In 1914, Mobile artist and writer Emma Langdon Roche penned “Historic Sketches of the South,” which included the initial detailed discussion of the ignominious schooner Clotilda and its illegal human cargo transported to Mobile Bay. In turn, Roche’s stories inspired Alabama-born author Zora Neale Hurston who later had her own classic novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

Award-winning historian Sylviane Diouf expounded upon Roche’s work when she wrote “Dreams of Africa in Alabama.” Also the curator of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, Diouf ventures to Mobile and will speak on her work, Roche and the Clotilda survivors who founded Africatown. Dr. Kern Jackson, director of African-American Studies program at the University of South Alabama, will be on hand as well.

It gets under way Thursday, April 16, at 6 p.m. in Bernheim Hall at the Ben May Main Branch of the Mobile Public Library. Admission is free.

The event is presented by the Southern Literary Trail, Mobile Public Library and the Mobile Arts Council. It’s made possible with a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state agency of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, call the Mobile Public Library at 251-208-7097 or go to southernliterarytrail.org.

History museum hosts April walking tours downtown
Most of Mobile’s early history takes place east of Broad Street. Now, the good folks at the History Museum of Mobile are utilizing one of the Azalea City’s most pleasant months to give folks an up-close look.

Each Saturday in April, the History Museum will lead walking tours through downtown beginning at 10 a.m. They will convene at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and culminate at the History Museum. No reservations are necessary.

A little advice: bring your umbrellas as this spring is proving warmer than usual and the devices prove handy for showers of sun or rain. Comfortable shoes are also recommended.
The tour subjects are as follows:

April 11: From Colonial Fort to International Port — Assistant Director and Architectural Historian for the Mobile Historic Development Commission Cartledge W. Balckwell, III will lead the tour. He’ll “highlight the architectural stage set that serves as a backdrop for, and stimulator of, Alabama’s oldest city.”

April 18: Historic Mobile Theaters — History Museum Technician Nicholas Beeson will lead this tour that focuses on the numerous movie houses which have called Mobile home over the last century.

April 24: Old & New, Then and Now — History Museum Curator Scotty Kirkland takes tour participants through the first half of the 20th century as they look at the city’s growth.

For more infomation, contact Museum Public Relations Officer Jacqlyn Kirkland at 251-208-7652 or email museumrelations@cityofmobile.org.

Lots of kudos for locals ‘done good’
Mobile artist Brad Robertson isn’t just a popular name in the Azalea City, he’s apparently making a name for himself in the Big Apple. The Oakleigh-based artist was named a “Top Seller” at New York’s ArtExpo 2014 and is on track to appear again this year.

If you’re in New York City April 23-26, you can browse the selection at Pier 94, 711 12th Ave.

If the exposition stretched into summer, then one lucky Mobile Bay resident could drop by to say “hey” or bring some grits or something. Young Presley Ready of Spanish Fort will travel to Manhattan to play Carnegie Hall in July.

Ready is the only Alabamian honored with a spot in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. The bassoonist is one of 113 members from 37 states, aged 16 through 19, who comprise the orchestra scheduled to tour the world July 10-26.
Congratulations on such an auspicious honor, Ms. Ready. I’m sure you’ll do us all proud.

Likewise, Satsuma High School junior Maggie Pierce recently won first place in the Public School Category in grades 9-12 of the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s 2015 William R. Ireland, Sr. Youth Wildlife Art Contest. She bested 273 other entrants.

Pierce will be honored at a luncheon on April 11 near Montgomery. Kudos to Pierce for topping such a wide field.

Marchman exhibits run through April
For those who have been on the Mobile arts scene in the last three decades, the name Fred Marchman certainly rings a bell. A sculptor, cartoonist, painter and writer, Marchman displays a unique humor and philosophical insight that should have found wider acclamation in a place mythically tabbed “sweet lunacy’s county seat.”

A Marchman show in place at The Artists’ Place at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer (7125 Hitt Road) will be on display until May 2. A “meet the artist” reception occurs Sunday, March 15, from 3 until 5 p.m.

Trained in “formalist/abstract and figurative styles,” Marchman moves between the styles as he does between mediums. It was during the 1980s he began to implement ideas from theosophy and Oriential ideals as subject matter and influence. Later, he embraced sources of “Southern Pop Art.”

Marchman has worked at Sloss Foundry, Casey Downing studios and Fairhope Foundry. His work can also be found at Innova Gallery, Koch Gallery, Eastern Shore Art Center WMCM Studio and Fairhope Connection.

The exhibit at The Artists’ Place can be viewed Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by contacting the church office at 251-639-1948 or by appointment by contacting Rob Bearden at 251-767-8362.