- Eudora Welty House and Garden
Change and new and continued partnerships will again frame my annual “Practical Matters” report. Last year’s narrative addressed staff who had left; this year’s will bring readers up-to-date on those replacements. [End Page 144]
Maggie Lowery Stevenson, a well-known Jacksonian with a long career in sales and community outreach at Lemuria Books, joined our staff June 5, replacing Megan Bankston as Special Projects Coordinator. This was the morning after “June Recital Remix, an Evening of Music and Dancing in Eudora’s Garden,” our site’s contribution to the inaugural “Welty Biennial” curated by David Kaplan. I knew Maggie was a trooper when the very first task I asked her to help me with was toting four heavy garage barrels of trash and recycling to the street for pick-up! Yes, we made merry!
Maggie’s knowledge of books and the book trade made her a natural to orchestrate our involvement in the first Mississippi Book Festival held in Jackson on the grounds of the State Capitol. The festival was a remarkable success drawing thousands of enthusiasts attending packed-out panels. Maggie took the lead in working with festival organizers to host an evening reception at the Welty House and Garden (EWH&G) for festival writers, publishers, and invited friends. What a treat to have so many Mississippi-based or related authors share fellowship, food, yarns, and laughter at Welty’s home. Although largely an outdoor event, tours of the house and garden were also available and eagerly utilized. Maggie also organized the docents and staff needed both for house tours that night and for staffing the EWH&G and EW Foundation’s booth on the Capitol grounds the following day.
Maggie was also a shoo-in to take the lead from Chase Wynn on our partnership with Lemuria Books for quarterly book signing events held in our Education and Visitors Center (EVC). This partnership was initiated to feature authors who may not have a direct tie to Welty’s life or fiction but whose work draws a broad audience to our site. Since I last wrote, we have welcomed Jackson’s Steve Yates for The Teeth of the Souls, illustrator and writer Barry Moser for We Were Brothers, and New Orleans’s Tom Piazza for A Free State. Former Mississippian, author, and environmental activist Rick Bass came in March to read from his most recent publication, For a Little While: New and Selected Stories.
In collaboration with New Stage Theater, the state’s only professional theater company, Maggie has also organized “Curtain Call,” evening informal discussions of select plays produced for the fiftieth anniversary of New Stage. Welty was a long-time board member and great friend of the theater. Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf took place last fall and earlier this winter; Welty’s [End Page 145] The Robber Bridegroom will finish out the series in early June facilitated by Suzanne Marrs.
Isabel Gray, a Millsaps graduate and Art History major, joined our team on August 1, replacing Chase Wynn. She has focused on developing resources and programs for a broader student audience and works closely with her counterparts in the Museum and other divisions at MDAH. She has composed and assembled our first “site packet” designed for third through twelfth-grade teachers, a project the Museum Division hopes to have on-line by June. She has also written a teaching unit utilizing images from The Al Fred Daniel Photograph Collection housed at the Archives. It contains over 500 hundred images by three Jackson-based photography studios during the early to mid-twentieth century.
Isabel also will oversee our second Welty Writers Workshop which again will be led by creative writing teacher Jamie Dixon in June. Last year was the first of this three-year pilot project; it attracted eight area high school students.
Lee Anne Bryan, Education and Outreach Specialist, accepted an alumni relations position in early December at Millsaps College, her alma mater. Lee Anne was second to me as the most senior staff member; her departure after three years of dedicated...