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Gallery-owner Kyle bullish on Vicksburg’s potential for art

VICKSBURG – After traveling the world in search of exhibitions for the Magnolia State, Jack Kyle opened his own gallery near the banks of the Mississippi River.

Kyle, executive director of the Mississippi Commission of International Cultural Exchange, opened Washington Street Fine Arts Gallery in downtown Vicksburg last

December in a mission “to develop a synergism in art in Mississippi.”

“I’d like to see 20 or 30 art galleries in Vicksburg,” Kyle said. “There are a lot of great commercial buildings in the downtown area, particularly on and along Washington

Street, that would make wonderful venues for art galleries. There’s already an outstanding and longstanding art gallery in Vickburg – Lesley Silver’s Attic Gallery at

1101 Washington Street.

“Another group of artists have a studio in town. We’ve had additional conversations about scheduling opening previews on the same nights to generate more visitors to

downtown Vicksburg.”

Before Kyle opened Washington Street Fine Arts Gallery, he purchased the four-story building at 1216 Washington Street, a turn-of-the-century structure that formerly

housed Koury’s Clothing Store, for an undisclosed sum. With the help of his dad, Robert Kyle of Minter City, and local craftsmen, Kyle invested $65,000 to knock down

walls, put up new ones, install wood flooring, and update the electrical wiring and plumbing in the 7,500-square-foot, partly antebellum-style building, to open the gallery,

which has approximately 2,000 square feet of exhibition space on the ground level.

“I chose to open an art gallery in Vicksburg because I think it is a city with one of the greatest potentials in the nation,” Kyle said. “The Vicksburg National Park alone

annually attracts 1.1 million visitors. With its architecture, history and Southern flavor, plus easy access on I-20 from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Atlanta, and close proximity to

the Mississippi Delta, and of course, the Mississippi River, Vicksburg could easily become the Santa Fe of our region. All of the components collectively contribute to a

singular uniqueness which could be turned into something great for Vicksburg and Mississippi.”

Since opening last December, three major exhibitions have been held at the gallery. The first exhibition featured Mississippi landscape paintings by Alwin van der Linde, a

Dutch artist who lives in Madrid, Spain. The second exhibition included work from four female artists from St. Petersburg, Russia. The third exhibit, held this summer,

highlighted still life art by seven artists, many from Mississippi.

Figurative sculptures represented year-round in the gallery, which focuses on realism, include works by the late Bruce Brady of Brookhaven, David Adickes of Houston,

Texas, William Beckwith of Oxford and Dr. Javier Morales of Madrid, Spain.

“My passion for doing this is because I love art in all forms – visual and performing,” Kyle said. “This is just another manifestation of that for me. Because I already own

some of the work by artisans represented in the gallery, I’m presenting to the public a manifestation of what I really enjoy. Some people like the same things I do, others

don’t. That’s all a part of the interest in doing this. That’s another reason I’d like to see many other art galleries develop in Vicksburg.”

In December, Kyle will open an exhibition featuring sculptures of children, animals and adult figures, ranging in variety from an 11-foot tall sculpture to hound dogs and a

series of landscape paintings.

The figurative sculptures were created by Charles Cropper Parks, a 78-year-old master American sculptor from Delaware. Parks, who has won many national awards,

recently retired from the board of trustees of Green Gardens, a national historic landmark in South Carolina and the site of the greatest collection of American figurative

sculptures. Tuscan landscape paintings by Tennessee native Kevin Sanders, who has resided in Florence, Italy, for five years, will be on display.

Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday only. But in December, Washing-ton Street Fine Arts Gallery will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

After the first of the year, Kyle plans to begin major renovation work on the second and third levels, possibly remodeling them for residential housing.

“During the initial demolition for the first floor, we also did major demolition work for the second and third floors to get out major debris,” Kyle said. “The experience was

very illuminating for me. It was the first time I’d ever been directly involved in any type of building renovation. My dad was very helpful in guiding and advising me. And

we made sure to use Mississippi carpenters, electricians and plumbers.”

Kyle, who is preparing for the upcoming Majesty of Spain exhibition in Jackson, which will open March 1, 2001, said the gallery is “more of an avocation than something

I’m realizing any profits from.”

“The gallery business is something I understand is slowly developed,” he said. “Plus, my priority right now is opening the exhibit in the spring.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lynne@thewritingdesk.com or (601) 853-3967.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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