Jivin’ Gene showed up at Joelle’s Coke parties, but it was only on the 45 records her girlfriends collected. Her whimsical, mixed-media collages recall her youth in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana in the ‘50s. Joelle Smith Ford, the “Gumbo Girl” herself, will attend the opening reception of her show at Museum of the Gulf Coast from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12.
The artist was born in 1943 in Beaumont and also spent formative years in Orange and DeRidder, La. Her parents, Kathryn and Clayton Smith, owned Clayton Smith Pianos in Orange and Beaumont Music Store.
Ford’s piece “Coke Parties” reminisces about the gatherings she had as a teen.
“Everyone brought their favorite 45s. I especially liked “Going Out With The Tide” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” sung by Jivin’ Gene and the Jokers from Port Arthur,” Ford said.
In “Snakes in the Henhouse, “ Ford remembers gathering eggs for her grandmother. She said it “might sound like an easy task, but several times snakes were encountered curled up in the nests. One was an especially large rattlesnake with many rattles. Granddaddy killed it with a hoe and the Times-Picayune came out to take pictures.”
“Private Club House” recalls the “girls only” houses that friends fashioned from her daddy’s piano shipping crates.
Ford graduated from DeRidder High School in 1961, and attended Centenary College in Shreveport, La., and Northeast Louisiana State College in Monroe. She received a BFA in Painting with Honors from the University of Kansas in 1999. Since 1976, Ford has lived in Lawrence, Kansas. She has been married to Allen Ford of Jefferson, Texas since 1964. They have four daughters and eight grandchildren. Ford’s work is included in the Emprise Bank Kansas Art Collection. She was recently one of 50 artists included in the Kansas Masters Invitational. She received a MAP Grant from the Kansas City Artists Coalition to have the images from Gumbo Girl made into a video.
Gumbo Girl was most recently exhibited at the Alexandria Museum of Art in Louisiana. It will remain on view at the Museum of the Gulf Coast through Sept. 16, 2012. For more information about Joelle Ford and her art, go to: www.joelleford.com, her online blog at: http://joelleford.blogspot.com/, and her facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/joellefordART.
For more information or to schedule a tour, call 409-982-7000 or visit www.museumofthegulfcoast.org.