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As Real as it Gets

JACKSON – Don Jacobs’ artistic talent has opened doors for him… all the way to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.

The Brookhaven native was recently commissioned to do a mural onthe walls of the conference room of a private section of themansion. The task was part of the renovation project going on atthe facility.

Jacobs, 54, got the opportunity to paint the mural after workingwith the St. Andrews Designer Showcase, a fund-raiser held everyyear in which designers, artists and decorators come into a houseand show their work for the public to view.

Jacobs was painting a mural in the house at a recent showcasewhen one of the decorators, who had connections with the Governor’sMansion, saw his work, liked it and recommended him for theproject.

“I was honored to be able to do it,” Jacobs said. “It was a nicefeeling to be able to drive up to the Governor’s Mansion everyday.”

Jacobs looked to his years of experience painting murals and hiseye for realism and detail to bring scenes from around Mississippito life. He spent months painting a monochrome Mississippilandscape that stretches 9-feet high and spans 60 feet across theroom. He worked with several decorators at the mansion tocoordinate the piece to flow with all the other renovation going onthere.

“The idea is for it to be subtle,” Jacobs said, about the use ofmonochrome in the painting. “We wanted a Mississippi landscapewithout all the clichéd stuff. No buildings, but something thatshould stand throughout time.”

So Jacobs went to work in one corner of the room starting withfeatures synonymous with the Mississippi Delta, like fields ofcrops. He continued painting around the room, as the state’s hillcountry and piney woods took shape. He spent three weeks alonepainting the detail on the bark in the pine trees.

“I thought I would spend five or six weeks on this, but I endedup spending four months there,” Jacobs said.

The mural continued to come to life with roaring waves from theMississippi Gulf Coast, a distant shot of the Mississippi RiverBridge and ending with a section of kudzu. From time to time,guests would pop in to see how the painting progressed.

First Lady Marsha Barbour would stop by periodically to view themural and sometimes brought the governor along as well, Jacobssaid.

Jacobs said monies that had already been allocated from previousadministrations funded the mural, which was something MarshaBarbour really supported. He said Mrs. Barbour has a twin sisterwith a similar mural in her home.

“Mrs. Barbour was real nice to work with. And a the muralprogressed, he (the governor) got into it,” he said. “All thepeople were extremely friendly and interested in what I was doing.It was great to see everyone’s enthusiasm as I was finishing theproject.”

Jacobs started doing murals after doing faux finishing work inseveral luxurious Jackson homes that had murals in them.

“I thought ‘God, I could do that,'” he said.

So he put the word out and started painting large pieces. Hisfirst mural was an 8×8 Egyptian scene with ruins and a fountain fora country club. Since then, he’s done murals on occasion, each timeworking to perfect his craft.

Painting, like anything, gets better with time and practice,Jacobs said.

“The more you do it, the better you get at it,” Jacobs said.”It’s neat to see the progress I’ve made over the years. I’veworked really hard.”

Since putting the finishing touches on the mansion’s mural,Jacobs’ work has been lauded by many. Gov. Barbour has even broughtin several prominent people to view it.

“Three weeks after it was done, he brought B.B. King in to seeit and a month after he brought in Rudy Giuliani. That’s been quitea thrill,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said none of the murals have compared to the one he didfor the Governor’s Mansion. He is thrilled to have had theopportunity and looks forward to more doors opening.

“I made good contacts through doing it, and in time, I hope itleads to something else,” Jacobs said. “If nothing else, it’ll beon my resume. We’ll just have to see what comes of it. I had agreat time. It was a great experience all around.”