Local Art

Published on October 27th, 2021 | by TLV News


Milly West Hosts Open House and Art Sale October 28–30

The sale will feature many of West’s photos, a varied collection of art from well-known Southern artists, and much more

One woman has been at the forefront of Oxford’s art scene for over 30 years. Milly Moorhead West is a two-time winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Photography and former owner of Southside Gallery. She won her first art competition in 1984, a first place award at the Meridian Museum of Art, and just a few months later, another first place at Arts in the Park in Memphis, held that year at The Brooks Gallery

This weekend, October 28-30, West is hosting an Art Sale and Open House at her home at 212 Bramlett Blvd. Hours on Thursday will be from 4-8 pm, and on Friday and Saturday, from 11-5 each day. The sale will feature many of her photos along with a varied collection of art from well-known Southern artists, paintings and photos from Cuba, and “too much more to describe.”

Having studied photography with Gale Denley and Lee White while in Journalism classes at Ole Miss, West got bit by the photography bug and has not stopped since. She began a series of photos in the Mississippi Delta, especially in Clarksdale, where she mingled with people along 4th St. and found a sort of “magic” there. Her photograph, titled, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman Aaron Henry’s Drug Store is now in the permanent collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art and The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. 

A new selection of new and older photos is on display through mid-November in a one-person exhibition at The Miller Gallery at Meridian Community College.

“Being invited to exhibit in the town where my career began has been such a perfect circle and an opportunity to show work which I have never shown before. This show is about relationships, and facing each other. I even subtitled the show, Facing Mississippi.”

So, here in the South, it’s easy to drive and take your camera along in the car, collect things, but what about Cuba? 

“Well, Cuba is another magical place for me. I found that within thirty minutes of landing in Havana for the first time, in January of 1996, my heart was pounding with excitement. I had stepped back in to a beautiful, seemingly more simple time. There were people on the streets at night in “refrescos,” music was playing, bicycles were everywhere, as well as the well-known old cars! But it was the contrast to us, to the United States, that struck me. I mean that we here are taught to need things, expect things which maybe we don’t need at all. There, relationships are vital and deep. I ask myself, why can I not have these types of relationships back home? Today, I think about my age and how if I am ever going to start doing that serious relationship-talking, I must be myself and take time to sincerely listen.”

No one who knows Milly West can accuse her of slowing down because of age. She has made over 40 trips to Cuba in the last 25 years and has a love of the art and the people there who create that art. In 2000, she was honored during the Bienal with a one-person exhibit in Old Havana. Her early trips through Cuba were with The Center for Cuban Studies, and that, as she said, was her lucky break as far as getting to know the best photographers of the Revolution and the best known sculptors and painters in the country. “Every stop we made on those early trips, was an experience I can never explain, especially now as I look back, it’s almost unbelievable. Many of those artists we met, some young like me at the time, have gone on to be internationally recognized for their art.”

These days, West takes annual photo workshop trips with her neighbor Danny Klimetz and helps others meet artists. So, what does an art collector do with her art now that she no longer owns a gallery? Well, West has set up her home to show her collection. Her converted garage is now Tres Puertas (Three Doors) Gallery

Of her collection, some pieces are being donated to The Center for Cuban Studies in New York, and some are on consignment from several Cuban artists.

Most of her collection was bought over a 25-year period, and she says, “It’s time to let go and share. I have not done my annual Christmas Open House for a while, so I hope everyone will consider this an early opportunity for all art-loving collectors to get something great for themselves or for someone special. It will take time to look at it all!”

In 2013, West published her book, Cuba for Keeps, and in 2015, she and David Rae Morris published Clarksdale 1985, both published by Krowswork Books. For any questions, email millywestart@gmail.com

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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