Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Blogger: George Bassi

At the Museum

by George Bassi, Director

As with most things in our lives, we tend to divide up the calendar year based on sporting activities, school, holidays and family events. For us here at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, our year always includes the excitement in November and early December of planning the annual museum gala.

LRMA will celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of New Orleans at our annual black-tie gala on Saturday, December 5. Gala Chairmen Deborah and David Ratcliff promise a memorable evening of delicious food, lively music, and fabulous decorations to raise money for the Museum’s education and exhibition programs.

Highlighting the evening will be the Live Auction under the leadership of chairmen Mary Ella and Clay Johnson. Bidders will have the opportunity to purchase artwork by Bill Dunlap, Lucy Mazzaferro, Greg Gustafson, Patterson Barnes and Ginny Futvoye. The Live Auction also features two exciting week-long trips to the private residences of Lessley and Bobby Hynson in Ireland and Sara and John Hendrickson in Nantucket. Jewelry will include a stunning Judith Ripka gold and diamond cross necklace and an exquisite multi-colored string of pearls. Completing the Live auction is a beautiful table designed and crafted by Walter Bailey.

Pam and Jack Ward are serving as Silent Auction chairmen and their committee of 13 couples is gathering more than 100 auction items in six categories. Included are vacations, private dinners, jewelry, artwork, antiques and just about anything else on your Christmas list.

The gala is the museum’s primary fundraising event, raising almost 15% of our annual operating budget in this one night. But it is not all business– this is a night to laissez les bons temps rouler! The evening features a gourmet dinner inspired by New Orleans cuisine and dancing with the music of The Triple Lindy, featuring Laurel native Wes Brooks. Be on the lookout for mimes, ostrich plumes, a second-line and maybe even Chris Owens.

The fun begins with the annual Preview Party on Thursday, December 3. This event is sponsored by the LRMA Guild of Docents and Volunteers and highlights the many auction items up for bid. Katie Sullivan is serving as chair of this event, and the Guild will prepare a menu of delicious Big Easy treats to start the bidding.

Of course, an event of this magnitude takes a host of volunteers, and LRMA is fortunate to have great committee chairmen helping us out. Included are Jo Lynn McLeod as Decorations Chair, Ann Ellis and Betty Harper as Auction Display Chairs, and Diane Thames as Food and Beverage Chair.

Tickets are now on sale for this December 5 event, and you can call the Museum at 601-649-6374 for more information.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sunday Concert Series: November 15

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra present the second installment of their 2009-2010 Sunday Concert Series on Sunday, November 15 at 3 p.m. in the LRMA American Gallery. Harpist Kimberly Houser along with guest flutist Katherine Kemler will perform music by Godefroid, Debussy, Houser, Tournier, and Piazzola in a program titled “Dances with Harp.”

Kimberly Houser has performed on the harp since she was eight years old. She began her study in Portland, Oregon, performing her first full recitals and freelancing in high school. She received her Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona while on full scholarship. Houser continued her study under Catherine Michel, principal harpist of the Paris Opera. She has performed at The World Harp Congress, The American Harp Society Convention, and the Soka City International Festival in Japan. She has toured Mexico, Japan, Prague, and Puerto Rico. Houser spent three years as principal harpist with the Billings Symphony in Billings, Montana while she taught both privately and through Montana State University. She has served as principal harp for the Columbia Symphony in Portland, Oregon and was on faculty at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, where she taught music theory, history and appreciation. Her first solo CD, Pure Harp, was reviewed in the October/November 2006 issue of Fanfare Magazine. She is a Professional-in-Residence at Louisiana State University.

Katherine Kemler is Professor of Flute at Louisiana State University, flutist with the Timm Wind Quintet, and a regular visiting teacher at the Oxford Flute Summer School in England. A graduate of Oberlin, she received her Master of Music and D.M.A. degrees from State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Kemler has taught master classes and performed solo recitals at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China, Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts, Beijing Concert Hall and taught master classes at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. In 2006, she was a guest artist at the Slovenian Flute Festival and in the summer of 2007 she performed and taught at the Festiv'Academies in France. She was featured on the cover of Flute Talk Magazine in December of 2006 and also on the cover of the Flutist Quarterly, the official magazine of the NFA, in 2003. Dr. Kemler has appeared as soloist with the British Chamber Orchestra in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, and with the Orchestra Medicea Laurenziana throughout Italy. She made solo broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and National Public Radio and has recorded CDs with Centaur Records, Orion, and Opus One labels.

This Sunday Concert is sponsored by Tim Lawrence of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC in Jackson and is free and open to the public.

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street in historic downtown Laurel. For more information, call 601-649-6374 or visit the Museum’s website at

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fourth Grade Tours

On October 20th and 22nd, about 800 fourth-graders visited the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. As part of their unit on Native American history, they toured our Basket Gallery; learned about the three kinds of weaving (coiling, twining, and plaiting) and handled baskets of each type; did several hands-on art activities; watched Choctaw dancing; and saw a demonstration of Choctaw rivercane weaving. The weather held out, so we were able to use the front lawn for the activities and the demonstrations, and a lot of the classes went to Gardiner Park (behind the museum) to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Reminder: Moe Brooker exhibition closes November 8!

This Sunday is your last chance to view the exhibition Moe Brooker: Carelessly Exact.

The exhibition Eudora Welty in New York will be closing soon after, on Sunday, November 15. From now until then, you may find one section of the Welty show has been taken down. This is because our construction project is causing one wall of that gallery to vibrate on occasion, and on those days we have to take those pictures down. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Field Trip to Stennis Space Center

This week the LRMA staff took a field trip to Stennis Space Center in Southwest Mississippi. We are gearing up for the exhibit NASA|ART: 50 Years of Exploration, featuring 65 artworks commissioned by NASA over the last fifty years, which will open on April 8, 2010. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and NASA in cooperation with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

We started with a driving tour of the immense facility, which in addition to testing rocket and shuttle engines, is host to a number of other federal agencies and contractors. We saw NOAA, weather buoys, and the enormous test stands, and more. Stennis even has its own daycare, mini-mart, gas station, fire station, medical clinic, and several cafeterias to serve its thousands of employees.

We then visited the Stennisphere, a museum/hands-on activity center which presents the history of the area, the space center, the shuttle, and more. Several members of the staff did a fine job of, *crashing* the space shuttle in the simulator.

George and other members of the staff enjoyed the space suit:

We were hoping they had an extra space suit to lend us for photo ops, but alas, they do not.

We were all impressed by the enormous scale of the engines tested at the center:

And, finally, we had a great meeting with members of the Education, Outreach, and Public Affairs staff, who have a lot of great programming ideas for us. We have big plans for the programming around this exhibition, and we are looking forward to partnering with the folks at the Stennis Space Center.

Guest Blogger: Lizabeth Brumley

At the Museum

Halloween is now behind us and it’s time to begin thinking about the holiday season. If you are looking for unique gifts, stop by the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art Gift Shop where we have a wide selection of gifts for young and old. For the children we have books and educational games and toys. Browse our offerings of Mississippi-crafted works including hand-turned pens by Dr. Steven Nowicki, hand-blown glass from Sweetwater Studio, and hand-painted ceramic birds from Wolfe Studio, as well as beautifully woven Choctaw baskets. We also carry a collection of stationery items and books both of local and artistic interest. New items are arriving daily in anticipation of the holiday season. We welcome you to stop by and shop in the Gift Shop of Mississippi’s first art museum surrounded by beauty, history, and fine art. Remember to mention your LRMA membership when making purchases at the Museum Gift Shop to receive a discount on your selections.

For a special treat, join us at our annual Shop Open House on November 24th from 10 am to 5 p.m. Come shop and enjoy special discounts, free gift wrapping and delicious refreshments provided by the Museum’s Guild of Docents and Volunteers. From 10 a.m. until noon, local writer Karen Rasberry will be signing copies of her new collection of short stories, Travelers in Search of Vacancy. Jewelry maker Robbin Lee will also be returning for a trunk show of her freshwater pearl and sterling silver jewelry also between 10 a.m. and noon. The ever-popular chef and author Robert St. John will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 1 sign copies of his latest book entitled Dispatches from My South.

The LRMA Gift Shop is now a consignment vendor for Mississippi Magazine which features articles and recipes from around the state. Come in and get your copy today.

The Museum is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street in Historic Downtown Laurel. For more information about the Museum and Gift Shop, call 601-649-6374 ir visit the Museum website at


Lizabeth Brumley is Shop Manager and Visitor Services Coordinator at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.