An alligator playing the accordion and a mullet relaxing in a hammock won it all for Gautier artist Althea Trahan.
Trahan won first place in the Gautier Mullet & Music Fest art contest, and her art will appear on the T-shirts, posters and other promotional items for the 28th annual festival.
One of the only rules for the contest is that it must be centered on the city’s “Nature’s Playground” theme.
“Since it was nature’s playground, I thought of the Gautier Gators, the Sandhill crane, and all of those little creatures around here,” Trahan said of her winning artwork.
The acrylic painting features a mullet wearing a hat, a cross-eyed spider, a football playing frog, an accordion playing gator, various birds, and other creatures.
“Since it’s a playground, I thought about doing something about camping on the river because we all do it,” she said. “We all go fishing and go down by the river, and a lot of people camp.”
Trahan, who has been painting for about five years and is mostly self-taught and YouTube taught, said she was surprised that her painting won.
“I was just doing this because it was something fun to do, not thinking it would ever win,” she said. “It’s a little cartoon thing, and I don’t usually paint like that. It was nothing serious. All of my other art is just serious, and this was a whim.”
Trahan’s typical work, for sale at Poppy’s in Ocean Springs, is quite realistic and features lots of birds (she especially loves pelicans), crabs, crawfish, fish and “anything coastal,” she said.
Trahan used to draw in high school, but she’d never picked up a paintbrush until she was invited to a paint party with some coworkers.
Local artist Sandra Eisler taught a class at Singing River Mall, and Trahan attended with some Singing River Health System friends.
“That night, I painted a palm tree kind of leaning over with the ocean in the background,” she said. “When I got home, I told my husband that I might go get me some paint because it was so fun. He said, ‘Let’s go,’ and that was it. I just took off and started painting, and I haven’t stopped since.”
Trahan was giving away most of her paintings to friends, she said, and she was caught off-guard when people began asking about purchasing her art.
“Then it got to the point to where people were asking me to paint things for them,” she said. “I was blown away.”
Trahan retired from SRHS after 25 years in the business office, and now she wakes up every morning and does what she loves—she paints, “flying by the seat of my pants,” she said.