Brenda Comer's Mississippi Gulf Coast
Brenda Comer, photographer:
The Mississippi gulf coast is a beautiful, magical and sometimes complex southern community. We are 77 miles of coastline and beach, home to active marine harbors, amazing historical artist with celebrated museums - as well as thriving art galleries and vibrant local artists coast-wide.
We are sometimes known for our eccentricities, but in the best possible ways. The storms have certainly taken their toll over the years... but resilience may just be our defining quality.
Pelican Party, Pass Christian. The coast offers a wild assortment of shore birds, but the brown pelicans are mesmerizing to watch as they soar inches from the water fishing for their supper.
Herons on the coast are particularly fond of flights at dusk, over our beaches and harbors. Their wing span (up to six feet) and spindly legs are quite striking to see as they fly. This guy, characteristically standing on one leg, only posed for a moment before noisily taking flight - and in no uncertain terms, expressing his lack of desire to be photographed.
Shrimp Season, Pass Christian Harbor. The Mississippi coast offers four distinct seasons unigue to our area: Shrimp season, Oyster season, Crab season and Crawfish season. During this time of year, one local shrimper is known to call out as you approach to purchase shrimp, from the harbor dock, right off the shrimp boats, "You want them shrimp dead or alive?" AKA: just caught or frozen?
Pass Christian Harbor reflections.
More harbor reflections.
Benignos, Bay St. Louis. A longtime favorite BSL cafe and bar, now closed, but not forgotten.
Ruth's Roots community garden, Bay St. Louis. Conceived and developed by Elise Deano in spring of 2016, is now fully embraced and maintained by our community. The garden offers raised bed vegetables, bunnies, hens, fish, honey bees, art, whimsical sculptures and several shady spots to relax and take it all in. This unexpected, peaceful sanctuary is funded by private donors/grants and awaits you in Old Town Bay St. Louis.
Coca-Cola 5 cents, Old Town Bay St. Louis. One of many art galleries in BSL, Gallery 220 offers works of multiple artists in this amazing building that stays true to its vintage vibe.
Antique shopping, Old Town Bay St. Louis.
The Historic 100 Men Hall, Bay St. Louis. Founded in 1894 by 12 civic-minded African American residents of the Bay has evolved over the years offering a gathering place for local African American families and a music venue for many legendary musicians traveling on what was known as the "Chitlin Circuit."
The Hall attracted the likes of Ray Charles, James Brown, Etta James, Sam Cooke, BB King, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and many more music legends. Under new ownership in 2018, the Hall is once again re-energized and welcomes community and private events.
All Are Welcome! Old Town Bay St. Louis.
...because one pink flamingo is never enough!
Sunset at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi. The Ohr-OKeefe Museum is a stunning tribute to George Ohr, self-proclaimed as the "Mad Potter of Biloxi," who created an amazing body of ceramic work highly unique to 19th century America. Artist and architect Frank Gehry designed the intriguing pavillion pods that grace the museum campus. Sunlight reflecting on the structures will take your breath away!
Pass Christian: miles of beach and majestic oaks.
Once a lovely Bay front home, now only crumbling stairs remain. Stairs to nowhere are seen all along the coast, and, for me, are visible reminders of community loss, most notably from Hurricane Katrina 2005 or Hurricane Camile 1969.
Beach Please! Gulfport. This colorful vehicle is on semi-permanent display at a gulfport retail establishment that promotes its "Unique Stuff." I smile everytime I see the car, frequently adorned with cactus, bonsai trees or other plants displayed on its hood!
Historic Walter Inglis Anderson cottage, Ocean Springs. Artist, Walter Anderson, his brother, Peter Anderson and their families are simply art royalty on the coast. Walter Anderson was a prolific artist, book illustrator and author. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art is full of his magic. The Shearwater Pottery Showroom was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson and today, descendants of the Anderson families continue to produce distinctive decorative, collectible and functional pottery pieces.
Fishbone Alley, downtown Gulfport. Food, music and art stretched along the alley which is adorned with colorful graffiti, murals and more.
Portrait artist, Marian Glaser, Bay St. Louis Depot. Marian is a joyful presence in the Bay, frequently in a vintage costume and always wearing killer shoes!
The Raw Oyster Marching Club, Bay St. Louis glamor, glitz and good will since 2014. The ladies of the ROMC are well known for parading in the Bay and love to costume. The club name and green hair were inspired by legendary New Orleans burlesque artist, Kitty West/Evangeline the Oyster Girl. The Life magazine in this shoot is a tribute to Ms. West who was featured in this 1949 issue and sadly passed away this year.
Although ROMC membership exceeds 50 fabulous women, the ladies in this photo appeared in the photo shoot as a favor to me... not to mention a chance to costume and enjoy a nice proseco by the Bay.
Artist Michelle Allee, channeling her inner Frida Kahlo in Pass Christian. Michelle is a Frida Look-Alike award winner at the annual Frida Fest celebrating the artist's birthday each July.
When I asked to photograph her in her art studio, we decided her Frida persona would make it all the more special. I added the first annual Frida Fest poster on her studio table as a hat tip to the festival which will celebrate its sixth year in 2020.
The Rise of DJs in the Bay
In the 70s, DJ and Disco culture danced its way across the country and into Bay St. Louis. Meet some of the local players who kept the good times rolling and the dance floors crowded.
- by Rachel Dangermond
Here in Bay Saint Louis, Scott Nichols (aka Rockmaster Scott) was shuffling between New York and the Bay, bringing back with him the current albums of the day. Nichols along with DJs AB (Alton Benoit) and Chill Will (William Washington) would spin records in a pop-up lounge off Washington’s grandmother’s house on Sycamore and St. Francis. The three DJs went by the name Military Funk.
Their dance parties became so popular, Military Funk branched out to play CYOs at St. Rose along with juke joints such as Big 5, Bobby’s Lounge, Willy C’s Connection, The Onion, Nick’s Cozy Lounge, and the Krack – seven clubs that were near Washington’s grandmother’s house.
Nichols said, ‘The clubs were so close together and we didn’t have but one copy of each record, so we would have Slick Rick, a roadie from Waveland, run the records back and forth for us.”
Rap wasn’t big in Mississippi at that time, so here is a sampling of the records they played:
At the 100 Men Hall, Nichols would come on after the popular live band Bo & Dee. “We played the Hall all the time. We were the only DJs. Mr. Farve might have been DJing weddings, fashion shows and events, but we were doing the clubs,” Nichols said.
Dennis Favre, a Bay musician and DJ, said he began DJing in fifth grade at St. Rose and currently DJs at Hollywood Casino. Favre said he can tell when bands are going to be called back to perform because when a band plays for the crowd, people dance all night long, but when they play for themselves, it’s not the same.
“Back in the day, there were certain places that had a band, but the bands phased out because it was cheaper and easier to hire a DJ. It was happening all over, but mostly in black clubs.”
Melva Fisher, who co-owned and operated Dock of the Bay in Bay St. Louis, confirmed that they did not have DJs at the Dock.
DJ Greg B (Greg Barabino) said DJs at dance parties were normal when he was growing up. “Because I grew up with the birth of hip hop and disco, electronics had taken over. In Mississippi, you couldn’t find a youthful band playing to young folks, that craft was gone. The DJ became an art form, manipulating and creating a different experience than live music.”
DJ Carlos Estrella, who DJs at Roger’s Sports Bar in Waveland every Friday and Saturday night, said that as a musician it was hard to keep up with a band. “Band members wouldn’t show up on time, or looking good, or having practiced. The record player was more reliable.”
Estrella said he, like any other musician, enjoys hearing a live band but when he really wants to go out and dance, he wants to find a good DJ. “A DJ offers way less interruptions, has a good mix, and caters to a younger crowd.”
Disco, with dance songs that featured mostly female singers along with the DJs who played them, changed the culture of dancing. At the New York discotheques with a DJ, people were no longer obligated to find a person of the opposite sex to dance. Anyone could dance solo or with any partner of their choosing. This had a wide appeal beyond the gay community and across the country, at the 100 Men Hall, around the Bay and beyond.
However, just as meteoric as its rise was Disco’s fall. On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox hosted Disco Demolition Night. Some call it the night disco died. However, musicologists believe disco had already begun the metamorphosis that gave rise to hip-hop, Latin freestyle, techno and electronica, and now EDM (electronic dance music popular in clubs today).
DJ Soul Sister Melissa Weber, who is also the curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, says the death of disco was a smear campaign. The Civil Rights Act had been signed only a decade before, and in the early 70s marginalized communities were being seen and heard for the first time.
“There are tons of articles, academic and otherwise, that show… the 1979 death of disco was a result of sexism, racism and homophobia. The music played at the discotheque had people all of a sudden dancing together to black and brown music, and this was a thing that had to be stopped.”
Yet Disco’s influence on the national music scene and on small communities like Bay Saint Louis cannot be underestimated. Disco was a game-changer. Its pulsating sound morphed into new genres. And DJs became the power players, the ones who could get people out of their chairs and on to the floor to dance.
Get Outdoors for the Birds
Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count paints a one-day portrait of bird populations – and you can help!
- Story by Dena Temple, photos by Dena and John Temple
As gruesome as this sounds to today’s conservationists, this was the standard for the hobby at the turn of the 20th Century.
In 1900 Frank M. Chapman, an officer of the fledgling National Audubon Society, organized a new event to counter the sport-killing tradition, calling it the “Holiday Census.” The first census involved 27 counters and 25 count circles, and a total of 90 species of birds were counted. In the winter of 2017-18 a record-breaking 77,000 people participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count, tallying birds in 2,585 count circles, also a record. And roughly one-quarter of all species of birds in the world were tallied, yet another amazing feat!
Celebrating its 120th year, the event is still sponsored today by the National Audubon Society. “The Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and an opportunity to be a part of 120 years of ongoing community science,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director, who started leading the community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations to twelve decades of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful.”
Here’s how it works: A circular area 15 miles in diameter is defined. This “count circle” is divided into territories, and teams of volunteers scour those territories and count every bird they see or hear. Common or rare, every single bird is important on the Christmas Bird Count!
After spending an invigorating day scanning fields, ponds and beaches, the teams get together for a “roundup” to compare notes, brag about interesting finds and commiserate about “the ones that got away.” It’s a great way to meet people who share your interest in the outdoors, and maybe learn a little something in the process.
There are 20 count circles in the state of Mississippi, including one in our immediate area, the Southern Hancock County circle. Counters have been tallying birds in this territory since 1976. In 2018, the 32 counters in the Southern Hancock count circle tallied 142 species of birds over the course of the count day – very impressive!
Participation is fun, and free. Birders with intermediate or better identification skills are particularly welcome. Beginners are usually paired with a more experienced participant, so you don’t need to be intimately familiar with your territory in order to enjoy the event.
This year, the Southern Hancock County CBC will be held on Tuesday, December 17. If you would like more information, contact the compiler, Ned Boyajian, at email@example.com.
It's Fruitcake Weather
Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory possesses the power to make even contemporary readers summon up their own most-cherished holiday recollections.
- Story by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
A couple of decades later the building would be ignited by a careless tailgater’s grill during a football game and burn to the ground. People made jokes about the Student Act being put out of its misery, but I was sad. All I could think about was the fact Truman Capote had read aloud there.
But like a singer singing his own song, pretty soon it became clear that, of course, it was exactly how the words were supposed to sound. And Capote’s almost shocking, lispy soprano was perfect to be the voice of Sook saying, “I made you another kite.”
My love for this Christmas story grows as I get older. It has everything, including a dog that dies; the dog always dies in the end. Now I am more than aware of how hard it is to write in such true rhythm with economy of narrative.
I suppose it doesn’t hurt that I spent a year in Monroe County, in the same rural setting Capote described. I cut a Christmas tree in the same native woods, getting lost in the process.
“Always, the path unwinds through lemony sun pools and pitch vine tunnels….”
Perhaps the best Christmas of my life, or one of the best, was spent in a big house in a bosky oasis inside the Monroeville city limits but as secluded as Mongolia. My first husband and I decorated with fresh greenery and real candles and invited everyone we knew in town to come sing carols. It’s a wonder we didn’t burn down the landmark house, built by a local lawyer and, after his death, inherited by his daughter who had no apparent desire to stay in Monroeville.
We didn’t have a cent but were caretakers for the hacienda-style mansion with its fabulous but dry-rotting furnishings. At the old upright piano we sang in our best carol voices, fueled by love and youth and beer and enthusiasm for life. As Bob Seger sang, “wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”
In truth, the house made me a tad miserable because I knew I’d never own it; even my romantic nature had to come to grips with that. For one thing, the daughter didn’t want to sell it, and, if she had, the asking price for the tile-roofed mansion would have been more than a couple of reporters for a weekly newspaper would see in their lifetimes.
But for a short, magical, miserable while we were actors in a play with a grand set, seeing our reflections in borrowed mirrors and hearing the clock strike vanishing hours. That Christmas gathering was one of our best ever, both because of the house and despite it. I’ve never lived anywhere as grand since.
It was a cold Alabama winter that followed the giddy December, and the house was too much to heat with its high ceilings and endless rooms. We kept the kitchen and one bedroom warm.
One week the water in the toilet bowls froze, and we decided perhaps some practicalities were more important than sun porches, gilded mirrors large as pool tables and 10-foor-tall mahogany secretaries.
We moved back to Auburn.
What Capote tapped into, of course, is that all of us have a Christmas memory, though few of us can spin them into gold for others. Life has been so good to me, and I am surrounded by friends and enough family and dogs that forgive and forget. I think to have seen the woods that Truman Capote describes and to have smelled and touched its bounty is as close as you can get to writer’s heaven.
DIY: Make Your Own Pendant Light
Holly Lemoine-Raymond shows us how to repurpose unused items around the house into useful decorative items we're proud to show off!
- Story and photos by Holly Lemoine-Raymond
Using the tin snips or wire cutter, cut a hole in the bottom of the utensil holder. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The hole just needs to be big enough to fit the socket.
Put the socket end of the lamp kit into the hole you cut in the utensil holder. Now you know why the hole doesn’t need to be perfect! The flaws will be covered by the socket cover of the lamp kit.
Thread the shade ring on to the socket from inside the utensil holder. This piece looks like a “washer” and will hold the socket and the “lamp shade” together.
Screw in the bulb of your choice. I love the light quality of the Edison Bulbs. There’s something magical in the power of the warm glow the emanates from an Edison Bulb.
Steps 5 & 6
Prepare your ceiling for your new pendant lamp by placing the swag hook to hold the cord in place. (I already had a hook from a previous hanging light.)
Hang your new pendant light and bask in its glow!
With a lamp kit, making your own pendant light really is super easy! And you can turn almost anything you have laying around into a lamp shade. Doesn’t this look cool?
Thanks for reading. After you make your own pendant light, post a picture on my Facebook page and let me see your creative piece of work!
What's Up, Waveland? December 2019
Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke shares details of exciting upcoming events in town, plus big beach news.
For more information, visit our “Christmas on Coleman” Facebook page, contact Waveland City Hall, or contact Kristen Tusa via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waveland Food Truck Friday
The last Waveland Food Truck Friday for 2019 will take place on Coleman Avenue on Friday, December 13th from 5:00-8:00 pm. The section of Coleman Avenue in front of Studio Waveland will be closed to vehicular traffic to accommodate the food trucks and allow participants to set-up a canopy tent, table and chairs if they choose.
Waveland Food Truck Friday admission is free and open to the public. Food can be purchased through the food trucks. The Waveland Civic Association will have a table set up selling beer, soft drinks and water. Baked goods will also be available for purchase. Studio Waveland will be open late for a little Christmas shopping while on Coleman Avenue, and there will be musical entertainment, thanks to the generous sponsorship from the Silver Slipper Casino.
Use the hashtag #downtownwaveland on your social media post so everyone can see all the good food and the great time you are having!
Handicapped Beach Access
Waveland is currently soliciting bids to construct a handicapped water access ramp at the beach.
The access ramp would allow wheelchairs to have quick and easier path from the Coleman Avenue beach parking lot to the beach and into the water.
This project was conceived from a suggestion submitted by a resident several years ago. It has taken Waveland a few years to hammer out the logistics and receive the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Tideland funding for this project, but it is hopeful that soon it will become a reality.
In my opinion, having access to the Waveland beach in this way will be life-changing for disabled people. It is an incredibly worthwhile investment which will generate endless returns for our community.
The bids will be opened in January, 2020, and we anticipate that Waveland will be able to award in early spring.
The annual juried exhibition and holiday party sponsored by The Arts, Hancock County brings together some of the Gulf Coast's brightest creative talents.
- Story by Steve Barney, President, The Arts, Hancock County; photos by Steve Barney and Ellis Anderson
This year Paulette Dove, a fiercely competitive annual contender in the exhibition, puts on the juror hat and has the difficult task of selecting entries and awarding prizes.
Paulette Dove, who will serve as juror for this year's exhibition.
Dove is a native of Biloxi and has been painting and exhibiting on the Gulf Coast for many years. She is a member of the Ocean Springs Art Association, president of the South Mississippi Art League and board member of the Mississippi Art Colony. She received her BFA and MEd. from the Mississippi University for Women and William Carey College.
Dove’s education includes workshops at Louisiana Tech University, Savannah School of Art, University of West Virginia, and Marty Todd Bean. She has many years of experience teaching, demonstrating, and exhibiting in Biloxi schools as well as at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the Ohr-O 'Keefe Museum of Art and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
In her painting, sculpture, and costuming, Dove lives by the words of artist Mark Rothko: “Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.”
“My life as an artist is like being a gambler,” she says, “working with risk— and not always winning the bet of a successful piece.” She concludes, “You must be willing to lose and continue.”
The Arts is honored to have Dove, one of the best-known and most celebrated contemporary artists on the Gulf Coast, as juror this year.
In October, she and fellow artist Michelle Allee gave a captivating and insightful presentation to a packed house at the Arts monthly membership meeting. This provided a rare opportunity to learn about the jurying process and get inside the juror’s head to learn about what it takes to be an award-winning artist across all media. Allee also demonstrated a do-it -yourself framing process and tips for finalizing and presenting your work.
This year’s show has drawn artists from New Orleans, Slidell and across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, featuring a breathtaking array of diverse works in genres across two and three-dimensional mediums.
When asked about this year’s entries, Dove says, “This year’s show is an interesting collection of art work, from the novice artist to highly acclaimed seasoned veterans.” Dove encourages viewers of the work to “critique, celebrate and find a connection.”
Whether one is a lifelong professional artist or a novice, being accepted into this highly competitive exhibition is a major accomplishment. Throughout the jury process, Dove took copious notes on each entry and is eager to share her insights with aspiring artists. This provides a unique chance to get candid feedback and insights for artists to improve their work, with a strong focus on the fundamentals of design.
Click on the thumbnails above to view some of the other impressive entries in the
The festivities kick off with Christmas on Coleman starting at 4 pm, presented by the City of Waveland. Christmas on Coleman features six giant holiday greeting cards painted by local students who are working as interns for The Arts.
The event will include a variety of family-friendly activities, from caroling and face-painting to pictures with Santa and craft-making. A parade takes place at 5 pm, then the juried exhibition and holiday party kick off at 6 pm at the Ground Zero Museum.
Click on the thumbnails above to view some of the extraordinary entries in the Photography category.
On Saturday night, $1,300 in cash prizes will be awarded to artists in the following categories:
The exhibition continues at the Ground Zero Museum until December 14. Museum hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 am until 3 pm.
Click on the thumbnails above to view some of the entries in the
2019 Exhibiting Artists
The juried exhibition, awards and holiday party would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors: Ground Zero Museum, City of Waveland, Rum Kitchen, Compton Engineering, Ann Madden Photography and Design, Bay Town Inn, The Mane Salon, and our media partners: The Shoofly Magazine and The Sea Coast Echo. For more information, visit The Arts, Hancock County website at www.hancockarts.org.
Second Saturday Art Walk - December 2019
During the Second Saturday Artwalk each month in Old Town Bay St. Louis, you'll find cool deals, fresh meals and lots of art and live music!
Be sure to check out "Hot Spots" Bay Elements (112 Second Street) and Biz-zee Bee (111-B Main Street). Read more about these featured businesses below!
- stories and photos by Anne Pitre
Each month, two businesses are spotlighted and designated "Hot Spots." Read about the December Hot Spots below!
112 Second Street
Bay St. Louis
Located inside Century Hall, Bay Elements is a mind-bending boutique specializing in items that are sure to stretch the imagination as well as the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to style. Here, shop owner Susan Peterson brings her patrons an intriguing mix of antiques and new items; repurposed, upcycled and reimagined pieces, art and gifts as well as domestic and imported furniture.
It is worth your time just to browse and envision how even a small accent piece from Bay Elements would elevate your home décor style. Or, for the daring, purchase something new and inspired. Each piece – expertly curated by Peterson herself – is bold, and will certainly stimulate conversation and energy.
Peterson was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, but made her home on the Coast after marrying a local. She has been here for 35 years and hasn’t looked back. “My heart is here,” she said. “There is nothing better than being in Old Town Bay St. Louis.” We couldn’t agree more.
Be sure and stop at Bay Elements during the Second Saturday Art Walk on December 14. They are located inside the Shops at Century Hall at 112 Second Street. They will be serving refreshments and have live music from 4 – 7 p.m.
111-B Main Street
Bay St. Louis
Biz-zee Bee is sure to have something delightful for the kiddos for Christmas! This charming little children’s boutique has built up a loyal clientele over the years who keep returning for children’s clothing that is fashionable, adorable and high quality.
Owner Janell Graham maintains a high standard for the shop – she only selects items that are stylish and well-made, but maintains multiple price points so that everyone can find something special for the little ones in their lives.
Biz-zee Bee carries clothing for boys from newborn to age 7 and girls from newborn to age 12. A festive gift for any tiny dancer, Biz-zee Bee has shoes for ballet, tap and jazz. Other popular items include smocked clothing and toys and the popular Bogg Bag, which promises to be weather proof and tip proof. They have both sizes in stock.
Biz-zee Bee also offers embroidery services in-store, so items can be customized. They do accept outside items as well. But, you have to plan ahead – the cutoff to have a custom embroidered item in time for Christmas is December 15th.
Of course, Biz-zee Bee would never forget about Mom. They also sell Comfort Colors tees and sweatshirts with local designs and expressions that are guaranteed to make anyone on the receiving end smile.
Stop by Biz-zee Bee on Second Saturday, December 14, to witness all this cuteness for yourself. They are located at 111-B Main Street and will have refreshments and live music from 4-7 pm.