Rice Farmer Outfits Delta Office with John Ruskey Paintings

Original Artwork and Giclées adorn Sumner, Mississippi

John Ruskey looking at the installation of his large giclée on the left and his original artwork on the right.

John Ruskey looking at the installation of his large giclée on the left and his original artwork on the right.


Sumner, Mississippi


What always happens when an eclectic rice-farming, map-collecting restaurateur and Delta transplant buys a bevy of original artwork and giclées from a rugged individualist who paints, writes poetry, prose and music, while leading expeditions on the mighty Mississippi River? Well…?

You get an uber-cool southern planter’s office full of paintings and giclées with accurate details and vivid colors of our nation’s rivers, streams and land along with a delightful evening spent among friends, new acquaintances and Delta lovers, all brokered by the Delta Bohemian’s lovely Magical Madge! Madge represents Ruskey and is responsible for handling the sale of his original artwork and fine-art giclées — archival prints limited and signed. She is a good friend of both painter and farmer.

Iconic river man John “Driftwood Johnnie” Ruskey is a fabulous painter, who is chronicling mile-by-mile sections of the flora and fauna on the lower Mississippi River. He owns Quapaw Canoe Company, a significant contributor to our local economy and the go-to recreational and culture-rich entity on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. Ruskey and his river captains—Mark “River” Peoples and Braxton Barden—lead day trips and overnights on area rivers and run a renowned after-school apprentice program for Clarksdale-area youth, which focuses on canoe making, swimming, river guiding and life skills.

Mike Wagner, a self-made businessman and farmer, relocated down here from somewhere up north sometime in the 80’s. We ain’ big on specificity down here, as Driftwood Johnnie is fond of saying, “We are on river time,” which ain’ really time at all. Wagner is an excellent farmer, avid reader, map collector and co-owner of the Sumner Grille restaurant located in Madge’s hometown, Sumner, MS.  (Read about the opening of Sumner Grille here.)

Wagner had an okay crop this year, so he decided to treat himself by adding two accurate, hand-painted maps and four original-size giclées to his office collection located on the square in downtown Sumner, capital of the west side of the Free State of Tallahatchie. I reckon he added a slew of sloughs. Madge brokered the deal and set up a signing at Wagner’ office. Wagner invited Ruskey, his wife Sarah (director of the Carnegie Public Library) and daughter Emma Lou, friends Angie and Allie Grant, Magical Madge and the I-love-to-eat-good Poor William to enjoy a fine dinner prepared by chef Walt Norwood at the Sumner Grille.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″]http://youtu.be/mlkec-aIL3k[/youtube]

Angie Grant is a native of Vardaman, MS, sweet potato capital of the whole damn world, who now lives in California. Her daughter, Allie Grant, is a movie actress who spent about five years on the hit Showtime television series “Weeds;” she continues to act and is a student at Harvard University .

Both Grants have been to Clarksdale several times volunteering with two local after-school programs, Griot Arts and Spring Initiative. After seeing Ruskey’s artwork in Wagner’s office the Grants decided to purchase a bundle of Ruskey originals.

The eight of us enjoyed a sumptuous meal, great conversation, and promises to stay in touch and kick it again in the near future! If Wagner and the Grants love them some M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-P-P-I, then surely you will too. Holla at Magical Madge Marley Howell and load yo own bad self up with some original Ruskey’s and giclées of many sizes.

You won’t be sorry and if you buy us dinner like Mike Wagner did and are apt to furnish some aged bourbon and scotch then we will join ya for a signing too. Also, take a canoe trip with Quapaw Canoe Company; it will change your life! I ain’ lyin’; it changed mine and it direly needed changing! Pw

Visit the Delta Bohemian® Gift Shop to view and order giclées. Contact Madge via email at [email protected] to schedule a private appointment to view more John Ruskey paintings.

Sales of John Ruskey’s original artwork benefit the Lower Mississippi River Foundation Inc and are tax deductible.

A personal thank you to Mike Wagner, Angie Grant and Allie Grant for supporting artists in the Mississippi Delta and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation Inc.



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  1. Mr. Lil John says:

    Excellent, Guillermo

    Two of Mississippi’s finest

  2. Who-ute! Magical Madge and Poor William keep love and diversity alive in the Delta! Way to go team! Mark River

  3. Mark River Peoples says:

    Who-ute! Madgical Madge and Poor William keeping love and diversity in the Delta alive! Way to go TEAM! Mark River

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