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Jackson’s Bespoke Jeweler 2

VERVE Spring 2019

THE DISTRICT AT EASTOVER | STE D110 601.665.4642 •


Good Creative Design requires both beauty AND effectiveness.

If your marketing plan is missing something, it could land your business on its face.

Get Marketing with Legs With over 25 years of experience in design, media development, and marketing, Verve Creative has the knowledge and the design chops to get your company noticed without breaking the bank.

232 Market Street, Bldg K Flowood, MS 39232 601.954.8401








Food & Home

Arts & Culture

46 Stylish Home Trends

24 Cultivating Local

54 Imagination Unlimited

To Enliven Your Interior 2019 promises a continuation of many of the design themes that began in 2018 in addition to some new directions in decor. See the latest colors, styles, and materials that are reshaping stylish interiors this year.

On the Cover It’s spring and there is so much energy and life in the air. Celebrate the beauty of the season with fresh flowers and natural decor. photography by Rich Winter



VERVE Spring 2019

Culinary Talent Mississippi’s first food hall offers great food to patrons and a great opportunity for local chefs to launch their own food concepts. See the delicious food that awaits you and get more information about the variety of tasty offerings by Cultivation Food Hall’s talented chefs.

At The MAX A new exhibition at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Meridian, MS explores the creative genius of Jim Henson. Get up close to cultural icons, like Kermit the Frog, and peek at the earliest works of the creative performer, filmmaker, and technical innovator from Leland, Mississippi, who started it all.




Travel & Leisure

Inspiration & Vision

Health & Lifestyle

14 Making Waves In The

6 Starfish Café

34 Social Distortion:

Manatee Capital The spring-fed waters of Kings Bay offer snorkelers a familyfriendly close encounter with the elusive and gentle manatee.

40 Charming And

Alluring Charleston Charleston, SC tops many of America’s vacation hot lists. We’ll highlight the best areas to shop and dine in the historic city.

Cooks Up A Community Since 2013, Starfish Café has been serving its community delicious food and its students an opportunity to learn valuable life skills and career training. See how this unique dining spot earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and the number one ranking on it’s restaurant list.

The Dark Side Of Social Media Social media has become a constant in our daily lives. We’re able to easily keep up with the activities of friends and family by scrolling through an app on our phone. New research indicates there may be serious mental health implications for the regular use of social media in our lives.




Rich Winter



Lisa Kroger, Susan Marquez, Amy Winter, and Rich Winter

Welcome to Verve magazine, Mississippi’s freshest lifestyle magazine. To understand what Verve is about is to understand the very definition of the word. When we set out to create our magazine, we needed a name that represented the spirit and


enthusiasm found in the people and culture that define our

Ellis Anderson, Crystal Diodati, Lisa Kroger, Rich Winter

region. Luckily for us, there’s one word that does just that—Verve. From cover to cover, Verve magazine celebrates stories of the hard-working hands, creative minds, and compassionate hearts that embody the best of our unique Southern culture. Our pages

Verve magazine is printed and distributed quarterly through national subscriptions, mailings, dedicated racks, and other drop-off locations throughout Jackson, Madison, Ridgeland, Flowood, Brandon, and Clinton including restaurants, hotels, retail stores and offices.

provide engaging content and beautiful photography spanning subjects from travel, culture, and the arts, to food, health, and entertaining with some surprises in between. Each seasonal issue speaks to the spirit and soul of our diverse region with meaningful, fun, optimistic, and valuable information that will enrich and empower your life. At Verve magazine, we’re serious about our work, but we’re not too serious about ourselves. We value curiosity, honesty, generosity and hard work while we also embrace the ingenuity and uniqueness found in the charming residents and beautiful


232 Market St, Bldg K Flowood, MS 39232 Office: 601.914.7219

communities throughout our state. We believe in supporting

All rights reserved. No portion of Verve magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher of Verve.

with a timeless resource you may rely on for daily inspiration

creativity wherever we find it and supporting local businesses that enrich our culture and economy. Whether you have a head for business or a heart for home, an eye for design or the hands for healing, we hope to provide you and enjoyment.

Please visit us on the web at Our website features a digital version of our magazine and bonus


VERVE Spring 2019

content including recipes, photo galleries, and videos. You can also register to receive a subscription of Verve delivered to your door.

Your Special Moment Deserves An



EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE Call Seafood R’evolution at 601.853.3474 or email to learn more about hosting your next celebration at Seafood R’evolution!

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VERVE Spring 2019




ay Saint Louis, nestled on the Gulf

Every good restaurant is all about the food—

Coast between New Orleans and

and the Starfish is no exception. Their menu is

Gulfport, has built a reputation on

built around fresh, local ingredients, which is

quaint charm and fun. No matter

apparent before a customer even walks inside.

the time of year, a festival, parade, concert, or

The yard is planted with seasonal vegetables

art show is bringing color to downtown. The

and lined with raised beds of herbs, like thyme,

streets are bustling with happy people enjoying

tarragon, sage, and lavender. The café even

the laid-back coastal life.

boasts its own beehives, which produce the

In the middle of it all is Starfish Café, a

honey used in many of their recipes. Owner Di

charming blue building decorated with bright

Fillhart wants anything planted on the café’s

colors, eclectic art, and yes, starfish. But what

grounds to either be edible or beneficial to

makes Starfish Café special isn’t the ambiance—

the bees and the butterflies that hover around

it’s the restaurant’s unique focus on community.

the restaurant. The rest of the ingredients are



locally sourced, like fish from local fisherman, grass-

No one is ever turned away for a lack of ability to

fed beef from nearby farms, and fresh eggs that come

pay. And that’s not the only way the Starfish is making

from Ruth’s Roots, a community garden run by the

a difference. Fillhart is a professional life coach,

citizens of Bay Saint Louis.

and her restaurant is staffed by her students. The

Fillhart says that the Starfish “makes the menu

Starfish is more than a restaurant. It’s the home to

off what we got.” That means the menu changes

PNEUMA—Winds of Hope, a nonprofit organization

frequently, with offerings like carrot ginger soup or

aimed at teaching hands-on training in restaurants

locally raised grass-fed ribeye steak with mushroom

and real-life skills, including financial literacy and

demi-glace, served with roasted veggies from the

anger management courses. While the students are

garden. “You are what you eat,” Fillhart says, so

learning to julienne carrots or perfect a smooth

she makes sure that she feeds the people who come

ganache for the chocolate truffle cake, they are also

through her door well. Her philosophy is that food

learning how to be successful in life. The goal is

should nourish everyone, and the menu includes

for students to complete the ServSafe certification

options for all kinds of diets, from diabetic to gluten-

exam, a 20-minute knife skills test, and all the life

free, and even Paleo and Whole 30.

skills classes, among other things, before they can

This kind of inclusivity spreads to pricing too.

graduate, typically in sixteen weeks.

Ever yone is welcome at the Sta r fish, which is

The program is based on work incentives. The

why no prices are printed on the menu. It’s all

students work in the Starfish, earning $100 a week,

pay what you want.

which is put aside for the future. Once a student

Pictured above from left: Zachary Fillhart, Jeanne Peters, Di Fillhart, Jeffrey Graham, and Brett Hynes.


VERVE Spring 2019

When Di began her Bay St. Louis ministry in 2013, she tagged it “Operation Starfish.” She didn’t know the story at the time, but says The Starfish Story has become the core mission of the cafe. “When we came here, we knew we were grassroots. We knew we were really small, but our mission was just to help one by one. So from the beginning, it was going to be Starfish Cafe.”

The Starfish Story An old man was walking on the beach one morning after a storm. In the distance, he could see someone moving like a dancer. As he came closer, he saw that it was a young woman picking up starfish and gently throwing them into the ocean. “Young lady, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” “The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die,” she said. “But young lady, do you not realize that there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You cannot possibly make a difference.” The young woman listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference for that one.” — Adapted from The Star Thower by Loren Eiseley




VERVE Spring 2019

From 2016-2018, Starfish Cafe has been awarded the TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for its high quality customer experience and great reviews. It’s currently ranked the number one restaurant in Bay Saint Louis by the popular travel and restaurant website.

graduates, he or she gets $200. The remainder is paid once the student demonstrates that he or she has worked (or volunteered) for at least 25 hours a week for six months. The students show paychecks in their monthly post-graduation meetings, something that is important to Fillhart, who works to maintain relationships with the students who come through her program. “We want success,” says Fillhart, of her students. “I can’t change them. The students set goals every two weeks. It puts the responsibility on them.” So what does success look like? One Starfish graduate is now living in Hawaii, working for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Another is on his second tour in the Navy. Students typically find work in local restaurants or casinos. “They are keeping up with family commitments, living independently,” explains Fillhart. “They are doing what they want.” And that



Di is such a joyous person. You feel good just talking to her. She changes the students’ lives and the lives of everyone who comes there. They can feel the love and the dedication. One person can change the world for someone else. She is living her purpose. just may be the definition of success for Fillhart: her students can be free to live the lives they want to live. Part of the Starfish’s success comes from Fillhart’s ability to inspire her students—and the other people around her. Bobbie Necaise began working with the café when she heard about what they were doing. Necaise first brought some home-grown vegetables for the Starfish’s kitchen, but soon she volunteered her time as well. “Di is such a joyous person,” Necaise said. “You feel good just talking to her.” Necaise is convinced that the heart of the Starfish is Fillhart herself. “She changes the students’ lives and the lives of everyone who comes there. They can feel the love and the dedication. One person can change the world for someone else. She is living her purpose.” Fillhart is more humble, saying that the café needs the community, just as much as the community needs the café. “It takes a group of community people to support us,” says Fillhart. The restaurant, the program, all of it runs on donations and hours of work by volunteers. So, next time you’re in Bay Saint Louis, stop by. Have a slice of cheesecake with fresh strawberries or try the freshly baked pumpkin pecan sourdough. It just may change someone’s life.


VERVE Spring 2019

We hope you enjoy our Health + Home issue of Verve.

Subscribe today and never miss an issue! FALL 2018

Heritage + Décor Issue

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lu d

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VERVE Spring 2019





t’s 5:30 am when the alarm goes off in our hotel

It’s just a five-minute drive to our destination and

room. It’s pitch dark and a brisk fifty-two degrees

we’re the first group to pull into a parking spot at

outside as we get dressed and go downstairs for

River Ventures. The building is painted in bright

a quick breakfast before heading out for our 6:15

blue and aqua paint complete with a manatee

appointment. We had made the nine hour drive from

face hole board for family photos and a large, gray

Jackson to Crystal River the day before as a fun side

fiberglass manatee in front of the shop.

trip from our Orlando theme park vacation.

We enter the building to the greetings of the staff

While researching our trip online, we stumbled

as they check us in and show us to the education room

upon some tourism information that mentioned

where we are briefed on safety aboard the boat and

manatees are most easily seen in the cool, winter

in the water. Then, Gloria, the center’s educational

months when they congregate in the warm,

advisor, queues up a video that explains how to

spring-fed waters of the Crystal, Homosassa, and

respectfully and lawfully swim with manatees that

Chassahowitzka rivers of northwest Florida. The

includes open-hand touching and passive observation.

promise of having a first-hand manatee encounter

It turns out, manatees can be very inquisitive and

was too much to pass up.

sometimes playful during swimming encounters.



Once an endangered species, conservation efforts

Baltzell tells us about the various native wildlife

and protective laws have helped increase the

of the bay while he and Crystal pass around the

numbers of West Indian manatee in Florida, but

hot chocolate to keep us warm.

the beloved sea cow, as they are often called, still

Our in-water guide, Cr ystal, also d ressed

remains on the threatened species list due to

in a wet-suit, takes questions about the area

habitat loss from waterfront development, fishing

waters and the manatees we are about to meet

nets, motor boat collisions, red tide, and also their

as she scans the horizon looking for signs of the

slow reproduction. For this reason, tour operators

gentle creatures. Having earned the moniker

in the area are very sensitive about protecting the

of ‘Captivating Crystal’ by her co-workers due

wellbeing of these docile mammals.

to her ‘manatee whispering’ skills, she tells us

After the brief education video, the staff begins

about the affection and curiosity some of the

fitting our group with wet-suits and snorkeling

manatees might display with our group. Crystal

masks before we bag up our other gear and

tells us we are headed to spot where manatees

board the tour bus for a five-minute drive to the

were congregating the day before as she begins

marina nearby.

snapping pictures of the group and the bay as

After exiting the bus, we are introduced to our


our official River Ventures documentarian.

tour team of John Baltzell and Crystal Diodati.

After about 15 minutes, the sun rises far enough

Captain Baltzell, otherwise know as ‘Johnny B’ by

above the horizon to illuminate the beautiful, clear

the regulars, has been an expert eco-tour captain

spring water of the bay. We’re able to see the sandy

for 19 years. Before we pull away from the dock in

bottom 11 feet below the boat, rich with patches of

our pontoon boat, he goes over the safety features

sea grass, algae, and the occasional snook swimming

of the vessel, the equipment we’ll be using, and

by. Then, Crystal spots our first manatee ahead

what we should expect to see while snorkeling.

of the boat. As John slows the engine and steers

As we began our easy tour of Kings Bay, Captain

around the manatee, we are finally able to see

VERVE Spring 2019




VERVE Spring 2019

just how big they are. At 10-13 feet in length and weighing up to 1,300 pounds, adult manatees are surprisingly large up close. John informs us that we’re nearly to our snorkeling location and asks us to prepare our masks to make sure they seal around our faces and prepare any camera equipment we plan to use in the water. Once the boat comes to a stop and we drop anchor, Crystal gets in the water to assist the group as we slip into the water one-by-one from the latter at the back of the boat with a foam noodle under our waist to keep us on top of the water. John and Crystal assist everyone to ensure masks are secure and all are comfortable in the water before we begin our search. Then, Crystal demonstrates the proper way to swim, using a dog paddle motion with our hands and not using our feet. Floating silently on the surface of the crystal clear lagoon, mask submerged, we begin scanning

DID YOU KNOW?  Manatees are related to

elephants, not dolphins or whales.

for signs of manatee activity. After a couple of

 A manatee can eat a tenth of its

snook swim by, a small group of adults and calves

own weight in just 24 hours.

begin to come into focus in the distance. They are dining on a patch of sea grass in between trips to the surface for a breath of air every few minutes. A couple of young adults separate from their group and begin performing somersaults as they gently nudge a couple of swimmers from our tour. They are large animals with tiny, dark eyes, flippers, a circular tail, and a large bulbous snout covered with whiskers that conceals their molars. The manatee’s gray skin is covered in a thin layer of algae that is shed seasonally as they move between fresh spring water and the salty coastal waters they inhabit in the summer. They are very graceful swimmers, and while they usually move slowly through the water, manatees are actually capable of powerful bursts of speed using their large tails. The calves stay right beside their mothers as they move between the surface and the lagoon’s bottom.

 Manatees are considered slow

swimmers, but they can swim 15 miles per hour in short bursts.  Manatees can live up to

40 years in the wild.  There are two other species

of manatee which inhabit the Amazon River and the west coast of Africa.  A West Indian manatee can

weigh more than 1,200 pounds.  Florida manatees congregate

at power plant discharge pipes, where the water is warm.  Manatees are thought to have

evolved from four-legged land mammals more than 60 million years ago.



WHAT MAKES CRYSTAL RIVER SPECIAL The king of all the natural warm-water shelters in Florida is Crystal River’s Kings Bay. In terms of springs, it is a marvel—at least 70 springs with many more seeps and boils providing a near-constant flow of 225 million gallons of water a day at a temperature that constantly pulsates between 72 and 74 degrees. For manatees, that’s critical since, despite their apparent heft, they have surprisingly little fat to keep them warm. When surrounding coastal water temperatures dip below 68 degrees, manatees are vulnerable to cold stress. When water temperatures drop even further—as they do in the winter—the risk is hypothermia. The springs in the Crystal River area provide what scientists call a “thermal refuge,” warm pockets where manatees can survive. “This is the most critical place for the future of manatees in Florida,” says Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director of the Save the Manatee Club. “It’s absolutlely essential.”

The opportunity to swim with these gentle giants proved to be a one-of-a-kind experience we’ll never forget. The relaxing experience was the perfect lead into the more demanding vacation experience of the Orlando theme parks. I highly recommend taking the extra day to check out Crystal River during your next Florida trip. River Ventures also offers scalloping tours where you can hunt for your own scallops in addition to paddle board and air boat tours.

For more information on Crystal River and River Ventures, go to


VERVE Spring 2019



Healthy Aging and Cognitive Evaluation Study The MIND Center is currently screening older adults to participate in a healthy aging study. The ACHIEVE trial is a research study investigating two different programs that may promote healthy aging and cognitive health in older adults with hearing loss between the ages of 70-84. Study participants will be randomly selected to receive either a healthy aging or hearing program.

For more information: Call: Tamikia Washington at 601.984.6654 Email: or Visit: ACHIEVE Principal Investigator: Thomas H. Mosley, PhD MIND Center, University of Mississippi Medical Center

mind_achieve_VERVE_6.9375x4.75.indd 1

2/15/19 1:41 PM

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VERVE Spring 2019



photography by RICH WINTER & courtesy of CULTIVATION FOOD HALL


fter a career in the food industry that

margins are razor thin. But the food hall concept

spanned from working in restaurants

is changing that. It’s the old street food thing,

to owning restaurants to having a

where the middle man is eliminated. It’s all about

food truck, Chef Micah Martello went

the food and I really love the sense of community.”

a different route in 2015 when he opened a stall

Food halls have been an emerging trend for a

in the St. Roch Food Hall in New Orleans. “I took

few years now, and the appeal to vendors is that

a chance on it to see how it would work out, and

they don’t have to invest in a brick-and-mortar

I was really impressed.”

location in order to have a restaurant. Food

A native of New Orleans, Martello moved back

halls have been around for years, especially in

to New Orleans in 2014 after spending several

Europe, but the concept is becoming increasingly

years in North Carolina. He ran his food truck

popular in the United States as consumers

in New Orleans for about a year before being

demand healthier and better-tasting “quick

contacted by the developers of St. Roch. “I thought

casual” food options in entertaining environments.

it was a fantastic opportunity. I like the whole

Pamela Flora, director of research for Cushman

food hall concept. It enables

& Wakefield, says the number

tenants to split expenses and

of food halls operating in the

allows people to produce the

United States is expected to

kind of food they really want to ser ve. I feel like there’s been a fundamental shift in the food industry in the time I’ve been involved in it. There are economic factors and labor factors. I’ve been doing this my whole life, and the cost of running a restaurant has been continually going up to where

I like the whole food hall concept. It enables tenants to split expenses and allows people to produce the kind of food they really want to serve.

exceed 200 in 2019, about double the number that were open in late 2016. Food halls are an extension of the old ma l l food cour t concept with several vendors and a common dining area. But food halls take that concept to a new level, with more upscale offerings, often with locally-



sourced ingredients. The food is innovative and interesting and appeals to a wide array of tastes. A group of friends can go to the food hall together, and each person can enjoy something completely different to eat. Food halls are often re-purposed buildings, or new construction, like the Cultivation Food Hall now open at The District development in Jackson. “We think it’s one of the coolest places in Jackson to hang,” said Patrik Lazzari, director of operations for Cultivation. The space has an open, airy feel, as designed by Jackson-based Mary Saunders Ferris of the Ferris & Company Design Studio, a veteran in the world of luxury hospitality. “Mary deserves many props. She’s great,” said Breck Hines, who, along with Ted Duckworth, are principals of The District Land Company, LLC, who is responsible for the development of The District, including Cultivation Food Hall. Lazarri also has a presence in Cultivation with his wife, Christina. The couple owns la Brioche Patisserie in the Fondren Corner Building. In Cultivation,


VERVE Spring 2019

they’ve opened two food concepts—Bocca, a classic Neopolitan pizzeria, and Whisk, a crêperie that creates authentic French crêpes in a variety of savory and sweet combinations. “We may expand to other things, and we’ll certainly have some sweets from la Brioche.” Should you need coffee to go with your sweet treats, Taylor Triplett and his wife, Ana Lampton, have you covered with il Lupo Coffee. “We have frequented food halls around the Southeast, and we always thought it was a cool concept and a great addition to any city’s landscape,” Triplett said. “When we heard about Cultivation Food Hall, we saw an opportunity to get involved in our local economy. We are both from Jackson, and while the coffee business is new for us, we have the passion and the capital. Tyler Emerson, who has experience in the business, has the passion and the

When we heard about Cultivation Food Hall, we saw an opportunity to get involved in our local economy. We are both from Jackson, and while the coffee business is new for us, we have the passion and the capital. One of the great things about a food hall concept is that it allows people like us to take a leap without a lot of risk.

expertise. One of the great things about a food hall concept is that it allows people like us to take a leap without a lot of risk.” Il Lupo is Italian for wolf. There is a saying in Italian, ‘in bocca a la lupo’ which translates




VERVE Spring 2019

first food hall in Mississippi was opening, Phoung Le knew she wanted to open her own place, Poke’ Stop. “The cost is high to start anything nowadays, but the food hall has made it easier and more affordable for new business owners like myself.” Phoung Le explained that Poke’ is like a deconstructed sushi roll. “It’s a Hawaiian dish with a Japanese flair. Poke’ is fresh, healthy and innovative – the next generation of sushi!” Her dishes use only sushi grade fish, locally-sourced produce and hydroponic greens. Martello has done so well with his business at St. Roch Food Hall in New Orleans that he has opened Fete au Fete in the Pythian Market in the Central Business District of New Orleans and in the White Star Market in Baton Rouge. “It’s the same business, but all are unique in their own right, because each food hall is different.” Martello will open his fourth location of Fete au Fete in Cultivation Food Hall as well as a new concept, Local Honey. “Fete au Fete is basically upscale southern comfort food with a Louisiana twist. Kind of Cajun-Creole comfort food. Local Honey is lighter, cleaner, sustainably-farmed foods that are trending to ‘into the mouth of the wolf’ which they say instead

now. We have salads, bowls, smoothies, chia puddings,

of good luck. When an Italian orders a coffee in the

and we also cater to people with food preferences, like

morning, they are met with that phrase, which pretty

those who eat keto or Paleo diets. Local Honey is kind

much means have a good day. Putting a Mississippi

of the ying to Fete au Fete’s yang.”

spin on the name, Triplett says it is also an homage

In May 2018, Alivia Ashburn-Townsend traveled

to bluesman Howlin’ Wolf. They’ll serve a variety of

to New York, where she fell in love with the deli

coffee drinks and non-coffee drinks, including a variety

experience. A 15-year veteran of the Jackson food

of loose teas and beverages for children.

scene, Ashburn-Townsend wanted to honor the

Rachel Phoung Le is a newcomer to the food

cuisine’s Jewish roots by providing authentic deli

business. Although her mother ran a successful pho

classics like potato latkes, NY lox, pastrami on

business in her native Vietnam, Phoung says she didn’t

rye, and matzo ball soup alongside sandwiches

learn to cook until she came to the United States. She

featuring Italian toppings like prosciutto, roasted

began photographing food in restaurants, and tried

red peppers, pesto, parmesan and other options.

recreating the dishes at home. Her food photographs

Ashburn-Townsend says a New York deli is what

became very popular. She moved from California to

the local food community needs, especially in the

Jackson to be closer to her sister, and she started a

absence of businesses such as Old-Tyme Deli, which

few food pages on Facebook. When she heard that the

closed in 2000. She knows her concept, Ariella’s



NY Delicatessen, will fill the long-time void in Jackson’s otherwise rich culinary scene.


Chef Williams’s concept, Fauna Foodworks, offers bohemian-chic cuisine inspired by her culinary travel

Chef Enrika Williams adores food. Since she

experiences from Italy to Mississippi, and it offers a

was a small child growing up in West Point,

diverse menu filled with international street-style

she’s been intrigued by PBS cooking shows, her

cuisine. Cultivation Food Hall also includes Gold

grandfather’s gardening and her grandmother’s

Coast Bar. Managed by Johnathan Shull, the cocktail

uncanny and unfailing knack for entertaining in

menu channels the spirit of the prohibition era

the truest traditions of “southern lady” charm. To

into a menu of both classic and original cocktails

fuel the fascination and power her imagination,

named for notorious clubs that were once located

Enrika attended the Art Institute of Atlanta

along the “Gold Coast” of Mississippi’s Pearl River.

and graduated in 2004. Since then, she’s honed

A well-curated menu of wines, local beers and a

her craft and worked under masterful chefs

daily happy hour are also available.

including Emeril Lagasse, Mel Toledo, Vincent

“We also offer a stylishly designed and dedicated

Hernandez and Richard Blais. The opportunities

event space we call ‘The Living Room,’” said

to learn from some of the best chefs in America

Lazzari. “It is a great place for a variety of events

have allowed her to work in some of the best

including meetings, corporate events, birthdays

restaurants in the nation. She was even hand-

and even weddings. People will be able to rent just

selected by celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, to

the “The Living Room” space or the entire food

turn around the struggling kitchen at Hotel

hall.” Cultivation Food Hall will be announcing

Chester in Starkville, Mississippi, for an episode

vendor food specials and other events soon, so

of Hotel Hell on Fox.

check the website for updates.

VERVE Spring 2019



A R I E L L A’ S N Y D E L I C A T E S S E N AN AUTHENTIC NE W YORK-ST YLE DELI Ariella’s NY Delicatessen is the only New York-style deli in the state of Mississippi. Ariella’s is committed to using only the highest quality products while maintaining the authentic deli cuisine and experience you might expect in the Big Apple. The menu includes traditional deli items such as pastrami, corn beef, matzo ball soup and cheesecake, paired with other dishes that reflect Chef Alivia Townsend’s own culinary influences and ideas.






BOCCA PIZZERI A A CL ASSIC NEOPOLITAN PIZ ZERIA Simple, classic and delicious, Bocca Pizzeria brings the tradition of classic pizza “Napoletana” to the heart of the capital city. Bocca owners Cristina and Patrik Lazzari, together with local chef, Austin Lee, embrace the custom of using the simple, yet essential elements of southern Italian cuisine—flour, mozzarella, olive oil and tomatoes—to create traditional Neopolitan pizza.






FA U N A F O O D W O R K S A PREMIER FOOD L AB PRODUCING BOHEMIAN- CHIC CUISINE Fauna: work describing or listing the animal life of a region. Fauna foodworks is a premier food lab producing thoughtful bohemian-chic cuisine inspired by Chef Enrika Williams’s love of delicious and diverse international street-style cuisine.





 601.287.1276

F ET E AU F ET E ST R E AT ERY UPSCALE SOUTHERN FOOD WITH A LOUISIANA T WIST Fête au Fête StrEATery is the brainchild of chef and long-time food truck advocate Chef Micah Martello. The concept focuses on upscale Southern comfort food with a Louisiana twist. Think hot muffulettas, the original crawfish poutine or shrimp and grits with housemade fresh sausage, poached eggs or “trash grits” on the side.








GOL D COA ST A CL ASSIC, CR AF T C OCK TAIL BAR Drawing inspiration from the hidden decadence of prohibition nightlife on what was formerly known as the “Gold Coast of Mississippi,” Gold Coast Bar celebrates what made this hidden hot spot along the Pearl River legendary. Gold Coast Bar channels this spirit into a menu of both classic and original cocktails named for notorious Gold Coast Clubs. A well-curated menu of wines, local beers and a daily happy hour are also available.



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I L LU PO COF F EE SPECIALT Y C OFFEE, HANDCR AF TED BE VER AGES AND LOOSE LE AF TE AS il Lupo brings a fresh and relatable approach to specialty coffee to the Jackson area. With North Carolina’s Counter Culture Coffee as its roaster, il Lupo serves espresso and milkbased drinks, along with a seasonally rotating selection of drip and pour-over coffees, handcrafted beverages and loose leaf teas.




LOCA L HON EY HE ALTHY FOOD REDEFINED Local Honey is a new concept by Chef Micah Martello that he calls, “healthy food redefined.” Expect healthy and delicious food that appeals to all lifestyle and nutrition plans including a new take on salads, steel cut oats or quinoa bowls, smoothies and the millennial favorite, avocado toast.







A first for the Jackson-metro area, Poké Stop represents the next generation of sushi. Fresh, healthy and innovative, Poké is a deconstructed sushi roll in a bowl—a Hawaiian dish with Japanese flair. Offering vegetarian, low carb, low-fat and gluten-friendly options, Poké Stop is worth stopping for.







The team behind Jackson’s favorite French bakery, La Brioche, introduces “Whisk” - a crêperie that creates authentic French crêpes in a variety of savory and sweet combinations. Whisk serves crêpes for breakfast, lunch and dinner made with traditional wheat flour as well as the nutty-flavored and gluten-free buckwheat flour – galettes - as originally used in the crêpes’ birthplace of Bretagne, France. Some of the most popular desserts from La Brioche will also be available at Whisk.







Welcome to Cultivation Food Hall, a first of its kind in Mississippi, showcasing a carefully curated collection of boutique restaurant concepts, specialty coffees and classic, craft cocktails. Open daily, the food hall features the best culinary talent with an emphasis on a variety of local, chef-inspired concepts. Cultivation Food Hall offers a variety of great food, all under one roof. Monday-Thursday: 7am-10pm, Friday-Saturday: 7am-11pm, Sunday: 8am-9pm









VERVE Spring 2019




ealth experts have pronounced sitting as one

such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr,

of the worst things we can do for our health.

Snapchat and Reddit, have shown a direct link between

Just as concerning is the thing many of us

use of social media and reduced levels of happiness and

mindlessly do while we’re sitting: checking

contentment. The authors suggest this may have to do

social media apps when we have a few minutes (or a few

with the fact that social media conjures up a perception

hours). And as we probably know intuitively and research

of social isolation. The more time people spend on these

is now confirming, it’s not the best habit for our brain

apps, the more socially isolated they perceive themselves

health and our overall well-being.

to be. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst

The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned about

things for us mentally and physically.

the negative effects of social media in young kids and teens, including cyber-bullying, “Facebook depression”


and Facebook envy. But the same risks may be true for

Part of the reason social media makes people feel

adults. Here’s a quick overview of studies that reveal the

socially isolated (whether they actually are or not) is the

negative health consequences of social media and what

comparison factor. We fall into the trap of comparing

you can do to better manage it in your home.

ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds and

According to a 2018 report published by Blue Cross

make rash judgments about how we measure up. One study

Blue Shield, depression and anxiety diagnoses among

looked at how we make comparisons to others’ posts, in

adolescents aged 12 to 17 have increased 63% since

superior or inferior directions—that is, feeling that we’re

2013. While social media cannot be blamed entirely for

either better or worse than someone else. It turns out

this increase, certain factors related to social media use,

both types of comparisons make people feel worse. This

such as social connection and isolation, increased use of

is surprising, since in real life, only inferior comparisons

electronics, and impaired sleep are all risk factors that

(feeling another person has it better than you) make us

can lead to depression and anxiety.

feel bad. But in the social media world, it seems that any

Several recent studies indicate that the more we use

kind of comparison is linked to depressive symptoms.

social media, the less happy we seem to be. Heavy social media use (more than three hours per day) for all age groups


is related to diminished life satisfaction, internalizing

It’s no secret that it’s a short path from comparison

negative experiences, and increased rates of depression,

to jealousy. Studies have shown that social media use

anxiety, attention disorders, and stress. Studies of Facebook

can trigger feelings of jealousy. The authors of one study

users and those who use other social media platforms

examining jealousy and other negative feelings while



using Facebook wrote that, “The magnitude of envy


incidents taking place on FB alone is astounding, providing

A few years ago, a study found that more friends on social

evidence that FB offers a breeding ground for invidious

media doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better social

feelings.” Researchers add that it can become a vicious

life. There is a “cognitive constraint”: our brains really can’t

cycle: feeling jealous and inferior can make a person want

process hundreds of close friendships. Anything above

to make his own life look better, increasing the desire to

ten or so is just an acquaintance, if that. It takes actual

post jealousy-inducing posts, continuing in an endless

social interaction (think face-to-face, not virtual) to keep

cycle of feeling inferior and jealous but never reaching a

up friendships. Feeling like you’re being social by being

point of satisfaction. Basing self-worth or happiness on

on Facebook doesn’t really count in terms of neurobiology.

the actions of others increases feelings of helplessness and

Girls seem particularly vulnerable to the negative effects

hopelessness, both of which are precursors to depression.

of social media. In a recent study published in the Lancet, girls who spent 3-5 hours a day on social media showed



higher rates of depressive symptoms. For both girls and

Social media has become America’s favorite pastime.

boys, more time spent on social media was associated with

We keep coming back to it even though it doesn’t make

poor sleep, poor body image, and poorer mental health.

us feel very good. We feel a compulsion to know what’s

Researchers state social media reinforces unrealistic

happening at all times, and we convince ourselves we’re

beauty standards and provides an endless array of images

staying connected with our family and friends. We have

to which girls, in particular, compare themselves.

opinions that are important to share. Almost like a drug,

What’s most disconcerting is the youth of today have

we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us

done most of their social and emotional development on

feel worse. One study looked at how people predicted they

the Internet, social media, and through texting. This

would feel after using Facebook and how they actually felt.

is the new normal. They have not engaged in the same

Like other studies have demonstrated, the majority of study

amount of real human engagement and socialization that

participants felt worse after using Facebook compared

previous generations have. Add this deficit of genuine

to people engaging in other activities. People generally

human interaction to the lack of capacity for self-regulation

believed they would feel better after using it, not worse.

(these skills don’t develop until later), and you have the

This pattern of feelings is similar to those of addiction.

recipe for disaster.

VERVE Spring 2019

It’s important to define what healthy, human social connection actually is. All humans need social connection.


Infants thrive through physical touch and connection and actually fail to thrive without it. At the other end of


the life cycle, close relationships and daily face-to-face

Instead of using your phone to wake up in the

interactions are just as important as diet and exercise

morning, switch to a simple alarm clock to avoid

when it comes to living a long, healthy life. So, it’s no

being pulled into social media as soon as you wake up.

surprise that adolescents need regular human connection to develop both social relationships and lasting, intimate bonds with family, friends, and peers. These connections lead to better interpersonal awareness which enable


Set social media-free time slots during your day to give your mind a break.

adolescents to understand the needs of others and respond to nonverbal communication (facial expressions, posture,


eye contact, etc.), which makes up the bulk of human

conversations with your friends. Make a standing

communication. Liking a post, commenting “cute,” or

date with your closest friends every couple of weeks.

keeping up with a “Snapchat streak” don’t qualify as genuine social connection. Virtual friend time doesn’t offer the therapeutic effect real friends do.

Dedicate time to have face-to-face interactions and


Can’t visit face-to-face? Call your friends. Research

Yet, ma ny teens a nd adu lts substitute rea l li fe

shows people seem to feel best when their

interactions with social media posts, and we’re all

relationships happen face-to-face or over the phone

paying the price.

as opposed to just through social media

All of this is not to say that there’s no benefit to social media. Obviously, it keeps us connected across great distances and helps us find people we’d lost touch with


Set a household rule of shutting down devices an hour before bedtime. Better yet, avoid bringing

years ago. But getting on social media when you have

your device into the bedroom at all. Social media

time to kill, or, worse, when you need an emotional lift,

and the light from devices stimulate the brain and

is very likely a bad idea. Studies have found that taking

make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.

a break from Facebook helps boost psychological wellbeing. If you’re feeling brave, try taking a little break,


and see how it goes. And if you’re going to keep “using,”

then at least try to use it in moderation.

Take note of how you feel before and after using social media and adjust what you spend your time doing.

ATTENTION SPAN It’s not just your subconscious brain that you need to worry about, but also the extent to which your brain is able to fully concentrate when you’re awake. W hile it’s incredible to consider the amount of information readily available at our fingertips thanks to social media, it also means that people have become far more easily distracted. Social media has provided a means of constantly giving into the temptation of instant, easy-access entertainment.



Percent of social media users who say they:

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IN TEENS Teens with low socialemotional well-being experience more of the negative effects of social media than kids with high social-emotional well-being.

Sometimes feel left out or excluded when using social media

Have deleted social media posts because they got too few “likes”





Feel bad about themselves if no one comments on or likes their posts

Have ever been cyberbullied






TEENS ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE According to a recent report from the Pew Research


Center, 95% of teens use a smartphone, and 45% say they are online almost constantly. About 70% of teens are on


Snapchat and Instagram, while 85% are on Youtube.

Make an effort to build new relationships and actively maintain your connection with your friends

One would think all this near constant “socializing”

and family outside social media.

would make teens feel more connected than ever before, but research is showing the opposite is true. “Interaction on social media is not beneficial. It’s electronic,” explains Jacob Barkley, professor of health sciences at Kent State


Exercise regularly so that you can ward off anxiety and depression. It is necessary for teenagers to make

University, who has been studying smartphone use and

time for consistent physical activity to relieve stress.

students since 2013. “The higher the cellphone use, the more time spent on social media, and the higher the


anxiety. Peer relationships actually get worse the more

to recognize things you are grateful for each day.

you use your phone.”

Research has shown that this practice can significantly

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State

enhance one’s mental health and well-being.

University, reached similar conclusions in 2017. In her study, Twenge discovered that students who spend more time using smartphones and other electronic devices are

Be aware of your thoughts and feelings, and try


less satisfied with their lives than students who frequently

Continued development of creative skills enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction.

engage in face-to-face interaction. “We found that teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely than those who spent less than an hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor (depression, thinking about suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide). Overall, suicide risk factors rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online,” Twenge wrote in 2017.


VERVE Spring 2019


Giving your time and energy will enhance your sense of purpose and help you develop empathy.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, A Mutual Insurance Company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ÂŽ Registered Marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an Association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. VERVESOUTH.COM 39


VERVE Spring 2019





riginally named Charles Town by

Regularly rated among America’s best locations

early English colonists in honor of

by travel magazines and websites, Charleston

King Charles II, the South Carolina

was named the “No. 1 Small City in the U.S.” by

port city of Charleston was founded

Condè Nast Traveler, the “No. 1 City in the U.S.”

in 1670. “The Holy City,” as it has come to be

by Travel + Leisure, and the “South’s Best City”

known, was given the moniker for its hundreds

by Southern Living in 2018.

of places of worship that grew out of the city’s

Historic Charleston is defined by its cobblestone

early philosophy that growth and prosperity

streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel antebellum

would come from religious tolerance. Today,

houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter

Charleston’s picturesque skyline is dotted with

and Battery districts. The Battery promenade

church steeples and spires representing over 400

and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston

places of worship for different denominations.

Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold



where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water.


SHOPPING AT CITY MARKET Once you’ve completed your carriage tour, it’s time

It would be easy to spend a long week exploring all

to start your shopping excursion at City Market in

the preserved history of Charleston. Its antebellum

downtown Charleston. One of the nation’s oldest

and Georgian style architecture, storied history, and

public markets and the cultural heart of Charleston,

sumptuous food scene have earned the city a reputation

it is home to more than 300 vendors, and it’s Day

as the quintessential Southern city. There’s plenty to see

Market is open daily from 9:30am - 6:00pm except

and do in this gorgeous city, including visitor favorites like

December 25th. The evening Night Market is an

the South Carolina Aquarium, the beaches of Sullivan’s

exciting showcase of more than 100 talented artists

Island, or the long list of historic sites, but Charleston also

and cra ftspeople that occurs ever y Friday and

offers visitors incredible shopping and adventurous cuisine.

Saturday evening from April - December. It runs

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best

from 6:30pm - 10:30pm and is a free event that

shopping and dining spots to check out in Charleston

offers live entertainment and a festive atmosphere

during your visit.

in a three-block-long open-air market.

Get started with a pleasant carriage ride to get your

All Night Market vendors are 100% local with

bearings and make the most of your time. Palmetto

100% locally-made items for sale. It’s the perfect

Carriage Rides offers hour-long guided tours throughout

spot to grab that uniquely Charleston souvenir or

the city center.

piece of artwork.

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VERVE Spring 2019

SHOPPING KING STREET Next stop, King Street, where there are more than three dozen antique malls alone. King Street is regularly

enthusiastic singer on the piano, hearty steaks, jumbo shrimp cocktails, ladies in their best dresses, men in suits patting each other on the back, and plenty of martinis.

listed among the best shopping streets in America and

Those who are really into seasonal produce should stop

hosts the city’s trendiest restaurants and sophisticated

by The Grocery, as chef Kevin Johnson is usually one of

cocktail scenes along with hotels, art galleries, flourishing

the first in town to put local farm fresh products on the

businesses, and a lively nightlife - not to mention some

menu like butternut squash in the fall or English peas in

seriously exceptional shopping. The area is lined with

the spring. The expansive Cannon Street space, full of

luxury brands, designer boutiques and stylish jewelry

lots of wood and jars of pickled produce, is a great stop for

storefronts that stretch over sixteen blocks divided into

friends to share as many plates as the table can handle.

three distinct shopping districts: Lower King Street

The whole roasted fish with potatoes, fennel and green

Antiques District, Middle King Street Fashion District,

olives is a Instagram-worthy crowd pleaser.

and Upper King Street Design and Dining District.

Combine fancy champagne, cheap beer, fried chicken,

Lower King Street, the oldest of the three neighborhoods,

and a casual raw bar — all housed in a retrofitted auto

is home to George C. Birlant & Co., one of the largest

body shop — and you get Leon’s Oyster Shop. The

and oldest antique establishments in the southeast. The

menu has plenty of salads for the lunch crowd and soft

eponymous founder, George Birlant, is one of the most

serve for the kids. The owners put a lot of thought into

highly respected antiques dealers in the nation.

every detail, so go marvel at the wondrous interiors

One of the most fantastic places in Charleston is the century-old Croghan’s Jewel Box, found in the

full of quirky folk art and thrift store finds in between char-grilled oysters.

Middle King District. The store boasts a large collection

Those looking to make an impression should reserve

of estate and antique jewelry, beautiful antique silver

a table at the Charleston Grill. Located in the lovely

and unusual gifts. It also carries a large selection of

Belmond Charleston Place on Lower King, the Grill

eccentric vintage jewelry pieces that have become

is home to one of the most elegant fine dining menus

difficult to find.

in Charleston. The opulent dining room and sublime service turns any visit into a special occasion. The rich


and meaty crab cakes are always a hit, but don’t fail to

After a few hours of shopping, it’s time to enjoy a tasty

check out the more internationally influenced dishes like

cocktail and some of Charleston’s best food. Bustling

the scallops with chili-chorizo vinaigrette or Norwegian

Upper King Street in the Design and Dining District

ocean trout with caponata, blood orange, and freekeh.

houses some of the best home furnishing shopping and interior design decor in the country. It also showcases


some of Charleston’s best restaurants and hosts a variety

Don’t forget there are tons of other activities in

of events year-round. Upper King Street reflects a citywide

Charleston. Once you’ve finished shopping and dining,

trend of a growing and thriving food and beverage

you can explore more historic attractions near King

industry with its energetic nightlife and the city’s finest

Street, go dancing at The Commodore jazz club,

new restaurants.

check out the USS Yorktown and Patriots Point, tour

If you’re looking for an old school night on the town, Hall’s Chophouse is sure to deliver. There’s usually an

Fort Sumter, or sip some tea at the Charleston Tea Plantation. The choice is yours.




VERVE Spring 2019


resh off the Fall 2018 High Point Market, style bloggers and trend spotters are a buzz with the all the exciting changes coming in furniture and interior design this year. Some of the new trends that have emerged aren’t really new at all but are a resurgence of bold

design elements from the 50s, 60s and 80s. Glamorous geometric designs are extremely hot right now and artisanally-made furniture and accessories are continuing their popularity from 2018. Circular designs in tables and lighting are also on the rise and Living Coral was named the color of the year. Take a look at the other trends that will rule 2019 in our style roundup.



Totally 80s Miami-inspired pastel textiles, bright fashion art prints, a resurgence of Memphis-style furniture, reflective metals, light wood finishes, and rich velvets harken back to mid 80s Miami Beach.


Futuristic Fling A renaissance of designs once inspired by the space race in the 1960s, this style is infused with iridescent surface colors, futuristic starburst-shaped lighting fixtures, and fluid color fields.



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Handcrafted Bliss A timeless style in which the visual signs of hand joinery, hand stitching, oil-rubbed finishes, and organic materials like glass, leather, wood, and ceramics are presented in earthy color palettes.


Global Influence A confluence of cultural designs from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the American Southwest, this style celebrates the native patterns and colors found in the markets of far-away countries.




Geometric Glamor Warm metals, marble finishes, sharp lines, structural angles, repeating shapes, and refined sophistication define a style that looks as comfortable in an art studio as it does in a living room.


Modern Minimalism Simplified designs, soft lines, crisp and uncomplicated upholstered surfaces, and attention to craftsmanship make this style as timeless as the mid-century modern pieces that inspire it.



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Naturally Infused Natural wood, stone finishes, bare metal, nature photography, unpainted tactile surfaces, and unbleached fabrics bring the warmth and texture of the natural world inside.


Curvaceous Corners Circular shaped cushions, lots of fabric upholstery, and a return to the bygone era of Art Deco-inspired designs have been reborn in curvaceous furnishings, art, lighting, and home accessories.




Geometric Glamor Bold geometric patterns in upholstery, rugs, pillows, and paint schemes accented with electric pops of color and an embrace of mismatched styles in room compositions bring a fun mix to interiors.



One of our talented Mississippi Artists... License Plate Guitars! 961 Madison Avenue Madison, Mississippi 769.300.8040


VERVE Spring 2019

Feel The Earth Move Monday, Mar. 18 -“Feel the Earth Move” A Carol King Tribute Cabaret Series @ Duling Hall • Jackson, MS • 7:30 pm

May 9, 2019 6:30 pm Reservoir Pointe • Ridgeland, MS

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Register today at Thalia Mara Hall • Jackson, MS • 7:30 pm Tickets at ©2019 UMMC

bb5k_VERVE_3.375x9.6875.indd 1

2/15/19 2:51 PM



Above: Introduced in 1955, Kermit the Frog is a Muppet character and Jim Henson’s most well-known creation. Opposite from left: “Pitchman Pump” puppets, built for a Marathon Gasoline commercial in 1963. Count von Count, teaches counting skills to children, and first appeared on Sesame Street in 1972. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to try their hand at puppeteering like Jim Henson.


VERVE Spring 2019





he current exhibition at The MAX in Meridian is a must see for families and fans of Jim Henson and his popular characters. The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination

Unlimited, explores the life of Mississippi-native Jim Henson and the impact his creative genius has had on popular culture and the art of puppetry. The traveling exhibition runs through May 4, 2019, and feature’s Henson’s iconic Muppets and other puppets from familiar productions like Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark

Crystal and much more. Visitors of all ages can experience Henson’s creations and see how his early work in film and television evolved into the magical worlds that have become so familiar to audiences worldwide.

This is yet another amazing story of a native Mississippian who left his mark on the world, and this exhibit allows visitors to retrace Henson’s life from his early years in Leland, Mississippi, to his establishment in New York’s advertising and entertainment worlds, to the film sets of major motion pictures.



The exhibition also provides behind-the-scenes

Imagination Unlimited begins with a brief look at

materials that reveal how Henson and his crew of

Henson’s early life through images of Henson as a young

puppeteers, writers, and designers created an iconic

man and reproductions of some of his early drawings

family of puppets and characters that continue to

and sketches, and then follows his steady rise and

entertain both children and adults.

immense contributions to the art and industry of the

“Jim Henson was a creator and entertainer with

moving image. Highlights include a Kermit the Frog

a unique vision, and he had a tremendous influence

puppet from 1978; handwritten scripts from Henson’s

on our culture by giving us these magical characters

first television series, Sam and Friends (1955-1961); a

and worlds that many of us grew up with,” said Mark

clip from his Academy Award–nominated experimental

Tullos, Executive Director of The MAX. “This is yet

film Time Piece (1965); Jen and Kira puppets from The

another amazing story of a native Mississippian who

Dark Crystal (1982); familiar Sesame Street puppets

left his mark on the world, and this exhibit allows

including Grover, Ernie, Bert, and Count von Count;

visitors to retrace Henson’s life from his early years in

plus costumes from Labyrinth (1986).

Leland, Mississippi, to his establishment in New York’s advertising and entertainment worlds, to the film sets of major motion pictures.”


THE EARLY YEARS Jim Henson was born on September 24, 1936, in

The exhibition features a broad range of artifacts related

Greenville, Mississippi and lived in Leland, Mississippi

to Henson’s unparalleled career, including more than 20

until his fifth grade year when he and his family moved

original puppets, character sketches, storyboards, scripts,

to University Park, Maryland. At a young age, Henson

photographs, film and television clips, behind-the-scenes

was drawn to the arts. His maternal grandmother,

footage, iconic costumes, and interactive experiences

a painter, quilter and needleworker, encouraged his

that allow visitors to try their hand at puppeteering on

creative passions, including his puppetry. Well before

camera and designing a puppet character.

his teen years, Henson was performing puppetry for

VERVE Spring 2019

audiences, including his fellow Cub Scouts. His youth was also spent toying with different visual mediums, including television, which he adored. “His first love was in television and partially, I think, growing up in Mississippi,” said Cheryl Henson, his daughter. “The idea of a window to the world was really fascinating to him and the idea that through this little box, you can be exposed to so many different things.” A major influence of his childhood was TV puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, of the show Kukla, Fran and Ollie. HENSON’S TV CAREER Henson had his first experience with televised puppetry

His first love was in television and partially, I think, growing up in Mississippi. The idea of a window to the world was really fascinating to him and the idea that through this little box, you can be exposed to so many different things.

in 1954 when he began working for WTOP-TV, a local Washington, D.C. station, while attending Northwestern High School. Henson created three puppets; Pierre, Longhorn, and Shorthorn, for a Saturday-morning children’s program, The Junior Morning Show. The show was canceled after only three weeks, but WRCTV, a nearby NBC affiliate, recognized Henson’s talent and offered him a job that would last him the rest of the summer. Intent on a career as a commercial artist, Henson used the money he saved over the summer to enroll as



a studio arts major in the University of Maryland while

everywhere he went, he could not escape the allure of

keeping his job at the TV station.

puppetry. Europeans revered the art of puppetry and

During his freshman year in college, Henson was asked

considered it as much of an art form as painting. Henson

by WRC-TV to create a five-minute live-action/puppet

began to reevaluate his views on the art form and he

show, Sam and Friends, with his classmate and eventual

soon returned to America with a new zeal for the field

wife, Jane Nebel. The show was taped daily and aired

and his mind set on changing the way Americans viewed

before The Tonight Show on weeknights from May 9,

puppetry. He believed that television puppets needed to

1955, to December 15, 1961. The characters on Sam and

have “life and sensitivity.”

Friends were forerunners of the Muppets, and the show included a prototype of Henson’s most famous character, Kermit the Frog.

In 1959, Henson and Nebel were married and they started the Muppets Company. The following year, Henson attended the Puppeteers of

The continued success of Sam and Friends allowed

America Festival in Detroit, Michigan where he met his

Henson to begin experimenting with techniques that

childhood hero, Burr Tillstrom, of the Kukla, Fran and

changed the way in which puppetry was used on television,

Ollie show and Don Sahlin, who built Tillstrom’s puppets.

including using the frame defined by the camera to allow

Tillstrom and Sahlin had a profound impact on Henson as

the puppet performer to work from off-camera.

they mentored him in advancing his career and developing

Despite the financial success of Sam and Friends,

the signature Muppet look. Jim and Jane began making

Henson began to have doubts about going into a career

characters from flexible, fabric-covered foam rubber,

performing with puppets. He once said, it’s not “the sort

allowing them to express a wider array of emotions at

of thing a grown man works at for a living.”

a time when many puppets were made of carved wood.

Following college graduation, he left for Europe

Their puppet characters’ popularity continued to

and handed Sam and Friends over to Nebel. Henson

grow, and they were soon making appearances in TV

toured Europe for several months, visiting such places

commercials for Wilkins Coffee and IBM computer. The

as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and England, but

first Muppet to gain national exposure, Rowlf the Dog,

Above from left: Jim and Jane Henson on the set during the filming of a Wilkins Coffee commercial in 1960. The nine-second commercials were so successful that more than 200 were eventually produced. Photo by Del Ankers. ©The Jim Henson Company. Courtesy The Jim Henson Company / MoMI.


VERVE Spring 2019

Above: Jim Henson takes flight in his 1965 Oscar-nominated short film Time Piece. Henson on the set of Time Piece, the short film he directed (and starred in) which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1965. Š The Jim Henson Company. Courtesy The Jim Henson Company / MoMI.



Clockwise from bottom: Jim Henson’s sketch for Oscar the Grouch, 1969. © 2018, Sesame Workshop. Courtesy The Jim Henson Company / MoMI. From left: Richard Hunt, Jim Henson, and Frank Oz performing Ernie and Bert, on the set of Sesame Street, 1970s. © 2018, Sesame Workshop Courtesy Sesame Workshop/MoMI. Jim Henson and his iconic creation Kermit the Frog, in front of a mural by Coulter Watt. Photo by John E. Barrett. Kermit the Frog © Disney/Muppets. © 2018, Sesame Workshop Courtesy Sesame Workshop/MoMI.


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MUPPETS & MOVIES But Henson’s even bigger claim to TV fame came in the 1970s, with the debut of The Muppet Show. Surprisingly, Henson had a challenging time getting the show financed in the United States, but eventually found the support needed with London-based TV producer Lord Lew Grade. In 1975, at Grade’s ATV Studios, Henson and his crew created Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Scooter and the rest of The Muppet Show ensemble. The hit series, with Kermit as the host, premiered in 1976. Soon after, superstar guest hosts came aboard, went from making appearances in Purina commercials to playing a sidekick on The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963. As the Muppets Company continued to grow and demand more resources, Henson attended the National puppetry convention in Carmel, California, to recruit potential “muppeteers.” There, Henson met Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz, both of whom would become indispensable assets to the company. Juhl was a masterful scriptwriter and Oz became Henson’s comedic “muppeteer” partner. Around the same time, Henson began experimenting with short films, including 1965’s Academy Awardnominated Time Piece. Then, in 1969, Henson teamed up with Children’s Television Workshop to produce the now-classic children’s show on PBS, Sesame Street. While at Sesame Street, the Muppets Company created various original characters, including Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Snuffulupagus and Elmo. Between his puppetry and animated shorts, Henson perfected his gift for engaging children and making learning fun on Sesame Street.

including Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Vincent Price and Steve Martin. Henson’s show reached a staggering 235 millions viewers in more than 100 countries, and earned three Emmy Awards. The Muppet Show also led to feature films for Henson, including The Muppet Movie in 1979, and an animated TV spin-off, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, that garnered four consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program. But Henson didn’t limit his TV puppetry to his original Muppets. In the 1980s, he developed the TV series Fraggle Rock, The Jim Henson Hour and The Storyteller. Other major motion pictures followed, too, including 1982’s The Dark Crystal, a groundbreaking film mixing puppetry and animatronics, and 1986’s Labyrinth, which was produced by George Lucas and starred David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Above from left: Jim Henson, David Bowie, and Jennifer Connelly on the set of Labyrinth (1986). Photo by John Brown. © The Jim Henson Company. Courtesy The Jim Henson Company / MoMI.



Henson died tragically in 1990 of streptococcal

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited

pneumonia, which Henson had mistaken for a simple

is a traveling exhibition organized by Museum of the

case of the flu. Having ignored the symptoms for a few

Moving Image (Astoria, New York) in cooperation with

days, Henson was suddenly stricken with the illness

The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio, and

and taken to the hospital where doctors were unable to

Sesame Workshop, and toured worldwide by Flying

overcome the illness with antibiotics.

Fish. The exhibition features puppets and other objects

Henson’s creative contributions to television, film, and

donated to the Museum by the family of Jim Henson, plus

the art of puppetry are immeasurable. He has accumulated

works on loan from The Jim Henson Company archives as

countless honors for his work in the entertainment

well as from private lenders. The traveling exhibition is

industry including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

a version of MoMI’s ongoing The Jim Henson Exhibition,

and induction into the Television Hall of Fame in 1987.

which is on view at its home in New York City.

Jim Henson with puppets from Fraggle Rock. © The Jim Henson Company Courtesy The Jim Henson Company / MoMI.


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