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Billboard serving as gallery for masterpiece reproduction

A Brookhaven businessman and a local painter recentlycollaborated on a unique opportunity to have a positive influenceon visitors and residents of Brookhaven.

The idea to use a large sign as a way to help others began acouple months ago when Lyle Hobbs was trying to decide what to dowith a billboard on some of his property at the corner of BrookwayBoulevard and West Cherokee Street.

After much praying and consulting with others, such as Christianartists and his brother, Van, who is part-owner of the property,Hobbs opted not to use the billboard for business advertisingpurposes, but rather advertise the love of God.

“I thought it would be appropriate to use it for a greaterpurpose because it’s a spectacular focal point for visitors comingto Brookhaven and for people who work here and live here,” Hobbssaid.

Before deciding on having the Lord’s Last Supper painted on thebillboard by Shaffier Smith, Hobbs pondered on what picture wouldbest show that “God had sacrificed his Son to give us eternallife.”

As Hobbs and Smith talked about what would be the perfectpainting, they were amazed at how they both agreed the Lord’s LastSupper was what they both had in mind.

“It was something I had wanted to do for a long time,” Smithsaid. “I had gotten a print of the Lord’s Supper in hopes ofpainting it one day.”

When Hobbs saw Smith’s print of the well-known painting byLeonardo Da Vinci, he knew that was what he had been searching forto enlighten those passing by the billboard.

“It’s a presentation of the disciples listening to Jesus Christthe night of His betrayal,” Hobbs explained. “He was telling themabout the new Covenant, which would become His blood sacrifice forthe forgiveness of our sins.”

Hobbs spoke with his brother once again before giving Smith theassignment.

“Van not only liked it very much, he came up with the idea ofputting ‘Brookhaven — Another MASTERpiece’ at the top,” Hobbscommented, adding that master was put in all capital lettersbecause it signified that Jesus was Master.

Once the design was decided upon, Smith went to work. Over asix-week period, he and his co-worker, Chris Smith, used aprojector to enlarge the artwork, then paint its image on severalMDO plyboards that were put together to create the billboard.

When the final touches were added and the billboard wascomplete, Hobbs was overcome by its almost mirror image of theoriginal.

“It’s a masterful work to reproduce an oil painting that large.He did a great job on it,” he said.

Hobbs sees the billboard as a great match for the excitingchanges Brookhaven has undergone recently and those yet tocome.

“I started thinking about scripture and how this community hasbeen tremendously blessed,” Hobbs said. “It (the painting) remindedme of a lot of people working in unison and listening to God’swisdom for guidance.”

He believes it will serve as a warm welcome and an addition tothe Mississippi School of Arts, which is scheduled to open on theWhitworth College campus in a few years.

“The sign compliments a great man of Christian faith and vision,the Rev. Milton Whitworth, of whom Whitworth College was namedafter,” Hobbs remarked, explaining how Whitworth was a Methodistpreacher who donated the property for an educational institute andchurch in 1859.

The overall hopes for the billboard are that it will touchpeople’s lives in a spiritual way, Hobbs added.

“I hope and pray that the conversation that comes from seeingthe sign will lead someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christas Savior and Lord thereafter,” he said.

He believes many have already been affected in some way sincethe completion of the billboard several weeks ago.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive remarks. I’ve even seen peoplefrom out of town standing under the sign. They heard about it andcame to look at it,” Hobbs said.

Smith has also been overwhelmed by the number of people who havenoticed the billboard.

“Everywhere we go, left and right we have people complimentingit,” he commented.

Smith also added that the sign has gained national attention aspossibly the largest re-creation ever of the Lord’s Last Supper.Representatives from Guinness’ Book of World Records have reportedhearing about the billboard, Smith said.