A bronze bust of world-renowned blues icon B.B. King has been donated to the University of Mississippi’s Blues Archive by its creator, award-winning artist William Beckwith of Taylor. The gift arrived in time for the Sept. 22 formal opening of the yearlong exhibition “Still Got the Blues: A Silver Anniversary Exhibition,” celebrating the archive’s 25 years of welcoming visitors from around the world. The public is invited to the 4-6 p.m. reception in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. Williams Library.
The bust is a welcome addition to the archive’s B.B. King Collection, said Greg Johnson, blues curator and associate professor in the J.D. Williams Library.
“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect,” Johnson said. “It is highly appropriate for the bust to be displayed in an exhibit that celebrates the Blues Archive, which really came to prominence with the donation of B.B. King’s personal record collection over a quarter-century ago.”
Beckwith said he donated the bust out of admiration for King and to pay tribute to him for donating his record collection to the Blues Archive. After learning that the bust is to be permanently displayed in the Faulkner Room in close proximity to a bust of William Faulkner by artist Leon Koury, Beckwith said he couldn’t be more pleased.
“Leon Koury was like a father to me, and I’m proud to be in the same room with him.” Beckwith said. The two first met when Beckwith was 14 years old, and Koury became his longtime mentor.
Beckwith has produced public and private bronzes for more than 30 years. He is represented in public and private collections nationwide. His commissioned work includes “B.B. King,” city of Indianola; “Flag Bearer, Mississippi 11th,” Gettysburg National Military Park; and “William Faulkner,” Oxford City Hall.
Beckwith’s numerous awards and honors include winner of the statewide Governor’s Award of Excellence in the Arts in 2001. His exhibition venues have included Splashlight Studios and Frank Marino Gallery in New York City, National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., Louisiana World’s Fair in New Orleans and Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.
Originally from Greenville, Beckwith works out of his studio in Taylor. He also is an adjunct assistant professor of art at UM.
For more information about the Blues Archive, call Greg Johnson at 662-915-7753. For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7091.