Our web home is intended to reflect the real place and sense of place that the Center holds - in downtown Memphis, TN. To that end, all art on the site is from our region and most of it is for sale in our store and web store . The backgrounds on our web pages are all from little bits and pieces of the Center - come visit us on South Main street and see for yourself!
The SEE , HEAR and TOUCH icons were created for our on-line galleries by three of the many talented artists whose work we love and support here at the Center.
by Lisa Lane
Lisa Lane is a self-taught artist whose work can be whimsically described as poultry in motion. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband, children, bunnies, and, of course, a bunch of chickens. From her studio overlooking the family's chicken coop, Lisa creates technicolor poultry wall hangings from high-quality birch wood. She also creates a variety of ornaments, once again celebrating her trademark chicken art. Each form is personally decorated by Lisa with fragments of gold leaf, marble eyes, bright paints, and salvaged pieces. Each piece is coated with a poly-resin glaze by hand, giving the surface a high gloss shine. Lisa's signature adorns everything she makes and it's all ready for display.
by Lizi Beard
"Humor is important to me. I used it as a survival tool." On her website, the humor in Lizi Beard's work is apparent. She describes her work thusly: "There are several pages of art in here, from fine to funky, artsy to serious. I do original art prints, bowling pins with a special touch, flamingos, Memphis music art, bar stools, lamps and other pieces of furniture as well as original wall murals, tables, chairs, stools and custom work." Lizi is currently working on a project for the Memphis Queen Line of riverboats using faux finishing, decorative painting and creating murals. Her primary mediums are acrylic, oil, pen and ink, and wood construction. Her art is on display at a variety of places around the Memphis/Mid-South area such as the MidTown Artist Market Gallery, Memphis Botanic Garden; Memphis Heritage; Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale MS and, of course, the Center for Southern Folklore. Lizi has also designed the poster for the Cooper Young Festival and was a finalist for the Faber Castel National Drawing Competition.
Gray. Pure and simple the work of the artist simply known as Gray captures the essence of growing up in the South. Gray's paintings rendered in brilliant acrylic house paint reflect his rural upbringing, portraying bucolic scenes of country churches and life on the farm mixed with portraits of musical icons such as John Lee Hooker, Son House, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams (the latter winning Gray a Grammy for boxed set design). His work has been featured in magazines such as the Oxford American and Time, and displayed in galleries as far away as SoHo, NY and as nearby as the Tennessee State Museum and the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville. In 2006 and 2007, the Center for Southern Folklore commissioned Gray to design the art for the posters and tee shirts for our annual Memphis Music & Heritage Festival. Nashville Lifestyles Magazine puts it best, "Gray's work is like finding an old photo of your great grandmother long since lost and forgotten. Once you've found it and reconnected yourself to your own past, you treat it like a treasure to be handed down to the next generation, so that they, too, can know and have a connection to their own past history."
Since 1972, the mission of the Center - to preserve, defend, and protect the music, culture, arts & rhythms of the South - hasn't changed. But the tools we use definitely have. In the early days, we documented southern culture with 16 mm films and interviews recorded on reel-to-reel tapes. Some of the images we collected came from antiquated sources such as glass negatives and painted wood. "Multi-media" meant multiple slide projectors and a soundtrack. We've come a long way since then and it's not over yet! Today we're using high resolution scanning and digitization to preserve our treasures - and this website is the vehicle by which we share them with the world.
This site was designed and created using open source software with the help of Memphis-based web designers Graphics and Motion. It was also created by the tireless efforts and imagination of Elisa Blatteis, Changzhi Yu, the entire staff, interns and many friends of the Center (special thanks to Paige, Matt, Mark, Manny, Kyla, Tameka, Preston, Lauren and all y'all). Thanks also to Nathan Reed who helped us launch our first site in 1997 and to Mike Powers who kept our on line presence going until we were ready to launch this new site.
We invite you to enjoy southernfolklore.com and visit often as we add new exhibits and features. Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions with our Media & Archives Development Director, Elisa Blatteis --
Elisa Blatteis is currently the Media & Archives Development Director at CSF, but her initial involvement with the Center began several years ago shortly after college while she was making her documentary (and coined the phrase) "Elvii" - an exploration of the world of Elvis impersonators. Since then she went on to have a career in film and television in New York where she worked in a range of capacities for companies across a spectrum that included Miramax and The Children's Television Workshop. She also created her own boutique focus group company, JAM, working with directors such as Tim Robbins and Wayne Wang and companies such as Miramax, The Shooting Gallery, Disney and Zoetrope among others. She produced and directed short videos for companies as diverse as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, IBM and FedEx, as well as segments used in CD-ROM's for games and education. Her short films including "Elvii", "Gorilla Girl" and "Line-up" have garnered national and international awards as audience and critical favorites. Before leaving New York she worked at Oxygen Media producing and directing green screen segments for She Commerce. She holds a masters degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film & Television program.
Changzhi Yu is the Photography and Graphics Director at the Center. He has created many of the images used on this site as well as transformed paintings into posters for our Memphis Music & Heritage Festivals since 2005. In October, he was the photographic director for an exhibition of Memphis minister L.O. Taylor's historic photographs from the 1930s to 1950s at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, GA. He also served as curator of Memphis Rhythms, an exhibit from the archives of the Center for Southern Folklore featuring photos of regional musicians from the 1920s to contemporary times at Theatre Memphis in December 2006. Prior to his career in Memphis, he was the Chair of the Graphic Department at Jilin College of Art in the Changchun City of China. Mr. Yu has won numerous awards in China as an academic, a book author and as a photographer & graphic designer. Since moving to the United States, he has also earned a Masters of Fine Art degree at the Memphis College of Art.
Tim Curry is the Center for Southern Folklore's media manager and archive coordinator. He has contributed much to the writing of this website especially the profiles of the many musicians, artists and craftspeople who are featured. He has also been engaged in the digitization of the films and phonograph records produced by Memphis minister Rev. L.O. Taylor from the 1930s to the 1950s described by Michael Taft, Head of the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress, as "the most important multimedia documentation of African-American life in the South compiled by someone within the culture." Mr. Curry is a native Memphian who moved back in 2005 after almost 30 years of living in San Francisco. There he primarily worked for Videowest Productions and was involved in the production of numerous television shows for ABC, USA Network, MTV News and the local PBS affiliate. He was also the associate producer and interviewer for concert videos featuring Dave Brubeck and the performers at the San Francisco Blues Festival.
Jim O'Donnell has shot and/or edited much of the video work on this site. He is a long time supporter of the Center, recording many an event for posterity particularly the annual Memphis Music & Heritage Festival. Jim is an independent Memphis filmmaker. He produced and directed the award-winning documentary "Ray4theNBA," which aired nationally on College Sports Television, as well as, screened at film festivals throughout the country. Other projects include "Plain Man Blues," the story of a Bluesman "Daddy" Mack Orr, "The Party Ain't Stopped Yet," about the closing and re-opening of The Center for Southern Folklore, "75 Years of Pink," the history of The Pink Palace Museum, and the fiction film "Presumed Dead." O'Donnell has also been nominated for a Regional Emmy for his work as a photojournalist. He is a graduate of The University of Memphis, Department of Communication's Graduate Program.