GARRAWAY ANNOUNCED AS POSTER ARTIST FOR MIDNIGHT ON FRONT STREETDecember 8, 2022
By HASKEL BURNS
Each year, one lucky artist is chosen to create the official artwork and event poster for Midnight on Front Street, Hattiesburg’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration that takes place December 31 on the corner of Main and Front streets in downtown.
This year, the honor goes to Hattiesburg native Kym Garraway and her work “Hub City is on Track,” which depicts a train passing through the historic Hattiesburg Train Depot. That announcement was made during a December 7 news conference by Mayor Toby Barker, along with officials from the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art and the Downtown Hattiesburg Association.
“(This gives) our artists – and we are an art community – an opportunity to put their stamp and their flavor on the event itself,” Barker said. “(Garraway’s poster) gave us a nod to our past while looking forward to the future.”
Garraway graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Art and Education before traveling to Italy to study art. She began her career as an artist in 1991.
Her many works of art include two murals in downtown Hattiesburg. A fourth-generation artist, Kym began painting “spider webs” at age two with her grandmother, Lois.
“I love trains, and when I was downtown working on the daylily mural, there was a train every five minutes, it seemed like,” Garraway said. “It was just very inspiring, so I went to walk around the train station and I thought ‘you know what, Hattiesburg’s got it on track’ because of the community promotion these (officials) are doing.
“Our town is looking more beautiful by the day, and I think our citizens have become more prideful about the environment we raise our kids in. I’m pumped.”
Past artwork includes posters from Glenda Grubbs in 2019 and Gretchen McClure in 2021 (the event was held virtually in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic). A limited number of posters will be printed, numbered and distributed as promotional items for the event.
More details about the artwork can be found at www.hburgart.com.
Barker and his team created the Midnight on Front Street event during his first term in office as a way to usher in the New Year. In 2018, officials began having talks to incorporate the Hub Sign as part of the event.
The Hub Sign dates back to Thanksgiving Day 1912, when a large crowd assembled at the Commercial Club meeting room for the unveiling and illumination of the “Slogan Sign.” The sign, manufactured and donated to the Commercial Club for the benefit of the city by the Henry L. Doherty Company, measured 42 feet in diameter, and featured 1,142 lights.
It was erected 50 feet above the Ross Building – now the America Building – on Front Street, 140 feet from the sidewalk. For several years, the sign stayed lit from 6 p.m.-1 a.m. each night, but during World War II, it was sold off in the scrap metal drives to support the war effort.
A replica of the sign – three sides of stamped steel weighing 375 pounds and lit by hundreds of LED lights – is now featured each year at midnight during an official “ball drop” at Main and Front streets, shortly after remarks by Barker.
“What started as an idea of ‘it would be great to drop something for midnight on New Year’s Eve’ has turned into something that people drive in from all parts of the state for,” Barker said. “This year is also special because it’s the 110th year since the Hub Sign was introduced to the masses.
“It has remained one of the most primary and recognizable emblems of our city, particularly in recent years. We chose this as a symbol of what we would drop from 80 feet in the air … as a nod to those generations who brought Hattiesburg this far.”
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