Best of Jackson 2013: Community & Culture | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2013: Community & Culture

Mississippi Museum of Art

Mississippi Museum of Art Photo by Trip Burns.

Best Arts Organization: Mississippi Museum of Art 380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, msmuseumart.org

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Although the Mississippi Museum of Art has been in existence for more than 100 years, it has really come into its own in the last decade or so. The museum's permanent collection houses works from Mississippi artists including P. Sanders McNeal's "The Rehearsal." In addition, special collections rotate throughout the year, featuring a wide range of artists and art styles. Last year saw an exhibit on the art of Curious George, followed a few months later by one on the watercolors and oils of William Hollingsworth. A community-supported institution, MMA also partners with 29 affiliate museums across the state to share the collection through loans and traveling exhibitions, enriching the lives of people who can't travel to Jackson. Programs at MMA include Collecting 101, a workshop for new collectors and art lovers, and Look and Learn with Hoot, hands-on art education for preschool children.--Genevieve Legacy

Second: Mississippi Arts Commission (501 N. West St., Suite 1101-A, 601-359-6030) / Third: Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet (110 Homestead Drive, Madison, 601-853-4508) Good Showing: Ballet Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St., Suite 106, 601-960-1560); Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546); Greater Jackson Arts Council (255 E. Pascagoula St., 601-960-1557)

Best Place to Chill: Cups: An Espresso Cafe Multiple Locations, cupsespressocafe.com

Since the opening of its first location in 1993, Cups has been spreading like wildfire--a richly scented, community-friendly wildfire. The coffeehouses popped up all over central Mississippi, with three on Lakeland Drive alone. While the coffee never falls far from the familial tree, none of these locations can surpass the peaceful and approachable ambiance of the original Cups in Fondren. With its occasional free concerts and its tables, walls and windows adorned with local artwork, it is instantly evident that Cups aspires to be the sweet-smelling sanctuary that the Jackson art and music scenes need. But these factors only lend to the overall tone of Jackson's first-rate reprieve from the day-to-day rush. Cups in Fondren exudes a quiet, calming comfort that makes it the perfect spot for some light reading, studying or simply catching up with friends.--Micah Smith

Second: Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349) / Third: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055) / Good Showing: The Bulldog (6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502); Underground 119 (119 S. President St., 601- 352-2322); Reservoir

Best Radio Personality; Best Radio Station: Nate and Murphy (Y101)

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Nearly every morning, commuters tune into Y101 to hear two comical men with a love for radio, Nate (left, in photo) and Murphy. The radio pair has worked together for years. Nate West and Tim Murphy host the Morning Showgram weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Current pop music hits, celebrity gossip and cash prize contests are sure to keep you alert on the way to your traveling destination or while cleaning the house. The pair also shines a light into their hilarious personal lives.

Y101 plays top billboard songs, hits from the past decade and even old-school mixes. On Sundays, the station has a countdown of the top chart songs, and gives you info on the spot it has moved up to or moved down from. Radio contests flow throughout the week with prizes of concert tickets or cash.--Octavia Thurman

Best Radio Personality Second: Rick and Kim (MISS 103 FM) / Third: Scott Steele (WUSJ 96.3 FM) / Good Showing: Bo Bounds (The Zone 105.9 FM); DJ Unpredictable (97.7 FM); Marshall Ramsey (SuperTalk Mississippi)

Best Radio Station Second: WJMI (99.7 FM) / Third: WRBJ (97.7 FM) / Good Showing: WKXI (Kixie 107.5 FM); WLEZ (EZ 100.1 FM); WMSI (MISS 103 FM)

Best Church Choir: First Baptist Church of Jackson 431 N. State St., 601-949-1900, fbcj.org

Psalms 66 says, "Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious." The First Baptist Church of Jackson does that with excellence and conviction. The choir has more than 1,100 members, ranging from 3-year-olds to senior adults. In addition to performing at Sunday church services, the choir has special musical events including an Easter musical and drama production and a patriotic concert. The sound is a musical blend of voices, instruments, handbells and various ensembles. In December, the FBCJ Sanctuary Choir joined with Ballet Magnificat! for the annual "Carols by Candlelight."--Michael Jacome

Second: Mississippi Mass Choir (601-366-8863) / Third: Pinelake Church (6071 Highway 25, Brandon, 601-829-4500, pinelake.org) / Good Showing: Anderson United Methodist Church (6205 Hanging Moss Road, 601-982-3997); Christ United Methodist (6000 Old Canton Road, 601-956-6974); New Jerusalem Church (5708 Old Canton Road, 601-206-5844; 1285 Raymond Road, 601-371-6772)

Best Community Garden/Nature Attraction: Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art 380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, msmuseumart.org

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Cities are often described as "concrete jungles" because of their abundance of large, modern buildings, often perceived as unpleasant and devoid of green spaces. The Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art, which opened in 2011, is a thriving green space in downtown Jackson designed to bring nature into the heart of the city. The Art Garden is a 1.2-acre park where "community and culture convene," according to the Mississippi Museum of Art's website. The outdoor space features terrace dining, native garden beds, fountains and permanent art installations by Duncan Baird, John Clark, Fletcher Cox, Martha Ferris, Ed McGowin, Jennifer Torres, Andrew Cary Young, Terry Weldon and an Artists' Cutting Gardens made possible by Jane Hiatt and inspired by Clarksdale artist Jason Bouldin. The garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In 2012, several events were held in the garden, including Live at Lunch, High Note Jam, Dog Day Afternoons, Screen on the Green, Garden Partners Membership Tea, Art Remix, Town Creek Arts Festival and Art Remix, The Garden Club of Jackson events and an Evening for Educators.--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Mynelle Gardens (4736 Clinton Blvd., 601-960-1894) / Third: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-354-7303) / Good Showing: Clinton Community Nature Center (617 Dunton Road, Clinton, 601-926-1104); Jackson Zoological Park (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580); LeFleur's Bluff State Park (2140 Riverside Drive, 601-987-3923); Tougaloo-Rainbow Sustainable Garden, Tougaloo College (500 W. County Line Road, Tougaloo, 601-977-7700)

Best Nonprofit Organization: Community Animal Rescue and Adoption Inc. (CARA) 960 N. Flag Chapel Road, 601-922-7575, carams.org

Holding the leash to our new miniature schnauzer, my wife introduced her to our son, Mateo. "Her name is Duchess," she said. With some apprehension, Duchess sniffed Mateo and formed an unbreakable bond. Duchess has been a member of the family for six years now. She came to us through an organization like CARA. It is this love for (and from) pets that the good people at CARA share. While Duchess may stare at us and send subliminal messages to give her our food, we cannot imagine life without her. CARA is a no-kill shelter funded by donations. The part-time staff and volunteers care for about 425 pets, and CARA is now accepting donations to help build a dog park.--Michael Jacome

Second: Stewpot Community Services (1100 W. Capitol St., 601-353-2759) / Third: The Salvation Army (110 Presto Lane, 601-982-4881) / Good Showing: The Good Samaritan Center (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-6276); The Mustard Seed (1085 Luckney Road, Brandon, 601-992-3556); Operation Shoestring (1711 Bailey Ave., 601-353-6336)

Best Local Live Theater/Theatrical Group: New Stage Theatre 1100 Carlisle St., 601-948-3531, newstagetheatre.com

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New Stage Theatre is Mississippi's only not-for-profit professional theater. Since its premier season in 1965, New Stage Theatre has brought quality theater production and experiences to the people of Mississippi. Recent productions include a stage adaptation of "The Great Gatsby." New Stage displays its devotion to the art of theater, and especially the artists, by including an original new play each season and promoting local talent with "Unframed at New Stage." The series features contemporary, challenging works written and performed by local artists. Productions of 2013 include the gospel musical "Mahalia" in February and the musical comedy "Hairspray" in May.--Genevieve Legacy

Second: Fondren Theatre Workshop (601-301-2281,fondrentheatreworkshop.org) / Second: Black Rose Theatre Company (103 Black St., Brandon, 601-825-1293) / Third: MADDRAMA at JSU (601-454-1183) / Good Showing: Actor's Playhouse (121 Paul Truitt Lane, 601-664-0930); Ballet Magnificat! (5406 Interstate 55 N., Pearl, 601-977-1001); Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St., 601-960-1537)

Best Stage Play: "The Color Purple" by MADDRAMA, Jackson State University

The curtains were pulled back for six days at the end of November 2012 for the mass production of the Broadway hit musical "The Color Purple" by the Jackson State University Theatre Department. It included Jackson State students, community members and the renowned Mississippi Mass Choir. The play centered around sexism, racism and abuse in the south during the early 20th century.

The theater department presented the play for its 50th anniversary and to help the college promote Domestic Abuse Awareness for the month of October. The musical is based on Alice Walker's prize-winning novel of the same name. Mark Henderson, the theater director at Jackson State, wanted the play to have educational value and entertainment as well, he said.--Elyane Alexander

Second: "The Great Gatsby" by New Stage Theatre / Third: "Rocky Horror Show" by Fondren Theatre Group / Good Showing: "Annie" by New Stage Theatre; "A Christmas Memory" by New Stage Theatre; "The Foreigner" by New Stage Theatre

Best Project Under Construction: Fortification Street

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The condition of Fortification Street has led to city workers re-filling pot holes and citizens getting the front end of their vehicles realigned on a regular basis for the last decade. Finally, a change is underway. Hemphill Construction and subcontractors are in progress on an $8.9 million makeover of the street that will include 1.2 miles of new pavement and ADA-compliant sidewalks from Greymont Avenue to Farish Street. They are converting the stretch from Greymont Avenue to Jefferson Street from four lanes to three, with six new traffic signals, traffic-monitoring cameras, decorative lights, relocation of all overhead utility lines to an underground system and a new 24-inch water main under Jefferson Street to replace the city's oldest lines. If we saw the same broken ground on Farish Street that we see on Fortification, it might be the winner.--Jacob D. Fuller

Second:  Farish Street / Third: Whole Foods Market (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-5861) / Good Showing: Baptist Health Systems (1313 N. President St., 601-968-1000); Iron Horse Grill (320 W. Pearl St.); Midtown redevelopment

Best Reason to Live in Jackson: The People

Everyone has a story. Given our state's rich history, proliferation of artists, musicians and colorful politicians, it's likely that the story of any given person you meet has, in fact, been published somewhere. But regardless of whether they're widely known or not, everyone you meet is a character in the collective story of our city's past, present and future. And while we are the state's largest city and the capital, we're still enough like a small town that while sitting at a coffee shop or on a barstool, or just standing in line at the grocery, you can strike up a conversation and learn something fascinating about a neighbor, new acquaintance, or total stranger who makes you appreciate our community and the people in it even more.--Julie Skipper

Second: Fondren / Third: The Food / Good showing: Convenience; Culture; Reservoir

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