"Neighbors" Mural Restored in Colquitt, Georgia

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"Neighbors," part of the Colquitt/Miller Arts Council's Millennium Mural Project, is getting a facelift from artist Wes Hardin.

Neighbors, by Wes Hardin

Neighbors Mural, during restoration

The Colquitt/Miller Arts Council has brought Wes Hardin back to Colquitt to restore his mural, to ensure it will remain beautiful and vibrant for generations of visitors to come.

14 years of constant sun and occasional storms has taken its toll on "Neighbors," the third of 16 murals to be completed as part of the Colquitt/Miller Arts Council' s Millennium Mural Project.

The Millennium Mural Project began in 1999 when the Arts Council received the "America Creates For The Millennium" grant for the state of Georgia from the National Endowment for the Arts. CMAC, already nationally known for producing Swamp Gravy, Georgia's Official Folk Life Play, chose to invest the funds from the grant in murals as another medium for sharing the region's stories and culture with visitors from across the nation and around the world.

"Neighbors," designed and painted by Wes Hardin of Dothan, Alabama, tells one of such story: a farming family is in dire straights when the farmer breaks his back at the start of planting season. With his wife occupied with caring for him, his young children are left to run the farm, but the family is in very real danger of not having a crop for the season, which could lead to losing the farm or even starving come the winter. Hope comes with the dawn as their neighbors arrive unexpectedly, bringing with them 12 wagonloads food, tools, seed and plenty of hands help. At the end of the day, the fields will be planted and the chores caught up, and the family will have what they need to face another year. Said the original storyteller, "it was my neighbors who did not turn their backs, and that makes God smile." "Neighbors" was completed in November of 2000.

In addition to the rigors of weather exposure, sun, and building settling, "Neighbors" was painted using a different type of paint from many of the other murals in the project. This has allowed for premature fading of the lovely artwork. On July 31, 2014, CMAC brought Wes Hardin back to Colquitt to restore the piece, using a more proven brand of paint to ensure that his mural will remain beautiful and vibrant for generations of visitors to come. Work on the restoration will continue throughout the month of August.

The Colquitt/Miller Arts Council is in the process of obtaining a 15-person, handicapped accessible tram for use during guided tours of the Millennium Mural Project. Visitors can schedule a guided tour on the new tram beginning this October, while in town for a showing of the newest "Swamp Gravy" production, "Swamp Gravy: Lost and Found." "Swamp Gravy" will run the entire month of October, with showings on Fridays at 7:30 and Saturdays at 2:00 and 5:30. For more information about The Millennium Mural Project, Swamp Gravy, and the Colquitt/Miller Arts Council, please call 229-758-5450.

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Kate Willis
since: 11/2012
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