Painting the Town: JXN’s Public Art Scene
Throughout Jackson, public art has become both more common and more widely celebrated.
Our city has long been vibrant, but now, our streets, walls, and common spaces match our soul. Public art gives a human element to the cityscape, connecting those that walk its streets.
When you head downtown, you’re sure to see the “Welcome to Jackson” mural by artist Scott Allen off of State Street, exemplifying the hospitable and colorful city you’re entering. As owner of A+ Signs, Allen has helped spur the growth of Jackson’s public art with the highly visible welcome mural, a Midtown mural as part of an Our Town grant through the National Endowment for the Arts, the vibrant façade of Fondren Fro Yo, and a variety of painted traffic signal boxes throughout the city. Allen believes that public art gives the city a vibe that’s as unique as those that inhabit it.
Visit Jackson and the agency’s Creative Design Manager, Reshonda Perryman, has added to the art landscape with “JXN Icons.” The boldly colored painting, located on the back wall of the Old Capital Inn on North Street, depicts Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers; writer and photographer Eudora Welty; American ballet dancer, educator, and author Thalia Mara; and rapper and philanthropist David Banner.
On the corner of Capitol and Monument Streets in Midcity, black artists joined forces to help lift spirits of passersby with a collection of murals on the side of a shopping center. Sponsored by Cooperation Jackson, commissioned artists helped to change the face of an inner-city neighborhood filled with blight. The April 2019 “Mural Fest” work showcases the art of Sabrina Howard, Nashville’s Woke3, Zion Blount, Shambe Jones, Chicago artist Monique Atkins and Justin Ransburg. The images are historical African-American figures to the Native Indians, the original Americans, spiritual imagery, Black empowerment, strength and unity.
Local artist Eli Childers, along with friend and fellow artist Ahza Sanders, designed and painted a mural for Wilkins Elementary School on Castle Hill Drive, which depicts an array of black heroes—Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Barack Obama, Medgar Evers, and Mary McLeod Bethune. Childers’s mission was to add a bit of sunshine and inspiration to the area. Since, he has painted many more murals throughout the city for local businesses like Midtown’s Coffee Prose and Good Samaritan Center, and Downtown’s Arts Center of Mississippi.
In Belhaven, you’ll find an uncanny depiction of celebrated Jacksonian Eudora Welty on the side of “her Jitney,” home to a grocery store she frequented. The piece is by Belhaven resident, artist Laurin Stennis.
Flying into Jackson? You’ll notice creative depictions of famous Mississippians like Oprah Winfrey and Elvis Presley by Azha Sanders at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.
As you venture to the Mississippi Museum of Art and Art Garden, you will see the work of Jackson artist William Goodman, on the north wall of the museum. This ephemeral mural was created by the artist to reference pop culture moments, and people who inspired him. It’s recognizable in Goodman’s signature graffiti style. “Subconscious View Mater” has become a staple of the museum’s identity. While there, take in the beauty of the museum’s art garden, with nearly a dozen pieces of public art on display.
In late May 2020, artist Adrienne Dominick created a large scale work, recently installed on Farish Street in support of the city’s Fertile Ground Project. In “Mama Rose Kitchen,” Domnick uses depictions of her early childhood to revisit the communion of food making. The work prompts the memory to explore the collective experience of family tradition around food.
Like many Jacksonians who are dedicated to the public art movement, visual artist Will Brooks has researched and plotted a public art map presented by Visit Jackson, soon in print and available now on Google.
As you paint the town, pay a visit to some of our public art installations to experience more of what makes Jackson special.
Great to see this happening long overdue yet right on time …so much creative talent in Jackson & Mississippi