Join us on site at noon on Wednesday, January 12, or watch the livestream for the kickoff of the 2022 season of History Is Lunch with a program about the centennial anniversary of celebrated Mississippi artist Andrew Bucci’s birth by Beth Batton and Margaret Bucci. At the program state senator Briggs Hopson will present a proclamation designating the day as Andrew Bucci Day. An exhibit of Bucci’s early works will be on display in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, and Batton and Bucci will lead a gallery tour of that exhibit following History Is Lunch.
Andrew Bucci was born on January 12, 1922, in Vicksburg. While enrolled at Louisiana State University he would return home for the summers to take watercolor lessons from Jackson artist Marie Hull. Bucci served overseas in World War II and took his first figure-drawing classes at the Académie Julian when stationed near Paris. In 1946 he returned to Mississippi and began painting with oils under Hull’s tutelage. The next year Bucci enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“One assignment at the Art Institute was to paint a familiar landscape in the manner of a Chinese landscape scroll,” said Batton, who has curated the exhibit at the Winter Building. “Bucci chose a view of Vicksburg that included two forts, the National Military Park, and the Mississippi River and Yazoo River junction.”
After completing his bachelor's of fine arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1951, Bucci spent several months in New York City at the Parsons School of Design studying fashion illustration. Bucci’s plans for advanced studies were interrupted by the Korean War when he was deployed to Lockbourne Air Force Base in 1952. “In the sketchbooks from this time Bucci’s figures became more fluid and loose, and he filled the background of paintings in his sketchbooks with slashes of color or with stylized flower patterns,” said Batton. After his release from military duty in Ohio, Bucci earned his master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1954.
In 2021, Andrew Bucci’s family donated a collection of the artist’s materials that includes nearly 100 of Bucci’s sketchbooks from his teenage years through his time in France, Chicago, and New York. The exhibit Emerging Grace: Andrew Bucci’s Early Works is drawn from this collection, with many of the pieces being shown to the public for the first time.
“Andrew Bucci’s lifelong involvement in the Mississippi arts community played a central role in his artistic journey and in his extraordinary creative legacy. It’s a story that is richly documented in the sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and biographical materials that constitute the new Andrew Bucci Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History,” said Margaret Bucci, Andrew Bucci’s niece and executor of his estate. “By donating these treasures to MDAH, Andrew’s estate wishes to honor, preserve, and illuminate his life’s work and help cultivate a deeper understanding of one of Mississippi’s most revered visual artists.”
Beth Batton is a freelance curator and part-time cataloguer for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where she works with artifacts from the Eudora Welty Collection. The Port Gibson native earned her bachelor’s of fine art degree from Sewanee: The University of the South. From 2005 to 2014 Batton was curator of the collection at the Mississippi Museum of Art and from 2014 to 2018 was director of the Oaks House Museum in Jackson.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.
MDAH livestreams videos of the program at noon on Wednesdays on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MDAHOfficial/. The videos are posted on the department’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/MDAHVideo.