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Have you seen this whimsical jellyfish in Midtown? Meet Shelley Hassel, the artist behind the mural
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Gainesville artist Shelley Hassel's jellyfish swimming over a Georgia forest greets Midtown travelers near Grove Street. - photo by Scott Rogers

The next time you take a stroll around the Midtown Greenway, keep your eyes peeled for a strikingly large jellyfish drifting over a shadowed forest landscape.

The mural, painted by Shelley Hassel, now brightens a portion of an old brick building on the corner of Grove and Banks streets with its whimsical imagery.

For the past four years, Hassel has been making her artistic mark in Gainesville and throughout Northeast Georgia, painting the windows of businesses like Downtown Drafts and Moe’s Record Shop and selling her work at Canvas and Cork, an art gallery in Dahlonega. 

A few months ago, the North Hall-based artist said she was approached by David Waldrip, a local property owner, to embark on her biggest project yet — a 10-by-12-foot mural.

“It’s by far the largest painting I’ve ever done,” Hassel said. “I was a little nervous about it.”

Waldrip, who owns the unoccupied unit on Grove Street, said he began remodeling the 100-year-old building and realized that it needed a touch of character. 

“I contacted Shelley, and asked, ‘How do you feel about doing a large piece of art?’” Waldrip recounted. “She said, ‘How big?’”

“Big enough to go on a whole exterior wall of a building,” he replied.

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Gainesville artist Shelley Hassel's jellyfish swimming over a Georgia forest greets Midtown travelers near Grove Street. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hassel, who has a background in tattooing, said she was given full liberty to paint anything she wanted. As someone who has always been drawn to vibrant colors, the artist said she wanted to create a nontraditional image with a “trippy, psychedelic” vibe. The result: a giant orange and blue jellyfish floating over Northeast Georgia wilderness.

Waldrip brought her the massive wooden canvas to work on, and she began to paint. Hassel said she spent a collective 16 hours on April 14 and April 15 bringing the mural to life, adding an extra hour’s worth of finishing touches over the weekend. The artist said she originally wanted to use a projector as a guide for painting the large jellyfish, but found the space too bright to do so. Instead, she freehanded the entire piece. 

“I just drew it out, painted and crossed my fingers,” Hassel said. 

Hassel currently works at Downtown Drafts, but said she dreams of one day becoming a full-time artist. She added that she finds most of her inspiration from nature and folk art, never shying away from playful designs and bright colors. 

“When I paint, I become peaceful and get in the zone,” she said. “It (jellyfish mural) has gotten a lot more feedback than I expected. It’s hopefully great exposure, and I can get more projects.”

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Gainesville artist Shelley Hassel's jellyfish swimming over a Georgia forest greets Midtown travelers near Grove Street. - photo by Scott Rogers
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