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Local artists displaying work on Possibilities Tour

NATCHEZ — Fifteen vacant buildings in downtown Natchez will come alive Saturday through a handful of creative artists showcasing their work during an economic development tour.

The Possibilities Tour, “Turning Deserted Space into Dynamic Places,” is aimed to market available buildings on Franklin and Main streets, as well as the Lombardo building on Canal Street.

The buildings will be displayed for repurposing in the form of a sale or lease for new or existing businesses or groups seeking a new home.

Natchez Inc. Project Manager Chris Hinton, who is helping organize the tour, said the area has a significant amount of creative artists that were a perfect match to pair with the tour.

Hinton said several creative artists were highlighted in an entrepreneur explosion event in the spring, and the tour was a great way to continue sharing their talents with the community.

“We wanted to continue that flare into the Possibilities Tour,” Hinton said. “We continued it with creative artists and entrepreneurs who have interesting products they showcase.

“We’re not only showcasing vacant buildings — we want to showcase people’s talents, as well.”

A variety of local artists will be stationed at the various buildings on the tour with their work on display.

Natchez native and photographer Dee Boyte will have her work displayed at 409 Franklin St., and said she’s excited for the opportunity to showcase her work.

“I’m from Natchez, born and reared, and I’m really excited to get more involved in these kinds of events throughout the community,” Boyte said. “I’m going to display a lot of landscape photos and several I took over balloon race weekend I ended up taking waiting for the balloons to fly.”

Boyte always considered photography a hobby, but became more passionate about taking photos soon after both her parents died from cancer.

“I was going through my photos after they died and it just kind of hit me that I don’t have a lot of photos of me and my family,” Boyte said. “I regret not getting those photos done, and I can’t take them with my parents and myself anymore, but I can definitely do that for others and help make sure they have photos to pass down through their families. I call them ‘tangible memories.’”

Natchez native and current LSU senior Katelee Laird will have her paintings and artwork displayed at 413 Franklin St., and said the tour will be her first major display of work.

“I’m definitely excited because I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m also pretty nervous,” Laird said. “It’s just starting to hit me.”

Laird, who is majoring in painting and drawing and minoring in printmaking and art history, said she will have a variety of work displayed.

“Natchez is definitely a great influence because I absolutely love the culture and everything about Natchez,” Laird said. “So I include a lot of Natchez in my work.”

Other artists on display at the various buildings include:

• 326 Main St. — Hayes Harris

• 404 Main St. — Larry Williams

• 420 Main St. — Cathedral High School

• 505 A & B Main St. — Jane Portwood Gibson

• 511 Main St. — National Coalition of 100 Black Woman Artwork of Concordia Parish

• 521 Main St. — Melvin Tillman

• 406 Franklin St. — Trinity School

• 409 Franklin St. — Chris Davis and Dee Boyte

• 413 Franklin St. — Katelee and Hudson Laird

• 415 Franklin St. — Natchez Art Association

• 523 Franklin St. — Ben Hillyer

• 4298 Canal St. — Kaelin Daye

The artists and buildings will be on tour from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the various locations.