N.O. transplant’s mural finds home at Audubon office|[05/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2008

In anticipation of the local National Audubon Society chapter’s soon-to-be-open store at 1208 Washington St., a large painting has been unveiled this week and will be prominently displayed in the downtown storefront.

“In a sense, this is like bringing one of the waterfront murals up to Washington Street,” said Audubon Lower Mississippi River Program Office Director Bruce Reid of the painting, which measures 11 by 7 feet. “We think it’s just as impressive.”

Katalin “Kathy” Gergo created the painting, called Cusp of Spring, an oil on canvas depicting a bottomland hardwood forest scene commonly found in the Warren County area.

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Reid said he hopes to have the store open within a month, featuring Audubon prints, as well as nature-related books, merchandise and gifts.

“Our office has been located downtown for about four years, but the store will allow us to have a much larger public presence here,” he said. “We like to consider it as more of a welcome center than anything.”

Reid and others at the Audubon office tapped Gergo to do the painting early this year, after viewing paintings she’s done that were inspired by nature scenes in south Louisiana swamps and bayous. Her art has been featured at the Attic If you goKatalin “Kathy” Gergo’s mural, Cusp of Spring, is on display at the Audubon office at 1208 Washington St. The office’s nature store is set to open within the next month.Gallery on Washington Street for about 15 years, although she didn’t move to Vicksburg until after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina about three years ago.

Gergo said it is the biggest painting she’s ever done, and has ended up being the most rewarding for her artistically.

“After leaving New Orleans I was kind of floundering. Nothing really bit me,” she told the crowd of about 70 people who attended the Tuesday night unveiling. “The sheer size of this was a new challenge, which always brings out the best in me. Now that I’ve done it, I feel revitalized. It’s the very best project I’ve ever taken on.”

Incorporated in 1905, the National Audubon Society is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to nature conservation. The Vicksburg chapter is one of six in Mississippi.

Born in Hungary, Gergo came to the United States in 1957, and moved to New Orleans in 1961. Her work has been featured in more than 30 solo exhibits, and is currently hanging, locally, at the Attic Gallery and, in New Orleans, at the Jean Bragg Gallery of Southern Art.