Art patrons enjoy the 2016 Cedars Juried Art Show in Fondren. Iage: Frank Farmer

Jackson’s oldest surviving residential structure turned gallery and event venue plays home to the arts this fall.

The sixth annual Cedars Juried Art Show, opens with a free reception Thursday at 5 p.m.

Featuring 81 artists representing 28 Mississippi cities (plus a former Mississippian now residing in Austin, Texas), the Cedars Juried Art Show showcases original works in mixed mediums, carefully selected and judged by juror, George Bassi, director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel. The show is presented as part of the Four Seasons of The Cedars Visual and Performing Arts Series and includes a “people’s choice” voting opportunity. The winner of this vote will be announced Friday with a push notification on the FRF app.

“It’s amazing to me the number of cities represented,” said FRF executive director Jim Wilkirson. “It’s grown another 30 percent over last year. That’s a big jump in participation from across the state.”

Glass artist Elizabeth Robinson, whose studio is in Fondren, sees a growing interest from her vantage point, too.

“I’ve heard a lot of positives about the show on social media, people excited about this year now more than ever. Part of that is how the show is categorized, the proportion of the exhibition equal to the number of categories, a wonderful mixture of sculpture, painting and fine craft. That’s how many of the national shows are done and that seems to work well in favor of the artists.”

A few weeks from now, the full Mississippi Symphony Orchestra checks the “performing” box in the Four Seasons series with Symphony at Sunset, a concert under the canopy of 200-year-old cedar trees, an event now in its 17th year, on September 21.

Lawn chairs and blankets pack the lawn as families bring their picnic dinners to enjoy as a musical serenade plays for nearly two hours.

“It’s not a typical classical venue,” Wilkirson noted of the outdoor location. “It’s a pops concert with Star Wars and Downton Abbey themes mixed with patriotic tunes. For those not able to take advantage of a ticketed scenario in the arts, to be able to see and hear this show free of charge is amazing.”

The concert, first held in September 2001 shortly after 9/11, always takes the opportunity to honor a person or persons who have made significant contributions to the neighborhood.

For 2017 that honor belongs to former Mississippi Governor William Winter and former first lady, Elise Winter. Governor Winter served as State Representative, State Tax collector, State Treasurer, Lt. Governor and Governor (1980-1984).

“It’s our state’s bicentennial year along with the culmination of all the work the Winters have put in over the last decade for racial reconciliation, The Winter Institute and the Civil Rights and Mississippi History museums,” Wilkirson said of the timing. “As two of our most celebrated residents of Fondren, it’s only fitting.”

An Oct. 5 art show features Ann Seale and Thomas Wilson. Then in November, a new event returns to amplify the FRF offerings in the form of their 2nd annual Fondren ornament auction.

Modeled after a similar one held in Oxford each year, last year’s auction boasted 125 one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments created expressly for the evening by artists and art patrons from across the state of Mississippi.

The 2017 show is Nov. 16 and is free to attend. A silent auction gives patrons the opportunity to scoop up these special keepsakes for holiday or year-round display.

“The Four Seasons shows and other arts events at The Cedars provide for a great venue for art lovers like myself to meet the artists,” said Bill Nation, a Fondrenite, past FRF board member and art collector. “We have a treasure trove of wonderful artists here and I appreciate getting to know them personally. It makes the work in my collection much more meaningful.”

This piece was originally published in The Upside, a Clarion-Ledger special Wednesday section. Find It In Fondren® is happy to have a column there on the first Wednesday of each month.