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Local business owners in Starkville who are looking to brighten up their walls need not go far to find beautiful artwork, and the best part is it won't cost the business a thing.
The Starkville Area Arts Council has a program called Art in Public Places created to benefit not only local businesses and area artists but the public as well.
"The purpose of Art in Public Places is to enrich our community by educating them about who our local artists are and then give our local artists a chance to promote their work," said committee chairperson Vicki Burnett. "As for benefitting the public, if you're sitting in line to pay your electric bill or waiting at the bank, isn't it nice to have something beautiful to look at while you wait?"
SAAC President Robin Fant said Art in Public Places is a way to beautify our public places, not only to improve the quality of life for locals, but to exhibit the talent and culture of Starkville to visitors as well.
"It takes the chain mentality away from businesses and shows some local flavor and personality," he said.
Burnett said several area businesses are already showcasing work by local artists, such as Starkville Electric, M&F Bank, Citizens Bank, ERA, Express Employment, Roberson Law Firm and Mayor Wiseman's office.
Anna Spivey of Express Employment said she loves having the art on display.
"It's just a great match with what we do," she said. "Our business is about serving the people of Starkville, and as much traffic as we have in our office, we love offering them a welcoming and beautiful place to sit down and relax a moment. We know it's appreciated because people comment on it all the time."
Spivey said she has personally become a fan of the art, purchasing a few of the pieces Express has displayed for her own home. Express Employment is currently featuring the works of Linda Lodato.
Burnett said the committee is looking for additional artists and businesses to participate in the program, and wants to encourage the public to visit the participating locations to not only enjoy the art but to consider purchasing it as well.
"We truly are blessed as a community to have so many talented artists, and as an artist myself, I'm grateful to live in an area where art is appreciated and encouraged," she said.
The Art in Public Places committee is hoping to begin pairing businesses with an individual artist.
"That way, the artist can choose the work and hang it," Burnett said. "Every six months we'd like to rotate and change the artist/business partnerships up."
Burnett said she encourages any business that would like to be paired with an artist to contact her at (662) 418-1820.
Artists wishing to participate in the program will need to be members of the SAAC; however, the businesses are not required to be members, although Burnett said the council would love to have them.
In order to become a member of the SAAC, interested individuals or businesses can contact Candy Crecink at (662) 324-3080 or go by the SAAC office at 101 S. Lafayette St., Suite 18, located inside the Greater Starkville Development Partnership building.
"I love to meet the artists in person," Crecink said. "We like to make it as easy as possible for people to become members."
Crecink said that being an SAAC member has privileges, including 10% discounts at Arby's, on book purchases (excluding textbooks) at the Book Mart & Cafe on Main St. and CJ's Pizza, to name a few.
Student memberships are $10, individuals are $30 and families are $50. The SAAC can provide more information for business and other memberships since there are multiple levels of membership choices involved.
"The membership dues allow the arts council to give back to the community through education grants, art grants, college scholarships, summer scholarships and other community programs such as Pumpkinpalooza and the Cotton District Arts Festival," Crecink said. "They are the foundation for everything we do."