“Message in a Bottle” by Dave DeGroat, Gia Holmes, and Colleen Phillips

Message in a Bottle

Southport, Open Your Doors! offered local artists a unique opportunity to bring to life an artistic representation of thriving in the face of adversity.

Fourteen artists sought to show their own interpretations of what that looks like to them, and how they feel Southport has excelled beyond mere survival.

Here’s Dave DeGroat, Gia Holmes, and Colleen Phillips' artistic re-imagining of what that means to them:

“Message in a Bottle” by Dave DeGroat, Gia Holmes, and Colleen Phillips

Given the impromptu title “Message in a Bottle,” this door, which was once the front door to Harper Home, is the only one to have three artists work together to transform a piece of Southport’s history. The combined efforts of a master woodcarver, a multi-talented jewelry revitalizer, and an upcycler extraordinaire came together to create an homage to the seaside wonder and beauty that Southport has to offer.

Dave DeGroat, Gia Holmes, and Colleen Phillips pulled away decades of paint to expose the door’s pinewood heart and breathe a new breath of life into it. Adorned with a mermaid tale made from locally sourced white cedar, and a real message in a bottle with a special note for the new owner, this piece was all about “glimpsing the possibilities behind every door that has yet to be opened as we move forward.”



About the Project

Up Your Arts and the Southport Historical Society invited local artists in April 2021 to envision a post-pandemic world that draws strength from Southport’s people and its history. A quote from Maya Angelou provided the overriding theme and a gift of doors from the historic
Harper home on Bay Street provided the canvas.

A juried selection process chose nine solo artists and two collaborating teams to decorate the doors using whatever mediums they preferred.

Thanks to the generous support of local business people, the results are on stunning display throughout downtown Southport at 11 retail locations during November and December 2021. After the holidays, the doors will travel to 11 non-profit organizations then be auctioned off at a gala event in March 2022. Proceeds will be used to support
Southport Historical Society’s ongoing stewardship programs
and Up Your Arts’ efforts to turn the Old Brunswick County Courthouse into a community center for the creative and performing arts.

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