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Street Talk

Business and Creativity Combine Downtown

By Mickey Howley

Last month Malcolm White, head of the Mississippi Arts Commission, gave a talk to a meeting of Mississippi Main Street managers. He talked about how art, imagination, and creativity are all right brain functions and that logic, math, and analytical functions are left-brain.  

Malcolm suggested that managers use their whole brain (my father used to tell me something similar) in their work of bringing economic and social vitality back to Mississippi Main Street towns.

So listening to Malcolm speak, I thought Water Valley seemed to be heading down the road of striking a balance between the logic and analytical side of businesses helping grow the local economy and the creative side of art bringing a vitality to the town.  

The new businesses we have seem to be hanging in there (buy local, okay!).  Some of them directly combine the business and creative; the two galleries, the photography studio, the dress design shop.

Not only do these new businesses add a creative aspect, but so do civic organizations. Recently the in-crease in creative energy downtown is in part due to the Water Valley Arts Council. The members are a pretty diverse group. They range with ages from 20s to 80s, many are native Vallians, some transplanted Oxonians, a smattering of other southerners and even folks from both east and west coasts. All seem to be enthusiastic about where the town is going.

There is one business that has been in the creative game longer than all the others. Anissa Wilkerson and Imagination Station have been in Water Valley for eight years. In that time several hundred students have attended the Station and taken art classes. It is this large group of students, exposed to art and the creative process, that really makes a difference. They bring an enthusiasm for the arts that is contagious.

It also means the parents of these students believe that art is an important aspect of one’s education and the time, effort, energy, and money put in that direction are well worth it. Eight years in business means Anissa and crew are doing something right. And what they are doing is good for the community, too.

Imagination Station’s student art show project this year was to build a 3-D model of Water Valley’s downtown. Anissa, Libby Kuchta, and Rebecca McGavock oversaw the assembly of the many student made buildings. It really looks like an architectural model with a healthy splash of creative flair. It will be on display in the Main Street office window, stop by to have a look or just glance in the window one evening when you are strolling Main Street. It is an impressive and creative project.

Water Valley’s Main Street Farmers Market opens this Saturday at 8am and goes to 11am. Come get some of the freshest of the fresh. Action is in Railroad Park under the big magnolia.

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