Ann Firestone Jordan left her mark on Kosciusko in the most artistic way. Her paintings and other creative works have been admired and collected by people from across the state, and on the evening of March 1, the Kosciusko – Attala Historical Society will celebrate her legacy as it hosts the Ann Jordan Art Show. The show, which is free of charge, is open to the public and will be held from 5 until 7 p.m at the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center.
Members of the Historical Society are asking that anyone with artwork created by Ann share in the event by bringing their piece to the Cultural Center to be displayed at the show. The show will be held for one day only. All art work will be collected between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 1, and contributors are asked to pick up their artwork from 7 -8 p.m., after the show.
“We want to celebrate the life of Ann Jordan,” said Historical Society Board Member Judi Bell. “She was such a giving person and there are so many pieces of her work here in Kosciusko. We want this to be an evening of celebration and sharing of her talent.”
Mrs. Bell asked that each contributor to the show bring up to two pieces to share. Historical Society members will be in the building at all times throughout the day to protect the pieces. All contributors will be given a card to fill out with information about the piece they are sharing. Anyone interested in contributing artwork for the show can contact Hart Pettit (662-289-1226), or Judi Bell (662-289-4761
On December 19, 2016, Ann and her husband, Henry Hunter Jordan, Jr., passed away in a late evening house fire, an event that left friends and family stunned and at a loss. The couple had been married 48 years and were active in all aspects of the community. Henry owned Jordan Funeral Home and was an avid outdoorsman. Ann was known throughout the state for her artwork and had recently opened Central Mississippi Flea Market. They left behind two sons, Hunter and Jackson Jordan and 5 grandchildren.
In an interview this week, Hunter talked about his mother and her unique ability to create and find art in every aspect of her world.
“It has always kind of boggled my mind that she found time to do all that she did,” said Hunter. “But I finally realized that she never turned her brain off – she was always creating. She was introspective and sometimes a bit of an introvert in that she was constantly looking at a situation or an event as a piece of art, looking for a way to create something from it,” he said.
Hunter said he and his brother have good memories of times as children when she would hop on a 3-wheeler with them and spend all day riding trails.
“She would say we were going on an adventure, and she always had her camera and took pictures along the way,” he said “And she always knew the names of every plant we passed.”
Ann grew up in Cleveland, Mississippi, and graduated from Clarksdale – Coahoma County High School in 1963. Her father, who was a distinguished pilot with the Army Air Corps, passed away when she was four-years-old, and she was raised by her mother and grandparents. Ann’s grandfather was a graduate of Mississippi State University and was a farmer in the Delta for many years. Hunter attributes his mother’s love of plants and nature to “following her granddad around between the ages of four and 12.”
Ann’s grandfather passed away when she was 12-years-old and her mother, Mrs. Jean Firestone, and grandmother moved to Clarksdale, where her mother taught school.
“As a teenager my mom began entertaining herself with art,” said Hunter. “She used it for entertainment and she used it throughout her life to get through hard times. When we look at her work, we can see that some of her most meaningful work was done during a time of stress or hardship, it was what she turned to.”
He said some of his earliest memories are of waking up at 2 a.m. and hearing Willie Nelson playing softly and finding his mom sitting on the living room floor painting.
“She was in her own world when she was creating. When I was 14 –years-old, she gave me a book by Richard Bach called Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. The book questions the readers’ view of reality,” said Hunter. “In a way, I think this kind of summed up her view.”
Ann graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in art in 1967. After graduation, she taught classes at Coahoma County High School before marrying Henry and moving to Kosciusko. Over the years, she has been successful in selling her work through her shop in Kosciusko and various other venues, including Brown’s Gallery in Jackson. She was also a member and recipient of recognition from the Mississippi Watercolor Society.
“Any accolades she received over the years were basically just milestones for her personal satisfaction,” said Hunter. “I can remember when she was asked to put her work in Brown’s Gallery and she did very well. The Gallery asked her to have 10 more paintings by the end of the next month and she decided that wasn’t for her, that she didn’t work on a schedule. So, we drove to the gallery and picked up the remaining two paintings and that was the end of that. She was pleased that she hit that mark, to be shown in the Jackson market, but she had hit that goal and then it was time to move on.”
“She never bragged about her work and usually didn’t even think it was worth much. It was literally her expression of herself and she didn’t do it for accolades or money,” said Hunter. “She was very generous with it and I never realized, until after she died, how many people own things that she did.”
Longtime friend Sherry Cheek remembers Ann’s love of art and her ability to find beauty in all things. “I think her appreciation of beauty speaks not only of her artistic gifts but especially of her spirit. She had an almost childlike appreciation of beauty and a sense of imagination and creativity that few of us keep beyond childhood,” said Sherry.
For many years, Ann painted bridal bouquets and gave the paintings as wedding gifts to friends and family. Often, brides would find out their bridesmaids favorite flower and have Ann paint the flower for them as bridesmaid’s gifts.
Leisa Terrell recalls Ann’s generosity with her artwork over the years with the “Birthday Club,” a group of eight friends who met to celebrate birthdays together for several years.
“Ann always had something for everyone and it might be a painting, a clay pin, a Christmas ornament, just whatever she was interested in at the time,” said Leisa. “One year she had us all send pictures that meant something to us and she transferred the pictures to fabric and made beautiful purses for us. It was always something unique and special.”
The Birthday Club members were Leisa, Ann, Pam Bell, Camille Watkins, Sissy Bailey, Susan Teasley, Mary Tyler and Carol Blaine. The Birthday Club gifts will be on display at the Art Show
“Our family is so appreciative of this time to celebrate our mom and her art, and we look forward to seeing friends and pieces of her work that we may have never seen,” said Hunter. “This year has been incredibly difficult, but I feel like the timing is right on this and we want to celebrate her life with the community.”