By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
When Emily Harp, the enthusiastic executive director of Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, was looking for someone to paint a mural that would serve as the focal point for a proposed project to enhance the attraction of downtown Atmore, she only had to look about 65 miles to the south.
Patti Gillespie, a Crestview, Fla. artist who specializes in murals and whose works have been displayed throughout the Florida Panhandle, agreed to create the 12×30 painting that will cover a large portion of the Ridgeley Street side of Chamber headquarters.
Gillespie, who is presently working on completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at West Florida University, predicted that the project should take about two weeks. She had hoped to finish it this week, but rain and the chance of more rain has slowed her progress to some degree.
“She’s phenomenal; she’s painting today, in the rain,” Harp said at midday Tuesday. “It is really moving swiftly. She should be starting on the detail work later this week. She’s ahead of schedule, and should be through early next week.”
Harp said the mural would mark the starting point of a series of downtown tours that will cause motorists to “stop, park and get out of their cars” in Atmore.
“It is going to be awesome,” she said.
The muralist says on her website that, “My goal as an artist is to facilitate a stirring of the senses, an awakening or awareness to the aesthetics of the world around us. In my use of paint I strive to capture the essence of light in way as to illuminate the painting from within. I am interested in creating in my paintings the illusion of depth and space by using paint to suggest a third dimension.”
The Chamber director said several local businesses have donated goods or services to help facilitate the project, including Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which provided the scissors lift and other equipment; Pepsi Cola Bottling of Atmore, which supplied lodging for the artist; and Swift Supply and Fehr Paint Contracting, both of which provided paint for the mural.
Harp said the wall-painting project wouldn’t have enjoyed the success it had if not for the support the idea has received.
“We are absolutely grateful to the community for their support,” she said. “If we didn’t have that support, we couldn’t have done this.”
News photo by Ditto Gorme