Art Project Sponsored by the Humphrey's Art
Council, City of Belzoni and Belzoni-Humphreys
making the SOS (Save Outdoor Sculpture) inventory
of the State of Mississippi, it was determined
has more outdoor sculpture per capita than any
other city in Mississippi.
The Humphreys Arts Council, along
with the City of
and the Belzoni-Humphreys Development Foundation, unveiled "Catfish on
Parade," an art display of 42 creatively painted fiberglass catfish in
front of local businesses and through-out the quaint Delta town. You will
see characters strutting around town such as "Florence Nightingale"
sponsored by the hospital, "Alicat" at 107 restaurant, and
Der" in front of a local law firm.
Belzoni seems to have the natural ingredients for a recipe of success to
cook up such an artful undertaking. They are an enthusiastic former mayor,
a slew of both professional and surprisingly talented amateur artists, and
a ubiquitous town mascot that has managed to sustain itself in today's
volatile farming economy. Former mayor Tom Turner, arts council board
member Laura Townsend and local artist Betty Parker had each seen
fiberglass animals showcased on the streets of
Seattle. The trio traveled to Meridian, the first city in
to join the national phenomenon, to see 37 colorful carousel horses on
display. Official plans were soon underway.
Standing five-feet-tall, the custom molds were designed by Cow Painters of
Chicago, the studio who also provided consultation for the
exhibit. Local businesses sponsored a fish and an artist. "So many
places have done this as a charity fundraiser but this is a community arts
project. We plan to display the fish for as long as possible, hopefully
for years to come," said Townsend, arts council board member.
Rita Halbrook, a painter for 25 years and handmade paper artist, crafted
the "Blues Cat" complete with a handmade hat and guitar representative
of "all the bluesmen of
Mississippi" and reminiscent, she says, of Boogelon and Belzoni's own Pinetop
In addition to up-and-coming artist Joy Barret, another hidden talent will
be revealed due to the work of schoolteachers and healthcare workers
alike. They've jumped in with so much creativity that one could not
easily discern amateurs from seasoned professionals. And unlike other
cities where the artists are paid, the catfish artists volunteered their
time and put in many long hours.