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Street Talk

‘Giraffe Bricks’ Cover Valley Buildings

by Mickey Howley


Joy Foy was shopping Water Valley’s Main Street last week. Joy, who is a division head for the Mississippi Development Authority, is not a stranger to town; she has been coming here to shop her whole life. She was in town to see Julia Ray about some dresses and outfits. And she stopped in the Main Street office, too. She commented when she was a child, growing up in neighboring Calhoun County and coming here with her parents to shop, she always liked seeing the buildings with “giraffe bricks” in WV’s downtown.
I was trying to be polite and not say, “What in the world are you talking about,” but finally I had to ask her about the giraffe bricks.  What Joy saw back then through her young imagination were the native fieldstone masonry walls and chimneys through out town. Go downtown take a look on the south side of the Chamber building or Joe Black’s office or the American Legion building or the Crawdad Hole Jr.         You’ll see the tan and brown stones set in a pattern that look a lot like the pattern of a giraffe’s coat. Look through out town and out in the county and you will notice many older houses have that same stone material set in that pattern as house walls or arches or chimneys or retaining walls.
If you look at enough of them as I have (it might indicate you too have a twisted fascination with the obscure), you will also notice they were all not done by the same hand. Enough craftsmen were doing that work where you can see detail differences. But there was one person who was exceptional.     The fit and finish, the shape of the mortar joints, the layout of the stone pattern shows a creative eye and a knowledged use of materials and is simply artistic. If you know of someone who was the creative builder behind these giraffe brick works, please let me know.
This weekend in Water Valley you can see more work by the combination of an artistic hand, a practiced and critical eye, and seemingly simple materials. Friday night from 6 to 8:30 at Yalo Studio see charcoal drawings (and photographs) by Art and Margo Rosen-baum. Based out of Georgia, the Rosenbaums have for years been documenting folk musicians through out the south. Their large charcoal drawings exquisitely capture the movement and feel of folk, gospel, and blues musicians playing. It is a great art show and worth a visit downtown on Friday night. Saturday at Bozarts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. see WV’s own Rebecca McGavock demonstrate how she creates her “scratchboard art”.  Unlike painting, this detailed art technique literally pulls the image off a flat surface. It is like sculpting on a flat plane, where the image begins by removing material as opposed to laying it on. It is a fascinating process to see in action and view the finished results.
Coming right before Saint Patrick’s Day and just in time to ring in spring is the Water Valley Art Council’s “Green Gala of Yalobusha.”  Saturday March 16 is coming fast and by now you should be thinking how are you going to come “green” to this event.

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