Woman’s art collection a sight to behold

Published 12:41 am Monday, July 12, 2010

VIDALIA — When you peek in the front door of Loveta Byrne’s house in Vidalia, you might be tempted to reach for your wallet.

But don’t worry, Byrne’s house isn’t really an art museum. It just looks like one.

And when The Dart landed on Vidalia’s Linden Street on Thursday afternoon, it found Byrne’s home full of paintings, statues and antique furniture.

But far from being an art dealer, Byrne said she simply buys things that will make her happy.

“I just buy what I like,” Byrne said. “I’m just a buyer and not a seller. Wherever I go, I’ll find an antiques place and go shopping.”

Byrne doesn’t know where her love of art and antiques came from, but she had plenty of opportunities to show off her collection, as she has owned several large houses, including Glenburnie and The Burn.

She then moved to New Orleans for several years before moving back to Natchez, and then settling in her current house about two years ago.

Every time she moves means the large art and antiques collection has to move with her, which can be a bit of a problem.

“I moved to New Orleans in 1993 and have moved six times since that move,” Byrne said. “It’s always a big hassle and the movers hate me. Something always breaks that you hate like the devil to lose, but that’s life.”

Byrne has bought some pieces of art from Europe, but most of it comes from either New Orleans, or locally.

“Just wherever I go to shop, I’ll find a place,” Byrne said. “I just see something I like and buy it.”

On the walls of her home include religious paintings, portraits of famous people gone by, paintings of ducks, a favorite animal of hers, and beautiful needlepoint art.

Byrne said her taste evolved throughout her life.

“Many years ago, in the ‘50s, I loved contemporary,” Byrne said. “I had a oriental-type taste. But that slowly changed in the ‘60s to what it is now. I’ve been collecting things since the ‘60s, little by little.”

And even though paintings and antiques fill her current house, there’s still much more that isn’t shown.

“I’ve still got a lot in warehouses that I just don’t have room to show,” Byrne said.

Even though her paintings and antiques seem to scream “No touching,” Byrne said her three grandchildren are, of course, welcome anytime.

“Oh yes, they are allowed in the house,” Byrne said. “In fact, they’re visiting at the end of the month. They’re very well-behaved, so there’s no problem.”