The streets of downtown Hattiesburg were bustling Saturday night for the Fall Art Walk. Artists sold their work in outdoor kiosks to families who came to enjoy local music, craftsmanship and the Historic Downtown atmosphere. Some of the artists at the Art Walk primarily wanted to express their devotion to local crafts.
Sommer and Leslie Halloway were selling jewelry at a kiosk for their small business, “Sweet Magnolia Designs.” Sommer creates clay jewelry, and Leslie builds jewelry holders and displays. The sisters have been working on the company for about a year. “I’m from the downtown Hattiesburg area,” Sommer Halloway said. “I’m just amazed that I can come here now, especially with something I just started.”
Halloway’s signature pieces are clay necklaces, earrings, and rings shaped like the state of Miss. She mixes the colored clay, cuts it into shapes, then fires and glazes it. “I enjoy being a participant, but I also love just coming and experiencing downtown,” she said.
For other vendors, the walks can bring much-needed income. Ben Sloin, 56, from Chicago, has lived in Hattiesburg area for 30 years. He was at the Art Walk Saturday afternoon selling his handmade leather gloves, key chains, and other leatherwork pieces. “I started with the gloves first, and then got into the key chains and other stuff,” Sloin said. This was his first Art Walk showing in the past few years and his first since being laid off from the nearby Kohler engine plant.
Sloin also regularly sells his crafts at gun shows. “I like to do [downtown art walks] because it doesn’t cost anything to set up here…I try to target shows where you can set up as cheaply as possible.”
The artists and entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who benefitted from the Art Walk. Kat Robinson, a junior history major, and her boyfriend Tristan Austin of Grenada, were taking the opportunity to connect with their families and each other. “My family goes to every Art Walk throughout the year. It’s kind of a tradition,” Robinson said. “It’s fun. My cousin sometimes has art here, at the Christmas walks. We’re all kind of art enthusiasts.”
The residents of Hattiesburg who attended Saturday’s Art Walk had plenty to provide an evening’s entertainment. The artists had an opportunity to share their work with local fans, and the downtown community enjoyed a welcome crowd.