Mississippi Artist to Artist

tlybARTMAG interview: Welcome to JX Farms

March 22, 2022 JX Farms Episode 47
Mississippi Artist to Artist
tlybARTMAG interview: Welcome to JX Farms
Show Notes Transcript

tlybARTMAG is a visual arts magazine that focuses on Contemporary Artists living or working in Mississippi. The first issue is available to view or download for free at tlybARTMAG.com

You can order one of the limited print copies at thelittleyellowbuilding.com

Find JX Farms nad the crew:
https://jxfarms.com/
https://www.instagram.com/jxfarms/
https://www.instagram.com/churchgoinmule/
https://www.instagram.com/wiljax/
https://www.instagram.com/jesse.ryan.brown/

Thank you to the Friends of TLYB! Your membership helps fund the transcription of the podcast for the hearing impaired.

If you would like to become a member, visit https://www.thelittleyellowbuilding.com/store/c15/Membership_for_2022.html

Support the show
Derek Smith:

Hello and welcome or welcome back to the Mississippi artists to artists podcast where we feature contemporary artists living and working in Mississippi. Today is special today is the release of the TL YV, art mag, the very first issue, it's a visual arts magazine dedicated to the contemporary artists living and working in Mississippi. Three of the articles in the magazine were based on interviews that I hosted over zoom, and we have turned those into special edition T lyb. Art mag interview, podcast things I don't know, I wanted to to be able to hear all of the words that they said not just the edited bars that made it into the magazine, we were releasing these back to back and now the crew from Jack's farms, you can visit T LYV Art mag.com To download your issue view online or purchase the limited edition copy. Alright, on to the interview Okay, so I'm, um, I'm recording this. And it's potential to be like I want to release all the interviews I've done to base the articles off of that will be in the magazine, I want to release them on the podcast when the magazine comes out with nice links and stuff like that, that people can go and listen to the the entire thing. So but this is really like just just everything else. It's really like the general conversation. That's really my writing style. So when we go into when I get this transcribed, hopefully that'll translate really well. But I wanted to start off by giving everybody a chance to just introduce themselves and tell how you're connected, connected to Jack's farms

Mule:

Will go first.

Will Jacks:

I'm Will Jax and I guess it's family land. And so I'm connected to it through the family. I grew up spending a lot of time out there on the farm. And now I live in Alabama, and teach over here but still communicate with Marshall and Jesse a bit and try to help make sure that we can get the resources needed to keep things going there.

Mule:

I'm church goin Mule. I help here in the residency and go through the applications and social media.

Jesse Brown:

How long have you been here,

Mule:

I moved here in October and I did my first residency here in January of last year.

Jesse Brown:

Jessie Brown, a teach teach photography at Delta State University. I my connection here is I'm at will in graduate school in Maine. And a position opened up at a Delta State. And I was lucky enough to get it and then will was kind enough to kind of open his home to me and I haven't left since. And I've just kind of help out wherever, wherever I can. Yeah.

Derek Smith:

Now those who have listened previously to other episodes will recognize will and meal because they've been on the podcast before and shared about their lives. And hopefully Jesse will get to have you on soon too. Why don't you someone who ever wants to just tell me about what Jack's Farms is.

Will Jacks:

I tell you what, I can start with some of the the history and how we got to where we are today. And maybe Jesse and Marshall can help fill in from there. The farm itself, his farm is a very loose term. It was not like a lot of farms in the Mississippi Delta, not a big monocrop farm. We didn't farm soybeans or cotton or anything like that. It was some land that my great aunts lived on. And they purchased some time I believe in the 1930s or 1940s and had a little house on the property. And when I was a kid it's about two miles outside of Cleveland in between Cleveland and Marigold, Mississippi. And so as children, my my siblings and I would go out to visit my father's aunts and we would run around with the chickens and the goats and the cows and they would milk and Sharpies under the big oak tree that is no longer there anymore, unfortunately and when my aunts passed away my father took over the property and began to slowly renovate the little house that they were in to wear The original footprint of the house is still there. But what exists now looks very little like the house that my great aunts lived in. And my father began to kind of build a small horse farm. And so he started with one horse and one little lean to stall. And then that led to a second lien two and a second horse and then his first barn and then a second barn. And then eventually a third barn, which is what exists now. He began to buy the property nearby so that at one point, it totaled around 100 acres. We in he and my mom built their dream house and, and lived in that house for almost 10 years before he passed away. And when he did, that house was just too much for my mom to tend to. And she wanted to move closer to Oxford to be nearer sister. And so my siblings had left the Delta years ago. And so I was kind of left on the farm to figure out how we could clean it up and what it would be what we could do to maintain it. And the horses were long gone. Since then, when dad passed away, we had two old horses left, and they hadn't been written in years. So we donated them to a very sweet couple in Alabama, which actually don't live too far from where I am now. And so the barn was empty. And I always thought that that barn would make such a great art space. And so we began to clean property up Jesse was there our friend Michael Foster was on the farm with us too, we spent a lot of time moving stuff around and cleaning up junk and trying to throw things away and just trying to get it to where it can be functional again, in some way. And and it felt like too much land to me and to my family, for any one person or any one family to just live on exclusively and kind of hoard from the rest of the world. And so we decided to open it up to artists and, and as long as it was in the family, that's kind of the goal is to have a space where artists can come and work and engage with the Mississippi Delta and kind of all of the, the creativity and the mystery, and the wonder and the weight, and kind of all of those things that are in the Delta. When I got the job in Alabama, it was kind of time for me to let go, I always felt like if it was really going to work, we had to find some way to give it over to the artist as much as we could, I've always trusted that process that whatever will happen is going to be determined by the needs of those that are using it. And so rather than over build, we try to follow the needs of the artist and part of that was Marshall crossing paths with us and that connection and I mean up pretty early on Jesse right like she was probably still on the farm and we were talking about I wonder if Marshall would want to move out here and and be a part of all of this and and so far I think we've been pretty right about that. So let's I'll take it from there because you're dealing with the day to day of it now.

Jesse Brown:

Yeah, so what you repeat the question

Derek Smith:

well, I mean, he will will really you know, got to the history of everything. Why don't you tell like he said, Why don't you tell us a little bit about what goes on day to day?

Jesse Brown:

Um, you know, I think for me it's it's different than then what Marshalls doing I mean Marshalls really I mean, she's killing it like like the social posts the the engagement with everything like it's things that I think that will and I maybe don't excel at or just don't know how to how to engage the way that the way the martial toy the martial does and the community that Marshalls a part of but for for me it's with having a full time job with teaching and you know, having an art practice so the farm for me as well. Going back up my day to day is the horse barn like I really like I take care of the horse barn I clean it because my apartment is kind of attached to the barn and there's there's one studio space in there that hopefully people will start to use it's a really nice space will and I kind of finished out we raised the raise the roof a little bit so there's plenty of room in there to to make I know when will comes back and works on his work like that his work is very large and so he can pretty much roll out you know long sheets of of darker and paper long rolls of doctrine paper Then work, so there's plenty of space to work from. And so hopefully, as more people get to calm, they'll start to utilize all that space and think big, you know, that's the, that's the idea of it is having all this space is like, you know, just if, if space is an issue in your, in your normal, you know, our practice like here, like, that's not an issue. Like there's acreage, and there's plenty of room to make monuments. So yeah, so my day to day is, is really kind of been Marshalls assistant, I think. You know, I, I look at Marshall as a, almost like a property manager. But way more than that, you know, and so I kind of follow her lead. When I when I can.

Mule:

Um, I just I've, and running social media, I'm interested in sharing the residency experience, because to me, the first residency I ever did was, it proved that I was serious about what I was doing. And so, and it changed in the various ones I've done to change my life. So it's just kind of I want to share that with people. And I want to share what the Mississippi Delta means to me, I'm interested in getting people that never been to Mississippi talking about you never thought you live here, kind of thing and show them that I'm interested in connecting with the community. So I can show people from from the state that there's a lot going on here, people were really excited about art and writing and anything you can imagine. And they want to be a part of it. Like you were saying earlier, people just want to be part of something. And I think this can be really something like Hambidge in Georgia, you know, or something like that. I think it could be really terrific. But we're just waiting for the artists to start showing up the end of the end of February, and go from there and see what they need and improve on it.

Derek Smith:

So is the end of February. Is that going to be your first residency you bring it on? Yes.

Mule:

This year? Yeah.

Will Jacks:

Yeah. We kind of I guess did a soft opening a part of so when Jesse and I finished, we spent two summers in Maine for graduate school, or I did Jesse spent a full year up there. And then you move down to Mississippi for a second year graduate school. And so I was living on the farm for about six months before going to Maine and and just kind of hunkered down and did some basic things while I was there in the spring of 2019. And then, when we got back, our friend Michael Foster, who now lives outside of Water Valley does a lot of tintype photography, and as a lot of your audience may probably is familiar with Michael's work in one way or another. And so he actually came and lived on the farm that summer while I was in Maine, and Michael kind of started moving the wheel and getting some things done out there. And he was kind of helping, my mom was still out there then. And so he was kind of helping to keep an eye on my mom while we were going for the summer. And then Jesse and I got back at the end of that summer and began to clean up. And right away. We had a photographer from Baltimore that just happened to contact me through a friend while we were in Maine. And so he came and stayed with us. How long was Karen there, Jessica and Heidelberg, he was there for almost a month, three weeks or so

Jesse Brown:

I think closer to five or six weeks.

Will Jacks:

So it was it was pretty good long term. So while we didn't have kind of, quote, unquote, formal residencies, at least at that point, we, we had kind of a constant flow of people that were coming and going creators and friends of ours from around different areas. And sometimes people that were just contact us randomly. And we very purposefully said, let's keep it kind of low key martial was like the second person that came for a residency. And part of that on our end was also by design because we felt comfortable with martial when we knew that if we didn't have everything perfect that Marshall would, wouldn't necessarily hold it against us, but would also help us know what we needed to address. And so we didn't necessarily want to throw the barn doors, pun intended, wide open without really knowing what we were doing. And so we wanted to very kind of slowly and quietly follow the lead of everything and see what we needed to add. And so Marshall came on in October, really in December, we decided to kind of start pushing a little bit more and let people know we existed and and so the residencies in February are kind of the extension of that.

Derek Smith:

It's not just visual artists. It's open to to many different disciplines, right?

Mule:

Let's well likes to say if you're dedicated to your practice, we are dedicated to giving you the time and space to pursue it. And that's I think, if you're really, whatever it is that you're doing, like naturalist, I think are a type of artists and writers and musicians. So it's open. It's a pretty broad term, I think, but artists pretty broad. So yeah,

Will Jacks:

I'm a pretty firm believer that art equates to thoughtfulness and how you choose to express that in your life is that varies with all of us. But it's not just painting, sculpture, photography, theater, dance, it's anything that requires thinking outside the box. And so, you know, we all have aspects where we call somebody, they're an artist at what they do. And I do believe in that I think that that phrase comes from someone who is willing to question everything that they've been conditioned to understand about whatever their medium is, that doesn't mean necessarily push against it, or reject it. But they're willing to test it and question it and think about it, and consider why they accept the answers that they accept.

Derek Smith:

Now, is it open to the public to visit at points in time?

Mule:

I don't know if we've talked too much. I don't know how we'll feels about it, I would like to say I think so. With some advance notice.

Derek Smith:

I didn't know if at the end of a residency you had any type of platform or day where people could visit and see what they did during their time.

Mule:

I would probably leave that up to the artist, because I've done a couple before. And it's, it can be a time suck if you're not interested in doing it. But if you are interested in doing it, I think that it was between the Delta Arts Alliance and between the people around here in the school, I think that we could, we could do that if that was something that artists was interested in. But it's not a requirement.

Derek Smith:

So what's the process for any artists that wants to maybe come visit or stay?

Mule:

The applications on the website, it's pretty, pretty simple, I think. And we're pretty laid back out here. So if you don't have everything on the application, you know, we can we can understand that move forward. But it's just the application and people can come visit, and see what it looks like if they want to I'm trying to get we don't have too many photos of the studios or anything. So I need to do that. So people have a better idea. But that's there's no fee, you just send it in. I'm usually the person looking at it. And I'll email you back.

Derek Smith:

I mean, it's my first real year, right? I mean, all of this is gonna slowly develop and I can't wait to see what's going to happen with this because it's exciting. your website's beautiful.

Will Jacks:

No, thank you give a lot of credit to Hannah Bevins who lived on the farm with me and Jesse and Michael, for how long? Three months? Jesse?

Jesse Brown:

I was it was right at the pandemic. So into June. Yeah, that timeframe? It seems I don't know who? The spring of 20 Oh, runs. Yeah,

Will Jacks:

right. Yeah, she, Hannah did a lot of the work on the website. And then we tweaked it a little bit here or there. But I'd say the bulk of that is Hannah's vision. And so she deserves a lot of credit for that. She's an artist living in Maine now.

Derek Smith:

Is there anything that you would want the general public to know about what you're doing at Jack's farms?

Mule:

Well, I guess I'm sorry. The first the main thing is that we're open to families coming out to do art, if that's something that mothers and fathers are interested in doing, and we're pet friendly, and both of those things are not common in residencies. So I think that's important thing to put out there.

Will Jacks:

Yeah, I was Marshall and I were communicating last night I was I wasn't able to sleep early. So I found myself reading Hyperallergic blog last night and kind of going down some of those rabbit holes. And some of the things that we've kind of been talking to I came across an article that just kind of put language to some of the things that Marshall and Jesse and Michael and everybody that's been on the farm have kind of talked about for a while. But it was an article specific to the need for residencies to be attentive to families, and how often artists are kind of pushed down this path of making a choice of family versus art, and particularly women artists. And how the residency system traditionally is not set up for that part of its time a lot of residencies are two months to six months. And while we we do have our On the farm to, to pay for the house because we still have fees that we have. But we also have options, we've got some campers that we have out there that if you can't afford to pay for the house, we can give you an option out there. And exchange, we just ask you to work for like four or five hours a week help us with a few chores around the farm. And you're welcome to stay out there for that. But I think that part of that model of families is important. And I know that my family would appreciate that. And, and so some way that and we're still figuring that out, too. But I think some way that it that we can help mothers and fathers find time for their making, while also not having to leave their family for weeks at a time or even bring their families out there. And family sometimes are our pets. And that's certainly my case, my dog goes with me everywhere. And and I know that's the case with Marshall as well with Wilbur. So I think that's a big one. And then it's important to us to you mentioned earlier, the question about doing things at the end of a residency and Marshalls response was dead on about leaving that up to the artist. That's our biggest thing too, is it's whatever the artist wants to do. And it's not necessarily that you need to make any type of work, or that you need to make any volume of work if what you need for your practice is to just get away, and rest, sleep, read walk, I think that's all part of the practice. And so it's important to us that we don't require anything of the artist other than to be present and thoughtful. And whatever comes out of that for the artist is pointing. And I think that's a really important aspects, you know, we often as makers, can compare ourselves to the output of others. And that's a dangerous route to go. So we don't want to force anything on anybody just show up and whatever it is you need. We're there to support it as best we can.

Derek Smith:

I really like that because a lot of the residency programs that I see there are a lot of obligations towards the end of the residency to fill out a show are to present to whoever's, normally, there's a patronage group of people that are paying for this organization to provide this residency and at the end of it, they need to see a payoff. But yours is all family oriented. And you're you're building this with friends, and you're not building it with all the outside influence. So it's really special that you're doing this for artists, and not just just the world, but you're giving artists a place to go to create and be away from everybody else and all other influence. And especially in the Delta, the delta can be so inspiring, is like we're human, but I think it's in the air. It's our scan, and just creativity sucks and a little. But man, I really appreciate everything that y'all are building, getting to watch, it's been great.

Will Jacks:

Well, thank you, hopefully we can keep it going. I mean, we're not immune to the realities of the world that we live in, we have bills to pay, we have structures that need to be supported, you know, our property is not pristine, but But it's comfortable. And it's quiet. And I think those are probably two of the most important things like to say that the only things artists really need are time, space and resources. And, and creativity will stem from that. And doesn't have to be a five star resort. There doesn't have to be 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of dollars worth of high end equipment. Both of those things can be nice but creativity flourishes with time space and resources.

Mule:

If you've never been to the delta will cause a dramatic all the time that the sky can be incredibly dramatic and it's it's really dramatic and magical and it's not there's no other place in the world like it so it's bringing people from Rhode Island Vermont to see this is what's really exciting to me.

Derek Smith:

I think all of that's been beautiful and it's gonna be perfect for the article. That was wonderful. If there's anything else you'd want to throw in for consideration are that you would want to throw in because if this does air on the podcast as well you've got this opportunity. Go ahead and feel free.

Will Jacks:

I'll add one thing because it is a pragmatic part of it. We did recently add a little donate button so if you're so inclined to want to help us out any I mean anything helps five $10 Right now, we do charge a small fee to stay in the house for a week or two weeks or however long it is you want to be there our hope would be To get to where we could completely waive that, and that we could offset the expense and the artists could come at no cost to themselves, that very much is a path that we would like to take. But in order to get there, we've got to figure out how to make sure the bills are paid. And so that's probably coming where we start asking for a little more money here, down the line. But right now our focus is on these artists that are coming pretty much from February through the middle of June, almost nonstop. And and so our attention is going to be on making sure their experiences is as solid as we can make it and and then working out any details. So Jesse and Marshall kind of Philomene when we need to do this or this is broken, or how do we handle that? So but we do have a donate button.

Jesse Brown:

And also the if if the artists that stay here are so inclined, there's the art department of Delta State, they could use it as a I don't want to say as a resource but as a as a means of conversation, to engage with students to engage with faculty members. Also the Delta Arts Alliance is right down the road. And so there are some there are some external resources that kind of extend beyond beyond the farm that only kind of elevates the experience here.

Mule:

Jack's farms.com and at Jack's farms on Instagrams, JX farms.

Derek Smith:

Thank you as always, to our members, the friends of the little yellow building, Beth Breeland, Mary Hardy, Jenny Moke, Evelyn Peavy Jennifer Drinkwater, the Smith family Gwen fury, Mary Adams, the Evans Family, Janet Smith, Jenny Howard, Buffy Jordan and Bob Ruzek.