Hangin’ Out on Jackson Street


Paula Jackson’s new gallery, Jackson Street Gallery at 51 Place, swirls with warmth and vibrancy. 

“I like to have color,” says Jackson, and her affinity for it shines in the paintings hanging on her gallery’s walls and in the décor - a fabulous mix of classic and eclectic. Soft music plays on the speakers while visitors peruse the artwork. The air smells like scented candles. Jackson strives to make her gallery welcoming – personal, even – and it seems as though she’s done exactly that.

Jackson Street Gallery opened next to Palladian Consign and Design in June of 2019. It isn’t Paula’s first time owning a gallery; in fact, Jackson has been in the business of selling art for 20 years. She owned several small galleries attached to other stores, but soon she found a brick-and-mortar location for her business to thrive on its own: a space at Trace Station on Jackson Street in Ridgeland. She called it, quite fittingly, Jackson Street Gallery.

The gallery closed in 2011 when Jackson decided to retire to take care of her parents. Taking care of ill family members is generally understood to be a bit of a burden – a burden made much heavier, in Paula’s case, by the death of her mother in March.

In the midst of the whirlwind, Jackson had stepped into Palladian to shop, but was met by store owner Kay Fagan with a surprising suggestion. As Jackson recalls, “The owner said, ‘Paula, why don’t you open up another gallery?’ And I thought, ‘Why don’t I?’”

At the time, Palladian’s neighbored The Bookshelf – a used bookstore which had been in business for 27 years – which was closing. With the space available for rent, Paula, thrilled but a bit overwhelmed, took Palladian’s advice and began the process of opening another gallery under the same name as the previous one: Jackson Street Gallery. “It was fun building it out,” says Jackson. “It’s very similar to my old gallery, which was 4,500 square feet; this is 1,200, so it’s a mini version of the other one.” 

As the space was being refitted for the new gallery, however, Jackson was still dealing with issues of the more personal nature: her father passed in June, just three months after her mother’s passing. 

“I just was very patient,” she says. “I said, ‘I can do it, I can do all of it,’ and it got done. But that was the challenge of thinking, ‘How am I going to do this with everything I’m trying to do for my parents?’ But I got it done, and it was very joyful for me.” 

Now that the gallery has been completed and opened, Paula gets to continue doing what she loves: showing off local talent and building community among local artists. 

Perhaps her favorite part of the job, though, is getting to know artists. “I do know all of the artists,” Jackson says. “And that makes it special, because I can kind of tell a story if somebody says, ‘Well, I love this painting, tell me about the artist.’ I know them.” Jackson aims to create more than just professional relationships with her gallery’s contributors; she creates friendships.

She displays the work of artists from all over the state who employ many different styles. Point to anything in the gallery, and Jackson can tell you who painted it, where they are from and why their work is unique to them. Her current displays include work from three generations of artists from the same family. Grandmother Beverly Harvey, her daughter Gena Steele and her granddaughter Camille Moenkhous all have paintings lining the walls.

“I told them it’s not fair to horde all the talent in one family,” Jackson says with a laugh.

In fact, the special relationships that Jackson cultivates with her artists brought many artists from the old Jackson Street Gallery back for the new one. “I haven’t been selling art for 8 years, but every artist in here, when I called, they said they wanted to be a part of my gallery,” she says.

Jackson native Buttons Marchetti is one of those artists.

Marchetti, who has been painting for the public for 30 years, sold between 50 and 60 paintings through Jackson’s first gallery on Jackson Street.

“I was in tears when she closed it,” Marchetti said. “And I was just as excited when she called me this springs and said she was opening another gallery, but I just love her and she does an excellent job of selling art.”

Not only does Jackson work with the artists she already knows and loves, but she is also passionate about displaying up-and-coming talent in her gallery. “I feel like everybody needs a chance,” she says. “A lot of galleries won’t hang the paintings of someone that has no name recognition, so if I can get new artists in here and I can look at their work and I can see the potential, then I will give them wall space and hopefully they’ll grow.” 

Regardless of their renown, Paula has a strong conviction for supporting and spotlighting burgeoning talent. By bringing her gallery to Ridgeland, she hopes to build the artist community in the area and propel their success in the art world. “I’m very proud of this gallery,” Jackson says. “I’m so glad that the artists that haven’t been showing are showing again; the general public needs to be able to see their work.”

Jackson hopes to have a grand opening for the gallery this fall. After that, she is planning to offer the gallery as a venue to rent for small events and parties. For now, though, Paula simply wants to establish her business.

Settling into the new shop is her first priority, but Paula is thrilled to begin bringing her gallery and the art on its walls to the public eye. With Paula’s infectious enthusiasm for what she does and the artists she gets to work with, Jackson Street Gallery is certain to make a mark on its new location.