Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Ava Jane in Wonderland Adventure

Ava Jane's Art Barn, Brookhaven, MS 
When I told my daughter-in-law, Em, that I was taking a girl's trip to Brookhaven, Mississippi she asked, "Why?".  lol  She was born & raised in that area and her family home is there. It's just home to her & she didn't know of anything worth driving there for a girl's trip.   I just laughed & told her that my friend, Amanda, had invited me and some of her other friends up to Ava Jane's Art Barn.   She had never heard of it.   It's amazing how we all have gems in our own backyard yet we always walk over to the neighbors instead.   I can't tell you how many times folks mention to me in my work travels about coming down to visit this plantation or that garden which is only a short drive away from me.  Sadly many times I've never visited those destinations.   Anyway, I digress as usual...back to the point....

We started the day out with a wonderful lunch stop at The Dinner Bell in McComb, MS.    This restaurant has been at it's current location since 1959. I remember going there as a child.  My parents used to bring us out to lunch usually once a month or so on Sundays.  It's a very unique experience.   It serves classic southern home cooking on large community tables.  Each table seats about 20 folks and has a huge lazy susan, always heavily laden with family style servings of a never-ending assortment of delicious southern food such as fried chicken, rice & gravy, butter beans, cornbread, their signature fried eggplant or one of my favorites, fried green tomatoes.  The menu varies depending on which day of the week you show up.  As Amanda says, "If you don't leave miserable, it's your own fault!".   Well let me say that I was sufficiently miserable as I stuffed that last bite of banana pudding into my face.

The food laden lazy susan at The Dinner Bell in McComb, Mississippi.

After feasting, we headed out "the back way" to Amanda's sisters home.    After loading up Nancy, we headed outside of town into what seemed like the middle of nowhere.  We literally drove down a country road, down a country road, down a....oh well, you get the picture!   Just as I started hearing the theme from Deliverance running through my brain (this is the way my brain works--dueling banjos) we finally turned into a driveway &  I caught a glimpse of a beautiful little red barn tucked in front a tall grove of pine trees.

 from this:

                to this:

I really didn't know what to expect.  Amanda has been talking about "Ava Jane's" for so long, but I really wasn't sure exactly WHAT it was.  Amanda & I have been friends long enough that I trusted her for a great experience.  That trust was well founded...boy were we  in for quite a pleasant surprise.  I knew at once this was a special place.  A quiet peace fills the air, which I suspect has a direct connection to Ava Jane herself.  The entire space is filled with beautiful, creatively placed plants, whimsical art projects & various curiosities.  A feast for the imagination, there are so many things jammed into every little nook & cranny that my eyes danced from one thing to another overloading my inspiration input button, and this was only outside!!   Once inside of the barn, it began all over again!  

Ava Jane Newell is the owner/operator of this little slice of creative heaven.  Ava Jane says she wasn't an artist at a young age, but gradually developed her self-taught skills as she grew older.   A true late bloomer,  her obvious talent and creativity fills the space.   She is a mother, grandmother, artist, teacher & all around beautiful lady.   Her husband has nurtured her love of all things art by building her barn and helping out with various "projects" over the years.   (She says he's responsible for the lovely terraced brick pathway that leads down to the seating area & has great ideas himself.)  


Today was the best type of girl's trip.  Not shopping until we dropped, but a very relaxing day spent both meeting new friends & enjoying old ones.  We toured Ava Jane's treasure trove of creative projects & gardening.  We enjoyed coffee & a wonderful cake provided by Nancy out on the brick patio.  We talked family, art & politics and even though we all have separate ideas, we felt a bond as southern women, wives & mothers.    It's one of those times when I'm so thankful to be from the south.  The hospitality, love & understanding that we extend to one another is beyond measure.  

Amanda, Charlene, Cindy & Karen (just realized that Nancy made herself disappear when a camera came out!)  Of course, Ava Jane was the photographer.   She made us all feel so welcome & special!

I'd like to share just a small taste of the endless variety of art and creative expression that lies about this rabbit hole called "Ava Jane's Art Barn".    In just a few moments, your brain begins salivating creative juices.   Of course, photos never quite capture the true essence of a piece, but hopefully you'll get inspired.    For more information on Ava Jane's Art Barn classes or purchasing anything or commissioning anything, please contact Ava Jane Newell @ PH: 601-835-2356.  She also teaches children's classes.    Also, please "like" her FB page, Ava Jane's Art Barn.

Now for the good stuff, enjoy!

An old bicycle covered in various textiles.
Clever way to line border a garden with old wine bottles.

Hand tiled shower. LOVE IT!

MY favorite piece of whimsy..I LOVE heads.. I don't know why..guess I can't quite get my own head screwed on straight (teehee).
A blue man with natural "hair" gives a splash of color.

love these whimsical pieces.

Children's Chairs...many of Ava Jane's Cats can be seen jumping from one to another.   

If I ever come back as a cat, I want to live at Ava Jane's.  It's cat heaven!

Hand painted old chair.

A Child's Chair covered in Mardi Gras Beads!
I'm a deer hunter, but I've never seen a deer with antlers quite like these!! 

Thanks to Amanda, Nancy & Ava Jane for making this such a special day for us all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beadboard & Sunshine

So I've been wanting this mirror for a year now.   One of my favorite peeps in the whole-wide world, my friend Wendi, has one of those hubbys who can build anything.   He's done a few items for me, but pretty much only works on this kinda stuff when he wants some extra cash. So, after months of brow beating him, he finally built this beautiful sunshine mirror for my back screen porch.  He used some bead board that he salvaged from an old courthouse I used to work at so it has extra special meaning for me.  

Dontcha just love it when a plan comes together!  
Take good care,