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Passion for painting persists and prevails Charles Price, owner of the Oddfellows Gallery, stands in front of his paintings that are on display in Hattiesburg. / Bryant Hawkins/Hattiesburg American
If you go Charles Price’s new series of paintings, “The Power of Movement,” is on display through April 27 at Oddfellows Gallery, 119 E. Front St. in Hattiesburg.
HATTIESBURG — Think of Charles Price as the man with three hats.
Hat one we’ll call a hunter’s cap, put on moth balls long ago when Price sold his sporting goods store, Big Buck Sports, in 2006.
Hat two? A hardhat for Price’s renovation of four downtown Hattiesburg buildings into artist spaces and apartments.
But the most unusual one is best described as an artist’s beret, representative of Price’s lifelong passion in pushing paint around a canvas.
Passion is not an overstatement, even though Price’s down-to-earth language might fool you.
“It’s like a good game of golf,” said Price, 69, about entering his artistic zone. “The rhythm. The harmony. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
His wife and business manager, Anita, gives a different spin on his creative output.
“He’s always been very imaginative, and when he does focus on something, he gives it his complete attention,” she explained. “There is no space for anything else. He will go with nothing to eat, nothing to drink, no sleep.”
So, a little patience is required now and then, which Anita is willing to supply.
“If I ask him a question and he doesn’t answer it for three days, it’s because his mind is in his world and not in mine,” she says slowly. “He will get around to it.”
You might think it unusual that a man with Price’s mind for business would have such an all-consuming interest in creating modern abstract paintings and sculptures.
It’s an odd juxtaposition not lost on Betsy Rowell, executive director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association.
“You’re kind of like, this guy is an artist? Really?” laughs Rowell.
Price will have none of it. He states that some artists — from the 17th century Peter Paul Rubens to the contemporary David Hockney — make good businessmen, while some businessmen — think Steve Jobs — possess an artistic flair .
Price once chose business over art. He won a statewide art competition in high school but declined the resulting $800 scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi in order to go into the Navy.
When he returned to Southern Miss, he avoided art because he was told there was no future in it. Eventually, he dropped out to help his father, Lamar Price, run his various businesses.
Now, he balances both art and business. When he was 50, he began eight years of art instruction at Southern Miss, taking one class per semester.
He’s been producing art ever since. His latest series of paintings, grouped under the title “The Power of Movement,” attempts to capture the kind of compositional flow that you see in a piece of music.
“About once a year, I get on a kick and knock out about eight to 10 big ones,” he said of the paintings that currently line the walls.
As to where to display those large paintings? Well, Price took care of that problem by buying the Oddfellows Building in downtown Hattiesburg in 2008 and renovating it into a gallery.
“You have world-class lighting, 14-foot-tall ceilings, white walls,” he remarks of the building, whose rehabilitation won a 2012 Mississippi Heritage Trust Award. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”