Nominated as a Modern Mississippi site, Ocean Springs is a city that has a long history of artists and forward thinkers, so Max the Modern Machine drove down to the Coast to check out The City of Discovery!
Ocean Springs has a unique identity, but this doesn’t stop the city from being involved with other cities on the Coast, supporting and working with places like Bay St. Louis to move forward after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Although the city, along with the entire Gulf Coast, felt the effects of Katrina, Ocean Springs continued to be a hub of artistic activity, adding to the legacy of Walter Anderson. Now, Ocean Springs is recreating the town to be the Live Music Capitol of Mississippi while maintaining the artistic community that is already in place. The vibrant bars, restaurants, and cafés only add to the modernity of Ocean Springs.
A huge thank you to Vicki Applewhite, our Ocean Springs Modern Ambassador who spearheads the Ocean Springs Live summer concert series. Another thank you to the Walter Anderson Museum for allowing us to use the community room to meet with the Modern Mississippians. It was a treat to be surrounded by the vibrant art of Walter Anderson for the day!
We look forward to our next visit and our next Tato-nut!
These are the stories we experienced while visiting this community. To find more stories about places and people from the area, explore the map.
Vicki Applewhite is the sole owner of Ocean Springs LIVE, a company that brings live music to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Although Ocean Springs already has a thriving music scene, Vicki recognizes the need of helping artists to promote their performances, as well as bringing in outside musicians. With both of these forces at work, Ocean Springs is well on its way to achieving Vicki’s goal—being the live music capitol of the state.
“You have the power to tell your story and get it out there. And it’s critical that you know how to do it, that you try to do it. So, if I thought there was one thing that everybody in Mississippi who had a story to tell could do, it would be tell their story digitally… And in Mississippi, we have compelling content. ”-Vicki
Chief of Civic Innovation and Development for the city of Biloxi Cliff Kirkland is working to provide better services at a lower cost to the citizens of the Gulf Coast. His most current project is establishing a fiber optic ring around the Gulf Coast to help provide wireless internet to households of all income levels. Focusing on the potential this will have on education, Cliff hopes that this wireless capability will enrich the lives of those on the Gulf Coast and is an investment in the future.
Jessie Zener is the co-owner of The Greenhouse on Porter, a local biscuits, coffee, and beer shop in Ocean Springs. Although the Greenhouse fell into their laps, Jessie and Kate, her co-owner, have created a space that is community oriented.
“We set out from the beginning to have an active role in the community, and not just be about biscuits, and not just be about us. But to have an active role in bringing people together and giving a place for people to springboard their ideas and start their businesses.”-Jessie
Hurricane Katrina drastically altered the life of Mary Ann O’Gorman, poet. After the storm, she began practicing yoga and eventually began teaching.
“When I moved here, I realized that you were allowed to be—eccentric is a nice word for it—on the street. There was no need to hide yourself, and that was a challenge for me personally. And I feel like I’ve grown into that because the community is very accepting.”- Mary Ann
Ron Feder views himself as fortunate. Through a successful law practice, Feder and his wife gained the resources to pour into arts programs on the coast, specifically in Ocean Springs.
“Art is another means of storying telling through the eyes of the creator… I’m a lucky guy trying to give back… The duty of the living is to keep on living, but to honor those that inspired us.”-Ron
Keith Wooten is the owner of Buddyrow, Life More Civilized in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Buddyrow is a collection of vintage and modern clothing, jewelry, housewares, and art. With a background in fashion design, Keith has a great eye for unique pieces to bring to Buddyrow.
“Good design is always good design, whether it’s an eighteenth century piece or a twenty-first century piece. If it’s good, true design, they can all work together.”-Keith
Carmen Lugo is a visual artist from the Coast. After Hurricane Katrina, Carmen realized the importance of community and the impact that it can have, so she began including in the community in her works. Through the Fear Project, she asked others to anonymously share their fears, which she later painted. Her work highlights the commonality that we share, and the value of community.
“I haven’t experienced anything like that until I moved here. The network, the communities—it’s community. Everybody constantly pushing each other up instead of competing with each other, and I think that’s taught me the value of having a strong community behind you, everybody rallying behind each other.”-Carmen
The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio was established after Hurricane Katrina. A branch of Mississippi State University, the Design Studio is community-based practice that strives to give those who may not be able to afford an architect a well-designed home and to address the systemic issues, such as land use and housing, which affect the Gulf Coast.
“It’s obviously very rewarding to be in the community where the work is going on, to live here and work here. Not only see the work getting done, but now to see how people have planted gardens and really made those houses into their homes. That’s been a very rewarding aspect of being surrounded by our work.”-David
Mark and Madison Talley own TALL Studio Architecture in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
After working in more commercial setting, the Talleys decided to see
if they could hold their own in the architecture world. Building a
structure to withstand the climate and hurricane season can be
challenging in terms of materials and design.
“I think has been easier to take risks here too because there is this younger community that’s coming in and kind of banding together. So it’s not so scary because you have other people you see that are doing it as well. We have a lot of young friends that are starting businesses, so we’re able to bounce ideas off each other.”-Madison
Julie Kuklinsky is the Director of the Women in Construction program on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Leading demo crews after Hurricane Katrina, Julie fell in love with rebuilding houses and working with women in the construction field. Now, she continues to empower women by training them in a typically male-dominated field.
“When we do a project, it’s community-based—it’s not for profit at all. We do it to help the community, but our students get valuable learning. So after the storm, we were working in houses of people who needed it, and our students were getting trained on the site. So it was like a win-win situation for people who needed work done and women who needed to learn. And something interesting that’s in Mississippi to the core is that people appreciate people who work hard and it doesn’t really matter their gender.”-Julie
After being indicted for committing Judicial Bribery, Dickie Scruggs spent six years in prison and altered the course of his life. While in prison, he tutored fellow inmates so that they could receive their GED, and when he was released, Scruggs created Second Chance MS so those who have spent time in prison can receive proper tutoring for the GED.
“I realized after a fairly short time that I was regaining a sense of purpose. The reward in watching a man at any age, but a forty, fifty year old guy, even a twenty-five year old guy, watching a lightbulb go on, watching them start regaining some hope to redirect their lives was extremely rewarding for me. And it became my sense of purpose.”-Dickie
Matt Stebly is a tattoo artist in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He recently opened Twisted Anchor Tattoo in the heart of Downtown Ocean Springs. Although he began a business that dared to differ, his roots run deep into the heart of the history in Ocean Springs. As Walter Anderson’s great-grandson, Matt has a rich heritage in the artistic community of Mississippi.
“If Ocean Springs is known for being an art community, you should have a tattoo shop of that caliber that I want to have in Ocean Springs. I’ve tattooed eighty year old ladies that have always wanted a tattoo, but now feel like they can because it’s a little more acceptable. And people are actually seeing the art form of it.”-Matt
Tim and Barbara Alamsha own RockU2, the Ocean Springs Academy of Popular Music, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. They strive to instill a love of music in their students, while giving them opportunities to shine. Whether their students are there to pursue a career in music or to just have fun, Tim and Barbara want to give everyone who walks through their doors a taste of being a musician and hope that teamwork, confidence, and motivation are the overarching themes of RockU2.
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