Support Local Arts | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Support Local Arts

Josh Hailey and other artists never fail to make Jackson a more creative place.

Josh Hailey and other artists never fail to make Jackson a more creative place. Photo by Trip Burns.

Sometimes, when you've built something up for a while, it doesn't live up to what you expect. However, when it comes to Jackson's artist community, it always delivers the goods.

I've been a fan of photographer Josh Hailey's work—and his antics—for years and have followed him along on social media as he's chronicled his latest endeavor, Photamerica, a project that took him across the country, capturing images of people and places with a goal of documenting all 50 states.

Hailey recently curated the project in a show at The Hatch in midtown (126 Keener Ave., midtownpartners.org)—an old warehouse space owned by Midtown Partners and co-managed by ELSEworks, a program of the Else School of Management at Millsaps College, as a nonprofit facility intended to support and foster the growth of creative businesses and entrepreneurs.

He currently uses some of The Hatch's 11,000 square feet as a studio and creative space, as well as a gallery. I was eager to see it but hadn't yet stopped by until he commented on one of my Instagram photos one day, prompting me to drop by his show. I waited until the weekend, when my parents, who were in town from Meridian, could go as well. They love art, know Hailey's work and attended his holiday studio open house in midtown with me last winter, so I knew they'd enjoy seeing the space and the photography.

Upon walking into the gallery, I immediately felt the liveliness that Hailey's work always conveys. The boundless ball of energy that he is infects his work, and it's just contagious. I had seen some of the first round of Photamerica images, which were mounted almost collage-like on canvas squares, but he's now moving into a phase two of sorts, experimenting with printing the images on acrylic, metal and wood with stunning results; some of the colors pop almost like neon.

Perhaps equally as exciting as the pieces were the prices—the Photamerica series is stunningly affordable, which I love. Art, especially when it's by a local artist you know, is important to have in your life, I think. Whether it's in your office or your home, having a unique piece that was created with thought and intent can bring a little inspiration to a space. And when it's as accessible as this series is, price-wise, there's no excuse for not finding something you love and getting it.

The creative energy of the show doesn't stop with the works on the wall, though. That's what really speaks to the artistic collaboration in midtown that will continue to make Jackson a vibrant place for artistic thoughts and endeavors, with a thriving creative economy. The Hatch is intended, I think, to be a place that incubates not only individuals starting businesses and creating art, but also to encourage working together—which will generate even more ideas and outlets.

Not long after leaving the show, I saw (again on social media) that Hailey had partnered up with Pearl River Glass Studio (142 Millsaps Ave., pearlriverglass.com) to turn his photographed images into a three-dimensional glass sculpture. Then, in another post, he shared a collaboration with Lauren Miltner of Lo Lady Fashion Jewelry, who makes vintage-inspired pieces, to incorporate the Photamerica series into wearable art. I personally can't wait to get one of the downtown Jackson pieces to wear around my neck.

We're incredibly lucky to have our artistic community here in Jackson. Creative thought and collaboration contribute intangibles that are vital to a sense of community, but they can also help contribute to a healthy economy for our city. Kudos to midtown for capitalizing on that. I hope the energy spreads to other areas of town, too ... and that you'll look for and support local artists and what they do.

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