- Associated Press - Sunday, August 23, 2020

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A new mural completed in downtown Lafayette this week combines the Acadiana artist’s creative ideas with the area’s charm to brighten the side of a Jefferson Street building.

Eunice resident Hannah Gumbo, who describes herself as a freelance artist and illustrator, is the creative mind behind Lafayette’s newest mural. She said she wants it to capture the “fun and vibrant feeling” of downtown.

“There’s just a lot of life and energy to the area and that sort of represents Lafayette as a whole of course,” Gumbo said. “In a small way, (the mural) is kind of trying to have a glimpse of that.”

Gumbo, 30, is currently working as a full-time artist. After 11 days at the mural site at 734 Jefferson St., Gumbo finished it Tuesday morning.

She was commissioned through a public-private partnership with the Downtown Lafayette organization and the owners of the building, Larry and Kathy Sides.

“I think it’s great to see downtown always being forward thinking,” Gumbo said. “Even though we have such beautiful business and historic buildings, they’re not afraid to continue to add more talent and more color.”

Gumbo said the sketches for the mural were physical sketches that eventually made it into the “digital world” where she made changes to the design based on what the clients wanted.

She said while Downtown Lafayette had ideas for the mural, it was a “collaborative brainstorm.” Gumbo incorporated symbolism in the mural that represents events downtown, including the Sno-ball Festival, Po-boy Festival, Festival International and Art Walk.

“I think that most people who have lived in Lafayette, for even a short amount of time, can relate to some of the little moments or icons that are represented,” Gumbo said. “I think in that way it can make people feel a togetherness, even though they’re apart.”

Gumbo also included a man playing trombone in her mural that she describes as “Mr. John the Revelator.”

“He’s such a gem for downtown,” Gumbo said. “You never know where you’re going to see him popping up and playing his music.”

She said she wants people to be delighted when they see her creation on the side of the building.

“I think it’s that much more special that it is something that you may not know it’s there and you just kind of stumble upon it,” Gumbo said.

Gumbo started her work day around 5:30 a.m. and painted until about noon to avoid the afternoon summer heat. That heat was the most challenging part of the process, but she enjoyed working outside in the downtown environment.

“It was really special for me to be able to interact with people who were heading to work or just out and about,” Gumbo. “Being able to work outdoors and have people ask questions and walk up to me and get excited about the work and watch it come to life was really special. I wasn’t in a rush to miss some of that.”

Gumbo grew up in Lafayette and was in an arts program during high school where she said she had a teacher who encouraged her to pursue art. She received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in painting from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2012.

After graduating, she started digitizing her paintings, which exposed her to digital art. She said she does both physical and digital art. She’s illustrated a children’s book, created art prints, stickers and packaging and designed merchandise for bands.

“The only consistency through it all is just my style,” Gumbo said. “I want my hand to show through.”

Gumbo will be working on another mural in September at a private residence. She said she plans to film the progress and post it on social media, like she did for the downtown mural.

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