McCarty Pottery  photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
McCarty Pottery
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Word of mouth is apparently all they need to draw a crowd. Without any signage, who would guess that behind the weathered Delta Cypress wall, surrounded by thick bamboo, one would find an amazing art environment created by Merigold, Mississippi potters, Lee and Pup McCarty. I had been buying McCarty Pottery for years from shop owners around the South, all of whom advised me to make a pilgrimage to the studio in the Delta where the couple created their unique, minimalist work. So in the spring of 1992, I made the two hour trip from Memphis to the little “Oasis in the Delta,” and was immediately enchanted with these two artists, their work and the unique world they had created on an entire city block built from the cypress, which was once a mule barn owned by Lee’s Aunt Margaret.

The minute I entered the studio, I realized that I had dropped right into the absolute essence of Mississippi Art.  There is an indescribable element which often, but not always infuses the art, music and writing that emanates from the state, and the McCartys had completely captured it in their work and the environment in which they created it.  The spirit of that creativity permeated the walls of the small shop and was present in every vignette that beautifully displayed the enormous variety of pottery.


photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter


Paintings they had collected, including one of the petite Pup and the strikingly tall Lee, added interest and intrigue to the unique pottery displays, and was indicative of the extent to which the two had surrounded their lives with art.

photo by  Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by
Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Outside the shop was a lush garden, filled with every plant and herb imaginable, and studded with hundreds of pieces of the owner’s pottery.

garden pottery (800x502)

photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter


A shed near the lap pool housed a long concrete table, on which I imagined the couple hosting fabulous garden dinners.


photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter


As I roamed the extensive menagerie of garden rooms, I was fascinated to see how found objects, furniture, sculpture, Delta memorabilia and even religious icons had been woven into the work of art that was this cypress wonderland.

found obj (482x800)

In the years since, I have made many trips to the quaint Southern town to eat at the McCarty’s Gallery tea room, (another day’s post) shop for pottery and wander through the garden. Pup was taken by illness a few years ago, but it was clear from a recent visit to the studio that Lee, now in his 80s is still creating art, although currently in the form of ceramic jewelry.

Lee McCarty photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Lee McCarty
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

I inquired about the parties in the garden, and he said that indeed they had  many memorable dinners there, and that Pup would always dress in something fun and festive, even on the evenings when it was just family. His nephews Jamie and Stephen Smith are now carrying on the family tradition, making and selling the unmistakable pottery, with the simple, but elegant glazes, each decorated with a small symbol of the Mississippi River.




12 thoughts on “McCarty Pottery by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

  1. Carol Penn

    I have wanted to go there. Your story & pictures are wonderful Deborah. I love everything contained in Porch Scene thanks to you for, using your talents.

    1. Thank you so much Carol for continuing to read and enjoy Porchscene! We appreciate your support.

  2. […] of the Delta oasis that Lee and Pup McCarty created on a city block that was once a mule barn. (McCarty Pottery) And if you happen to find yourself in Merigold—near Aligator—between 11:00 and 2:00 PM, […]

  3. […] from a variety of contributors about artists (Florida folk artist, Mary Proctor; Mississippi icon, Lee McCarty; Louisiana artist and musician, Dub Brock; Tennessee artist, Jimmy Crosthwait; and Alabama […]

  4. this is wonderful
    love the format
    so cool and interesting

    1. PorchScene Staff

      Thank you!

  5. Lorraine Ferguson

    Simply grand ……… brings back wonderful memories of visiting the McCarty’s in Merigold, circa 1980’s. I must return soon for that truly inspiring experience !! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Fran Carpenter

    Deb IS the epitome of the Delta. Multi-talented and looking forward to more from her!

  7. Elaine Orland

    As I look at my McCarty bunnies, then at the photos of Deborah’s I realize I never have been to the Merigold studio. I’m not sure that is acceptable to me for much longer. Thanks, Deborah, for bringing it to life with your words and your photos.

  8. Willa Bohannon

    Loved the article about McCarty’s. already have visited there and I love the whole delta scene!! Looking forward to the next post

  9. Janet Zimmerman

    Delightful! I look forward to more posts by DFC!

  10. Skippy Gronauer, Richmond, VA

    Enjoyed the interview so much. Deborah actually pumped my interest in working with clay, and I too, have a long history of experiencing Merigold and the Delta. I am so glad I received this interview and story telling today!! Thanks and good luck to Porch Scene and Deborah Carpenter.

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