Annual antiques forum offers three ways to celebrate

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Natchez Antiques Forum will present three unique ways to enjoy the event this year, touring historic places, listening to lectures — many young professionals — and through the five-year retrospective of artwork at Elms Court.

During the tricentennial, Marsha Colson, chair of the forum, said the event — Nov. 3-5 — is about the history of Natchez, revolving around the Foster Mound Road area and its connection to royalty, including Native American chiefs, king cotton and an African prince.

“It isn’t just about antiques,” she said. “Its about Native Americans, the 15th century mounds they built and the beautiful ceramic art they created.

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“It’s about an enslaved African prince, and a Pennsylvania portrait artist who worked in Natchez for 30 years. It’s about our history and our culture.”

Preconference tour

From 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, a preconference tour will begin with a tour of Foster Mound Road, which is a part of the Mississippi Mounds Trail. The road was used by mound-building Native Americans in the 15th century. By the 18th century, the it was utilized by the cotton planting Foster family, and also enslaved men and women who worked the land, including African Prince Ibrahima.

The tour begins at 10: 30 a.m. at the Natchez Convention Center, where historian Jim Wiggins, formerly of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, will present an overview called, “On Supposititious Heads and the Very Large History of a Very Small Place.”

At 11 a.m., visitors will board a motor coach, where Foster family descendants and Natchez tour guide Phebe Winters will speak.

A pair of stories will be retold at Foster Mound, the home of Rodger Smith.

Mayor Darryl Grennell will then tell the story of Prince Ibrahima, and Nan Foster Schuchs will speak about the Foster family’s cotton kingdom.

Evidence of the Fosters’ original log cabin structure, begun in the 1700s, will be on display behind a glass-enclosed wall. Colson said seeing the wall is one of the aspects of the tour to which she is most looking forward.

The tour will then move to Glen Mary, which was built in 1850 by the Foster family and is now the home of Marion and Carolyn Vance Smith.

Following the tour, visitors will eat a luncheon featuring foods associated with the three distinct groups of people who lived along Foster Mound Road.

The afternoon will conclude with a trip to and around Historic Jefferson College, which was built in the early 1800s on land donated by Foster family members.

All three buildings on the tour are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Antiques Forum

The annual forum begins with presentations  at 9 a.m. on Friday, at the Natchez Convention Center, with Pilgrimage Garden Club President Regina Charboneau, Colson and forum consultant Jeanette Feltus providing the welcome and opening remarks.

“For people who have never attended the forum, try one lecture,” Colson said. “Or take the Thursday tour or the Saturday afternoon tour. It’s a once a year opportunity to learn, to be entertained and to be inspired.”

Retired director of the Arlington Historic House Daniel Fate Brooks will present an anniversary overture on the tricentennial, Ron and Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation will present on the new directions in decorative arts.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology American Section Weingarten Assistant Curator Megan Kassabaum will discuss Natchez American Indian material culture. Kassabaum will speak on the distinction between art and artifact.

Friday afternoon former registrar of the Mississippi Museum of Art Joanna Biglane McNeel will present on 19th century Pennsylvanian artist James R. Lambdin. Lambdin painted portraits of major figures in the nation’s history and spent nearly every winter between 1830 and 1860 painting portraits in Natchez.

Nicholas Powers, Museum of Shenandoah Valley curator of collections, will conclude Friday’s lectures with a presentation of Philadelphia furniture makers and their Natchez clients.

Saturday will include more lectures on Natchez’s culture and history.

Jackie Killian, the officer of major gifts for the Winterthur, Del., Museum, will talk about New York cabinetmakers and their Natchez clients. Lydia Blackmore, the decorative arts curator of the Historic New Orleans Collection, will discuss the relationship between New Orleans and Natchez.

“It’s about artistic and social and business connections between Natchez and New Orleans, Natchez and New York and Natchez and Philadelphia,” Colson said. “And it’s about the young professionals who will present the results of their work and research here in Natchez.”

Saturday tours

From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday forum goers will tour Natchez historic houses Green Leaves, Richmond and Elms Court. Displayed in  Elms Court will be the exhibition, “The Seasons of Elms Court: A Five-Year Retrospective” featuring Richardson’s miniature oil paintings of the grounds.

“This five-year collaboration that I’ve had with Anne MacNeil, Elms Court owner, has been unique,” said Richardson, of Natchez. “The seeds were planted in September 2011 when I turned into her drive and saw a magnificent display of red and yellow spider lilies in sun-dappled light. I knew I had to paint them!”

Richardson said painting miniatures at Elms Court has been a serendipitous five-year adventure.

“The 160 acres encompasses ponds, meadows, dirt roads, woodland, bayous, pathways and wildlife,” she said. “The array of subject matter lends itself to endless landscape subjects and is ever-changing through the passage of daylight and seasons.”

The artist said she hopes visitors to the grounds of Elms Court are able to get a glimpse of the everyday beauty of the grounds she has been able to enjoy.

“A favorite memory is of Valentine’s Day 2015 when my husband, Jim Barnett, and I sat in a secluded glen off the parking lot of Elms Court for two hours watching the light change over the sea of daffodils moving in the slight, warm breeze,” Richardson said. “It’s not the finished painting that holds my interest and makes me plow toward the last stroke. It’s the journey, the experience, the immersion that stokes my enthusiasm for painting an illusion and keeps me focused on the here and now.

“It’s a type of meditation in a way. Then, at the end of the journey, if the painting expresses what I felt, heard, smelled, I feel lucky.”