Mississippi College

Mississippi Main Street Honors Clintonians with MC Connections

June 29, 2009

The Wyatt Waters Gallery is a destination point for visitors walking the brick streets of Clinton's historic downtown area.

It's now an award-winning, must-see place of business for artists and art lovers who stroll Olde Towne, says a group that promotes economic development in dozens of downtowns across the Magnolia State.

The Mississippi Main Street Association in late June named the Wyatt Waters Gallery its Main Street Merchant of the Year. In the economic restructuring category, it shares the honor with Yuki Northington of Hancock County.

The popular Clinton gallery is owned by MC graduates Wyatt Waters and his wife, Vicki.

Also recognized by Mississippi Main Street at a June 25 luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson was dentist Dr. Ryan Tracy. He's an MC alumnus who later graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and has been a longtime supporter of the Main Street Clinton program. He served as president of the group's board of directors for its first two years and helped shape its vision for years to come.

Dr. Tracy received the Paul Coggin Memorial Award that notes the time, commitment and enthusiasm that Coggin brought to the 20-year-old Mississippi Main Street Association. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Mississippi Main Street organization is a program of the Jackson-based Mississippi Development Authority.

Since 1993, records show Mississippi Main Street has been responsible for nearly $3.5 billion in combined public and private investment across the state. MMSA has 56 active community programs statewide and is linked to more than 1,800 Main Street programs in all 50 states, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Tara Lytal, a Mississippi College graduate who is manager of the Main Street Clinton group, was thrilled about the news after attending the program in downtown Jackson.

"It is such an honor for Main Street Clinton to receive two Mississippi Main Street awards," Lytal said. "Both the Wyatt Waters Gallery and Dr. Ryan Tracy have been instrumental in the early successes our program experienced," Lytal said Monday. "It is rewarding to see them recognized for their dedication and commitment to the Main Street program."

MMSA Executive Director Bob Wilson commended all the award winners last week. "This year's award winners reflect the commitment of so many people and communities who have made MMSA what it is today."

Community efforts in such cities as Cleveland, Columbus, Tupelo, Greenwood, Vicksburg, Tunica, Pontotoc, Senatobia, Water Valley, Kosciusko, and Picayune were among the two dozen other award winners.

This is the latest recognition for Wyatt Waters. He credits former MC art department chairman and internationally celebrated artist Sam Gore for encouraging him to study art on the Clinton campus.

Waters began selling paintings in college at flea markets and art fairs on weekends and did 15-minute pencil portraits of people. The rest is history. Two books on his paintings have been published. The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson and Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel have hosted solo shows of his work. Waters is a past president of the Mississippi Watercolor Society. He's worked on promotional projects for Parisian stores, Texaco, and Standard Oil, and his works are held in a number of corporate collections.

Wyatt and his wife, Vicki, are more than pleased to see their gallery put in the spotlight.

"Wyatt and I are thrilled and excited," Vicki Waters said. "It is a wonderful honor and we are delighted."

Photo: Dr. Ryan Tracy, Vicki Waters, Main Street Program Manager Tara Lytal, and Wyatt Waters

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