Funky Fun and Fine Art: Jackson, Mississippi rolls it all into one fabulous weekend.
“University studies, one of which was done at LSU, have proved that play is as important to your well-being as food, clothing, shelter,” notes a famous world leader slated to be paraded with honor through the streets of Jackson once again this March.
Jill Conner Browne, the beloved Mississippi author, is perhaps the funniest World Leader in history. The dominion over which she is the undisputed ruler is that of the Sweet Potato Queens movement with 6,000 chapters in over twenty countries around the world.
Browne is the bestselling author of nine Sweet Potato Queens books filled with rollicking, raucous and riotously funny essays. It all started when she discovered that a Mississippi town that hosted an annual sweet potato festival had no queen. She promptly self-proclaimed that title for herself, an adventure that inspired a series of books filled with down-to-earth humor that wryly yet powerfully conveys a greater message of self-reliance and empowerment. Is it any wonder she’s inspired legions of fans around the world to declare themselves Sweet Potato Queens as well?
And many, many of them will be parading with Browne in the third annual Zippity Doo Dah Parade on March 23. This year’s grand marshal is a legendary Sweet Potato Queen from Texas, Queen Aunt Fay, who has just celebrated her 100th birthday.
The parade on Saturday night culminates a three-day weekend of events that also includes the new Color Me Rad 5k that morning. Runners arrive clad in white and, while running or walking through Jackson’s fun and funky Fondren neighborhood, will be “color bombed” at each kilometer.
“The result is a neighborhood washed in a rainbow of colors,” said Jim Wilkirson, Fondren Renaissance Executive Director. Albeit briefly. The “bombing” will be done with environmentally friendly colored starch, which will dissipate at the first rainfall.
An “Arts, Eats & Beats” evening on Thursday features the varied eclectic musical and artistic offerings of the Fondren. Merchants and restaurants stay open late, music fills the streets with a party atmosphere. On Friday evening, the big hair and big voices of The Bouffants take to the main stage. Meanwhile the “Clydesdale Restaurant Hop” takes the world famous horses on a tour of all the restaurants in the Fondren area. Please note that the huge horses will not be taking up booth space in the restaurants, but will patiently wait outside offering photo ops to restaurant patrons.
What more reason could you need to hop in your car and head for Jackson? Actually there is another huge reason.
The Mississippi Museum of Art has developed quiet a reputation over the years for staging blockbuster exhibits, like the Palaces of St. Petersburg and the Splendors of Versailles. And the latest just happens to be opening this same weekend.
Old Masters to Monet: Three Centuries of French Painting from the Wadsworth Atheneum features fifty masterpieces that provide a history of French painting—from the seventeenth century through the beginning of the twentieth century—and include religious and mythological subjects, portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes. The exhibition begins with the great seventeenth-century masters, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Simon Vouet, and Jacques Stella, all of whom spent time in Rome and whose work embodies Italianate ideas of beauty, classical sculpture, and ideal landscape. Poussin’s enormous “Crucifixion,” painted in 1646 for President Jacques-Auguste de Thou, and Lorrain’s “Landscape with St. George and the Dragon,” commissioned by Cardinal Fausto Poli in 1641, are among the most important French paintings residing in the United States. The eighteenth-century works present a remarkably rich tapestry of life in France during the rococo age. There are several scenes and portraits of aristocrats, including the “Portrait of the Duchesse de Polignac” by the era’s leading painter of women, Madame Vigée-Lebrun. The change in style brought about by the French Revolution is evident in the impressive composition designed by Jacques Louis David, and the creation of a new aristocracy is presented by the two brilliant paintings by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
Perhaps the most exciting group of works in the exhibition is the selection of the Impressionists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s famous painting of his friend Claude Monet at work in the garden. In addition, there are two superb paintings by Monet himself—the 1870 “Beach at Trouville” and the 1904 depiction of his “Nymphéas (Water Lilies).” Also included are fine examples by their colleagues Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne. Vincent van Gogh’s powerful “Self-Portrait” of about 1887 is included in the exhibition along with many other masterpieces.
The museum’s own collection is eminently worthy of a trip all on its own, with work by Walter Anderson, George Ohr, Sam Gilliam, William Dunlap, John McCrady, Richmond Barthé, Eudora Welty, William Hollingsworth, Marie Hull, and William Eggleston, among many others.
Gassing up the car yet?
Details Details Details
The full roster of Zippity Doo Dah weekend events, March 21-24, is at zddparade.com.
Old Masters to Monet opens on March 23 and will hang through September 8. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $6 children, free for ages five and under. Free for museum members and for all on Thursdays. 10 am–5 pm Tuesday—Saturday; noon–5 pm Sunday. 380 South Lamar Street. Details at (601) 960-1515 or msmuseumart.org.
Information on lodging and other fun things to do (like you’d have time) is at visitjackson.com