Jackson’s photographer James Patterson is remembered as an inspiration


Friends and colleagues of the late artist Jackson James C. Patterson will gather at the Mississippi Museum of Art on Thursday to celebrate his work, enjoy live music and bid on 25 of his iconic photographs.

The retrospective exhibition is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with live music provided by Bark, the Eric Stracener Trio and Rhonda Richmond. A cash bar and light refreshments will be available with the silent auction ending at 10:30 p.m.

Spearheading the event will be the non-profit James Patterson Memorial Foundation.

Katrina Hercules, who grew up in Jackson and is now a graduate student at UCLA, said the group’s goal will be to both preserve Patterson’s work and support emerging photographers, just as he has. .

“My family and I were very close to James from the time we first moved to Jackson, so we want to try to keep his spirit alive,” she said. “He was such a good advocate for the community.”

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Patterson became interested in cameras as a child after seeing photos taken by his grandparents. He took photography classes at the University of Southern Mississippi and eventually became the owner and curator of downtown Gallery 119.

Her photos have appeared in publications such as Time, Better Homes and Gardens, Billboard, The New York Times, Washington Post and Clarion Ledger to name a few.

Donald Sutherland, Morgan Freeman, Bobby Rush, Archie Manning, Johnnie Taylor, Beth Henley and Willie Morris are just a few of the celebrities captured by his lens.

He also worked with the Mississippi Department of Records and History and Diogenes Publishing in 1992 to archivally print 18 of author Eudora Welty’s little-seen Depression-era photographs.

The original 18 negatives were chosen by Welty herself along with Patterson and Diogenes owner D. Gorton, with the work being done at Gorton’s former studio in Belhaven.

“James was a brilliant printer of black and white images, particularly involving the careful archival process that we used in the Welty portfolio,” Gorton said.

Patterson went on to serve as editor of two of watercolor artist Wyatt Waters’ acclaimed books and in 2002 agreed to step in as editor of “Planet Weekly”, quickly transforming the small newspaper into a leading voice for Jackson’s arts community.

Jackson native John Hicks recalls a chance encounter with Patterson outside Planet’s old office on Duling Ave.

“What are you doing?” Patterson asked.

“I’m just going to have a coffee,” Hicks said (later admitting he was between jobs and was unlucky).

“Well, why don’t you come write for the newspaper?” Patterson asked.

“In a split second, he changed my life,” Hicks said. “And he did for a lot of us – that’s why people loved him so much.”

Patterson’s widow, Jane Tucker, of Jackson agrees.

“There are people everywhere with these stories,” she said. “James has always made himself available. He was the kind of person who would help people without anyone knowing. »

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In 2008, Patterson partnered with fellow photographer Ron Blaylock to open a new studio on North State St. in Fondren.

It quickly became a hub of activity, where musicians like Johnny Bertram, Lizzie Wright, The Bachelorettes, The Spaghettios and Taylor Hildebrand partied late into the night.

He was also an organizer and promoter of shows at Duling Hall, where he engaged dozens of local musicians. Many of the same musicians and friends came together to celebrate Patterson’s life in August 2018.

Patterson died the following October and posthumously received the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Photography and Community Support in 2019.

Tickets for Thursday’s event are $15 in advance at jamespattersonfoundation.com or can be purchased for $20 at the door.

If you are going to:

Event: James Patterson Retrospective Exhibition

Place/Time: Mississippi Museum of Art, Thursday, June 30, 2022, 7-11 p.m.

Silent auction: 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. with 25 original works by James Patterson

Live music by: Bark, Eric Stracener Trio, Rhonda Richmond

Refreshments: Cash bar and light snacks

Tickets: $15 advance from jamespattersonfoundation.com; $20 at the door.


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