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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

Background on the towns and this project is available under the about tab above.

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Mary Gray is a force of nature.

She has single-handedly mobilized an entire community, convincing her home town of Wayzata, Minn., to adopt Bay St. Louis, Miss., as a sister-city.

MarygrayThe mayor of Wayzata asked Gray to provide a brief history to the City Council for their consideration. In her research, Gray learned of the extraordinary arts community in Bay St. Louis and the surrounding towns. The city of Wayzata passed its resolution to adopt Bay St. Louis on Dec. 20 and Gray knew her work had just begun.

She began an emergency relief distribution program in the state of Mississippi and through her efforts connected with The Arts, Hancock County. Along with distributing emergency relief supplies to Bay St. Louis and its surrounding communities, Gray decided to help artists obtain gallery space in the Twin Cities. Once she was assured that Mississippi artists would allow their work to be shipped, Gray contacted her first gallery, the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, in Minnetonka, Minn. The executive director, Roxanne Heaton, immediately agreed to offer gallery space to Mississippi artists who had lost studios and galleries. With this offer, the Art Share program was borne!

Mary Gray

The goal of the Art Share program is to provide Gulf Coast artists with outlets in Minnesota to show and sell their work. Gray knows that hundreds of artists lost their homes, studios, life’s work and gallery space. Her dream was to give the artists hope with open gallery space. She knows that many artists, now living in FEMA trailers, may also need a creative outlet away from the devastation and debris. She is also offering temporary housing with Minnesota families so that many artists can find their creative spirit and create new work.

Within one week, Gray had two additional galleries, The Northrup King Building and Frank Stone Gallery, both of northeast Minneapolis. As of January 22, Minnesota Helpers has arranged for two shipments of Mississippi artwork to be transported to the Twin Cities area. Artwork is selling and local galleries are taking no commissions for sales, returning 100 percent of the art sales directly to the artists. The Twin Cities galleries are in the early stages of planning a Mississippi Arts Festival in April or May and are looking for additional artists to participate in the upcoming event.

Thank you, Mary Gray and all Minnesota Helpers!

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I think that what Mary Gray has put together is in the very best sprit of what this country stands for and my hat is off to her.

Thank you Mary! I am not an artist, but I am a lifelong resident of Bay St. Louis and I am friends with many of our artists - and you are right, they have lost everything - except their spirit and the love for what they do - they are strong and you are helping them so much with this gesture!! Our downtown area was filled with so many quaint shops, restaurants and galleries and it is completely gone!! However, we will come back - it will just take a very long time and help from people like you - the entire beach road is completely gone, which was the main entrance into our downtown area - thank you from all of us here in the Bay!

Goodness and Kindness are traits to be admired....so there ya go Mary!!!

You are one awesome lady Miss Mary! I wish you much success! Blessings!!!!

Thank you Mary. As a local artist who is just getting back up and going, I want to thank you and your kind hearted town for thinking of us down here. Without the help of people like you it would take us much longer to get our lives back together. Keep up the good work!

You've given so many of the artists and residents here hope. To know you and the galleries in Minnesota are there to accept our artwork is beyond words. Your help us get on our feet is a blessing. We are not forgotten and yu will never be forgotten. Thank You! B

Isn't it great the rest of the country is pitching in. The art supplies the artists used for this show were donated by Artisans/Santa Fe who helped set up arelief art store giving the artists their materials and matt board to frame with Yea Santa Fe Artisans!!!

When we make it through to spring ....i pray things will get even better....faster!!!

This is the first I have seen of help being given to the artists, as opposed to musicians. On behalf of all those who are benefiting from Mary's efforts, I give my thanks. I am an artist in the UK. I was painting in the French Quarter and was lucky enough to evacuate with my American co-artist, Bob Graham. He has lost his livelihood but we now have a website which I would appreciate you linking to. It is: http://www.neworleansjazz.org/home.php. I thank you and wish all artist best wishes.

Hi this is Mary's mechanic. It's her B-Day today and it is supposed to be about 1 below zero tonight. I told Mary that I would pick up a bottle of wine and a pizza to celebrate (she won't go out to eat, says it's to cold). I was told we have to eat on the floor cause she sent her couch to Mississippi or some place. When you folks get on your feet again down there, please send Mary a couch.

Bill Wlizlo

shoot ...Mary happy birhday!!!....it's 24 above zero ..here ...but i have a couch....it's yours if you want it ....man pizza and wine ...wish i wus there...dispite the timp. diff.

I have lived in Wayzata and Bay St Louis - I wish the folks in Wayzata could really come down here and experience what we live every day. They need to organize some serious fund raisers to help us rebuild this beautiful town. There is ALOT of money in Wayzata - I went to school there is the 80's and have many friends who still live out there - they would help if there were organized activities.

So Wayzata - step up to the plate and help support your adopted city the way Pass Christian and Long Beach are being supported! Please help us rebuild the city!!!

Hi. I'm a friend of Mary's in the Twin Cities. I met her after she began Minnesota Helpers, and I am glad that I know her. More art is coming up this weekend. Yes, Mary is a powerhouse. But she is human. She is in need of help to keep this going. Volunteers, galleries, and more are needed. Anybody out there?

Mary you are a wonderful person, to give of yourself in this way when no one expects it or had the courage or will to do so. You have touched so many people.

Mary, can artists in Hinds county Mississippi participate in your art program. If so, how? By the way, my name is Jerrie Glasper. I now paint for Southern Breeze Gallery in Jackson,Mississippi

Our program, ArtShare, just had a resounding successful turnout at our recent gallery at Hennepin County Gallery in Minneapolis. We set up our 110' gallery with a 24' section of Katrina debris to re-create its effect. The effect was astounding and moving. It brought many visitors to tears AND said it was social statement that was one of the most important to date about Katrina. We are looking for another venue to move the debris effect to continue social awareness and educate the public of the continued need to support and revive the arts in the south.

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