Artist’s ‘buildings’ on display at Market

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Edward Jones is not an architect, a builder, a contractor or a mason, but he makes bricks and he builds buildings.

Jones is an artist. He carves houses and buildings out of wood, even the bricks on the facet of many of the buildings are simply wood he carved with an X-acto knife.

And he paints them too, compete with the mortar between the bricks to make them all look real.

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&uot;My father should have been an architect,&uot; said Sarah A. Dave, his only child. But he never built or designed inhabited dwellings. Jones said he had many jobs and was a spray painter by trade.

He has had no formal training to do his artwork; his is self-taught.

&uot;It just comes naturally,&uot; Jones said.

Jones started this &uot;hobby&uot; in 1963 but really gave it full steam in 1983 when he retired. A city-dweller most of his life, living in Chicago and in St. Louis, he moved to the country in to Pattison with his daughter. She gave him a room to set up shop in and create his masterpieces.

Jones’ favorite architecture is Victorian and it shows through much of his work.

Starting Sunday, Jones’ work in on display at the Mostly African Market through December.

One of his earliest buildings is a little country church. Also on display is a replica of the Gibson House in Port Gibson that Jones made for his first exhibit earlier this year in Port Gibson. And another replica, that of the Richmond Hills Plantation in Jefferson County.

There are two small shotgun houses inspired by those from Vicksburg.

Anita George, who is lives in Starkville, was visiting the exhibit and told Jones, who was at the opening, how much she &uot;loved his work.&uot;

&uot;I grew up in a shotgun house (in Vicksburg,&uot; she told him, admiring his version. &uot;These are elegant shotgun houses by my standards.

&uot;We didn’t think of them as works of art.&uot;

&uot;He hasn’t just recreated houses; there are little touches that are his,&uot; Thelma Williams, former director of the Mostly African Market, said.

But perhaps most impressive are the buildings he makes just from his memory.

There is a New Orleans style shotgun house and complete village on Maine Street, encased and strategically placed atop the mantle at the market.

The buildings are all brick and are complete with signs for all the shops, a newsstand with newspapers, doors, windows, lamp poles, street signs, stop lights and even a red-and-white striped-barber’s pole. The only thing he did not make in the scene are the small figurines of people to make it seem lifelike.

Friends and patrons alike were amazed at the fine detail this 85-year-old man produced.

&uot;The brick, you just want to touch it,&uot; Lorean Bailey, of Hazelhurst, a friend of the family said.

&uot;The other day, I was blessed to see him make brick. They’re so realistic. He is so particular. It has to be as close to perfection as possible.&uot;

Bailey said she could just imagine herself being small and walking through the houses. But the houses would not hold a person any larger than a thimble in most cases.

&uot;If I could just talk him into building me a big one, I’d be happy,&uot; Bailey said.

To compliment Jones’ carvings, the second exhibit was made of carvings from collections of the market and Natchez residents Rowan and Jerry Beach.

The carvings are of animals and people, mostly by George Williams and the Rev. J.L. Hunter.

Williams is of Fayette and Hunter, from Dallas. Both were also self-taught artists like Jones.