July 25, 2020 6:10:53 PM
Planters along Starkville's Main Street are taking on a colorful new look. It's all thanks to a partnership involving Starkville Main Street Association, the City of Starkville and the Starkville Area Arts Council, along with funding from the Mississippi Main Street Association.
"I immediately fell in love with the idea," Alaina Prentice, chair of the Starkville Main Street Association and owner of Merle Norman Luna Bella, said in a press release. "Public art is supposed to be a conversation starter and eye-catching. ... Hopefully the planters will cause people to stop and look, and maybe pop into a local retail store or restaurant as well."
The project transforming planters into vibrant accents on Main Street is coordinated through the Starkville Area Arts Council with artist Graham Carraway. Volunteers from Starkville High School, Starkville Academy, Henderson Ward Stewart, the Mississippi State Department of Art, SAAC and the community have been involved. Designs, created by Carraway, include elements inspired by architectural features along the street.
"Public art is perhaps the most complicated project we have attempted," said John Bateman, SAAC executive director. "It's like herding cats and dogs and zebras and elephants and butterfllies into a room and agreeing on what pizza to order that everyone will eat ... and like."
While a majority of people seem to want public art, seldom does everyone agree on what's best, noted Bateman, who thanked art faculty from Starkville Public Schools, Starkville Academy and MSU's Department of Art for their assistance.
"Not only do they provide great support, but they're the ones teaching and building our local talent base," Bateman said. "I can't wait to see how public art here gets better, as we learn what works and what doesn't."
Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said in the release, "I believe that art makes our lives better and the planters' new colors add vibrancy to downtown. I look forward to more projects that create a sense of place and fun for our downtown area."
Other public art projects are in development for the community, some of which are planned in collaboration with SAAC board member Alex Bostic and Jenna Altomonte, both faculty in MSU's Department of Art.
Visit starkvegasart.org to view other public art completed in Starkville. To support public art projects, contact Bateman at [email protected] or visit starkvillearts.org.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.