City’s latest mural unveiled with help of public art alliance

By BETH BUNCH,

Just in time for the holidays, the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art “unveiled” the city’s latest mural. Located on the corner of Hardy Street and North 10th Avenue, the work is that of Kelsey Wishik, a painter and sculptor whose work was recently exhibited in the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Spearheaded by HAPA, the mural was made possible through their commitment to making art available to all, free and a part of everyday life.

In addition to HAPA, both John Neal and the Avenues Alliance were instrumental in bringing this mural project to life.

HAPA is led by director Becky Montague, who founded the alliance in memory of former arts patron, Mary Dixon Montague. The alliance purchases and places art in parks, neighborhoods and public spaces to beautify Hattiesburg, stimulate community pride and inspire cultural enrichment.

In three years, HAPA has exhibited 19 sculptures and purchased an additional four for Hattiesburg’s permanent collection. 

“Art in public spaces is no longer a frill afforded by only the wealthiest urban centers,” said Montague. “It’s now an essential component of any city seeking to attract residents and visitors. That’s because art pays dividends! It reflects a community’s perception of itself, attracts the most sought-after tourists, and beautifies neighborhoods. It educates, delights, and inspires civic pride.”

HAPA has been the catalyst behind such projects as the large sculptures downtown, murals and The Little Free Libraries which grace the Hub City.

Hattiesburg is lucky to enjoy the benefit of a public art program run entirely by volunteers. 

In 2019, HAPA willl expand its mural reach to a national audience.

“We have commissioned Hattiesburg native Spence Townsend to execute a large painting celebrating Hattiesburg’s arts offerings,” said Montague. “The original work will hang in a public building, and a huge mural wrap of the painting will soon adorn a downtown facade.”