Plantation Setting for Fundraiser

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

The glory of the past and the art of the present collide along the Mississippi River as West Memphis-based DeltaARTS unveils a first-time event.

One of the few remaining Antebellum homes in the Mississippi Delta, Waverly Plantation, will be host to a new fundraiser by DeltaARTS called “Art on the Levee” in which a historic home tour will be combined with more modern forms of art. (Photo: Courtesy of Sandy Kozik)

“Art on the Levee at Waverly Plantation” will showcase one of the few remaining Antebellum homes on the Mississippi River levee in Eastern Arkansas, on Saturday, April 28.

“What I’m impressed about is that they have preserved the old and added the contemporary,” said Amelia Barton, executive director of DeltaARTS, referring to Jerri and Pat Crase, who own Waverly Plantation, about 20 minutes from Midtown Memphis.

“It’s a perfect blend. They’ve guarded the integrity of the home and it’s absolutely charming. It has the really high ceilings and beautiful woodwork and exquisite pine floors. There’s lots of light and air.”

The five-bedroom house was originally built in 1880 right alongside the Mississippi River, but in 1915 when the levee was built, the house was picked up and moved farther back onto the plantation.

“After that, it’s amazing that the house is in such wonderful shape,” Barton said.

The Crases bought the house not long ago and found that it needed only a minor cosmetic renovation. Structurally it was as strong as it ever had been. A swimming pool was added later. The house has never been opened for a public tour before.

Barton credits DeltaARTS’ development coordinator Becky Bland for creating an event around the house.

“A really good friend of (Bland’s), Jerri Crase, bought the house,” Barton said. “Becky visited and thought this would be a wonderful event to have there. We don’t have any other fundraising events like this, and we were looking for something very special.”

The tour will be unstructured – guests will be able to stroll through the home as they like with an informational booklet as their guide. Outside, a seated catfish dinner and drinks will be served, and the party band The Snake Doctors will play a danceable mix of rock and blues.

The Snake Doctors have been regular performers at DeltaARTS’ annual Blues in the Park event for the last three years.

Inside the house, a silent art auction will offer works from a host of local artists including Dolph Smith, Jimpsie Ayres, Betsy Brackin, Mary Long Postal, Sally Hughes Smith, Twin, Melissa Dunn, Tim Andrews, David Comstock, Anne Davey, Gail Fogelman, Sherri Reid and homeowner Pat Crase.

Barton said she expects mostly painting in the auction though some of the artists do sculpture as well.

“He’s very contemporary, and he works in very bold colors,” Barton said of Crase. “Most of his pieces are very large and very expressive. I think his work is very similar to David Comstock’s.”

And the juxtaposition of modern art inside a pre-20th century home is no accident. The event, said Barton, was designed to appeal to history buffs and modern art aficionados alike, in a setting that supports both. She hopes the event will raise at least $15,000, which will support DeltaARTS’ Wolf Trap program, which integrates music, theatre, and dance into the curricula of kindergarten and Pre-K students, and their Lincoln Center Imaginative Learning program, which offers arts programming for grades K-12.

DeltaARTS was formerly known as the Arts Council of Crittendon County, but changed its name when their programs reached across the river in to North Mississippi and West Tennessee.

Tickets for “Art on the Levee at Waverly Plantation” are $75 and can be purchased by calling 870-732-6260 or at the door.