This is the weekly ‘Sip of Culture. It’s a partnership between Mississippi Today Magazine and The Sip Magazine. Visit The Sip’s website to see more stories like these and to subscribe to the magazine. BOVINA– Earl Simmons loved to create things as a child. At a young age, he discovered that he was gifted at drawing and painting. He began building toys with a Coke bottle and a hammer. As he grew up, his work also grew. Simmons’ artwork can be found everywhere — from the House of Blues, Orlando, to the Mississippi Museum of Art Jackson and the Attic Gallery downtown Vicksburg. His work will be featured in the gallery’s 45th anniversary exhibition in October. His largest piece is located just off Warriors Trail, Bovina. It’s a home and a shop that Simmons built himself. Simmons stated that he was raised in the same area as his parents and was also one of seven brothers. Simmons said, “I started drawing, it went from there.” Simmons built a three-story structure on the property where he grew, which included a cafe, gallery, and workshop. The gift shop was open for visitors to tour the building and purchase souvenirs. The entire structure was destroyed by a fire in 2002. Simmons described the structure as “the largest one I’ve ever built.” It was so hot that the asphalt became soft. “Thank God I didn’t get burned up is all that I can think of.” Simmons then got back to work rebuilding Earl’s Art Shop. In 2012, however, another fire broke out and destroyed the entire building. Simmons stated that “there wasn’t anything left.” It takes 50 years to build anything up, and it’s gone in half the time. Simmons started the process of rebuilding with the help of donations. The building is now a bit further from the road and a trailer forms the middle. Simmons stated that the building is made up of sheet metal, railroad tie, telephone poles and telephone poles as well as wood, sheet metal and cedar posts. Simmons said that “you can see almost anything in here.” He has three bedrooms and two baths, and he is currently working to add an art gallery upstairs. He said, gesturing around the building, “I put it all together, from the steps up to the doors.” Simmons doesn’t just work at his shop and home. His work will be displayed along with 23 other artists during the 45th anniversary celebration of the Attic Gallery, downtown Vicksburg. It is the oldest state gallery that remains open to business. The show’s theme will be “Still Standing”, and it will feature a mix of artworks, including paintings and clay sculptures. Lesley Silver, the owner of Attic Gallery, said that Earl is “sort of a genius” in his work. “He sees things in a different way; when he arrives here, he gets really excited about seeing other people’s work.” Silver usually calls Simmons to inform him about the theme of a show. He then comes up with his interpretation. Silver stated that it’s not as simple as people think. The more they examine it, the more they see how he can bring it to life and make it real. He can add a spark to the things we are used to seeing. Simmons stated that his eyes are unique. He prefers to look at the past rather than the future, which is something that many artists don’t do. He said, “I go backwards.” I like old buildings and steam engines. Simmons likes the old stuff. His work can be found at the Attic Gallery. Simmons found a wooden model of a church in his front yard, underneath which he used an old school bus seat as a couch. He said that it hasn’t been painted yet but it will be beautiful when it is. Sometimes I can do things quickly, but it is best to take your time. He said that you do the best job when you take your time. Simmons said that he enjoys working with his hands and his brain. He can draw, paint, sculpt and draw, but doesn’t have a preference about the type of art he creates. However, he knows that he cannot waste the talent he does have. “I was born with a talent. When I was five years old, I began putting together things. Simmons stated that he is still doing it right now. “God wants to you use your talent — and not just play with them,” Simmons said. “Still Standing,” the Attic Gallery’s annual show will feature work by more 20 artists on October 7, from 7 to 9. The gallery can be found at 1101 Washington Street in downtown Vicksburg. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.