November 08, 2008
A week ago Friday, I picked up a fellow traveler near Jackson, MS... in time for a fine dining lunch, then a magical drive down the Natchez Trace (some things are done soooo right!) to the lovely historic town of Port Gibson... I'm always blown away by it's charm in that's it's not been 'Disneyfied'... it is what it is and what it was, melded beautifully. This is the city that Grant declared "too beautiful to burn." Word reached my ear that azaleas were introduced to the USA from Asia at this little river town which is no longer on the Mississippi River... which over the years sashayed over to another course.
Preservation work is always ongoing and that was the point of this gathering of artists... an art auction to benefit the local heritage effort. A 'Paint Day' was designated for a few 'artists in residence' to produce scenes of our choice to be auctioned that evening. Other artists who couldn't attend sent work and there were some very nice pieces by a local high school art class.
Last trip, a couple of years ago, I couldn't get past the incredible bluffs we drove though where Grant's army had marched four abreast on their way to a horrific battle in these beautiful woods. We passed the Shaeffer House where a sad tale lives on but the house still stands proud. We elected to take a look at Widow's Creek (a wartime designation) and quickly decided to settle on the white sugar sand and rocks to do our thing. The weather was crisp and clear and we created our little masterpieces in perfect setting... complete with delivered box lunch, gourmet style. I haven't felt so privileged and catered to in a long, long time!
I had six mats with me and was able to fill them all with small watercolor sketches that weren't fine works of art but at least captured a bit of my experience, my view, my definition of essence. They all received bids and were acquired by appreciative supporters of the arts and the local heritage efforts... whew!
No way can I tell all about all... the restored Depot with upscale resturant (uummm!) and the adjoining antique/boutique where the auction was actually held Saturday night. Art artfully tucked in among the other goodies... great combo! Most of mine were lined up on a bench I designated as "The Pew Gallery"... too fun!
The Sunday morning visit to The Windsors... with a professional guide who gave us a private tour... whoa! So many photos taken... there's work to be done! For history buffs, I found several pages of photos of highlights of the Battle of Port Gibson area at a Civil War Album site which will give a quick overview of much of what we experienced.
I'll eventually get my photos fixed for the web but am slowly picking my way through various tutorials, multitasking the learning process which is not the most effective way to learn... but that's the way I work.
In all, a fabulous weekend with old and new friends, southern hospitality reigned... I can't say enough good things about the effort that was made to make us feel welcome and at home.