Friends of the Museum

by Lynn Wilkins

Every art institution needs a cadre within its community: people to pitch in, provide support, ideas, and connections—a highly engaged group of volunteers who care deeply about the work, who want to participate in the life of the institution. For UMM, this cadre is Friends of the University Museum.

Friends works to connect people to the Museum and to a broader arts community, to deepen the conversation about art, and to support the Museum financially, especially in the areas of education and acquisition. Here are some of the things we’ve done in recent months to accomplish just that.

Connect: Memphis Art Trip

In August, some of the artists involved in Friends—Carlyle Wolfe, Terry Lynn, and Zach Tutor—organized a trip to Memphis to explore some of the arts scene there. We prowled around the appropriately named Medicine Factory, a refurbished 1912 factory that now offers exhibition and studio space. One artist there, Maysey Craddock, showed us her work, which uses alternative materials and techniques to interpret modern rural Southern landscapes that elude traditional representation but still draw upon natural forms to evoke home and place.

From there we visited Marshall Arts Studios, formerly an auto-body shop on the edge of downtown, now an important arts exhibition and studio space in town. Our own Terry Lynn has his studio there, and he, along with other MA artists, introduced us to a wide variety of art forms, styles, and perspectives. From Marshall Arts, we walked across the street to the studio of noted sculptor Greely Myatt, who was finishing a body of work for a gallery show. Greely’s current work involves ideas about communication, often using a comic-strip/thought-bubble approach, and his easy-going personality and humor made it even more fun to engage with his work.

David Lusk welcomed us to his eponymous gallery, walking us through the current show and pulling less frequently seen work from his store of paintings in the back, while discussing the role of a regional gallery and Memphis’s uniquely sophisticated taste for contemporary art. Afterwards, the group enjoyed lunch at the Brooks Museum and a rare tour of the Museum by director Cameron Kitchin, now at the helm of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The trip offered a chance to understand how and why Memphis has more than its share of working artists enlivening and enriching that city.  

W. Ralph Eubanks

W. Ralph Eubanks

Deepen: W. Ralph Eubanks Speaks on Our Faith Affirmed

As part of UMM’s milestone exhibition, Our Faith Affirmed – Works from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection, Friends pledged financial and volunteer support to help mount a series of associated programs. W. Ralph Eubanks, editor of Virginia Quarterly Review, presented the first event in the “Conversations” series, They Let Their Buckets Down: A Discussion of Our Faith Affirmed.

A native Mississippian, Mr. Eubanks recalled the fullness of his experience growing up in the rural south, and in so doing added context to the Southern self-taught artists’ work. He said he was overwhelmed by the power and beauty of the artworks and spoke about the themes and choices that make the pieces so compelling.

Mr. Eubanks encouraged the audience to consider the emotion, the message, and the aesthetic imbued by the artists, and not to allow often distracting biographical details to complicate their response. Viewed in its entirety, Our Faith Affirmed offers a perspective on the region’s richness and complexity, and Mr. Eubanks’s lecture brought that richness and complexity into focus.

Support: Harvest Supper


Lane McCluer holds up a painting by Robert Malone which was auctioned off at Harvest Supper.


Harvest Supper features unforgettable and unique live entertainment.


Guests enjoying Harvest Supper.


Guests enjoying Harvest Supper.


The third annual Harvest Supper on the grounds of Rowan Oak was proof that this Oxford event has grown into a one-of-a-kind tradition. Rowan Oak never looked more beautiful than it did on a gorgeous fall night under a canopy of string lights and chandeliers, with farm tables featuring bouquets of native flowers and vintage china. The buffet tables overflowed with local, seasonal dishes, and the full bars featured a regional cocktail created especially for Harvest Supper.

The University of Mississippi Steel Drum Band, led by Ricky Burkhead, the up-and-coming band And the Echo, and Dent May entertained guests late into the night. Guests from all around Mississippi and the country mixed with Oxford residents and regulars. Old and young, traditional and edgy—the eclectic mix of partygoers elevated the mood for a memorable night.

Robert Malone, Jason Bouldin, and Bill Dunlap donated paintings to be auctioned. Their generosity, and that of the highest bidders, made Harvest Supper even more successful. With great pride and pleasure, Friends of the Museum will use these funds to support specific needs of the University Museum.

Looking to the Future

In the coming months, the Friends are looking forward to engaging folks even more deeply in the life of our outstanding museum, and in an ongoing conversation about art. Look for more Art Trips, Conversations, events related to the much-anticipated remounting of the Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and Harvest Supper. Check our page on the Museum’s website and let us know how you’d like to get involved.