Final Beale Street Music Festival poster by George Hunt unveiled

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis in May unveiled this year’s Beale Street Music Festival poster on Tuesday night, the final one created by legendary artist George Hunt.

The prolific Memphis painter passed away in December 2020 at the age of 83. Now, nearly two dozen of his music fest posters are on display for you to see.

Hunt began painting the annual BSMF posters in 1992. Those first seven paintings were auctioned off to private collectors, but the rest are now shining boldly and brightly in a retrospective exhibition at the Renasant Convention Center in downtown Memphis that fans are sure to enjoy.

“I know George would be smiling,” Memphis in May President and CEO Jim Holt told Action News 5, “He created the image. He is like the heart and soul of the festival, if you look at the banners on the stages, cover design for the event and some of the merchandise we sell. His paintings perfectly reflect our city’s musical heritage which is rooted in the blues, and rock and roll came from the blues.”

Hunt’s wife of 63 years, Marva, attended the unveiling with other family members.

She said she was deeply touched by this permanent display of her late husband’s art.

“He would be so happy and honored. And to see all the daughter and grandchildren...and his friends are all here,” she said, “I’m really proud of George. I’m really proud of him. And I miss him every day.”

While fans will certainly miss seeing new art from Hunt, his grandson Kash Yeargin said he’ll miss getting his grandfatherly advice.

“I think hearing him speak and learning from him, from his past experience and getting that wisdom,” said Yeargin, “It’s something you can’t replace. And I think his legacy will be he’s more than a good painter. He was a good person as well.”

That is something echoed by everyone who met George Hunt. His paintings hung in museums and at the White House, but he always remained humble, helpful and inspirational.

“He was a cherished figure,” said MIM’s Holt, “and I think this display is a wonderful tribute to him. People so enjoy his work. He was a teacher by profession for many years, so he trained up many young artists. And he was just a kind, wonderful, lovely man.” This year’s Beale Street Music Festival runs April 29-May 1 at the Fairgrounds at Liberty Park in Midtown while its usual scenic location, Tom Lee Park by the Mississippi River in downtown, undergoes a $60 million facelift.

To see the list of artists performing and get ticket information, click here.

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