West Point artist brings ‘Fabulous Starkvegas’ to life

West Point artist Deborah Mansfield stands in front of her newest mural on the side of the new Gondolier Italian Restaurant near the Mill Conference Center. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Wearing a hard hat and paint-splattered denim as construction happens around her, Deborah Mansfield could easily be mistaken for a day-laborer.

But this popular West Point muralist is more than a set of capable hands on a job site.

Mansfield has been active in the Golden Triangle art scene for years and owns Deborah Mansfield Decorative Painting in West Point, which had helped transform the look of West Point with more than a dozen murals.

Now, the artist is helping add color to a new development in a bustling part of Starkville.

On the wall of the new Gondolier Italian Restaurant, in an alley facing the new Russell Street development next door to The Mill, Mansfield is putting the finishing touches on a mural that she hopes will capture the essence of Mississippi’s College Town.

“I had another girl helping with it last week, and we’ve put about 130 hours of work in,” Mansfield said. “We started it last Tuesday and expect to be done (Thursday.)”

The mural features the Las Vegas-style “Fabulous Starkvegas Mississippi” sign, along with images of local landmarks.

“The developers wanted it to look like a postcard, so people could stand in front of it and get their picture taken, so I picked several different places, The Mill, Bin 612, Bully, the stadium and the Chapel.”

Developer Mark Castleberry expressed his support for public art and what it could mean for that spot adjacent to The Mill, which will soon feature new restaurant space sure to generate foot traffic.

“We just hope that becomes a popular place for people to have selfies taken and just a good reason to come to the 550 development,” Castleberry said.

Mansfield also recently completed a mural for property owner and Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill on Louisville Street. The side of the Spruill Property Management building now features a Native American heritage mural.

“We painted the dumpsters, too” Mansfield said with a laugh.

While the mural in Starkville will be done this week, Mansfield is planning her 15th mural in West Point.

Work will begin in May on a fundraiser project for the West Point-Clay County Animal Shelter and West Point Main Street.

“It’s dogs playing poker and dogs playing pool, like the famous old velvet painting, and so for $350, you’re able to put your dog at the pool table or at the poker table and then half goes to the animal shelter and half goes to Main Street,” Mansfield said. “We will hopefully raise $10,000.”

The mural will go on the side of the Smoke Stack and Frank’s Package Store on Main Street. Mansfield travels often for her work and said it takes a special person to undertake larger pieces of work like a mural.

“It’s more physical than sitting at my table and doing tiny work,” Mansfield said. “I just like this, it impacts a lot more people. Art makes me happy and I think it makes a lot of people happy.”