About Murrell Butler
In 1988 Butler was selected as artist of the year by the Louisiana Wild Turkey Federation and his print, "Courting the Yellow Tops," was selected as the 1988 Stamp Print. In 1994 he won the "Wild Louisiana Stamp" contest with his depiction of a pair of roseate spoonbills. In 1997 Butler was commissioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation to print three paints for their limited edition prints. He has also designed stamps for the National Wildlife Federation's annual stamp sheet, done illustrations for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and illustrated Dr. Ernest P. Edwards' A Field Guide To Mexican Birds. For many years he was a freelance artist for Cape Shore Paper Company, a greeting card company in Maine. Butler's work has been featured in National Wildlife Magazine, Wildlife Art, The Louisiana Conservationist, Louisiana Life and many other publications.
Murrell reports on his latest projects:
For more paintings & prints by Murrell Butler, visit his website.
The Canada Goose painting, Proud Parents, was done here at my pond (Oak Hill - St. Francisville, La.) the first day the goslings took a swim. Jim Mire shot the picture. The composition and lighting were perfect for a painting so I painted it in oil on canvas justas it was.
The second painting, "White Ibis at Lake Fausse" was taken by myself in the big cypress end of the lake (Lake Fausse) in early morning with the light streaming through the moss. I painted this one just as the photograph showed and added the white ibis.
My painting, "Palm Sunday", showing a great egret and palmetas that was done at Jean Lafette National Park at Barataria, La. was chosen for the top l00 travel show and will be at the St. George Museum in St. Louis, Mo. for the month of August. I am now working on a Commission for the John Conrads of Berwick, La. of their champion live oak.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
WHITE LINEN NIGHT
IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN
ST. FRANCISVILLE, LOUISIANA
Taking a cue from the French Quarter’s popular event, the St. Francisville Main Street Merchants Association hosts its own White Linen Night beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 23. The evening promises to put a little sizzle into summer by pairing popular shops with the area’s finest eateries, local artisans and musicians. Trolley transportation will link the featured locations along Commerce, Ferdinand and Royal Streets, and each retail outlet is offering special red-hot deals to draw customers to the downtown area to shop in the cool of the evening. Stroll along the street, hop on and off the trolley, but by all means make it to as many participating destinations as possible, because intrepid shoppers who make it to every location receive a special reward.
Long the center of commerce for the surrounding rural area, the historic little rivertown lends itself perfectly to such a spectacular event. Nearly all of its finest mercantile outlets are confined to just a few short streets, for St. Francisville was established in the opening years of the 19th century atop a narrow finger-ridge stretching along an elevation toward the Mississippi River below the bluff. There was only so much level space suitable for building, so the downtown area has been spared modern intrusions and is listed as several inclusive Historic Districts on the National Register for its architectural integrity and significance. Today the picturesque downtown area remains alive and vital, still the community center of activity, with upscale shops in historic commercial structures side-by-side with gingerbread-trimmed Victorian homes and churches shaded by century-old live oaks.White Linen Night is designed to showcase a sampling of just about everything the St. Francisville area has to offer. Colorful shops offer everything from gifts and decorative objects to antiques and specialty clothing. Participating restaurants run the gamut from down-home soul food and ethnic dishes to fancy gourmet cuisine, so shoppers can nibble while they browse. Artists, craftspersons and artisans will show a variety of works ranging from rustic birdhouses and other crafts to copper metalworks and fine-art jewelry as well as paintings, prints and photography. The local library, historical museum and town hall get into the act with special exhibits. And live music will fill featured locations with everything from blues to banjo picking, turning this special evening into one big ol’ block party encompassing the entirety of downtown St. Francisville and everything in it.
Parking is provided at four convenient locations (West Feliciana Parish Police Jury Complex, Courthouse, St. Francisville Town Hall and St. Francisville Post Office) so that shoppers can leave their cars and jump on the trolleys provided by Highlands Bank. The trolleys will run continuously throughout the downtown area, with local high school cheerleaders to provide helpful information and maps showing locations of all participating shops. Information may be obtained online at www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com or by telephoning the St. Francisville Main Street office at 225-635-3873.
Visitors can turn White Linen Night into a fun full weekend visit by staying over at one of the St. Francisville area’s unique Bed & Breakfasts or the modern motel (see www.stfrancisvilleovernight.com). Six restored historic plantations are open daily for tours—Rosedown Plantation and Audubon State Historic Sites, Butler Greenwood Plantation, The Cottage Plantation, Greenwood Plantation and The Myrtles; Catalpa Plantation is open by reservation, and Afton Villa Gardens is open seasonally. The surrounding Tunica Hills region offers a wide array of unsurpassed recreational opportunities, from birding and biking to horseback riding and hiking. For additional information on the St. Francisville area, telephone 225-635-4224, 225-635-3873 or 225-635-6330; online www.stfrancisville.us or www.stfrancisville.net.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS:
1) MILES BLAIR SALON - 5951 COMMERCE ST.
ARTIST : KRISTEN WRAY
2) HILLCREST - 5943 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: CONFECTIONS BY
MICHELLE ARTIST: ZSQUARED!!!
3) AVONDALE ANTIQUES - 5877 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: THE OXBOW
MUSIC: LAUGHING LIZARD 6PM-7:30PM
4) TRENDS SALON- 5755 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: VARNEDOES
ARTISTS: LISA HORN, MEG BANKSTON,
KELLI DOUGLAS& MARGO SOLIER
5) THE WINE PARLOR & THE INN: 5720 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS: THE WINE PARLOR
MUSIC: ADRIAN PERCY & FRIENDS
ARTIST: JILL JANSS
6) ST. FRANCISVILLE TOWN HALL: 11936 FERDINAND ST.
ARTIST: BLUE GOOSE MEDIA
7) NEXT TO MILLERS ON MAIN: 11917 FERDINAND ST.
MUSIC: THE BIG SHAKIN
8) MILLER ON MAIN & THE MASSAGE CLINIC - 11911 FERDINAND ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: CYPRESS GRILL
9) ST. FRANCIS ARTS & ANTIQUES - 11914 FERDINAND ST.
MUSIC BY: TIM & BONNEY BROWN
10) BETTER BODIES & BRITCHES & STITCHES - 11890 FERDINAND ST.
ARTIST KEN STEWART
11) WFP LIBRARY 11865 FERDINAND ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: SONNY'S PIZZA
ARTIST: LINDA FOX
12) THE SHANTY TOO - 11770 FERDINAND ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: EIGHT SISTERS
DEMO: OOH LA LA
13) WFP MUSEUM - 11757 FERDINAND ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY QUE PASA
ARTIST: COPPERWOOD STUDIO
14) HARRINGTON GALLERY - 9907 ROYAL ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: HEIRLOOM CUISINE
MUSIC SWEET OLIVE 6PM-7PM
15) OLD MARKET HALL - 9896 ROYAL ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: NINE OAKS DESIGN
MUSIC: KEVIN JOHNSON
16) GRANDMOTHERS BUTTONS - 9814 ROYAL ST.
REFRESHMENTS: AUDUBON CAFE
ARTIST: ELIZABETH DENTON
ARTIST: HANK SCHLAU
MUSIC: NANCY POPPOLO
17) BACKWOODS GALLERY - 5701 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: MAGNOLIA CAFE
MUSIC: LAUGHING LIZARD 7:30PM-9PM
18) BIRDMAN COFFEE - 5695 COMMERCE ST.
ARTISTS: ARABIE BIRDHOUSES & ARTS FOR ALL
19) SAGE HILL GIFTS - 5622 COMMERCE ST.
REFRESHMENTS BY: HEIRLOOM CUISINE
ARTIST: DONNA KILBOURNE
ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA; DISPENSING A WARMER WELCOME NOW THAN WHEN P.T.BARNUM CAME TO CALLBy Anne Butler
That great American showman Phineas Taylor Barnum had an exuberant career exhibiting freaks and frauds, Fee-Gee Mermaids and Siamese twins, giants and midgets and everything in between, in various museums and theatrical settings until fairly late in his life he founded what would become the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. His original, outrageous autobiography, The Life of P.T. Barnum written by Himself, was published in 1855 and gives an amusing account of his troupe’s visit to St. Francisville, Louisiana, in 1838.
Barnum’s traveling company performed throughout the South that year, from Nashville where they visited General Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage, on down through Vicksburg where they transferred from land conveyances to a steamboat purchased for $6000, to Natchez and on to St. Francisville. There, a drunk trying to sneak into the tent for free was denied admission and consequently took aim at Barnum with “a slung-shot.” Said Barnum with characteristic colorfulness, “The blow mashed my hat, and grazed the protuberance where phrenologists located the organ of caution.”
The rejected party returned with “a frightful gang of his half-drunken companions, each with a pistol, bludgeon, or other weapon. They seemed determined to assault me forthwith,” Barnum related in his autobiography. The showman begged the mayor and other respectable citizens present in the theatre for protection against the mob, but the mayor “declared his inability to afford it against such odds.” The rabble-rousing ringleader gave Barnum just one hour to load up his exhibits, strike the tent, and head on downriver on his steamboat. “He looked at his watch, I looked at the pistols and bludgeons, and I reckon that a big tent never came down with greater speed,” said Barnum.
Today’s visitors to St. Francisville, now a popular year-round tourist destination, receive a far more cordial welcome, thanks in large part to the hospitable and knowledgeable staff at the parish tourist information centers. On busy US Highway 61 about 15 miles north of St. Francisville, just below the Mississippi line, is the state-run St. Francisville Welcome Center (225-635-6962). Open daily 8:30 to 5, the facility provides helpful information on all areas of the state, with public-access WiFi and Direct TV for up-to-date weather forecasts. Capable supervisor Cathy Metz and her staff of seven dispense brochures, tour guides and maps while giving each traveler a warm and friendly greeting. Mrs. Metz says it’s a pleasure to assist the travelling public and assure that they enjoy their visit to Louisiana and the St. Francisville area.
On St. Francisville’s main thoroughfare, Ferdinand St., the West Feliciana Historical Society, West Feliciana Tourist Commission, and St. Francisville Main Street combine forces to provide helpful information and interesting museum exhibits (225-635-4224). This facility is housed in a vintage hardware store with gingerbread trim, flanked by a tidy little garden offering a welcome respite from the summer sun. Open daily from 9 to 5, Sundays from 9:30 a.m., the historical society’s well-designed museum houses excellent exhibits on the area’s vernacular architecture and history, including the long-gone port city of Bayou Sara below St. Francisville, artist John James Audubon’s stay in the area in the 1820’s, the West Florida Rebellion, and early Jewish contributions. Maps, brochures and plenty of information are dispensed by Museum Curator Helen Williams and her friendly staff, and the gift shop here is full of prints by Audubon and contemporary local bird artist Murrell Butler, photographs, Louisiana books and tasteful souvenirs. Says Mrs. Williams, who is the Jack-of-all-trades here filling many demanding roles, “We have visitors from all over the world, and it’s so interesting to meet and greet people.”
Of course the staff members of both tourist information centers say their jobs are made easier by what the St. Francisville area has to offer, from magnificent restored plantation homes and gardens open for tours to unspoiled wilderness areas in the Tunica Hills for recreation, from special events throughout the year to hospitable residents anxious to share their treasures with the world. There are wonderful little shops and restaurants, even a wine bar, though that would hold little attraction for master showman P.T. Barnum. After the reception he got in St. Francisville in 1838, threatened by local rowdies and run out of town, it was little wonder that Barnum soon became a teetotaler, enthusiastically involved in the temperance movement and lecturing across the country on the evils of strong drink. After returning from a European tour with the midget he called General Tom Thumb, he crisscrossed America promoting Jenny Lind and gave temperance lectures on nights when the Swedish Nightingale was not singing. In the early 1850’s his audience at the new Lyceum Hall on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans included 3000 of “the most respectable portion of the New Orleans public.” As he illustrated “the poisonous and destructive nature of alcohol to the animal economy,” an opponent in the audience yelled out, “How does it affect us, externally or internally?” To which the quick-witted Barnum replied, to thunderous applause, “E-ternally!”
Visitors to St. Francisville today will find fascinating restored 19th-century structures filled with fine shops and restaurants throughout downtown St. Francisville, which boasts an extensive Historic District listed on the National Register. The area has a wonderful assortment of Bed & Breakfasts as well as a modern motel. Six restored historic plantations are open daily for tours—Rosedown Plantation and Audubon State Historic Sites, Butler Greenwood Plantation, The Cottage Plantation, Greenwood Plantation and The Myrtles; Catalpa Plantation is open by reservation, and Afton Villa Gardens is open seasonally. The surrounding Tunica Hills region offers a wide array of unsurpassed recreational opportunities, from birding and biking to horseback riding and hiking. And yes, there’s even a Transitory Theatre. Mr. Barnum would feel right at home.