Wendell Mitchell namesake for art show

Published 5:59 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

Sen. Wendell Mitchell was in Troy Friday to attend CGI’s Miracle Field presentation, a project to which he has provided financial support.

Following the presentation at the Troy Sportsplex, Mitchell visited the Holman and Ethel Johnson Center for the Arts and the got a sneak preview of the upcoming “Looking Through the Lens: 100 Years of Photographs” exhibition.

The exhibition will feature the photography of two of the area’s most outstanding and prolific professional photographers of the early- to mid-1900s, Holman Johnson of Troy and D.L. Hightower of Clayton.

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The photography exhibition will open at the Johnson Center for the Arts on Aug. 3 and run through Nov. 13.

When the exhibition comes down, it will become the Walking Wendell Mitchell History Lesson Exhibition and travel to arts center throughout the area.

“The Wendell Mitchell History Lesson Exhibition will be based at the Johnson Center and be made available to museums and other art centers in the area at no charge other than the shipping fees,” said Richard Metzger, Johnson Center director. “The exhibition has already been scheduled for Clayton and Old Alabama Town and the Wiregrass Art Museum in Dothan has expressed an interest, as well as several museums in North Alabama. We expect this exhibition to be popular throughout the area.”

The “Looking Through the Lens” exhibition features 120 photographs, 60 from each photographer.

Johnson’s photographs are titled, “Pike County and Beyond,” and Hightower’s are named, “To Remember a Vanishing World.”

Mitchell said he is flattered to have the traveling photography exhibition named in his honor.

“That was a surprise to me, and I am honored,” he said. “This exhibition has great historical value and will give young people an opportunity to visually experience what life was like generations ago. And, for those of us who are old enough to remember those times, it will bring back many memories.”

One of Holman Johnson’s photographs caught Mitchell’s eye and stirred a fond memory of his grandfather.

“My grandfather plowed with a mule,” he said, pointing to the photograph of a man behind a plow. “I would trail behind him and listen to him talk to his mule.”

Mitchell said he learned to talk the language that mules understand but he never really learned to gee-haw behind a stubborn mule and a dull plow.

“Plowing is hard work, and there’s an art to it that I never learned,” Mitchell said, laughing. “This exhibition is outstanding. A picture is worth a thousand words so there is great value to it.”