Connecting people within a community is a worthy goal for any city. It is also a challenge to find exactly how to make that happen. For the City of Gautier, one approach is built around art as a means of celebrating the community’s rich culture and nature. This was what City Manager Paula Yancey had in mind when she and her staff launched Paint the Town: a plein air event held every spring since 2017.
One goal of Paint the Town is to engage local and regional artists of all ages to spend a day in town painting what inspires them. A second and equally important goal is to share that art with local residents, to help them realize that the world around them can be as inspirational to others as it might be for them. What we may think is just a normal part of the background of our lives, may well say something special through the eyes of someone else.
In only three years, Paint the Town has managed to support both goals. Participants have come from as far as Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, Mobile, Daphne, and Gulf Breeze, Florida. In addition to Gautier, local painters have traveled from Pass Christian, Long Beach, Perkinston, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Moss Point, and Escatawpa. This year included the first youth participant, an age group that is a top priority for organizers.
What is now a two-day event includes a workshop for painters and a photography workshop. The resulting art is displayed in the board room at City Hall for 30 days after each event (until June 21 of this year) where anyone can enjoy and even purchase the art that inspires them.
The future will hopefully include increased participation by painters from far and wide as well as a greater awareness of the beauty of the community whose theme is “nature’s playground.” This event was recognized in 2017 with a Special Award of Merit awarded by the Mississippi Recreation & Parks Association.
Congratulations to the Best of Show of this year’s event, Melissa Root, who painted “The Pink Shed at Shepard.” Special congratulations to the first youth winner, Tedasya Hyde, who painted “A View of the Pier.”
For information about next year’s event, contact Chassity Bilbo, recreation director at the City of Gautier at 228-497-8000, ext 317, or c[email protected]. Paint the Town is planned and managed by Bilbo and Rachel Honea, recreation coordinator.