Discover the Vicksburg Art Association

By Jeannie Naujeck on April 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm EST
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The Warren County creative community includes talented artists working in a diverse range of media, from photography to watercolors to glass. The common thread: the Vicksburg Art Association, the pre-eminent regional group promoting the arts for more than 40 years and a resource for the entire creative community.

The all-volunteer institution, comprised of artists and those who appreciate art, began in 1964 as the Vicksburg Art Associates. Since 1970, VAA has been headquartered in the Old Constitution Firehouse, a historic downtown building that was remodeled from a city storage facility into a gallery that hosts three art shows each year and is adding a permanent collection comprised of works that have been left to it, says co-president Jean Blue, a celebrated local painter and the VAA’s longest-running member.

It’s where the VAA’s 225 members gather for workshops and exhibitions and to hear speakers throughout the year.

“I think Vicksburg has always been a mecca for artists,” Blue says. “It has a very nurturing community of people who love art.”

The Firehouse is a designated Mississippi landmark and is believed to be the most intact Victorian fire station in the state. A 40th anniversary art show depicting scenes of the firehouse kicked off the 2009 season, and the gallery hosts spring and fall shows, including its long-running annual Mississippi Exhibition and art competition.

When not hosting a show, the firehouse is abuzz with plans for workshops for adults and children, and speakers, including artists in all media, discussing their talent and techniques. In the summer, the Firehouse “Summer Studio” opens up one day a week to adult artists who want to work independently but in a communal setting. Outstanding works from the summer studio are displayed when the fall season begins.

Vicksburg’s other galleries include The Attic Gallery, Mississippi’s oldest independent art gallery with two floors of exhibit space featuring Southern folk and contemporary art; H.C. Porter Gallery, featuring works by the Southern photographer who captured the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 9,000 photos; and River Bend Galleries, featuring watercolors, photography, oils, pottery, jewelry and pencil drawings.

Water scenes and the music that still reverberate along the Mississippi “blues trail” seem to inspire Mississippi artists, says Blue, who grew up in Oxford and taught art before moving to Vicksburg.

“That’s the gift of the artist – to see something unusual in the ordinary,” she says. “I’m sure every Southern state has stories to tell, but we seem to have more than the average, in music and art, written and visually.

“Vicksburg has character and characters," she says. "I don’t know if that goes along with river towns, but it seems to.”

Find more on arts and culture in Vicksburg, MS.

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