What a year this will be! Union Museum of History and Art is proud to announce its lineup of exhibits and other events for 2019:
January 16-February 23: "Mis Quince - My Sweet 15" exhibit about the quinceanera tradition among Hispanic families of Union Parish. Curated by Mary Barrios, the exhibit features an beautiful and colorful array of gowns, dolls, and other memorabilia from the sacred and secular customs of girls' 15th birthday celebrations.
March 26 - May 7: "Ag-mazing Union Parish" exhibit about the local agriculture industry and its people. Curated by Brittany Bennett Canterberry and Van Bennett.
May 2: "Stars Over Broadway" dinner theater at Edgewood Plantation (Farmerville), featuring performance by O Sole Trio.
June 17 - July 28: "The Pelican State Goes to War" traveling exhibit from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
September - November: "They Serve and Protect" tribute to first responders of Union Parish
Art installation dedicated in Farmerville - December 2018
The "Fishing Fantasy" art installation designed by local mosaic artist Jamie Anderson was unveiled and publicly dedicated Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, at its location on the south lawn of the Union Parish Courthouse in Farmerville. The Union Museum of History and Art led the project as a gift to the community. Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jay McCallum and Farmerville Mayor M. Stein Baughman Jr. spoke briefly during the dedication ceremonies, emceed by museum board chairman Brittany Unkel.
The seven-foot tall concrete sculpture is sheathed in colorful glass pieces and depicts rippling blue waters, many-hued fish, and abundant sunshine so beloved in Union Parish.
The museum board is grateful to Anderson and others who made this project possible: the Union Parish Police Jury; James Gatson, concrete contractor; Brooke Foy, public art consultant; and all donors who purchased commemorative bricks.
This project was supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Inc. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.”
The awe-inspiring "Threads of Glory" exhibit ended June 2, 2018, leaving us with fond memories of breathtakingly beautiful fabric arts of all description. Nearly 300 visitors immersed themselves in fiber artworks by 51 artisans from Union, Lincoln, and Ouachita parishes. Click HERE to see our gallery of exhibit photos.
We are immensely grateful to Union General Hospital and Kilpatrick Funeral Homes for generously supporting this art exhibit. Our talented curator for the exhibit was Karen Bradford, herself a renowned quilter, and former president of the North Louisiana Quilters Guild. And the 200-plus exhibit items were artfully arranged by our own creative genius, Alan Futch.
From Oct. 20 to Dec. 2, 2017, Union Museum of History and Art featured a spectacular display in celebration of Farmerville's 175th anniversary. More than 330 visitors enjoyed the exhibit that contained a wealth of large photographs, original paintings, and artifacts that helped tell the town's long, interesting story. The exhibit was sponsored by Bruce E. Hampton.
As part of the exhibit, the museum showed its newly released video documentary "Memories of Farmerville," featuring interviews with four individuals, plus historic photographs. Our thanks to Kerry Hill of Hill Oil Company for sponsoring the video project, and to Charles Paxton for producing the memorable video. Copies of the 40-minute video are available for a donation of $10. Or tune in to the museum's You Tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfxAzmUmKLs&t=767s Interviewees are Mayor Stein Baughman Jr., Mary Hill, Verdell Ventroy, and Marilyn Ludwig Wilhite.
The museum's just-ended exhibit, "The Civil War in North Louisiana," drew 771 visits, with 34 percent of those visits by out-of-parish residents. The eight-week long event ended Wednesday, Sept. 20, on a high note: A group of 23 students and their teachers from Union Parish Junior High School visited, bringing questions and curiosity about the Civil War. Kevin Adkins, history teacher at Union Parish High School, gave the kids a brief overview of the war as it impacted North Louisiana. He then led the students in making paper cartridges such as those used by Civil War soldiers. Museum docents Jean Jones, Beverly Jay, and Mary Ruth Allred led the students in comparing medical practices of Civil War times to medicine today (quite different!).
Amid the Civil War uniforms, flags, weapons, and photographs, there are several small objects that silently capture the attention of every visitor to the current exhibit in the Union Museum of History and Art in Farmerville. The intriguing items are letters. Simple, yet profound, letters. All were written by young uneducated soldiers, lonely for home and family, fearful of death, and bewildered by the horrors they witnessed. “Dear Mother,” begins William H.H. Kennedy’s letter to Permelia Kennedy of Farmerville on January 14, 1863, written from a camp near Vicksburg. “I take mi pen in hand to inform you a few lines to let you know I am a live yet but I have been put near dead ever cence they had the battle.” The 22 year-old soldier writes of freezing cold weather with thin blankets, lack of food and medicine, and rampant illness among troops. Kennedy recounts the battle he has just endured and war’s deafening roar. His next lines tighten the throat: “I never felt bad scird but wonct thar was a fellow a seting by me an ther come along a cannon ball an took off his head…”
Written from camp in Tennessee, James M. Tanner’s letter to his sister Permeliann in July 1863 begs her to write to him. “I wuld like to here from all my relashuns.” He died a few days later. James fought for the Confederacy. His brother Lewis served in a Union regiment.
For the “Civil War in North Louisiana” exhibit, Dr. Gary Joiner, Chair and Professor of History at LSU-Shreveport, has provided more than 40 historic maps and images that help us understand our region’s place in the national conflict. Twenty-four individuals have contributed other historic treasures such as minie balls, guns, swords, family photographs, and a New York newspaper announcing President Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865. Several re-enactors have contributed accurate replicas of Confederate and Union uniforms and accoutrements. A special feature is the series of seven talks by regional experts: "Civil War-era Floral Traditions" by Alan Futch, "The 31st Louisiana Infantry Regiment" by Kevin Adkins, "The Vicksburg Campaign" by Terry Winschel, "The Red River Campaign" by Gary Joiner, "Civil War Medicine" by Dr. Tom Pressly, and "The Louisiana Tigers,” by Terry L. Jones.
The American Civil War took the lives of some 630,000 soldiers, mostly through disease and infection. When guns fell silent in May 1865, two percent of the American population had been sacrificed. Throughout the South and the North, regiments were raised in specific locales, so that brothers and friends marched off to war together. Those same comrades often died together, too, devastating families and communities with sometimes overwhelming loss. North Louisiana contributed thousands of men to the Civil War, serving in regiments such as the 31st Louisiana Infantry which fought at Vicksburg.
From the Red River valley to the Mississippi River, significant events took place that impacted the course of the war. War developments in North Louisiana also altered the careers of several military leaders, and ended presidential aspirations of U.S. General Nathaniel P. Banks. Documentary film maker Ken Burns once said, “If you want to know about this thing called the United States of America you have to know about the Civil War.” Likewise, understanding Louisiana’s unique story surely requires a study of its Civil War experiences.
When museum directors decided to exhibit cultures of foreign-born residents of the parish, we had no idea how many countries that would mean. Five countries? Maybe seven? Imagine our surprise when our searching revealed 13 different countries of origin from all around the globe. Thirteen!
The representatives of those countries began meeting and planning back in the fall of 2015. Their enthusiasm grew. They gathered photos and memorabilia. They sought exhibit items in their personal collections and from other family members. Several located dazzling costumes. One crafted a scale model house from her native Costa Rica. They created videos of themselves. And we gathered flags of all 13 countries.
And now, these efforts have paid off in this spectacular international display.
Union Parish is fortunate to have among its populace such diverse individuals, all bringing unique perspectives and experiences. Most settled here decades ago. Some are more recent additions. We salute them all:
Costa Rica - Wendy Comfort
El Salvador - Claudia Escobar Wade
England - Charles Paxton and Olive Hicks
Germany - Helga Head and Barbara Romero
Guatemala - Miguel Barrios (with daughter Mary)
India - David and Dipali Patel (with son Nikesh)
Mexico - Francisco Martinez
New Zealand - Bradley Theyers
Pakistan - Malik and Noshaba Shahid
Philippines - Jen Gracela Gentry and Junie Ibanez Rowell
Russia - Lyudmila Antley
Thailand - Chaba Simpson
Vietnam - Giai Byrnes
We always are a little blue when an exhibit ends and all the treasures are carted away. This time is no exception. The "Christmas Memories" exhibit brought joy and light to all those who visited, recalling days of youthful exuberance and magical imaginings of days gone by.
But now we turn our attention to a new exhibit that will begin in just a few weeks. Blind artist John Bramblitt of Denton, Texas, will be our guest the week of Jan. 19, when he will go to five area schools to lead art classes. The youngsters fortunate enough to be in his presence will surely learn a lot more than art techniques. Bramblitt's determination to overcome a life-altering challenge---losing his sight at age 30---inspires us all to boldly follow our dreams, no matter what obstacles life throws our way.
Several of Bramblitt's paintings plus the students' artworks will hang in the museum from January 26 to February 26.
The Museum will hold a special reception to honor Bramblitt on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The artist will do a "live" painting session, with the final artwork to be auctioned as a benefit for the Museum. Tickets are $10; free for 2014 and 2015 Friends of the Museum. For information, call us at 318-348-2005.
One year ago, the Union Museum of History and Art held a Chamber ribbon-cutting and opened its doors to the public. That first exhibit, "Celebrating the Waters of Union Parish," began a series of fascinating exhibits telling stories about the people of this region, sharing their culture,creativity, and history.
Over the span of five exhibits, more than 2200 visits have been logged in! We THANK YOU all for your support and your enthusiasm for this new venture. We are forever grateful to the Union Parish Chamber of Commerce for launching the museum project and for giving the museum a "home" in which to operate. We also are grateful to all the many volunteers who have contributed countless hours to make this organization run.
Now on to more adventures!
Jean W. Jones, Exhibits and Program Director