Natchez takes stage in Jackson

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011

NATCHEZ — While Natchez artist Rolland Golden doesn’t create Muppets, he has something in common with Jim Henson.

The Mississippi Museum of Art is taking the opportunity during Golden’s exhibit to host a Natchez day today at the museum, just as Henson’s exhibit sparked a Leeland day.

“The exhibit is a show of 45 paintings, and all are related to the Mississippi River,” Golden said of his exhibit, titled River and Revelrie. “Most of the paintings are of the river scene in Natchez.”

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When the museum’s Director Betsy Bradley approached the Historic Natchez Foundation with the idea, Historic Natchez Director Mimi Miller agreed, and upped the museum’s original scope of the event.

“The foundation decided that, since there is a lot going on in Jackson in the past few years that people may not know about, that instead of just having a brunch, we decided to expand it to a day-long event,” Miller said.

The foundation is taking the 80 people scheduled for the trip to see some of the recent renovation work at the King Edward Hotel, the Standard Life Building, the Union Station, the Old Capital Building and the Eudora Welty House. The tour will be led by former Natchez city planner and Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust David Preziosi.

“Almost all are relatively new projects that people in Natchez may not have seen,” Miller said. “I thought it would be nice to expand it to see the revitalization efforts in downtown Jackson.”

Other events will include a piano concert by Joseph Stone during a Bloody Mary Brunch, a lecture by Museum Registrar and Natchez native Joanna Biglane McNeel on Natchez art. Author John Grady Burns and ceramic artist Conner Burns will also be present.

Miller said several former Natchez residents living in the Jackson area will be present, and the museum has invited former Natchez residents from all over the state to attend. Museum admission is free to Natchez residents this week.

“One comment the director of the Mississippi Museum of Art had is that this is not just a Jackson museum,” Miller said. “It is a museum for everyone in the state.”

Golden said he was looking forward to Natchez Day, as he will be giving a tour of his exhibit.

“I hope people will go see it, and turn out for the Natchez Day,” Golden said. “It is very special.”

After the event, Golden said he would be at the cocktail party.

“What kind of Natchez event would it be without a cocktail party?” Golden said. “I look forward to seeing everyone.”

Golden said he was inspired to put together an exhibit on the Mississippi River because he wanted to do something happy.

“I spent two years on an exhibit about Hurricane Katrina,” said Golden, who moved to Natchez after Hurricane Katrina. “I wanted to get away from such a depressing subject.

“I was looking for something uplifting, and I’d go to the river every day to take a break.”

Golden said he started to bring his camera, and began his work at the Natchez gazebo.

“It has been a rewarding experience, and it did the trick to get out of the doldrums from the Katrina episode,” Golden said.

While his exhibit will close Jan. 16, he is still working on the project, as it will next appear in Alexandria, La.