Tuna Dip

Smoked Tuna Dip Trail

Posted on Posted in Food

I was recently asked where “home is.” My answer is not complicated, but neither is it simple. My father was in the petrochemical industry all of my youth, so we traveled — a lot. New Jersey, St. Louis, Baton Rouge and Switzerland, to name some of our “homes.” Then I chose to live in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, again for college and career. The best part of these travels is that I learned a sense of adventure. And, I learned a sense of local cuisine. We all have our indigenous and inherited local recipes and favorites. In my first few visits to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I realized that smoked tuna dip is one of the local favorites! I am not sure how it came to be, but when I asked David Bull with Bernie’s if he smoked his tuna in-house, he told me the recipe was such a secret that, if he told me, he’d have to kill me. Now that’s serious tuna dip!

My first visit with my son Nick to visit schools and potential homes brought us to On the Half Shell in Gulfport. We ordered the smoked tuna dip. To this day, it is his favorite. Highly smoky, silky smooth and served with captain’s wafers. They will bring French bread, though, if you ask! We vowed to order the house smoked tuna dip at every stop, so we could determine the best on the Coast.

A few months later, I stopped in at Bernie’s for lunch. Amazingly, they offered Smoked Tuna Dip. (But don’t ask for the recipe!) I tried it, and it is one of my favorites to this day. Not quite as smoky as the dip at On the Half Shell, but very silky and is served with Melba toast. This is truly my favorite combo, and I stop in frequently to get some to go! I got an extra order to go, and brought it home to Nick. His favorite is still On the Half Shell. Could it be because it was his first “tuna dip love?”

One Sunday, after church, we stopped in for brunch at Bull’s in Long Beach. Not one to let anything slip by me, I asked if the owners were related to David Bull with Bernie’s. Not surprisingly, David’s brother and sister-in-law, John and Lisa, own and manage Bull’s. (I contend that Kevin Bacon’s 6 degrees of separation theory does not apply to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There is typically only one degree of separation here!) Thus, we ordered the smoked tuna dip, and not surprisingly, it was very similar to Bernie’s, all the way down to the Melba toast. So, I had to ask the question, and asked if it was a family recipe. I was told that the recipe was their father’s, and if he told me, he’d have to kill me. It must run in the family!

Our final stop on today’s trail — although, I could go on forever — is The Reef. One of Rob Stinson’s new additions to Biloxi Beach with fabulous views, offered a very different smoked tuna dip. This one is chunky and spicy. A very different texture than any of the others we had tried. And, this dip was great with tortilla chips!

My favorite shopping experience is the Pass Christian Harbor fish markets. I typically stop in to Kimball’s and get whatever Darlene tells me came in today. On such a lucky day, she had some this-morning-fresh mahi-mahi. In addition to several other prime choices, I brought it home and grilled it for some visiting relatives. What was left became a smoked mahi-mahi dip the next day.

Did I make you hungry for some tuna dip? No worries, I’ll share my recipe (and I won’t have to kill you)! Enjoy.

Pass Harbor smoked tuna dip

 

2 pounds fresh and locally-caught tuna or mahi-mahi trimmed of all skin and bones

Applewood smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper to coat

½ small onion, grated

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

1 cup Mayonnaise

½ cup Dijon mustard

Rice vinegar add dashes until you reach the texture you prefer. I like mine silky, but not watery.

 

Melba toast, tortilla chips and or French bread slices for serving.

 

Coat clean grill grates with peanut or coconut oil. Preheat grill to 400o

Coat mahi-mahi with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on grill and leave untouched until browned evenly. Flip and do the same on the second side. The fish is nicely done at 135o much warmer and it will be dry.

 

Once cooled, shred the fish with two forks, and the remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately with a light craft beer from the Coast or Pinot Grigio. Cheers!

 

Renée Areng joined Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast as the Executive Director in August 2014. She resides in Pass Christian with her husband, Jason, and son, Nicholas. When she’s not cooking coastal recipes, she enjoys being out on the water enjoying the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast!

New Year Art Pledge

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

By: Wayne Andrews

 

 

The end of a year and beginning of another brings forth the floodwaters of lists.  Best of, Worst of, Hottest, and What Happened To covering every topic from celebrity, travel, health and wealth.   One list we should always be ranked number one is Art & Culture. I  consider Mississippi’s rich and diverse landscape of art our number one export.

Our fault seems to be that we forget at times to share.  We have pride in our state but also good manners ensure we would never be boastful.  To solve this I suggest the following:  A pledge between Mississippians to travel within our state and invite our out of state friends to join us at some of our cultural events.  It is always polite to invite someone for a visit!  This way we can send our visitors and friends home with the best gift – an understanding of Mississippi’s unique qualities.

This invitation also requires that we support our local cultural events but travel to support our neighbors and fellow Mississippians who organize, volunteer, and preserve the art and culture of our state.  We may root for different football teams but I think we can all cheer for the festivals, concerts, exhibits and celebrations that take place around Mississippi.

In planning your new year:  This pledge I ask you to join me in will be the easiest to keep.  There is no scale, goal, or moral failing to correct. Only invite and attend the events that happen in your community and across the state.  You may not be able to give up sweets in 2016 but you can feel good about attending the Tamale Festival in Greenville.

To help us keep our pledge and put Mississippi on the top of everyone’s list for the State with best art and culture, I suggest you consider attending these events in 2016:

Fiber Art Festival (Oxford, MS)  January 28- 30, 2016  The State’s longest running fiber art festival features workshops, exhibits, classes and demonstrations from fiber artists from across the country. The annual festival connects traditional crafts such as quilting, felting, weaving to fine art.

Juke Joint Festival (Clarksdale, MS) April 16, 2016  The Juke Joint Festival is “half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta.” It celebrates past and living history by presenting over 100 blues acts during the course of the weekend allowing visitors to be immersed the variety and styles of the blues music. During the daytime, you can expect a dozen small stages with authentic blues. At night, the surviving juke joints, blues clubs and other indoor stages host talent into the night.

FestivalSouth (Hattiesburg, MS) May 30- June 18, 2016  FestivalSouth is Mississippi’s only multi-week, multi-genre festival, offering both free and ticketed events. Presented by the Hattiesburg Concert Association (HCA), this year’s festival offers events from across the spectrum of the arts – music, dance, art, and theatre – as well as film, food, family, late night events and more!

Art-er Limits Fringe Festival (Oxford, MS)  August 2016  Mississippi’s only Fringe festival which provides stages for artists of al type to showcase new works.  The festival features over 75 performances in three days ranging from full theatre productions, music showcases, screening s of films, and modern dance.

Delta Hot Tamale Festival (Greenville, MS) October 13-15, 2016  Offering to explain how the tamale became part of Mississippi culture the annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival mixes music, food, and a big pot of cultural seasoning to explain this culinary treat became part of the Southern cultural tradition.

Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival (Ocean Springs, MS)  November  The Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival began as a small celebration by a group of local artists and art enthusiasts which has endured for more than 30 years later to become one of the Southeast’s premiere arts and crafts festivals. Last year, 400 artists exhibited in Ocean Springs honoring the art tradition created by the Anderson family.

Wayne Andrews is the Director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council in Oxford, MS.  He serves on the Gulf State Presenters Network promoting Mississippi Artists and is a board member for the Oxford Film Festival.

Oh, Christmas Tree : A Story of Mississippi’s First Christmas Tree

Posted on Posted in History

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.54.10 AM

By Gordon Cotton

 

Mahala Roach’s neighbors on Depot Street in Vicksburg probably wondered what was going on when they saw an evergreen tree, probably a cedar, being taken into her home on a December day in 1851.

Mrs. Roach, who lived in the heart of the city, made history that year when she erected in her parlor what is thought to have been the first Christmas tree in Mississippi. She explained in her diary what prompted her: “I had read of the German custom and thought it would be fun to try a tree of my own for my children’s pleasure.”

She decorated the tree with handmade cornucopias, toys, wax candles, red bows and ribbons, miniature fans, cookies and little baskets of candy.

Mahala Roach was born in Woodville, Miss., in 1825, the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston. In the 1840s she moved to Vicksburg and married an Irish immigrant, James Roach, who was in the banking business.

For half a century or more, Mrs. Roach kept diaries that tell of almost every facet of life in Vicksburg. The extensive collection belongs to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Most of the traditions Mrs. Roach mentioned are still popular, such as gift-giving and a feast on Christmas day. In 1852, she wrote that she had believed in Santa Claus.

Christmas in 1860, which came on a Tuesday, she wrote was “clear and cold. We have a clear, fine Christmas at last. I am glad of it as good weather adds so much to the pleasures of children and servants.”

When the Roach children raced to the parlor on Christmas morning, they found that the stockings they hung would not hold all the presents. The girls were given dolls, doll house furniture and dishes, tiny gold rings and money. The boys’ gifts were red-topped boots, jumping jacks, barlow knives and horns. All received candy and plenty of fireworks.

On Christmas morning and again in the afternoon, Mrs. Roach called on friends, giving and receiving gifts. Among items given to her were books, a basket of apples, two bottles of wine, a gold cross and a bouquet of violets and geraniums.

In mid-afternoon the family sat down to a lavish meal that included oysters, turkey, ham, fish, Irish and sweet potatoes, beans, rice, three kinds of bread, three kinds of cake, pies, custard, fruit, cheese and nuts.

Upon returning from her afternoon visits, Mrs. Roach found “bright fires and a nice supper, and thus ended mu Christmas day, which has been very pleasant, thanks be to my kind friends and to Him who has given me so many blessings.”

She concluded her diary entry with:

“Thanks be to God. Merry Christmas to us all.”

 

Gordon Cotton, a Vicksburg resident, is a historian, an author, a
storyteller and a former curator of the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg. He earned
both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi College. He has taught high school
history and was a newspaper reporter and columnist for many years. Gordon has written
and published numerous books on local history and culture and is a regular contributor for The ‘Sip Magazine.

 

Eleanor_Winter_print

Q&A With Eleanor Winter

Posted on Posted in Portrait

The current issue of The ‘Sip features Elise Winter, former first lady of Mississippi. In order to give you another “sip” of the story, we’ve had a conversation with her daughter, Eleanor Winter.

The ‘Sip: How did your Mississippi upbringing and education shape the person you are today?

EW: Although I have lived in Washington, D.C., for more than 25 years, when someone asks me where I am from, my answer is always Mississippi. There is something so special about our state. Having a father involved in politics allowed me the wonderful opportunity to travel every inch of the state on so many different occasions and for so many years. It is a soulful place; it is in my blood, and for me, all roads lead back to Mississippi.

The ‘Sip: Do you feel like you are an ambassador for our state having worked in Mississippi and then choosing similar work in Washington, D.C.?

EW: I don’t think there is a Mississippian I know who does not use every opportunity to go on and on about our state. It is such a unique place, and I love to tell anyone who will listen just how wonderful it is. The beauty of the state, the literature, the music, the richness and diversity of our culture, the food, the kindness and hospitality, the azaleas and dogwoods in the spring,  great college football . . . I could go on and on.

The ‘Sip: What, if any, responsibility do you feel to represent our state or promote a positive message for Mississippi while living beyond its borders?

I would guess that most Mississippians who live outside the state feel like we have an obligation to correct a lot of the old stereotypes about the state and shatter some of the old myths. The state has come so far in so many ways and it feels good to share that with as many people as possible. Most people know about the state’s tumultuous past during the Civil Rights Movement, but they don’t know how much progress we have made. There is a tremendous effort by so many in the state to embrace our differences and celebrate them. We are moving forward together.

The ‘Sip: Your mother played the role of first lady (both within the walls of the Governor’s Mansion and beyond), mother, grandmother and wife to your father, Governor Winter. What is your mother’s greatest contribution, in your eyes?

EW: Mom has contributed in so many different ways that it is difficult to name just one! On a personal level, she has always put our family before anything else, no exceptions. While coping with what was often a challenging political (and very public) life, she always made sure that she created the most loving, nurturing environment for our family.

She is a deeply religious person and believes we are put on this earth to help those less fortunate. You see that in her work with Habitat for Humanity. Even today, when she speaks about breaking ground on another Habitat house for a family, her eyes light up. Whether it’s Habitat, Meals on Wheels, helping establish a Visitor’s Center at Parchman or helping someone get their first job, the common thread throughout her life continues to be helping those who can not help themselves.

The ‘Sip: What does your parents’ legacy mean to you?

EW: My parents’ legacy means everything to me, and what a wonderful love story. They have committed their lives to public education, racial reconciliation, historic preservation and giving a voice to those who have fallen through the cracks in society. They continue to work tirelessly on these issues and still love each other’s company after 65 years of marriage!
Being their daughter is the greatest blessing of my life.

Eleanor Winter has been a part of the cable television industry for 25 years. She presently serves as Senior Vice President at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Prior to joining NCTA, Eleanor worked for two United States Senators, Sen. John Stennis from Mississippi and Sen. Paul Simon from Illinois. She then moved into the public relations world at the firm Cribben, Miller and Moses.

In 2015, she was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame. She currently serves on the Board of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. She also serves as a mentor for young men and women in the cable industry through the WICT mentorship program.

Eleanor was born and raised in Mississippi and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ole Miss.

 

For more information on our current issue, which features Elise Winter, visit thesipmag.com/current-issue. You may also subscribe and order back issues  at thesipmag.com/subscribe.

 

IMG_7476-%28ZF-5179-44974-1-052%29
Elise and William Winter in their home in Jackson with rescue dog Charlie Murphy. Photo by Melanie Thortis.
sweetpotatocc-1

Layered Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Posted on Posted in Food

By Jana Vance

There’s something that you should know about me: I am obsessed with cheesecake. I think about it all the time, and I talk about it to anyone that will listen. So when I was given the opportunity to write this month’s food blog for The ‘Sip, there was little doubt where this was headed. I quickly realized that the 25-recipe e-cookbook that I had outlined in my mind probably wouldn’t make it past the powers that be, so I toned it down a bit and decided that since we have finally been blessed with what appears to be (dare I say it?) fall weather, then I would share with you my favorite fall cheesecake recipe.

But first, let me talk to you for a minute about sweet potato pie.  There are two teams when it comes to sweet potato pie: Team Yes Ma’am, Give Me That Pie and Team Get That Nasty Mess Away From Me.  And even if you are on Team Yes Ma’am, you are really usually pretty ambivalent by the time you finish the slice. But it’s still there. On every food table at every get together between now and Christmas, that pie is there and it’s calling your name.

I’m here to change that, my friends.

I’ve always been on Team Yes Ma’am because my mama taught me that when somebody offers you pie, you take it. We were raised right. But I’ve never finished a piece of sweet potato pie and thought, “I’m done with my dessert. That was fabulous!” Then, a few years ago, I was walking through the living room and heard the words “layered sweet potato cheesecake” on the television and everything changed.

After a bunch of trial and error and a lot of recipes that I found on the Internet that were just wrong (because if your instructions don’t include BAKING your cheesecake, then it isn’t a cheesecake and bless your heart), I decided to combine a few of the ingredients I found online with part of my standard cheesecake recipe and a little guessing and go from there.

This is what I came up with:

Layered Sweet Potato Cheesecake

CRUST:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine — melted

CHEESECAKE:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese — room temperature
1  1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups sweet potatoes (roasted fresh sweet potatoes are best, but you can use unsweetened canned)
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

TOPPING:
2 cups sour cream — room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

TOPPING 2:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped

CRUST:
Combine crumbs, sugar and butter in bowl. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of 9-inch springform pan that has been liberally sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 6 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

CHEESECAKE:
Beat room temperature cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and cream in a food processor or stand mixer (I use the food processor) until smooth and shiny.  Add eggs and beat for one minute. Pour about a third of this mixture into springform pan. Add sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat well until sweet potatoes are smooth with no lumps. Gently pour remaining mixture into crust, being careful not to mix the sweet potato mixture with the regular cheesecake mixture underneath (I use a ladle). Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes or until edge is set.

TOPPING:
Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spread over warm cheesecake. Return to 350° oven and bake 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Release sides of pan and chill overnight.
When I wrote this recipe I originally listed this next step as optional, but after seeing the final product I no longer consider it an option. It is beautiful and tastes delicious.

TOPPING 2:
Combine brown sugar and butter or margarine in a heavy, small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in chopped pecans. Let cool and crumble over top of cheesecake just after removing it from the oven for the final time.

Tips:
Leave cream cheese out for at least 3 hours before starting. If it still has any chill at all, put it in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. If the cream cheese is even slightly cold, your cheesecake will be lumpy.

This recipe could be easily adapted to pumpkin, but don’t you dare call it “pumpkin spice.” Because we are NOT going there.

If you are using a stand mixer, use medium low setting to mix ingredients until combined and smooth. Do not use the whisk attachment.

If baking your cheesecake in a water bath (recommended), wrap bottom of pan in aluminum foil to keep water from seeping in. With this cheesecake, it is not absolutely necessary to use a water bath. If you do not use the water bath method, the top of your cake may crack or seem uneven; however, these inconsistencies will be covered by your topping layers.

Don’t be afraid to try making a homemade cheesecake. It’s not as hard as you think. And even if it fails to set and ends up a gooey mess, it’s still cheesecake. So grab a spoon, because as my granddaddy always said, “It’ll eat!”

IMG_0015-1

Jana Vance lives in Vicksburg, where she grew up. She specifically resides in the kitchen, cooking for her customers at Jana Vance Baking, her husband and three children and two hungry dogs (the cat won’t eat anything she cooks). She’s been baking and cooking for her entire life, and can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a recipe in her head. She is thrilled to share her recipes, tips and kitchen tales with the readers of The ‘Sip blog. You can reach her at jvancebaking@gmail.com.

IMG_0507

Still Singing

Posted on Posted in Lifestyle, Music

By Laura Albright

It’s late summer 1973 or ’74, and I’m in the back seat of a four-door sedan with vinyl seats. I am riding between my two little brothers. We are going home around 7 p.m. on a Sunday, and the sun is still bright but quickly slipping toward the horizon. The harsh rays are shining right into my little, round, sunburned face. I’m sweaty under my legs on the seat and my back is a little sunburned too, but I can lean up so that I’m not too hot on top of the sting of the sunburn. My daddy is driving, so, of course, the windows are all rolled down, and my hair is whipping around like everything else in the back seat. It is a precious moment burned in my memory, but it was also a little miserable as I recall.

We have left our family cabin at Pickwick Lake where we have been all weekend. Pickwick has been blissful for us, and the trip home is quiet and sad, so Daddy decides to cheer us up, I guess, by leading us in an enthusiastic round of the Mississippi Song. I know he must have had to dig deep to work up the energy to sing because if anybody in our family hates to leave Pickwick, it is Daddy!

We are little grumpy prisoners in a hot, windy car, my brothers and I. We are singing full-throttle when we pass the large, blue WELCOME TO MISSISSIPPI sign on Highway Two. I feel nostalgic and comforted because I’m going home.

Home. That’s what Mississippi is for me. Yes, I can claim it, especially when I think about it in terms of this song.

MISSISSIPPI SONG – author unknown

I want you to know of the state I love best
I want to compare it with all of the rest
It’s in the heart of Dixie beneath the Southern sky
Rich in health and beauty
I’ll live there ’til I die
It’s the state that’s famed for its hospitality
Just a bit of heaven placed here on Earth for me
It’s in the land of cotton and of sunshine
Mississippi, that grand ole state of mine!

It’s a great song for me, Pollyanna, to sing in my head when I’m feeling down about my city/county/state. I’m really thankful to live in a place where I can drink the tap water and breathe the air. I think we live in the country’s best kept secret. I think my daddy feels the same way too. He doesn’t know who wrote this song, but he learned it from Jo Anderson, his fourth grade music teacher. Daddy’s best childhood friend, Sandy Williams, is the only other person I know who knows it.

My older daughter, Anna McCollum, made a really cute painting of the words inside an outline of the state, and it hangs in my kitchen for all to enjoy. Maybe someday, someone will see it and know something about it.

Maybe all of us Mississippians should have one in our homes to remind us and our guests that this is a great state full of great people who love their grand ole state. If you are reading this and know someone who knows this song, or if you know who wrote it, please let me know. It’s a great song to sing in a hot car on the way home!

IMG_0507

 

 

Laura Albright lives in Corinth with her husband Trey and daughters Anna and Ruth Sawyer.  She is a stay-at-home mom and serves on the local preservation commission and the tourism board.  Her parents are Ann and Elbert (Boogy) White, who are lifelong residents of Corinth as well.

Contact her at lauraalbright82@yahoo.com

Life on View: the Artistic Mastery of Marie Hull

Posted on Posted in Art

By: Mississippi Museum of Art Staff

1978.042
Image courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art

September 28, 2015, is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Emily Marie Atkinson Hull (1890-1980), one of Mississippi’s most significant artists. Mrs. Hull was beloved by generations of friends, students and colleagues, and today her work is admired as much as ever. She was born in Summit, Mississippi, attended Belhaven College in Jackson, and by the age of 21, had left home – intrepid as ever – to enroll at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In the decades to come, she traveled the globe, explored the United States from coast to coast and taught and created from her eventual home in the state capital of Jackson.
This fall, celebrating her momentous life and work, the Mississippi Museum of Art hosts two exhibitions presenting more than 150 pieces, the most Marie Hull art ever assembled. Both are on view September 26, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016, at the Museum in Jackson. They provide the visitor with a wide-angle lens through which to take in the longevity as well as the extraordinary diversity of Marie Hull’s achievement. We hope that it lives up to the high standard of what today might be called the artist’s own mission statement:

“Through it all, I have clearly seen that creativity and quality are the essential things in art.”

1972.006
Image courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art

Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull, a Myra Hamilton Green and Lynn Green Root Memorial Exhibition, is the larger of the two; it has been curated by acclaimed concert pianist and Mississippi native, Bruce Levingston, a life-long admirer and collector of Hull’s work. Bright Fields is accompanied by a new and comprehensive book of the same title authored by Levingston and published by University Press of Mississippi. It is the first thorough examination of her work since the publication of The Art of Marie Hull in 1975.
“Marie Hull was not only a great painter, but an important cultural figure in the South,” said Levingston. “Her influence and impact on all the arts not only in Mississippi, but throughout the region, was tremendous. She fought for greater arts education for the public and supported the formation of institutions that would promote and preserve the artistic heritage of each community. Hull’s works themselves, whether moving portraits, daring abstracts or glorious landscapes, create a legacy not only of her masterful artistry but of the rapidly changing time and place in which she lived and created her work. Her paintings form a kind of diary of our civilization in the South.”
On the Road with Marie Hull, the second of the two exhibitions, was conceived and curated by chief curator and deputy director of the Mississippi Museum of Art, Dr. Roger Ward. Its subject is Hull’s amazing vitality which found expression through her constant travel. From Jackson to Philadelphia and New York, from Tampa to San Diego, from Vancouver to Kennebunkport, and back and forth to Chicago on the “City of New Orleans” locomotive, America as seen from the window of a car, bus or train was fuel for her creativity.  An indefatigable draftsman, she left an extraordinarily rich record of her experience in her sketchbooks. No less so is this the case for her extended sojourn in France, Spain and Morocco when she made something like 600 drawings and watercolors of the picturesque hilltop towns of Brittany and the Auvergne, of La Mancha and Andalusia, and of the dazzling kasbahs and minarets of Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech. The exhibition has been carefully selected from the mostly unseen resources of the museum itself — its treasure trove of unpublished sketchbooks — and from the collections of two private owners.

“Both the state and this institution owe a great deal to Marie Hull,” said Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. “She was a founding member of the Mississippi Art Association in 1911 — the forerunner to the Mississippi Museum of Art, and her lasting impact on the creative landscape continues to reverberate. This fall’s exhibitions are the museum’s way of paying homage to the life and work of one of the state’s most enduring cultural ambassadors.”

WS333
Image courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art

Not unlike other artists who have lived to a great age — Michelangelo, for example, or Claude Monet — the world of Marie Hull’s birth changed more than she could have imagined over the course of her nine decades.  She was, after all, born into a post-Civil War society with certain social conventions and preconceived expectations of a girl (the eldest child) from a proper Southern family.  It is therefore remarkable that by the age of 20 Miss Atkinson seems to have determined the course of her own future, one that did not reject so much as walk away from the constraints that tradition might have imposed upon her; perhaps even more remarkable is that she seems to have done so without hurting too many feelings.  As she learned and grew and progressed as a professional artist, she remained a loyal daughter, sister, wife and humanitarian who loved her family, friends and virtually all animals with equal ardor.  These feelings were expressed in scores of informal drawings and watercolors found in her sketchbooks, her commentaries on them and in the uncounted letters and postcards she wrote daily from wherever she was in the world.

As an artist she was fearless of the new “-isms” that rolled like waves, one after another, over the art world of the 20th century.  While the first apogee of her achievement — reached in the late 1920s and ‘30s, when she was already of middle age — is obvious, it is likewise true that for the next 35 years she did nothing but push the horizon farther and higher in search of her own resolution of the artistic maelstrom through which American art sailed in the years after World War II.  Thankfully she lived long enough to reach a second summit, represented by the extraordinary works created between 1967 and 1972, at which point she must have been content to say, “Enough, as it happens, really is enough!” What more could she have hoped to accomplish?  It had been a life well lived.

Photograph of Hull
Image courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art

Fast as Lightning

Posted on Posted in Sports & Leisure

By Lynne Waterbury
Photography by Lynne Waterbury

20150715-20150715-IMGL3154

Rusty Nosser has feet that can move so fast you can’t even tell they are touching the ground. And yet, his feet are not running. They are dancing like lightning in the sky. It’s called speed walking or race walking, a national track and field sport.

Rusty has been racing with his fast as lightning feet for more than four years. In May, he competed and won a World Cup marathon that made ESPN take notice. By special invitation, he competed in another World Cup race sponsored by ESPN in Boulder, Col., last July, and won. Next are the X Games.

Rusty first used those magic feet to run around the playground at Bowmar Avenue Elementary School in Vicksburg. Those feet helped him play football at South Vicksburg High School. After college, he returned to Vicksburg and worked in the family business and later his own business. All the while he continued to walk to stay in shape. Because he was so quick on his feet, a friend introduced him to speed walking, and he began competing.

To have a shot at the title, one must not only have the desire and dedication, but also be willing to work for it, grab it and run—or, at least, speed walk—with it. Rusty was determined continue to challenge himself and do what his heart says.

20150715-20150715-DSC03633

It’s 4:30 a.m., and most people are soundly sleeping. Rusty, however, is already drinking coffee, planning his daily morning walk, getting his music ready to inspire him. Many people listen to the words of a song, but he listens to the beat, the rhythm. When the headphones go on, Rusty’s feet match the beat of the up-tempo songs he has chosen. He uses the beat of the songs to guide his feet to match that speed. He is quick-footed and can change pace very swiftly which enables him to explode into different gears.

The people of Oxford who see him speed walking in the early morning hours wave and toot their horns to encourage him. He is their hometown hero. When they get a chance, they often ask him for tips to make them better walkers.

“You have to hear the beat of the music and really feel it to get into the rhythm,” he said. “Then go for it.”

An ESPN reporter called him a natural-born athlete. Rusty has the power to walk so smoothly it appears he is gliding. He has made the sacrifices to keep him in the game. The only way for him to advance is to go beyond what he already does and take advantage of this opportunity given to him. After all, it has been said that greatness is a lot of small things done well.

“I do what I do because I can do what I do,” Rusty said.

He will never stop, never give up and never quit.

As in the old poem: “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man but sooner or later to the man who thinks he can.”

That certainly applies to Rusty and his fast as lightning feet.

20150715-20150715-IMGL3238-2