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Public library creates lobby art gallery — Nationally-acclaimed artist Mitchell unveils his piece ‘Farm Road’ Tuesday

The Lincoln County Public Library’s commitment to become the cultural center of Brookhaven is one piece closer.

That piece, “Farm Road,” was unveiled Tuesday by acclaimed landscaper watercolorist Dean Mitchell and Brookhaven artist Kim Sessums.

It’s the newest acquisition for the library’s growing art collection and was purchased through the Dille Fund for Art Acquisition program. Avery B. Dille Jr. bequeathed funds to the Mississippi Arts Commission to be used for the acquisition of landscapes and seascapes by public entities and the library received a $20,000 grant for the purchase of “Farm Road.” The library Board of Directors also raised $15,000 to add to it to purchase another piece by artist Stephen Scott Young, which will be unveiled later this year.

Board member Helen Lynch said the library is the perfect location for a permanent selection of fine art because more than 300 people visit the library every day and that number climbs in the summertime.

She was glad to be able to fund the purchase of the art acquisition through a grant.

“We already used grants for books, computers and even internet,” she said. “We figured there were some grants there to purchase art. We just needed to find it.”

They applied for the art and had to tell the MAC what piece they’d purchase, where it would be located, why they wanted it and what type of education the public would receive with its acquisition.

“Our vision was, ‘Let’s not make a room for art in the corner. Let’s have it out in the middle so the people who come in daily will see it coming in and out, so it becomes becomes part of our daily existence,’” Lynch said.

Sessums designed two 90-degree panels that would match the architecture already in place at the library. Welder Roy Dixon created the pieces for him and the library board paid for the structure through donations.

The panels fit so well into the library’s decor, they look like they were part of the recent remodel plan, Library Director Henry Ledet said.

Sessums said the panels can hold up to 30 small pieces or about eight of larger pieces, like Mitchell’s 22-inch-by-30-inch watercolor.

They chose Mitchell’s piece, “Farm Road,” because it looks like it could be a scene from Lincoln County rather than a farm road in Georgia.

As part of the grant, the library needed to educate the public about Mitchell’s art, so they invited the artist to Brookhaven. So on Tuesday, prior to the reception, Mitchell spoke to art students at Mississippi School of the Arts and encouraged them to follow their dreams, but also about how to deal with the business of becoming an artist. Then he spoke to the 80-plus people who attended the unveiling to discuss his journey from starving painter to accomplished artist.

Sessums said he’d seen one of Mitchell’s pieces in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

“You just know when you see the real thing,” he said. “Dean’s got that special thing. Dean Mitchell has been on my radar screen for a long time.

Avie Collins of Brookhaven was excited to meet the Florida artist.

“It was great,” she said. “He brought back home. It’s great. I love it. He’s good. A lot of the young people should have been here.”

Jazz trumpeter Kimble Funchess provided music during a reception before and after the reception. Funchess, a Crystal Springs native, has played with B. B. King, The O’Jays, Wilson Pickett, Charlie Pride, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Johnny Taylor and The Fifth Dimensions.