Member Spotlight: Nancy Deal By Jenny M. Duggan and Special Guest, Nancy Deal

When it came time to write a Member Spotlight for the Dixon Blog, dozens of our fantastic members immediately sprang to mind. It was indeed hard to decide with which member to start. There are so many of you out there, without whose care and support and love, we would hardly be able to accomplish the great things that the Dixon has accomplished.  It is certainly an institution to be proud of since its inception, when Hugo and Margaret Oates Dixon gave this beautiful gift to the community. 

I have talked to many members in my 15 years at the Dixon, and in that time I have learned firsthand that they really do love the Dixon as much as those of us that work here.  I have known Nancy Deal for several years now (I met her here!), and I see that love of the Dixon plainly in her. She comes week after week to our programs and events and exhibits, and I frequently see her taking beautiful photographs in the gardens year round.  Recently, I sent her some questions to ponder, and she not only graciously responded, but included some of her favorite photographs that she has taken at the Dixon as well! 

But without further ado, let’s hear from Nancy: 

How long have you been visiting the Dixon Gallery and Gardens? 

The first time I visited was in 1960 when I was ten years old and the Dixons still lived there. A couple of other girls and I were there (with our moms) to have our photos made in the gardens. Mrs. Dixon was very gracious and I also well remember Haywood Nichols, who worked for them.  As I got older, I attended exhibits that interested me for one reason or another. One year I gave all my family memberships for Christmas and we went to every opening and exhibit for a year. Such fun! (Note: Good option for gifts for your family and friends!). My daughter still remembers going to see the Toulouse Latrec exhibit when she was young. Now I keep a membership so I can invite a friend and I can go as often as I like. I am almost always there on Wednesdays for “Munch and Learn”, to tour the latest exhibit, wander the grounds and take photos, and to visit the Gift Shop (Note: the best kept secret in Memphis). And you meet the nicest people here!   

What is your favorite section of the Dixon gardens and why? 

The Memphis Garden Club Cutting Garden is my favorite, although I tour the entire grounds when I’m there. I love to take photos and there is something new blooming every week. It never gets old. And you can also “capture” plenty of bees and butterflies! I spent one entire spring and summer taking pictures of a frog I called “Buddy”. He was always in the same spot in the fountain there so he was easy to find. Buddy became the hit of my Facebook page on Wednesdays when I’d post photos of my weekly trip to Dixon! And then there is the Elm Tree. I’d looked for it a couple of times I visited but just never could quite locate it. After looking again one day with no luck, I finally decided to give up and go back and ask the staff to point me in the right direction. I looked back over my shoulder one last time. Honestly, there was a shaft of sunshine coming through the trees and highlighting one tree from the base upwards. I thought, “No, way”.  But how can you not go check? Sure enough, it was the elm. Amazing.     

What is your favorite piece from the Dixon Permanent collection? What interests you most about it? 

It has to be ‘The Joyous Festival’ by Gaston La Touche. Who would not want to be one of those party-goers?! This painting has it all.     

If you could meet one artist or garden aficionado (living or deceased) who would it be? What would you ask them?   

Joan Miro. I was probably in college when I fell across his art in the form of a poster for Christie’s Contemporary Art. That was all it took. His work shows up in various forms in my house and it still makes me happy every day to see it. He was from Barcelona so I could ask him what he thinks of the Gasol brothers! 

Last thought: You can enjoy the Dixon if you know everything about art or if you know nothing. You can be a Master Gardener or you can just be trying to figure out which end of a bulb goes in the ground. You can come with friends or you can come by yourself because you will meet people. You can be any age because there is something for everyone, including children. You can have plenty of money or you can have little and come when it’s free. This little jewel was meant for the people of Memphis and anyone else who is willing to open their hearts and minds to all the arts. This is yours.   

I am very grateful to Nancy for the thoughts that she shared with us and her love for the Dixon. Without her and many, many more like her we would not be who we are today! 

Posted by Chantal Drake at 4:25 PM
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