By SHERRY LUCAS • Photography by ABE DRAPER
With a combination of colors, textures, and media the collection of works in this art-filled home brings interest to every room
The collection of original art that enlivens the walls of Lacey and Jeremy Brown’s Indianola home began before they moved in, and even before they wed.
Seeds for it were planted in relative fashion—in Jeremy’s family connection to Brown’s Fine Art and Framing in Jackson. Founded by his grandparents, and run by his grandmother Mary Grace Brown and her children Allison Simmons and Joel Brown for decades, the art gallery is now in the hands of Allison and her daughter, Emily Simmons Sandoval. Jeremy’s Aunt Allison (his dad Larry’s sister), has advised on the collection from the start.
“Allison had an eye for everything,” Lacey says, admiring the artworks that suit the space so well.
The couple bought the 1950s ranch four years ago, bringing it down to the studs for a remodel and update that vaulted the ceiling, flipped the kitchen, and more. Blank walls with a fresh, clean coat of Sherwin Williams Whitetail were a canvas begging for action on the art end.
Now, a variety of works add interest throughout the home, inspiring decor choices, tying rooms together, and engaging the eye at every turn.
Even the bedrooms of their children—Lucas, five, and Eliza, three—have artworks they’ll grow up with and that will grow more treasured with each passing year.
The first painting Lacey picked out hangs in Eliza’s room—”Love’s Ability” by Liz Chadwick Nichols. Its dreamy puffs of white and peach blush could be orchid blooms, cotton bolls, or clouds, and bits of gold leaf add a special shine.
“When we found out we were having a girl, I went in the shop and showed Allison that picture—I Ioved it,” Lacey says. That choice clued Allison in on her style, “But I think she also knew that I needed different things in this house that I wouldn’t have normally picked out.
“I showed her what I liked in the store. Then, when we moved in this house, I showed her all the blank walls; she brought me options, and we went from there,” Lacey says. “She definitely helped me get out of my comfort zone.”
A long wall in the dining room sports a dozen antique prints from A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds by the nineteenth-century British naturalist Rev. F. O. Morris. The colors, speckled shells, and even the prints’ mats and frames subtly tie in with the furnishings of the dining room and the formal living area at the other end of the big open space.
Jeremy’s grandmother and Brown’s Fine Art founder Mary Grace Brown has always collected antique prints in books, Allison says. The chromolithographs date to the mid-1800s to1870s. With a large painting/focal point at one end of the room already, “I didn’t want another large piece,” Allison says. She aimed for a subject that had dining room appeal, “And I liked the idea of a grouping.
“I like mixing—not having all watercolors or all oil paintings or even all paintings. I like mixing in antique prints, or posters in some cases,” she says, “just to make it look a little more collected.”
A pair of large Andrew Bucci oils on paper bookend the glass doors to the patio outside. It’s a good, sunny spot for the artist’s light touch, warm hues, and spirited imagery, enhanced by frames that are just as fresh in a washed, soft gold that shows them off to perfection. The works are from Bucci’s Daphne Collection.
In the living room, a Charlie Busler oil painting, “Day Break,” pulls in the focus and anchors the wall over the sofa with a compelling, abstracted sunrise in grays, creamy yellow, and soft blues. The muted shades set up a cozy dialogue with the charcoal furniture, while at the same time injecting a bit of color. “I like how that one sort of brings you into the room,” Allison says.
A Kit Fields watercolor of Lacey and Jeremy’s nuptials, a wedding gift from Lacey’s aunt and uncle, Drs. Sethelle “Tell” and Hal Flowers, hangs in the foyer along with baby panels of the Browns’ two children. The panels by Lamb’s Photography in Greenwood were framed by Brown’s with a fillet to dress them up a bit.
In the den, four Martha Rea Baker encaustic wax paintings on paper from her “Rhythm and Hues” series add a dash of movement and color to the walls.
“Idle Spirit,” a landscape painting by Greg Gustafson helps define the transition from den to kitchen. “That’s my favorite picture because I feel like it reminds me of the Delta and the beach,” Lacey says. In the attractive, flat land scene, a sinking sun glints off a patch of water. Coming in the house through the garage, “you see it right when you walk in the door.”
The Browns’ art collection began with a large painting Lacey fondly calls “The Cow.”
When Jeremy graduated college, bought a house, and began to furnish it, Allison offered to come look and help out, bringing some options to see what he liked.
“This was the real starter,” Lacey says of the just over six-feet-long pasture scene with a cow and calf by Terry Cherry. “My husband had this in his bachelor pad. Then, when we married and we moved to Blaine, to the farm, ‘The Cow’ came with us. And then, ‘The Cow’ left the farm and came back with us. He’s our ode to the farm. And it fits perfect in this long hallway.
“When we were married, large art was not in our budget, but we had this piece, so we definitely wanted to build on it,” she says. “And I’ll always remember our first years on the farm, even though I’m a city girl.”
Jeremy’s original art collection also included a pastel landscape of Delta fields by Sharon Richardson, now hanging farther down the hall, and a watercolor of a Delta intersection by Ann Barron on display in the playroom.
Another Bucci, this one a fashion watercolor from the 1950s, hangs in the hall bathroom. The collection’s preponderance of artists with Mississippi ties is another hallmark of Brown’s Fine Art and Framing.
In their son’s bedroom, prints of young zoo animals that Lacey bought on Etsy for his nursery enjoyed a framing update that elevated the look as Lucas grew. Sandwiched between two pieces of glass and framed in rustic cypress, the wall’s Repose Gray color becomes the “mat,” and the collection gains a more mature, masculine look. The recent addition of a large Jackie Meena watercolor of a bear gives the room another big-boy boost.
Walter Anderson alphabet letters bring a splash of color into the Jack and Jill bathroom, and Eliza’s bedroom is refreshingly feminine. Original art on the walls—the treasured painting by Nichols and a pair of small and mesmerizing abstract collages by Dyann Gunter—brings beauty, texture, and engagement to a room that’ll suit a growing girl for years to come.
In the master bedroom, a four-by-four-foot abstract by Martha Rea Baker is a restful presence in dove grays and blues with warm touches of red and gold. In the master bath, a loose and lovely landscape by Jackie Ellens is another peaceful treat, perfect in its place above the tub. A smaller Charlie Busler painting, this one of a moon face, is a cool touch and a daily reminder of the delight art can provide.
For Lacey, “The more you look at it, the more you appreciate the time and effort that was put into each piece.”
For their home, “It brings it all together,” she says. “It makes it feel completed.”
Brown’s Fine Art and Framing in Jackson, a family business with roots in custom framing, grew over the decades into a fine art gallery known for its support and promotion of Mississippi and regional artists as well as its high-quality framing expertise.
Mary Grace Brown worked alongside two of her children, Allison Brown Simmons and Joel Brown, for fifty-four years, and in 2020 she sold Brown’s to her daughter, Allison, and granddaughter, Emily Simmons Sandoval.
Some tips for beginning art collectors
• Visit galleries, art openings, and exhibitions to get to know art and artists and zero in on personal preferences. Some artists work directly with their customers these days, but visiting a gallery provides a view of multiple artists and a wide range of media, all at one time. “By coming to a place like Brown’s, which represents twenty something artists, they may see something they never could have found on their own,” Emily says.
• Always use a hanger, never just a bare nail, to hang fine art. Use two hangers on large pieces.
• Center art, and hang it at eye level.
• Fine art should always have conservation glass. When framing a piece, ask to make sure.
• Go for a variety of artwork—watercolors, oils, collages, prints, sculpture—for a collected look.
• Don’t assume original art is beyond your budget. “There are a lot of good artists that aren’t super-expensive,” Allison says. “Start small, and do it as a gift to each other.” Young couples can start a tradition of selecting a work of art each anniversary, growing a collection that they’ll enjoy for a lifetime.