of Mississippi’s creative sector impact the state’s reputation, stature, and relationship with others across the country?
It only makes our state so much better. We recently had Chris Fritton, of the Itinerant printer, stop in Jackson to print on our presses and visit for two days. He is from Buffalo, New York, and he is traveling the U.S. visiting print shops and printing on presses along the way. He had no idea what Mississippi would be like because he had never been, so we got to show him around and educate him about our state. I am glad to say he had a great time, and will probably go on to tell others of his great time. But also on another note, if someone is not traveling through and only gains their opinions from the internet, we are thrilled that they can see and we can share with people what is going in our little patch of Mississippi life. This whole idea is also why we started Mississippi Monday on our blog "The Thread". We have a good social media following that we feel so blessed for, so we wanted to start being a voice for Mississippi and all the other great companies, people and places we have to offer to the world. I like to think of us and lots of other Mississippians that do business nationally and internationally as ambassadors for our state. It is our duty to share with the world the great things we have going on.
Mississippi food: Behind every bite is a story
“It’s not the meat’s fault. The meat is dead.” said LaMont Burns to a ...
“It’s not the meat’s fault. The meat is dead.” said LaMont Burns to a captive audience at The Southern Food & Beverage Museum’s Mississippi Month program. Many in the audience were wondering why their grilled meat often does not turn out as expected, and someone finally had the courage to ask. With a sympathetic smile on his face, LaMont gave the honest answer. The Holly Springs, Mississippi cook, cookbook author, and sauce creator can engage a crowd, even those who are not dedicated cooks.
The first thing one notices about LaMont is his demeanor – kind, warm, soft-spoken. He regales with stories of his Mississippi hometown of Holly Springs, his heritage, his mother’s cooking, and their influences on his life. While Americans, particularly Mississippians, talk about, write about (yes, a bit of irony as I write this), and even argue about food, LaMont is a reminder that food is really about people. Behind every bite is a story, usually one of a much-loved family member.
The next night, I fixed chicken with LaMont’s savory barbeque sauce. I thought not only about how the sauce provided just the right amount of flavor to my over-cooked chicken (and whose fault that was) but about the story behind the sauce. It’s not solely about the food for Mississippians, it’s about, as my beloved and sorely missed Daddy said in the blessing every night, “the hands that prepared it.”
Whether you hail from Mississippi, Montana, or points in-between or across the pond, eat some good Mississippi food and learn the story behind it. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is located at 1504 O. C. Haley Boulevard in New Orleans (http://southernfood.org). March is Mississippi Month, with special programs on Saturdays. Mississippi culinary memorabilia can be viewed in the museum’s permanent Gallery of the South: States of Taste exhibit. Information on Mississippi’s Culinary Trail can be found here. For information on LaMont Burns, visit www.lamontsbbq.com.
Cook, cookbook author and Mississsippi food enthusiast LaMont Burns discusses his sauce creations with the audience at SoFAB.
New Wave of Craft Culture
I’m Erin Austen Abbott, owner of Amelia in Oxford, Mississippi, where I carry paper goods, ...
I’m Erin Austen Abbott, owner of Amelia in Oxford, Mississippi, where I carry paper goods, such as greeting cards, journals and planners, housewares, jewelry, and gifts for babies and children.
My motto for the shop is, “Where the new wave of craft culture meets design and makes it an art.” When I opened the shop, in 2009, I knew Oxford was the perfect location because of its already vibrant art scene, literary draw and the musical influences the city sees on an almost daily basis.
People ask me all the time if I carry only local work and the answer is no. While I do have some local and Mississippi based artists, I currently have over 200 different artists that I stock from all over the world. Artists that are so excited to be carried in their first Mississippi shop. I think this has a direct impact the overall creative economy here in Mississippi. It not only brings the handmade movement to Mississippi but it also puts Mississippi on the virtual map of over 200 different artists and their websites, which in return could reach thousands of people daily.
When I started my online store in 2011, I wasn’t sure who would find me, but to date, I’ve had sales from 24 countries and all 50 states. It’s exciting to help drive the creative economy back to my home state and help show Mississippi as the beautiful and cultured state that it is.
Mississippi Musicians Day recognizes local artists
A press conference announcing Mississippi Musicians Day was held on the south steps of the ...
A press conference announcing Mississippi Musicians Day was held on the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol Building on Tuesday, March 17 at 11 a.m. Governor Phil Bryant offered remarks and read the Mississippi Musicians Day proclamation. Noted Mississippi artists Ora Reed, Guy Hovis, Mr. Sipp and KD Brosia performed during the press announcement. Artists and musicians of all genres attended the 11 a.m. press conference to stand and be recognized as Mississippi Musicians.
“Our mission is to honor the incredible impact that Mississippi musicians have on the culture of music and arts worldwide,” said Representative Rita Martinson, chair of the Mississippi Musicians Day committee. “By designating the third Tuesday of March as Mississippi Musicians Day, we aim to generate greater recognition of the impact of musicians on our culture and economy.”
Mississippi is known for the impact that its musical artists have historically made on the world of music, particularly in the genres of Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Popular, Rock & Roll, and Country. Native Mississippi artists have originated and cultivated music of such high artistic standard that the state is now called the “Birthplace of America’s Music.” No other state per capita has had as many various artists to impact the world musically as Mississippi.
Due to considerable global influence of Mississippi’s musicians, Mississippi Musicians Day is being established as an annual celebration, which will give Mississippi communities an official day each year to honor Mississippi musical artists of their choice, and create an ongoing awareness of Mississippi’s contribution to the world of music.