HAPA UNVEILS NEW PUBLIC MURAL IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ROBERTS COMPANYJune 3, 2020
HATTIESBURG, MS – Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) is pleased to announce its newest mural joining the extensive public arts collection found around the city. Designed by Mississippi artist Spence Townsend, the mural, titled “Let’s Go”, is a cooperative project between HAPA and The Roberts Company, the parent company of Sunflower grocery store. This mural is one of several projects HAPA has in the works, with more public art scheduled to be added in coming months.
“Let’s Go” is the third mural commissioned by HAPA this year and measures 54 feet wide by 15 feet tall, featuring bright colors and a whimsical design to illuminate the busy Hardy Street corridor. The large piece took two weeks to complete and is expected to be a popular photo stop in The Avenues.
“Most people who see the new painting will experience it while driving by,” said Townsend. “The whimsical imagery will hopefully inspire folks to consider driving less and biking or walking more often. I hope the community enjoys the mural, and that it brings joy to people for years to come.”
The painting is displayed on the Sunflower grocery building on Hardy Street, owned by The Roberts Company. When company ownership learned about HAPA’s work to advance the promotion of arts in the community, they quickly came to the table to partner and make this creative project possible. Local business Taylor Rental also partnered on the project with an equipment donation, without which the project could not be completed.
“Public art contributes to the viability of a community, and Hattiesburg has always been at the forefront of Mississippi’s vibrant artistic culture. As a local business, it was important for us to help with this project and give back to Hattiesburg residents and its visitors. Having a Mississippi artist like Spence Townsend get to showcase his work for people to see and photograph on our local business makes this a perfect fit,” said David Robert, president of The Roberts Company.
Earlier this year, HAPA unveiled two other murals along Hardy Street. Designed by Prince Sign Company, “Hattiesburg, the Birthplace of Rock & Roll” adorns the façade of T-Bones Records & Café. “Wonderful Day,” a downtown mural highlighting a quote by author Maya Angelou, is located across from the Hattiesburg Public Library. Designed by artist Ricardo Moody, the inspirational piece also includes the work of local high school students.
“This project would not be possible without a strong collaboration between The Roberts Company, HAPA and Spence Townsend. We appreciate their commitment to expanding access to public art and contributing to the beautification of our community,” Mayor Toby Barker said.
“As one of Mississippi’s top destinations, visitors appreciate the artistry and diversity of Hattiesburg’s offerings,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHattiesburg. “By partnering with talented artists and businesses such as The Roberts Company, we are able to invest resources into our community and grow our public art assets to further tell our story in creative ways.”
A current Mississippi Valley State University assistant professor of art, Townsend has Hattiesburg roots. He is a 2005 graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing. Townsend has left his mark on several art pieces across the city including “Sounds”, a mural located inside The Thirsty Hippo in Downtown Hattiesburg, and “Woodland Studio”, a large oil on canvas which will hang inside Lake Terrace Convention Center.
Since opening its first grocery store in 1968 in Hattiesburg, The Roberts Company, a third-generation family business, has grown to include Corner Market, Sunflower, and Grocery Depot with all three having numerous locations across the state.
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HAPA is a program of VisitHATTIESBURG, which began in 2014 through the leadership of dedicated community members and generous donors passionate about publicly sharing art and making it accessible to all. In the past five years, HAPA has purchased and placed art throughout the city – in parks, neighborhoods, public buildings, and businesses – while also raising awareness for works of art already in the area. HAPA is made possible through the support of local organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of public art. For more information on the patrons and vision of HAPA, visit hattiesburgpublicart.com.