The South Mississippi Art Association was established in 1964 by a group of Hattiesburg area artists who had a passion and a dream to further develop their talents and to display art to the public in order to increase awareness of the benefits of art and beauty around us. SMAA was incorporated as a section 501(c)3 organization.
An abandoned fire station on West Seventh Street, called “The Firehouse Gallery,” served as a meeting place and display space for many years until the City dismantled the building in the 1990s. Artists met there to paint, draw, and sculpt; and it even contained a kiln for firing pottery.
Since the demise of The Firehouse Gallery, SMAA has sought a home to call our own — room to create our art, store our equipment and resources, display our art, and conduct classes and workshops.
We enjoyed the generosity of Steve Floyd, who gave us space in several locations at the Cloverleaf Center for many years. In 2000, Mike Smith with the Hattiesburg Recreation Department provided us with a meeting room at the Lt. Ben McNair Recreation Center on 12th Avenue in Hattiesburg.
By 2006, the membership had grown to 145 members who meet regularly to do what they enjoy — create artworks to feed their souls and to share their talents and enthusiasm with others. Individually, we have taken classes, studied with masters, bought books, videos, CDs, and practiced by the hour, sometimes feeling frustration over the results, other times feeling the quiet satisfaction of putting thoughts and visions into tangible form. We use all media, from delicate watercolors to rock-hard sculpture, and employ photographic realism to ethereal abstract.
- As a group, we have held annual judged shows for 30 years.
- Patrons and sponsors have begun fine art collections and have encouraged artists by their support of these shows.
- We display art with JORT during their theatrical productions.
- We participate in Hattiesburg Downtown Art Walks.
- We maintain a rotating art gallery display in the former Kress Building on Main Street in Hattiesburg.
- We have provided art on loan to many businesses on request, including Main Street Books, JavaWerks, Coney Island Grill, and others.
- We have held Youth Art Shows, annually provided scholarship money to high school art students or their teachers as a memorial to founding member Julie Shutze.
- We donate artworks for auction to organizations such as Art for Heart, Southern Pines Animal Shelter, Pink Ribbon Ball Cancer Fund, the AIDS Coalition, and others.
- In May 2006, we collected and delivered art supplies and $1,000 in gift certificates for members of the Ocean Springs Art Association plus $600 to the OSAA to help replenish their lost property.
- When the Sarah Gillespie Gallery on the William Carey Campus on the Coast was destroyed, SMAA donated $2,500 and its members donated artwork to be auctioned at a fund-raising event in the Spring of 2007. A new building will be constructed on Hattiesburg’s William Carey Campus to house this valuable collection. SMAA is proud to help bring this treasure to Hattiesburg.
We share our talents, encourage beginners, reward successes, and enjoy camaraderie of kindred spirits. We are actively seeking a home where we have adequate room to teach, develop, learn, exhibit, and share the arts with Hattiesburg.