Country Roads Magazine "The Visual Arts Issue" May 2024

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R ted rel ionship

Thanks to a winning combination of community vision and relationship banking, the Charlet family’s North Commerce development dream is now a reality.

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5700 Commerce Street St. Francisville 5505 Highland Road Baton Rouge
Barlow The Mallory Deyo Hotel Toussaint The Corbel
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8 NEWS & NOTEWORTHIES

The Humanities Award winners, art on license plates & LASM’s new President.

36 NEW ORLEANS, AN ARTS CAPITAL

Since the 18th century, the Big Easy has inspired artists near and far by Alexandra Kennon Shahin

49 ART OUT IN ACADIANA

Discover rural arts collectives and world-class exhibits in Lafayette and beyond by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

“DRAWING WITH FRIENDS”

OIL AND ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 2021

Artwork by Sophie Treppendahl

A native of St. Francisville currently working in New Orleans, artist Sophie Treppendahl, with her warmly-rendered observational depictions of life by the moment, has come to represent Louisiana’s native inspirations on the larger global art scene—with her work being displayed in galleries and exhibitions from Berlin, to Los Angeles, to Virginia, to the The New York Times arts section. Inviting and luxurious indulgences in the tableau of human creative spaces, her artwork is easy to love. “Drawing with Friends” shoves the viewer directly into a position of art making, art loving, art studying—which is the posture from which we hope our readers will approach this Visual Arts issue, chock-full of museum and gallery guides, artworks currently on exhibit, and celebrations of some of our region’s most influential

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 4 Contents VOLUME 41 // ISSUE 5 MAY 2024 Publisher James Fox-Smith Associate Publisher Ashley Fox-Smith Managing Editor Jordan LaHaye Fontenot Arts & Entertainment Editor Alexandra Kennon Shahin Creative Director Kourtney Zimmerman Contributors: Kristy Christiansen, Paul Christiansen, Jess Cole, Ed Cullen, Nina Flournoy, Nikki Krieg, Samantha E. Krieger, Lucie Monk Carter Chris Turner-Neal Cover Artist Sophie Treppendahl Advertising SALES@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM Sales Team Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons Operations Coordinator Camila Castillo President Dorcas Woods Brown Country Roads Magazine 758 Saint Charles Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 Phone (225) 343-3714 Fax (815) 550-2272 EDITORIAL@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM WWW.COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM Subscriptions $21.99 for 12 months $39.58 for 24 months ISSN #8756-906X Copyrighted. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Country Roads magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. Country Roads magazine retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Country Roads cannot be responsible for delays in subscription deliveries due to U.S. Post Office handling of third-class mail.
contemporary
MADE IN LA To hot sauce island we go by Kristy Christiansen 46 Cuisine Culture Events
ART IN THE CAPITAL CITY A guide to Baton Rouge’s dynamic and ever-evolving art scene by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot Escapes ON CLUTTER Considering the things we keep, and when to throw them out by Ed Cullen
A STROLL DOWN OAK Exploring New Orleans’s Oak Street neighborhood by Samantha E. Krieger 58 MAY DAYS Heritage fests, big pots of food & art in abundance
REFLECTIONS Sentimental Journey by James Fox-Smith 6 Features Introduction 57 DEVOURED A book review by Chris Turner-Neal
Perspectives SISTERS OF THE HUNT Camille Farrah Lenain’s exploration of huntresses in Louisiana & France by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot Outdoors OUR SUSTAINABLE GARDEN The Fertilizer Lady by Jess Cole 50 STRANGE TRUE STORIES, V The great genealogical question: who is the father? by Nina Flournoy 52 MEXICAN, WITH A LOUISIANA FLAIR Mestizo celebrates 25 years in Baton Rouge by Lucie Monk Carter 48 SOUPÇON New pizza in St. Fran, Korean bowls come to Baton Rouge, and a tasting menu gone wild. by Country Roads Staff
Umbrella image: fragment of “Adieu Gaugin,” by Ruth Owens.
artists. On the Cover
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Pig & Pint | Jackson, Mississippi

Reflections

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Last month my wife’s extended family held a reunion. Upwards of 130 people took part, descending upon Woodville, Mississippi, and surrounding towns to get reacquainted, visit old homes and cemeteries, and to pore over genealogical charts to decipher which branches of the tangled thicket of Woods, Catchings, Sessions, and Whittaker family trees they were descended from. Different surnames notwithstanding, the common denominator was people who, by direct descent or marriage, could trace their lineage back to one Dr. Thomas Oswald Woods, who, sometime last century, put down roots on a decent patch of farmland straddling the border between Louisiana and Mississippi, and set about making himself at home. During ensuing generations his offspring did their share of intermarrying with other local families—enough that, when my future wife went in search a husband, she looked on the other side of the planet: an effective way to broaden the family gene pool if ever there was one.

Although the original Dr. Woods nev er inhabited it, the house my wife and I live in has been home to five generations of his descendants, including my wife, my mother-in-law and her sisters, and their parents and grandparents before them. As tends to happen when an old house remains in a family for genera tions, ours is stuck in a bit of a time warp created by sedimentary layers of art, books, furnishings, and assorted knickknacks accumulated by dead relatives, and therefore deemed to have “senti mental value.” Impossible to throw away, these objects accumulate, gaining an aura of untouchability that renders tradi tional measures of value like quality, utility, and aesthetic appeal, obsolete. With each generation that elapses since the acquirer’s passing, the undiscardability deepens, until eventually each object becomes a house fixture as fundamental as its front door or foundation. At this point the object must simply be lived with. By the time four or five generations of the family have inhabited the same house, the thickening accumulation of brown furniture, amateur art, evil-smelling soft toys, chipped enameled coffeepots, and broken cuckoo clocks deemed to possess “sentimental value” gains critical mass. Eventually there’s nowhere left to sit, much less to decorate.

Woods family line, art appreciation apparently isn’t one of them. Having arrived in this country with little more than a backpack and a bicycle, I struggle to demonstrate suitable reverence for the objects that fill our house, since the sentimentality that gives them staying power recalls ancestors other than my own. Occasionally I might have been uncharitable about the paintings: local landscapes and depictions of flora and fauna by artistically-inclined forebears, none of whom—and here’s where I’ll get myself in trouble—would have given John James Audubon much of a run for his money. But what these ancestors lacked in technical expertise they made

up for in output, because enough examples of the Woods family’s artistic aspirations survive for prize pieces to not only adorn walls and mantels, but to be socked away in corners and stashed beneath beds, too. My opinions about the artistic merit of these pieces mattered less than ever during the Woods Family Reunion, when relatives from branches near and distant came by to visit the “old Woods place.” When they did, many were drawn to the paintings. One—a watercolor still life of Louisiana irises painted by my wife’s Great Aunt Edna— to which I’d never paid much attention, brought one visitor almost to tears. The reason, she explained, was that she had one hanging in her home that was so similar, it could only have been painted by the same hand. That hand, it turned out, belonged to her grandmother—the same Edna Woods who, one spring day long ago, was drawn down to the bank of a farm pond to paint the irises emerging there. One and the same, united across space and time by a square of canvas, a box of paints, and the impulse to capture something lovely. What do I know about art anyway?

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A Special Advertising Feature from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

Art Heals

Patients share how creativity helped them navigate cancer

It came out of the blue.

“No one in my family had cancer,” recalls artist and middle school art teacher Marie Pontti. “I’d gotten regular mammograms, and I was active and ate healthy. I thought. ‘No, this can’t be right.’”

But it was.

In 2022, eight months after a normal mammogram, Marie felt a gumball-sized mass under her breast. A subsequent ultrasound and biopsy led to a diagnosis of Stage 3C triple negative breast cancer, a fast-growing and aggressive form of cancer that would ultimately require chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

The married mother of three and instructor at the online University View Academy recalls being shocked at the news, but she says creativity was her outlet throughout the journey.

“It was really scary. But I was fortunate to be in a situation where I could keep working with my students,” Marie recalls. “And I also started an art journal. I wanted somewhere to process my feelings and place my thoughts in creativity instead of just ruminating in fear.”

Treated by Lauren Zatarain, M.D., medical oncologist, and Wendy Bowie, M.D., breast surgeon, at Woman’s Hospital, in partnership with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute, Marie underwent several rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, followed by a lumpectomy. She also received radiation therapy at Mary Bird Perkin’s Essen Lane main campus to address a cancerous spot under her collarbone.

The diagnosis came with its share of sadness and stress. But painting and drawing in her journal and sharing her journey with her students and friends helped keep negative thoughts at bay, Marie says.

“I think we as human beings fear that cancer might happen to us at some point,” she said. “Sharing my artwork and processing the cancer through social media, I think that helped not just me, but other people, too.”

Indeed, art can help patients stay in a positive place while enduring cancer’s emotional rollercoaster, experts say.

“Art offers a distraction. The ability to express emotions through any kind of medium can heal both the mind and spirit,” said Jingya Wang, M.D., Mary Bird Perkins radiation oncologist. “Getting lost in the beauty of art is like chicken soup for the soul, much needed during a difficult cancer journey.”

Art also played a big role in how Claire Gowdy made sense of a cancer experience that began after a breast cancer diagnosis last fall.

Claire and her doctor had been monitoring a spot that had remained unchanged on previous mammograms until her annual screening in 2023. A follow-up ultrasound and biopsy revealed a small DCIS tumor.

“There’s definitely a deep emotion associated with getting a diagnosis of cancer,” says Claire, a successful painter whose work is sold regionally and around the country. “No one wants to be in the “C” club. Once you’re in that club you have new experiences, new emotions, new fears, new friends, and even new joy.”

Continuing to paint and think about her own artwork, while also observing the numerous pieces installed throughout Mary Bird Perkins, kept her grounded, she says.

Claire also created a video series for her Instagram page, documenting her experience undergoing radiation therapy to help her process the experience and to demystify it for others. On her last treatment day, she arrived at Mary Bird Perkins in an all-black ensemble accentuated by a flowing, scarlet scarf, a colorful symbol of the cancer leaving her body. The video is set to OneRepublic’s upbeat song, “I Lived,” and the final shot shows Claire giving the red scarf a swift kick as she leaves the building.

“Art stimulates the right side of your brain,” she says. “When you’re involved in art in whatever capacity, it puts you in a different mindset and helps you get through something difficult.”

marybird.org

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Marie Pontti Claire Gowdy

Bright Lights of Louisiana

THE LOUISIANA ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES PRESENTS THE 2024

Each year, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities celebrates individuals who have contributed immeasurably to our state’s culture. On April 23, the following artists and culture bearers received Humanities Awards at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge.

Humanist of the Year: Dickie Landry

Described as “a true Renaissance man,” Dickie Landry’s sixty-year career has spanned across artistic disciplines. In addition to playing saxophone and composing music (for which he has been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame), Landry is a documentary photographer, abstract painter, and has been a true advocate for his fellow Louisiana artists for half a century.

Champion of Culture: Nick Mueller

Historian and educator Dr. Nick Mueller was influential in creating the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, which is today the National World War II Museum.

Chair’s Award for Institutional Support: Charles Lamar Family Foundation

Among other programs, the Foundation’s contributions have supported the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ Prime Time Family Reading programs aiding childhood literacy efforts in the Baton Rouge area.

Documentary Photographer of the Year: Ben Depp

Ben Depp is a designated National Geographic Explorer, who turns his lens to the changing landscape of Louisiana’s coast.

Light Up for Literacy: Jane Wolfe

Jane Wolfe founded the program Eat and Read at Melba’s, which encourages community love of literature by distributing free books to customers and organizing discussions, readings, and signings by acclaimed authors.

Humanities Documentary Film of the Year:

The Precipice, directed by Ben Johnson and produced by Linda Midgett Ben Johnson’s documentary for Louisiana Public Broadcasting, The Precipice, provides an intimate look at the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe, and their ongoing struggle to preserve their language and culture.

Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities: Freddi Williams Evans

Freddi Williams Evans has authored multiple books on the history and importance of New Orleans’s Congo Square, and was instrumental in having historic markers on the slave trade in Louisiana erected on relevant sites.

Museum Exhibition of the Year:

The Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo’s Creole New Orleans, Honey!

The exhibition Creole New Orleans, Honey! at The Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo highlighted the groundbreaking art of Andrew LaMar Hopkins, which assesses and questions popular ideas of what Creole identity means.

Umbrella Image: “Black Stallion,” by Randell Henry.

Humanities Book of the Year:

The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South by Elizabeth Ellis

Dr. Elizabeth Ellis’s book published by University of Pennsylvania Press chronicles the many Native American Nations of Louisiana, the ways they influenced the early colony, and how they still impact the region today.

On Louisiana Highways, Let the Good ARTS Roll

Sharp-eyed drivers in this and surrounding states should keep their eyes peeled for a new design brightening the backsides of Bayou State vehicles this month. Unveiled at the Louisiana State Capitol on April 18, the first-ever Louisiana specialty license plate celebrating the arts features work by Lafayette artist/author/ illustrator Denise Gallagher, whose design was chosen from among 111 entries submitted to a juried competition run by the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts.

Gallagher’s winning design features an egret, a book, a fiddle, a trumpet, a catfish, a crab, and the slogan “Laissez les ARTS Rouler,” all set against an aqua-blue background. To make it all work, Gallagher put on both her artist’s and graphic designer’s hats. “As an artist I love the visual language of Louisiana,” she explained. “I love where I live. I love folklore. So, I wanted to bring in the art, the food, the wildlife, the music, the literature of Louisiana. As a designer, I have to solve graphic design problems. On a license plate there’s not much room. So, I tried to boil the visual language down to the symbolism, while still giving it that Louisiana funk, that Louisiana grit, and doing it in my style.”

Gallagher, the author/illustrator of children’s books including A Tip Tap Tale (2016) and Moonsong (2021) credits children’s literature with teaching her how to make small images convey big ideas. Of the challenge of representing the arts on a license plate—a moving canvas that has an instant to deliver its impression—she said, “You have to think hard about the imagery—about how to quickly represent music and literature and fine art and the theatre arts. So, that part was choosing icons, then presenting them in a visual language most people can quickly understand.”

Since Louisiana’s specialty Arts license plate will carry her message beyond the Bayou State, Gallagher was asked what impression she hopes it will make on drivers who spot it in Montana, say, or Maine. “I would love for people who see it to feel like Louisiana must have a real story to tell, a rich history to share,” she said. “And Laissez les ARTS Rouler: Maybe they’ll be intrigued and look up what it means, and get a taste of what Louisiana has to offer in music and art and food and literature, too.”

The Louisiana Specialty License Plate Celebrating the Arts will cost $64, and will be available through the OMV website in six to eight weeks. Those wishing to reserve a plate ahead can email info@artsforlouisiana.com. Proceeds from plate sales benefit the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts, a statewide alliance of arts organizations, artists and advocates that empower the arts community to enhance quality of life for all Louisianans. artforlouisiana.com.

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LOOK CLOSER NEWS, TIMELY TIDBITS, AND ASSORTED CURIOSITIES • MAY 2024
Noteworthy
LOUISIANA
LICENSE PLATE, DESIGNED
ARTIST
HUMANITIES AWARDS WINNERS
GETS ITS FIRST SPECIALTY
BY
DENISE GALLAGHER

Karen Soniat to Lead LASM

LASM’S NEW PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WILL BE THE FOURTH IN THE MUSEUM’S SIXTY-TWO-YEAR HISTORY

When Karen Soniat takes the reins atseum as President and Executive Director on May 1, she will be just

Soniat grew up in Ascension Parish and, after graduating from LSU with a Master of Education degree, became an educator, teaching art and “enrichment” (which later came to be called “gifted”) classes to students in the East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish school systems. “There was an interdisciplinary approach,” she said. “In many ways we were doing the kinds of things that LASM promotes,” she observed. In 1981, Soniat moved into a position as a Senior Education Administrator with the Louisiana Department of Education, developing curricula and assessments, and promoting instruction of science and math statewide. “I was working with teachers, parents, and advocacy groups to develop programs, then bringing all that knowledge together—first as an educator, then as a teacher instructor and trainer,” she said. “We were taking knowledge and bringing it to the entire state.”

The Department of Education gave Soniat her introduction to fundraising work, when the state board of education created a matching fund program that enabled collaborations with large corporate concerns to found educational nonprofits. “We were working with businesses that cared deeply about the public schools, and I

Art

Vice President for Annual Giving and Membership.

Now, Soniat brings her decades of experience in education, administration, fundraising, and non-profit work to bear on the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. In the near term, her priorities lie in analyzing how the institution’s mission is put into practice, while meeting with donors and partners in the education, business, and industrial communities to understand their vision and priorities, and growing the membership base. In the longer term, Soniat sees opportunities to expand the reach of LASM’s educational programs, capitalize on the presence of the state-of-the-art Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, and develop partnerships with other regional and national museums to enhance LASM’s appeal as a regional destination. She is also excited by the possibility of bringing a blockbuster exhibit—such as the Mississippi Museum of Art’s recent Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds —to Baton Rouge. Soniat’s experience at the National WWII Museum demonstrated the potential of a major traveling exhibition for capturing public imagination, enhancing visitation, and growing the museum’s community. Is it ambitious? Certainly. But with a diverse collection, a state-of-the-art planetarium,

ADAM TREST

HOME TOWN HOME TOWN

Karen Soniat, the newly-appointed President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum.
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MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 12 ENTER TO WIN A GETAWAY TO LOUISIANA’S CAJUN BAYOU

Artful Events

Exhibitions, art walks, arts markets, and other chances to connect with visual artists and their works across the region.

Installation view of Ron Bechet & Hannah Chalew: You Can't Hide the Sun, on display at the new Other Plans Gallery in New Orleans's Tremé neighborhood. Photo by Stephen Lomonaco. Find non-art events starting on page 19.

UNTIL MAY 23rd

ART OF HOME

ART FLOW AT SHELL GALLERY

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Presented by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Art Flow returns to celebrate local visual artists from across the Greater Baton Rouge region. The juried exhibition, displayed in the Cary Saurage Center's Shell Gallery, encouraged entrants to work from the theme "No Place Like Home," and includes work by artists Jeremiah Johnson, Stacey Pearson, Craig LeBlanc, Rick LeCompte, Loveday Funck, and many more. artsbr.org. •

UNTIL MAY 25th

GALLERY EXHIBITS

ON DISPLAY AT LEMIEUX

New Orleans, Louisiana

Spring brings two new exhibitions to LeMieux Galleries, which is still presenting Tails from Receding Lands featuring visceral impressionist paintings of Louisiana landscapes by Aron Belka, and Following Shadows featuring the haunting landscape-

filled shiloettes of Megan Aline. On May 4 LeMieux will host a reception from 6 pm–9 pm. lemieuxgalleries.com. •

UNTIL MAY 26th

ART OF THE HUNTRESS

SOEURS DE LA CHASSE—

SISTERS OF THE HUNT AT NUNU

Arnaudville, Louisiana

Soeurs de la Chasse is a is a photographic study of womanhood from a place where society doesn't typically expect to find it: pulling the trigger in a hunting blind, shot though the lens of photographer and filmmaker Camille Farrah Lenain. This exhibit at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective explores the lives of female hunters from rural France and South Louisiana, and captures how women forge bonds with each other and the land, while embracing the predator within. camillelenain.com.

Read more about Lenain's Sisters of the Hunt project in our "Perspectives" column this month on page 62. •

UNTIL

SCULPTURE SHOWS

MARJORIE MORRISON

SCULPTURE BIENNIAL New Orleans, Louisiana

The Hammond Regional Arts Center is hosting the eighth biennial Marjorie Morrison Sculpture exhibit, celebrating the legacy of Marjorie Morrison, a dedicated arts advocate and founding member of the organization. Curated by Ryan Gianelloni, this 3-D sculptural exhibition runs alongside Improvisational Exploration, featuring fiber artist Ange Riehl in the upstairs Mezzanine Gallery. hammondarts.org.  •

UNTIL JUN 9th

ART MEETS ENVIRONMENT

YOU CAN'T HIDE THE SUN AT OTHER PLANS GALLERY New Orleans, Louisiana

In an exhibition at the new Other Plans Gallery in New Orleans's Tremé neighborhood, the works of artists Hannah Chalew and Ron Bechet commune in an

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LIFE IMITATES ART OUR GUIDE TO VISUAL ARTS EVENTS, PLUS FESTIVALS, CONCERTS, AND OTHER DYNAMIC SPRING HAPPENINGS ACROSS THE REGION • MAY 2024
Events

Artful Events

Events

Beginning now - May 4th

exploration of the ways in which Louisiana culture is entangled in legacy, a dying environment, a history of enslavement, and a resolute wildness in nature.

Chalew's scultptural expressions of the realities that define the Anthropocene age entwine with tensions in Bechet's improvisational mark-making, which explores the layers of incomprehensibility in the human experience. otherplans.gallery. •

UNTIL JUN 30th

ART AND WOMEN

JADE BRADY'S (UN)BLOOMED WOMB AT THE MANSHIP

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Manship Theatre's Jones Walker Foyer presents Jade Brady's (Un)Bloomed Womb, an exhibit expressing the Louisiana artist's transformative journey inspired by hardships with infertility. Free. manshiptheatre.org. •

UNTIL JUL 6th

DESIGNING INFLUENCE

ART, ARCHITECTURE AND IDEAS AT THE OHR-O'KEEFE MUSEUM

Biloxi, Mississippi

Frank Gehry is regarded as one of

the most influential architects of his generation, with many of the buildings he designed (among which is the OhrO'Keefe Museum in Biloxi) becoming elevated to international attractions. Meanwhile sculptor, painter, and urban planner Robert Tannen's work has had a massive impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in New Orleans, where he founded the Contemporary Arts Center and planned the second span of the Mississippi River Bridge. An exhibition on display at the OhrO'Keefe Museum honors the creative legacies of both artists, as well as the late potter George Ohr. georgeohr.org. •

UNTIL JUL 13th

BLUE DOGS SITTING WITH GEORGE RODRIGUE AT THE HILLIARD

Lafayette, Louisiana

Celebrating the impact of Lafayette's University of Louisiana-Lafayette on one of our region's most beloved artists— the Hilliard Art Museum presents the retrospective exhibition Sitting with George Rodrigue. The show features many

of the celebrated artist's iconic images from his "Cajun" and "Blue Dog" series, including "Aioli Dinner"—which is being displayed for the very first time in Lafayette. hilliardmuseum.org. •

UNTIL JUL 28th

ART IN SPACE

TAKE-OFF TO SPACE AT THE LSU MOA

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

This spring, the LSU Museum of Art brings the infinite vastness of space much closer to home with two exhibitions, Interior Space and Fierce Planets: Work from the Studio Art Quilt Associates Interior Space showcases stunning photographs of the International Space Station captured by Ronald Miller, while Fierce Planets features fiber art inspired by planetary science. Join the museum for a unique exploration of the cosmos, and catch these programs:

May 2 Abstract Galaxy: Children five and under are invited to create space–inspired art. 10 am.

May 30 –NASA: A Bright Future for Everyone: Robert Southers, NASA Associate Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate, will discuss NASA's vision for the future of space exploration. 6 pm. lsumoa.org. •

UNTIL AUG 30th

FASHION FORWARD COMING HOME: GEOFFREY

BEENE–SOUTHERN

REFLECTIONS AT LSU MOA

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From Haynesville, Louisiana to receiving three Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, legendary American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene has made unparalleled contributions to fashion. LSU Museum of Art's exhibit, Coming Home: Geoffrey Beene–Southern Reflections celebrates Beene's legacy through selections from the collection of Sylvia R. Karasu, MD, at the LSU Museum of Art. The retrospective pays homage to the timeless elegance of his designs while celebrating his 100th birthday. lsumoa.org. •

UNTIL SEP 14th

ART IN SHADOW

FUNDAMENTO DE PALO MONTE (GUNPOWDER WORKS) AT THE HILLIARD

Lafayette, Louisiana

This exhibition at the Hilliard of Ana Mendieta's ephemeral silhouette works, created between 1973 and 1981 and captured on film, is a reflection on the body, on earth, and on time. hilliardmuseum.org. •

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UNTIL SEP 22nd

ECOLOGY OF ART

SECOND NATURE: ARTWORKS

BY CHASE MULLEN AT LASM Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Chase Mullen's contemporary realist paintings of moments in Louisiana's natural world are on display in LASM's Soupçon gallery. Melding ecological accuracy with surrealism against the stark background of white panels, Mullen's work emphasizes the beauty of nature and invites the viewer to reflect on the impact humans have on animals and the environment. lasm.org. •

UNTIL SEP 28th

ART OF MATHEMATICS

BENDING LINES: ROBERT WIGGS AT THE HILLIARD Lafayette, Louisiana

Robert Wiggs was an important figure in the Visual Arts program at ULL, known for his unique approach to sculpture, geometry, and mathematics. In 1987, he discovered the ninth allspace filling polyhedron (a geometric figure), which he named the "Twist Octahedron". Bending Lines showcases works demonstrating Wiggs's fascination with the intersections of art and science. hilliardmuseum.org. •

UNTIL SEP 29th

A THOUSAND WORDS

SHOW AND TELL: A BRIEF HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT AT NOMA

New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Museum of Art's exhibition Show and Tell features selections from NOMA's collection, showcasing the way the advent of photography has been intertwined with written word throughout history. From the early talbotype to the modern meme, this exhibit is an exploration of how visuals and language shape our perceptions and challenge misinformation. This showcase features renowned artists like Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, and Hank Willis Thomas. noma.org. •

UNTIL DEC 29th

ART OF AFRICA

AFROPOLITAN: CONTEMPORARY

AFRICAN ARTS AT NOMA

New Orleans, Louisiana

Afropolitan: Contemporary African Arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art highlights works from the museum's permanent collection by both established and emerging artists from the African continent. The exhibition, located in The Helis Foundation Gallery, features a diverse range of paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces by artists

such as Elias Sime, Theophilus Nii Anum Sowah, Seydou Keïta, Malik Sidibé, and Serge Attukwei Clottey. noma.org. •

MAY 4th

CREATIVE SHOPPING

LAFAYETTE FIRST SATURDAY ARTS MARKET

Lafayette, Louisiana

Meet local artists at the Lafayette Art Association Gallery the first Saturday of every month, when creatives gather to share new work at an indoor/outdoor market and gift shop. Artist demos, too. 10 am–2 pm. Free. lafayetteart.org. •

MAY 4th

CREATIVE SHOPPING

BATON ROUGE ARTS MARKET

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Shop with artists from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida who will present original works of art in a variety of mediums including, pottery, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, photographs, glass, paintings, sculpture, hand-made soaps, and so much more. Performances will liven the market too, expanding what arts are on display. Don't leave the kids behind; a children's activity center is always set up between 8 am and noon. Held alongside the weekly Red Stick Farmers Market the first

Saturday of each month from 8 am–noon at the corner of 5th and Main streets. Free. artsbr.org. •

MAY 4th

ART WALKS

NEW ORLEANS ARTS DISTRICT

FIRST SATURDAY ART WALK

New Orleans, Louisiana

Join hordes of art-lovers and art-makers along Julia Street this month for a thrilling slate of new art exhibits. On the first Saturday of every month, this stretch of the Warehouse district comes alive for a selfguided art walk, trailing through the area galleries’ newest exhibitions and opening receptions. artsdistrictneworleans.com •

MAY 4th - MAY 25th

LANDSCAPES IN ART ON DISPLAY AT FERRARA SHOWMAN GALLERY IN MAY

New Orleans, Louisiana

This spring, the Ferrara Showman Gallery exhibits Through the Bayou, into the Garden by Kristen Moore and Impressions by Dirk Staschke. Through the Bayou features seventeen new paintings capturing the range of New Orleans's historic landscapes, from iconic city architecture to lush bayous, celebrating the city's timeless allure and

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Artful Events

Events

Beginning May 4th - May 11th

complexity. Impressions includes ten ceramic paintings with a predominant focus on portraiture inviting reflections of the self and the transient nature of life. An opening reception will be held from 5–9 pm. Details at ferrarashowman.com.

MAY 4th -

MAY

31st

BAYOU BEAUTY

A PELICAN STATE OF MIND AT GALLERY 600 JULIA

New Orleans, Louisiana

Stop by Gallery 600 Julia to view Louisiana artist Carol Hallock's distinctive impressionist style and vibrant brushwork, capturing the beauty of Bayou Lacombe, her home. A Pelican State of Mind opens with a reception from 6 pm–8 pm. Free. gallery600julia.com. •

MAY 4th - JUN 1st

ECLECTIC ART ON DISPLAY AT ARIODANTE

GALLERY IN MAY

New Orleans, Louisiana

Ariodante Art Gallery on Julia Street continues to cycle in new artists

and their creations this spring. This month, they're featuring new paintings by Myra Wirtz and Jacques Soulas, jewelry by Lisa Normand, and glass works by Juli Juneau. Free. ariodantegallery.com. •

MAY 9th

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS

HEY Y’ALL ART TALK

New Orleans, Louisiana

Join the Ogden Museum for a deep dive exploring the richness and diversity of Southern art and artists. Every second Thursday, museum staff will facilitate in-depth conversations about art and artists from Ogden Museum’s permanent collection and current exhibitions. Free, but pre-registration is required. 1 pm–2 pm. ogdenmuseum.org. •

MAY 10th

ART AROUND TOWN

HOT ART, COOL NIGHTS

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Sculptors, painters, jewelry designers, photographers, live musicians, and

other artists are coming together in Baton Rouge's Mid-City cultural district for the annual spring art festival sponsored by Mid-City Merchants. Both well-established artists and emerging talent will come together in Mid-City to offer an evening of art, music, shopping, and other fun. 6 pm–10 pm. midcitymerchantsbr.org. •

MAY 10th

SEASONAL SHOWCASES

ELIZABETHAN GALLERY SPRING ART SHOW

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Right as Louisiana's flora is vibrantly blooming, the Elizabethan Gallery presents work by several Baton Rouge artists for its annual Spring Art Show, this year themed Connecting Colors The show includes works in mediums like oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, ceramic and mixed media; by artists

Carol Hallock, Keith Douglas, Betty Efferson, Kay Lusk, Krista Roche, Kathy Daigle, Dana Mosby, Nancy Smitherman, Carol Creel, Lynn McDowell, and Muriel Prejean. The gallery will hold a reception in conjunction with Hot Art, Cool Nights for the opening on May 10 from 5 pm–9 pm. Free. elizabethangallery.com. •

MAY 10th - MAY 11th

ARTFUL AFFAIRS

ARTS DANU PRESENTS RUBÉN TORRES LLORCA

Natchez, Mississippi

Rubén Torres Llorca is regarded as one of the most important living Cuban artists, heavily influencing the art world of postrevolutionary Cuba. Arts Danu will host a special exhibition of his works at Conde Contemporary from 6 pm–8 pm on Friday; Saturday, Kristen Brandt of the Mississippi Arts Commission and Lance Harris of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will facilitate a discussion with the artist at noon. The celebration will conclude with a gallery dinner of traditional Cuban cuisine with Llorca. 6 pm–8 pm. Seating is limited and RSVPs are requested for all events. Tickets and more information available at artsdanu.org. •

MAY 11th

ART WALKS

DOWNTOWN LAFAYETTE ARTWALK

Lafayette, Louisiana

ArtWalk showcases the creative side of Downtown Lafayette’s cultural district. Museums, independent galleries, studios, craft stores, and art houses of the downtown area all participate in the monthly showcase of Acadiana’s

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Unknown Sitters

AN INTERACTIVE EXHIBITION AT THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION INVITES VIEWERS TO INVESTIGATE ART

When The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Curator of Decorative Arts Lydia Blackmore was tasked with overseeing the organization’s massive collection of artwork, she conducted a portrait census. She discovered that of the many portraits in THNOC’s collection, around 120 were of subjects whose identities were entirely unknown. Captivating as they are despite (perhaps because of) their mystery, many of these portraits had never before been displayed.

Blackmore decided it was time for these hidden gems of the collection—which var y across time, subject demographic, and artistic style—to finally be seen. But to curate an exhibition of portraits whose subjects' identities are entirely unknown required some creativity.

“When family estates were sold, beloved portraits were divorced from their historical narratives,” said Blackmore. “Sometimes artists did not record the name of sitters, particularly when the sitter was a paid model. Portraits of children, the elderly, women, and people of color were more likely to lose their identities than those of white men. With this exhibition, The Historic New Orleans Collection explores the power of imagination beyond the traditional sphere of historical inquiry, and welcomes a wider group of thinkers and storytellers to engage with historical portraiture.”

The resulting exhibition is innovative, and engaging across time. The portraits themselves are captivating—in lieu of historical certainty about the subject, viewers are invited to engage their imaginations to consider who the individuals might have been. Purple labels next to the portraits unpack what can be gauged curatorially based on factors like context, expression, dress, time period, art style, and so on—these serve as a fascinating, investigative look into art history, and illuminate more about subjects and artists than one might expect.

Also next to each portrait is a green label—these are the first-place results of THNOC’s annual Student Writing Contest, and each contains a story by an elementary, middle, or high school student imagining the subject's name and narrative. These delightfully deviate from the seriousness fine art is often approached with, and range from laugh-outloud funny to somberly chilling.

Over the course of the exhibition's run, THNOC invites all to write and submit their own stories about the subjects, the best of which will be displayed alongside the portraits. Drawing tables and art supplies beckon guests to draw portraits of their own—either of those they are with, or of themselves. Antique mirrors from the collection are also placed throughout the exhibition, reminding the viewer of their own place in history— perhaps inspiring them to wonder how the historical record will one day consider them. And, it’s all truly pulled into the 21st century with an ornately framed photo station, where guests can take their own “portrait” to share as they like.

“I felt like I was being spoken to across time,” said one viewer. “So often we think of portraits in terms of who they were or what they did—this just lets them be humans.”

Unknown Sitters is on display in THNOC's Exhibition Center at 533 Royal Street now until October 6, 2024. Admission is always free. Learn more at hnoc.org.

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Unknown Sitters, on display at THNOC's Exhibition Center at 533 Royal Street until October 6, 2024. Photo by Alexandra Kennon Shahin.

Artful Events

Events

Beginning May 13th - May 25th

artistic talent. ArtWalk takes place every second Saturday of the month—rain or shine. There is no one organization responsible for planning the activities. Instead, each museum, gallery, or studio hosts their own unique event, featuring local artists and performers. More information at facebook.com/artwalk.downtownlft. •

MAY 13th - MAY 15th

CORRIDOR DES ARTS

LE DEUXIÈME: ARTS IN ACADIANA ALL WEEKEND LONG

Arnaudville, Louisiana

In Acadiana, the second weekend of the month is dedicated to the arts! Plan your trail, or take in bits and piece of the various celebrations of local art taking place along the Corridor des Arts from Lafayette to Arnaudville and in surrounding towns. Saturday during the day, travel along the Arnaudville-Deux Bayous Cultural District, making time for special stops at The Hive Marketplace, The Kitchen Shop, and NUNU Arts & Culture Collective—

where you're just as likely to find artists putting on demonstrations, workshops,

or gathering to tell stories. Then, make it back in time for Lafayette's grand ArtWalk downtown, showcasing the city's creative cultural district—including museums like the Acadiana Center for the Arts, craft stores, galleries, and various independent artists who all come out for the occasion. •

MAY 25th

CREATIVE COMMUNING

OPEN EXPERIMENTAL STUDIO

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Glassell Gallery invites you to meet and make with their first Open Experimental Studio resident artists Richard Boehnke, a ceramics master; and Kimberly Meadowlark, painter, photographer, and musician. Boehnke and Meadowlark will transform the gallery into a studio space where all are welcome to make, paint, play, sculpt, write, and destroy with them over the course of several free workshops. The open studio is a community building opportunity which aims to inspire creativity and self-expression amongst participants. The opening reception will take place from 2 pm–5 pm. More details to come. design.lsu.edu. •

The Hammond Regional Arts Center continues to host the eighth biennial Marjorie Morrison Sculpture exhibit, celebrating the legacy of Marjorie Morrison, until May 30. See listing on pg. 13. Sculpture titled "Communication" by Julie Glass. Courtesy of the HRAC.

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Other Events

Beginning May 1st - May 2nd

MAY 1st - MAY 2nd

HEADS AND TAILS NOLA CRAWFISH FEST

New Orleans, Louisiana

Fill out your weekdays between Jazz Fest weekends with the vibes of a backyard crawfish boil, performances by legendary Louisiana musicians, and pound after pound of perfectly-seasoned, boiled crawfish. The bugs are getting boiled up by NOLA Crawfish King, Chris “Shaggy” Davis; and musical performances include Tab Benoit, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster NCF

Allstars, Eric Krasno & Friends, George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Rumblesteelskin (featuring members of The Revivalists and Naughty Professor). The festivities will be completed by a crawfish eating contest, Louisiana arts and crafts vendors, and more. Find tickets starting at $60 per day and more details at events.com. •

MAY 2nd - MAY 4th

ROLLIN' ON THE RIVER ALEX RIVER FÊTE

Alexandria, Louisiana

The Alexandria River Fête draws together

hundreds of Louisianans from near and far to celebrate the arts, culture, and heritage of Central Louisiana. Set on the banks of the Red River, where it flows past downtown Alex, the three-day fest has historically encompassed several events including Dinner on the Bricks, an ArtWalk, and the hotly contested Louisiana Dragon Boat Races. Dozens of lively arts programs, colorful street performers, vibrant craft displays, food vendors, children’s activities, and live music by Cowboy Mouth, the Castellows, Marc Broussard, Cha Wa, Lil Nate, and more. Starts at 4:30 pm Friday; 10 am Saturday. Free. alexriverfete.com. •

MAY 2nd - MAY 5th

MEET ME AT THE GOSPEL TENT

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL

New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the city's hallmark international festival, famous for immersing the country's most powerful entertainers in the city of New Orleans's incomparable musical legacy.

better with friends

Big names at Jazz Fest have included Katy Perry, Van Morrison, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and scores more. This year's festival is headlined by the much-anticipated Rolling Stones (sadly, already sold-out)—not to mention Foo Fighters, Hozier, Queen Latifah, Chris Stapleton, The Killers, Anderson.Paak, and scores more of the nation's biggest performers. But we all know that Jazz Fest isn’t just about big names, as there are hundreds of other closer-to-home musicians and bands on the schedule this year, each bringing their unique style and following. In addition to the music, happening simultaneously on multiple stages, the Heritage Fair offers its lip-smacking array of food (more than one hundred varieties available), as well as contemporary and folk crafts. Numerous areas highlight Louisiana’s diverse influences, including the Congo Square African Marketplace, the Contemporary Crafts area, and Louisiana Marketplace. Festival parades, starring brass bands and marching clubs, begin and end in Heritage Square. Everything happens at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. Single day advance tickets start at $95; gate price $105; weekend packages $320 for Weekend 1 and $270 for weekend 2. VIP and travel package options also available. nojazzfest.com. •

MAY 2nd - MAY 8th

CLASSICAL MEETS MODERN

LPO COLLABORATIONS: BIG

FREEDIA AND ALFRED BANKS

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is overturning any lingering notions that classical orchestras are "stuffy" with two electric New Orleans collaborations in May. On May 2, the orchestra will perform at the Orpheum Theater with legendary bounce artist Big Freedia at 8 pm, and then on May 8, the Grammynominated New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks will make his LPO debut performing a section of world-premiere arrangements by Sebastian St. John at the Ashé Power House Theater at 6 pm. Details and tickets at lpomusic.com. •

MAY 2nd, 9th & 16th

ARTFUL AND MINDFUL

OGDEN MUSEUM MEDITATION

New Orleans, Louisiana

Explore how to use art as a tool for relaxation, stress-reduction, and mindful contemplation with Mikhayla Harrell, Ogden Museum Educator and yoga and meditation instructor, Thursdays at the museum. The live, in-person meditation will always be inspired by a work of Southern art on exhibition at the Ogden. Different styles of meditation are explored throughout

For life’s moments, big and small. We’re here with the strength of the cross, the protection of the shield. The Right Card. The Right Care.

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Events

Beginning May 3rd - May 10th

the year, including mindfulness, walking meditation and Vipassana techniques. 12:30 pm–1:30 pm. Free with admission, which is free for Louisiana residents on Thursdays. Advanced registration is preferred at ogdenmuseum.org. k

MAY 3rd - MAY 5th

BELTING BARBERS

OPÉRA LOUISIANE PRESENTS

THE BARBER OF SEVILLE

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Opéra Louisiane brings an evening of laughter and love with Rossini's timeless classic The Barber of Seville. At the Manship Theatre at 7:30 pm on Friday and 3 pm on Sunday, The Barber of Seville is sure to delight audiences with familiar melodies and comedic charm. Tickets start at $25. operalouisiane.com. •

MAY 4th

GREEN THUMBS

SUNSET HERB & GARDEN FESTIVAL

Sunset, Louisiana

The Sunset Garden Club presents the

chance to meet vendors and master gardeners specializing in all your favorite garden friends: hibiscus, grasses, fruit trees, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, succulents, roses, and more. Local crafts, handmade yard art, and herbal bath and body products can also be found on the grounds for sale. First-timers should know that plants go fast! In the Kids Corner, children can play on fun jumps, enjoy face-painting, visit the fairy garden, or meet some of the beekeepers or agricultural vendors on site. $5, children 6 and younger free. 9 am–4 pm. sunsetherbfestival.com. •

MAY 4th

MUSICAL MOMENTS

VERLON THOMPSON IN CONCERT AT TEMPLE SINAI

Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Returning to Arts For All's annual songwriting workshop is renowned Nashville songwriter and guitarist Verlon Thompson. Verlon will perform at Temple Sinai at 7 pm, in an evening filled with music, stories, and a special "Barnegie Hall" style session, where

Verlon will interview Eric Schmitt, Jodi James, and Clay Parker about their songwriting journeys. Don't miss this exceptional event showcasing talented songwriters and their inspiring stories. $35. bontempstix.com. •

MAY 4th

LOCAL DOCUMENTARIES

INTENTION SCREENING WITH BECCA BEGNAUD AT NUNU Arnaudville, Louisiana

Intention , directed by Syd Horn and Olivia Perillo, documents the preservation work of eleven Southwest Louisiana women of Cajun, Creole, and Chitimacha heritage. Intention will be screened at NUNU Arts & Culture Collective at 7 pm followed by an interactive discussion on healing, given in French and English, led by anthropologist Becca Bengnaud. Free. nunucollective.org. k

MAY 4th

GET YOUR GOULASH ON HUNGARIAN HERITAGE DAY

Hammond, Louisiana

Get your goulash on at Hungarian Heritage Day at the Albany Hungarian Presbyterian Church, a day of celebration featuring vendor booths, live music, performances by Hungarian

dancers, and an opportunity to tour the church and museum. You won't want to miss the goulash cook-off and judging at 1 pm, along with offerings of other Hungarian delicacies to sink your teeth into, such as the kolbasz po-boy. In true family-friendly style, kids are welcome to join the fun with face-painting, a bounce house, and snowballs. 10 am–5 pm. Free. Check out the Presbyterian Church's Facebook page for more details. •

MAY 4th

CONCERTS

CUMBERLAND COUNTY AT THE POYDRAS CENTER

New Roads, Louisiana

The Arts Council of Pointe Coupee's annual Performing Arts Series for 2024 comes packed with high-energy musicians who have been favorites at the French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest in New Orleans, as well as with some strong regional vocalists who have come highly recommended by PAS patrons. This month, see Cumberland County. Doors open at 6 pm; performances start at 7 pm at the Poydras Center in New Roads. $30; $10 for students. artscouncilofpointecoupee.org. •

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 22

MAY 4th - MAY 25th

DOUBLE TROUBLE

TWIN FEST LOUISIANA

Houma, Louisiana

Celebrates twins, multiples, and the people who love them at Twin Fest Louisiana. With a fun family atmosphere, Twin Fest has the mission of supporting others, inspired by the nonprofit CHerfiSH TimesTwo's journey in the Foster Care system. Besides lots of sets of twins, you'll find plenty of local artists and craftspeople vending goods, as well as local restaurants and food trucks. 10 am–6 pm. eftwins.com/twinfest. •

MAY 10th - MAY 11th

MUSIC FESTIVALS

NATCHITOCHES JAZZ/

R&B FESTIVAL

Natchitoches, Louisiana

A full day of incredible jazz and R&B acts in Natchitoches's historic downtown? You'd better believe it. For twenty-seven years now this festival has brought a full-fledged celebration of these high energy genres (and others, too) to its riverbank district. This year's lineup includes almost twenty acts, including Chapel Hart, Craig Morgan, Mason Trail and Zydeco Rhythm, Deep Water Rehab, 50 Man Machine, and Josh Hyde and The

Lost Parish. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, but leave your ice chests and outside food and drink at home. Kicks off Friday night at 7 pm, and carries through the weekend from 1 pm–10:30 pm Saturday. $25 for Fridayonly; $55 for Saturday; $70 for the whole weekend; $125 for VIP—with access to VIP bathrooms, an open bar, and premiere viewing. Discounts are available for students. natchjazzfest.com.

MAY

AMPHIBIAN FUN

FROG FESTIVAL

Rayne, Louisiana

Watch your step on the Rayne Fair Grounds this weekend, since there are bound to be frogs underfoot at this toad-ally awesome festival. When not rooting for their favorite fleetfooted frogs in the racing/jumping contest, festival-goers enjoy great food (including fried frog legs), huge carnival rides, arts and crafts shows, accordion and dance contests, frog cook-offs and frog eating contests, and musical talent including Dominic Ellis, Corey Ledet, and Parade Route Party Band. 5 pm–midnight. $5 for adults; free for children twelve and younger. raynefrogfestival.com. •

Celebrate the humble frog at the Rayne Fair Grounds May 10 and 11 with fried frog legs, frog cook-offs, frog eating contests, carnival rides, an arts and crafts show, and plenty of other Southwest Louisiana fun. Photo by Jimmy Emerson via Flickr and CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED.

Native Flora of Louisiana Watercolor Drawings by Margaret Stones

With Botanical Descriptions by Lowell Urbatsch LIMITED FOLIO

Praised as one of the most accomplished and celebrated botanical artists of the twentieth century, Margaret Stones established a new standard for botanical illustration during her long career. In 1975, Louisiana State University chancellor Paul W. Murrill commissioned Stones to create a series of drawings of native Louisiana plants and described the project as “a modern-day equivalent of John James Audubon’s Birds of America series.”

Treasured by gardeners, art collectors, and botanists in and out of Louisiana, this contribution to Stones’s oeuvre highlights the impressive diversity of endemic plant species in southeastern North America and on the Gulf Coast specifically. Drawn only from fresh plants gathered under the guidance of LSU professor Lowell Urbatsch, Stones’s detailed and captivating depictions remain a lasting and unprecedented study of the state’s natural beauty.

This folio edition offers, for the first time, a complete collection of Stones’s Louisiana illustrations on archival, acid-free paper with hardcover conservation binding. Paired with botanical descriptions by Urbatsch, these exceptional museum-quality reproductions of the artist’s watercolors provide intimate access to the precision and delicacy that define Stones’s mastery.

St. Francisville, La

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EDITION AVAILABLE AT: THE CONUNDRUM
|
(225) 245-5025 480 pages | 12" x 16" | ISBN 978-0-8071-7023-6
11917 Ferdinand Street

Events

Beginning May 10th - May 16th

MAY 10th - MAY 19th

FAMILY LESSONS

THINGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME AT CITÉ DES ARTS

Lafayette, Louisiana

Cité des Arts' presents Things My Mother

Taught Me, a heartfelt comedy navigating the ups and downs of new beginnings, following a couple's move into their first apartment in Chicago. With unexpected twists and the arrival of their parents to help on moving day, hilarity ensues. The show opens on May 10, with a special Mother's Day brunch gala on May 12, and runs until May 19. $25–$35. Showtimes at citedesarts.org. k

neighborhoods of Beauregard Town and Spanish Town. Wander among the lush exotics in Chuck Booksh and Van Landry's five-year-old garden; the decades-old, carefully nurtured paradise of Nanci and Scott Gaddy; the 600 block of Louisiana Avenue with the still-blooming fifteen-year-old legacy of Suzanne Turner's master plan for the neighborhood; and many more. 1 pm–4 pm. $20, which includes the tour and light refreshments at The Origin Hotel.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at (225) 767-6916, or at any of the seven gardens on tour day. lsu.edu/hilltop. •

11th

BATONROUGECLINIC.COM

such as 504 Seafood, the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady, Urban South, and many more will be representing, offering samples of crawfish, lobster, craft beer, champagne, and everything in between. And of course in bonafide Louisiana tradition, live music will play throughout the day. $30–$200. More information at brewsboilsbubbles.com. •

MAY 11th

IMMERSIVE DANCE

ON A GOOD NOTE BY SPACE

LAFAYETTE

Arnaudville, Louisiana

Experience the intimate and immersive sitespecific performances of the dance collective Space Lafayette, which will present On a Good Note: A Journey Through the Human Experience at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville this month. Exploring the inner worlds—anxieties, reflections, and humors—of the artists themselves, the performance is designed to be therapeutic and to foster connection. 6:30 pm–9 pm. $30. breatheandmove.education/ space-lafayette. •

MAY 11th - MAY 26th

ART ON STAGE PLAYMAKERS THEATER OF COVINGTON PRESENTS

PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE

Covington, Louisiana

Playmakers Theater of Covington will transform into a Parisian café at the turn of the 20th century. There, a young Albert Einstein crosses paths with Pablo Picasso—just before the two would transform the world with their theory of relativity and revolutionary cubism, respectively. Watch it unfold on stage in this comedy by Steve Martin. 7 pm, Sunday matinees at 2 pm. $15–$20 at bontempstix.com. •

MAY 12th

HISTORIC HOMES

OLD MANDEVILLE

MOTHER'S DAY HOME TOUR

Mandeville, Louisiana

This Mother's Day, go on tour with Mom. The Olde Mandeville Historic Association returns with its annual Home Tour—featuring six historic Creole and Mid-Centruy Modern homes in the area, in addition to the Jean Baptiste Lang House— one of only a few remaining "Anglo-Creole" structures in Old Mandeville. Visitors will delve into the architecture, restoration process, antiques, and artwork of each site; and the ways owner's have made the space their own. 2 pm–5 pm. $25 in advance, $30 day-of; $15 for students. Wristbands and tour maps will be available at the Lang House on May 9 and 10 from 10 am–4 pm, on Saturday from 10 am–1 pm, and on tour day beginning at noon. oldmandevillehistoricassociation.org. •

MAY 15th

THROUGH THE ARCHIVES

CURIOUS LOUISIANA: STORIES FROM THE ADVOCATE

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For this month's "Special Collections" lecture series at the Main Library at Goodwood, join Jan Risher, editor at The Advocate, in a conversation regarding the newspaper's weekly segment, "Curious Louisiana". Risher will be delving into the intriguing queries from the column, such as "Was Scenic Highway ever scenic?" and "What sets Cajun apart from Creole?" and other local enigmas, sure to satisfy even the most inquisitive minds. 6 pm. Free. ebrpl.com. k

MAY 16th

MUSICAL MOVEMENTS

GUSTAV MAHLER AT TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Natchez, Mississippi

Experience the Mississippi debut of Gustav Mahler's The Song of the Earth presented by the Natchez Festival of Music and Trinity Episcopal Church. Directed by Dr. Jay Dean, this symphony concert features six movements. 7 pm–10 pm. $30. For more information, call Carolyn Vance Smith at (601) 695–1772. •

MAY 16th - MAY 18th

CARS ON CARS CRUISIN CAJUN COUNTRY

New Iberia, Louisiana

Join car enthusiasts for a three-day tour through Cajun Country, featuring free car shows and entertainment. Through the weekend, the tour will take you to a variety of Acadiana's most beloved cultural hubs in Jeanerette, Lafayette, and Iberia Parish; and evenings conclude with the Cajun French Music Association banquet at Club La Louisiane on Thursday, live music and delicious food at Bouligny Plaza on Friday, and a Saturday night fais do-do. For a full itinerary and registration information visit cruisincajuncountry.com. •

MAY 16th - MAY 19th

INTERGENERATIONAL DRAMAS HERMANN-GRIMA HOUSE PRESENTS TWO ELIZAS

New Orleans, Louisiana

Hermann-Grima House presents Two Elizas, a play written, produced, and performed by Jenny Mercein. In this solo show, Mercein recounts her personal struggles with motherhood through the lense of the true story of her ancestor's landmark 1847 Supreme Court Case. The critically acclaimed production is a deeply moving exploration of the fight for women's rights across generations. 6 pm. $35. hgghh.org. •

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Events

MAY 17th

ART OF DANCE MANSHIP THEATRE PRESENTS

ORCHID'S ARC

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Expect to be enchanted by Of Moving Colors' Orchid's Arc performed at Manship Theatre's stage at the Shaw Center for the Arts. The performance will feature professional dancers as well as participants from the Manship's Dance for Parkinson's group for an unforgettable evening of movement and artistry highlighting the joys of the many stages of life. 7 pm. manshiptheatre.org. •

MAY 17th

CLASSICALLY NOLA

LPO PRESENTS: ROOTED IN RHYTHM

New Orleans, Louisiana

inspirational concert, benefiting LPO education and community engagement programs, features LPO Music Director Matthew Kraemer, along with special guests Preservation Hall Jazz Band and pianist Sean Chen. Tickets start at $48. lpomusic.com. •

MAY 17th

BLUESMEN

HISTORICAL HAPPY HOUR: ED

WILLIS AND BLUES 4 $ALE

Port Allen, Louisiana

MAY 17th

INTIMATE CONCERTS

CANDLELIGHT: VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS AND MORE

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A quartet of BRSO musicians are performing an intimate, candlelit concert featuring Vivaldi's Four Seasons at Broadmoor United Methodist Church. Concerts are at 6:30 pm and 9 pm. $30–$50. brso.org. •

MAY 17th - MAY 19th

MUSIC ON THE BAYOU MID-CITY BAYOU BOOGALOO

New Orleans, Louisiana

Visit thebayouboogaloo.com for a full schedule. •

MAY 18th

MERRYMAKING

FOOLS OF MISRULES FOOLS FEST

Covington, Louisiana

In a grand finale to its 2023-2024 season, the Grammy Award-winning Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra presents Rooted in Rhythm: Celebrating NOLA Jazz and Classical Traditions at 7:30 pm in the Orpheum Theater. This

Pack up your favorite libations, and open your mind to the history of our community at the West Baton Rouge Museum's monthly Historical Happy Hour. This month features Ed Willis and Blues 4 $ale, a band formed in 2002 by New Orleans bluesman Ed Willis. Guests will also be the first to see the museum's new exhibition Evolution of the Revolution —a multimedia installation displaying enormous photos from significant moments in Black history by photographers and set designers Lynn Rosi and Nichelle Evans. 6 pm–8 pm. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com. •

Before the sizzling summer heat sets in, the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo returns to invite all to the banks of beloved Bayou St. John for a family-friendly festival of live music, delicious food, art, and all kinds of other fun. This year's lineup includes major acts like George Porter Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, GAZ & the Phunky Nomads, Naughty Professor with Chali 2NA, and Afroman. Don't miss bonus events like LGBTLOL with Ryan Rogers and Shep Kelly, or Lefty Lucy's Burlesque Bingo. Find the festivities on Bayou St. John where Orleans Avenue meets Moss. Experience by water or by land. $39.50 weekend pass; $15 per day.

Noting the absence of proper Twelfth Night merrymaking on the Northshore, the St. John Fools of Misrule marching club was formed in 2011 to herald the arrival of Carnival season in St. Tammany Parish. The organization's rituals are derived from an ancient English men's group that clamored along the evening streets, creating unruliness with cowbells and whips while delivering jeers and spankings to those caught on the street unaware. For this spring event, the fools invite all to enjoy a free concert at Bogue Falaya Park, featuring a lineup including the Chee-Weez, Eli Howard & the Greater Good, Wes Jeans, Dash Rip Rock, and PJ & the Bear. 1 pm–9 pm. Free. foolsofmisrule.org. •

MAY 18th

FULLY DRESSED

ACADIANA POBOY FESTIVAL

Lafayette, Louisiana

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Cormier, Rob Sandberg, and Zach Doise as well as Jefferson Street Pub's Gus Rezende, this festival gathers a large and inventive variety of poboy purveyors from the area together in Lafayette's Parc Sans Souci, a direct challenge to the primacy of the New Orleans poboy scene. Over twenty-five poboy shops make up the cast. Plus kids' activities, live music, arts & crafts vendors, and—naturally—a poboy eating contest. 11 am–5 pm. Free admission, but bring money to buy your poboys. acadianapoboyfestival.com. •

MAY 18th

THANKING HEROES

LOUISIANA VETERANS

FESTIVAL

Slidell, Louisiana

The East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity invites all to celebrate local veterans and thank them for their service, while enjoying the best of our local cuisine and music, and a festival ambiance at Slidell Heritage Park. There will be a tribute ceremony honoring United States veterans as well as activeduty military and their families. Other events include a talk led by special guest speaker Colleen Seeley, an arts and crafts fair, and performances by Christian Serpas & Ghost Town and Chucky C & Friends. All proceeds

will benefit the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity's Veterans Build Program, which provides housing solutions to low-income veterans, active military, and families. 3 pm–9 pm. $15; free for veterans and children younger than twelve. laveteransfestival.com. •

MAY 18th

GARDEN STROLLS

ST. FRANCISVILLE SPRING GARDEN TOUR

Saint Francisville, Louisiana

The Feliciana Master Gardeners invite you to take a tour of the lush gardens in West Feliciana Parish in all their springtime glory. Get your tickets for $20 at St. Francisville Town Hall, proceeds of which support 4-H scholarships, school gardens, and community projects. For more information, contact West Feliciana Parish LSU AgCenter at (225)-635-3614. •

MAY 18th - MAY 19th

GOOD EATS

BATON ROUGE

SOUL FOOD FESTIVAL

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Southern cuisine, live music, competitions, vendors, and more are coming to the Main Library's Plaza

for the annual Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival. Expect acts by local favorites including Double Trouble Zydeco, vendors stirring up the best of Louisiana soul food, and more. Free. Details at brsoulfoodfest.com. •

MAY 18th - AUG 25th

FUNDAMENTAL MOMENTS

EVOLUTION OF THE REVOLUTION AT THE WBR MUSEUM

Port Allen, Louisiana

Evolution of the Revolution created by Surreal Box Cinema depicts the plight of the struggle for freedom, justice, and equal rights of African Americans. Through large-scale photographs and interactive displays, the exhibit at the West Baton Rouge Museum reflects fundamental moments from slavery to today's political landscape, giving impetus to the ongoing need for activism on the path to equality for all. Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–4:30 pm; Sunday 2 pm–5 pm. westbatonrougemuseum.org. •

MAY 19th

CHERISHING TRADITIONS

SACRED AMAZONIAN CACAO CEREMONY AT NUNU Arnaudville, Louisiana

In Amazonian communities, the

cacao plant holds profound sacred significance, its introspective powers cherished by Indigenous peoples for countless generations. Join the NUNU Arts & Culture Collective for the Sacred Amazonian Cacao Ceremony, a guided meditation engaging all your senses as you commune deeply with this revered plant and unlock transformative spiritual experiences. Open your heart as you embark on this journey of ancient wisdom and connection. 2 pm. $35. nunucollective.org. •

MAY 23rd - JUN 2nd

CARNIVAL TIME

CAJUN HEARTLAND STATE FAIR

Lafayette, Louisiana

Now over thirty years old, this massive, eleven-day midway carnival attracts more than 175,000 people to the heart of Cajun country each spring. Bring the kids out for a whirl on the giant Ferris wheel and the Mega Drop; try your hand at a prize-winning ring toss. If the Ferris wheel is too tame, try out a Zipline & Warrior Challenge Park, where you can cruise down a zipline like Indiana Jones, for free. Get your sweet tooth ready for eleven days of funnel-cake-fueled fun. Located on the grounds and parking lot surrounding the Cajundome. Free admission; $10 #HansensDiseaseMuseum

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#Nottoway LEARN MORE AT VISITIBERVILLE.COM Lifeisajourney #ChurchOfTheNativity #IbervilleMuseum

Events

Beginning May 24th - May 31st

for parking. Gates open at 5 pm on weekdays and noon on weekends. cajundome.com. •

MAY 24th - MAY 26th

IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME NEW ORLEANS

GREEK FESTIVAL

New Orleans, Louisiana

This family-friendly festival takes place on the banks of Bayou St. John at the Holy Trinity Byzantine Cathedral—the first Greek Orthodox church in the country. There'll be plenty of homemade traditional Greek food and wine, desserts, live traditional Greek dancing performed by the Hellenic Dancers; and a live Greek band will be playing on the bayou. Saturday also brings the Greek Festival Run/Walk Race. Begins at 5 pm Friday; 11 am Saturday and Sunday. $10 per day; $25 for the weekend. greekfestnola.com. •

MAY 24th - MAY 26th

COUNTRY FUN

CAJUN COUNTRY JAM

MEMORIAL DAY FESTIVAL

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Bring the whole family out to PARDS North Park for the Cajun Country Jam Memorial Day Festival—three days of live music, sunshine, and good times. Headliners for this year's event include Parish County Line, Chase Matthew, Clay Walker, Joe Nichols, and others, and a Texas Club after party with DJ Dylan Wayne on Friday and Saturday. $75 for general admission weekend passes, and $125 for pit passes, which includes earlier entry. Ages 5–15 get in for $38, and passes are free for those younger. Camping and parking passes are also available. For more details, visit, thecajuncountryjam.com. •

MAY 24th - MAY 26th

THAT'S MY JAM

JAMBALAYA FESTIVAL

Gonzales, Louisiana

Gonzales, the self-proclaimed "Jambalaya Capital of the World," hosts its annual festival dedicated to your favorite regional meat and rice concoction (and surely, around here, there are plenty). The event is free to the public and features a jambacooking contest, carnival rides, a car show; and live music by Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, the Allison Collins Band, The Jovin Webb Experience, Ghost Riders Band, and more. Free. Friday bands play from

5:30 pm–midnight, Saturday from 11 am–midnight, and Sunday from noon–11 pm. Full the schedule at jambalayafestival.net. •

MAY 25th

MUSICAL TRADITIONS

SPIRIT OF LOUISIANA JAZZ

FUNERAL AND SECOND LINE

New Orleans, Louisiana

City Park hosts the Spirit of Louisiana Jazz Funeral and Second Line, an event honoring pandemic and hurricane recovery workers as well as the lives lost during the pandemic. With the organizational guidance of Norman Dixon Jr., president of Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association, the public is encouraged to attend, express gratitude, and participate in the procession. Grieving family and friends are invited to carry mementos in memory of loved ones. Presented by the Krewe of Black & Gold, the event highlights New Orleans culture featuring the YMO, Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Band, as well as the TBC Brass Band. 4 pm. Free. kreweofblackandgold.com. •

MAY 27th

MEMORIAL MUSIC

BATON ROUGE CONCERT BAND

MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Baton Rouge Concert Band presents a concert of patriotic music and lively marches, along with some more solemn songs, to honor and remember those soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect our country. Come out for a free concert in their honor at the East Baton Rouge Main Branch Library on Goodwood. 7 pm. ebrpl.com. •

MAY 30th

BLINDED WITH SCIENCE STEM FAIRE

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

School's out but there's no need to put a pin on learning with the Main Library at Goodwood's STEM faire. STEM faire provides kids and teens an opportunity to get involved in the realm of science and technology through interactive demonstrations, and activities such as a technology petting–zoo and the ultimate egg drop challenge. They will be invited to sign up for summer reading as well. 10 am–1 pm. Free. ebrpl.com . •

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 28

MAY 30th - JUN 1st

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE

KROTZ SPRINGS SPORTSMEN'S HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Krotz Springs, Louisiana

Explore the heart of the basin in good taste with the Fur, Feathers, or Fins cook-off and dance the night away to Cajun, swamp pop, and zydeco tunes. Thursday's "Family night" is all rides, for $25 from 5:30 pm–10:30 pm. Friday's festival includes performances by Nik-L-Beer and GTO Party Band from 7 pm–11:30 pm; Saturday brings the 5K in the morning, followed immediately after by the cook-off and the Hammer Time Logan Stelly Memorial Corn Hole Tournament, plus live and silent auctions and performances by Swampland Revival, Clay Cormier and the Highway Boys, and Krossfyre until 11:30 pm. 562 Front Street. Free. kssportsmensheritagefestival.com. •

MAY 31st - JUN 2nd

LITERARY LEGACIES

THE WALKER PERCY WEEKEND

Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Beloved for blending spirited literary discussion with spectacular social events, the Walker Percy Weekend fortifies attendees for a series of literary lectures and panel discussions with the finest Louisiana food and beverages. The festival invites fans of Southern literature to explore Percy's thought and writing through presentations by renowned scholars, panel discussions, and social and culinary events inspired by the author's most famous works. This year the fest will explore the theme "The Speculative South." Events take place in atmospheric locations around St. Francisville's historic district. Highlights include Friday evening welcome drinks at Conundrum Bookstore; a Saturday series of lectures and panel discussions exploring works of speculative, futuristic Southern fiction by Walker Percy and other authors; and a new series of Saturday book club lunches led by featured speakers. The traditional Saturday afternoon Progressive Front Porch Tour and Bourbon Tasting, inspired by Percy's essay on drinking "Bourbon, Neat," invites participants to visit various historic district porches during the late afternoon, prior to the "Taste of Louisiana" Southern supper, which will be served under the stars on the grounds of Grace Episcopal Church on Saturday evening. This year's featured presenters include writers and thinkers Dr. Jennifer A. Frey, Richard Grant, Bryan Giemza, Olivia Clare Friedman, and M.O. Walsh. Festival proceeds support the Julius Freyhan Foundation —an organization dedicated to restoring St. Francisville's historic Freyhan School building to serve

as a community and cultural center for West Feliciana Parish. For more details, visit walkerpercyweekend.org. $275 for all access ticket at bontempstix.com. •

MAY 31st - JUN 2nd HOT AIR

WASHINGTON PARISH BALLOON FEST

Franklinton, Louisiana

It's a balloon festival that's full of more than just hot air: catch food vendors, live music, local artists, a carnival, and more at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton. 5 pm–10 pm Friday; noon–10 pm Saturday; noon–9 pm Sunday. $5; $12 for threeday pass; $100 for VIP, with access to tent drinks and food provided in an air conditioned space. wpballoonfest.com. •

For our full list of May events, including those we couldn’t fit in print, point your phone camera here.

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VISIT ST. FRANCISVILLE

St. Francisville … OVERNIGHT

Louisiana’s beloved river town offers far too much to see in a day. So, here’s how to make a weekend (or a week) of it!

When it comes to destinations for unforgettable nights and weekends, visitors to St. Francisville truly have more diverse and exciting accommodation choices than ever this spring. In addition to time-honored bed and breakfast landmarks like Butler Greenwood B&B, Lake Rosemound Inn, and Greenwood Plantation, today’s St. Francisville offers an extraordinary range of accommodation options to suit every setting, taste, and budget. An explosion of short-term rental properties—many overseen by the same Louisiana Hospitality Group that owns the St. Francisville Inn and manages newly opened luxury inn Hotel Toussaint—includes whole-home rentals such as The Jasperilla Pink House and Ayers Cottage in St. Francisville proper, The Sage House, a charming 3-bedroom home with sweeping screened porch, large dining room, and the hot new breakfast/lunch spot Basel’s Market right in its front yard; and The Glynns, a Victorian-style vacation rental situated on 30 wooded acres just north of town. But the jewel in the Louisiana Hospitality Group’s crown is surely The Royal Inn, a masterpiece of unparalleled luxury in a restored, 1780 property on historic Royal Street, and the most recently completed project of the St. Francisville Inn’s Brandon Branch and Jim Johnson.

With Hotel Toussaint’s opening in early April, accommodation options in and around the Historic District abound. A charming, eight-room luxury inn furnished with classic French décor and equipped with modern amenities, Hotel Toussaint welcomes guests to the new North Commerce development, where they’ll be surrounded by The Corbel home décor and furniture gallery, the womens’ and mens’ clothing boutiques Barlow Fashion and Deyo Supply Company, The Mallory event center; and Big River Pizza Company—a wood-fired pizza restaurant, ice creamery, and speakeasy-style bar by the team behind The Myrtles and Restaurant 1796 Demonstrating the spirit of cooperation energizing St. Francisville’s exciting evolution, Hotel Toussaint is managed and operated by the St. Francisville Inn right across the street. So, guests have access to the Inn’s benefits and amenities, including preferential reservations at The Saint Restaurant and Bar, the Spa at The Inn, and the site’s EV chargers and bicycles.

And when you’re ready to leave the blossom-strewn streets of the Historic District, secluded hideaways and country retreats tucked into West Feliciana’s forested hills await. Rural accommodation options include the Tunica Hills Campground, perfect for nature lovers wishing to lose themselves amid the pristine hardwood forest and deep ravines of the Tunica Hills. 20 campsites and several cabins are available here. Search AirBnB to find Langhorn Farm Guest House, offering two private cottages on farm property minutes from town; The Outpost, featuring two charming Tiny Homes tucked into 14 wooded acres, each featuring a full kitchen, shower bathroom, bedroom with second sleeping loft, living room and porch; or Sanctuary Creek, another cabin-in-the-woods set on 41 forested acres deep in the Tunica Hills. For those who prefer to ‘bring their own bed,’ Peaceful Pines, Bayou Creek, and Shelby J’s RV Parks are comfortable, convenient sites providing full RV hookups, pet-friendly policies, and usually some on-site cabin options, too. Offering the reliability and affordability of a trusted, national brand, St. Francisville’s Best Western Hotel is conveniently located on Highway 61, right by restaurants, grocery stores, and retail businesses.

With Louisiana’s beloved, historic river town growing by leaps and bounds—with new events, dining, and outdoor activity attractions arriving all the time—there’s never been a better time to plan a visit. Come, discover, and stay awhile. You’ll be glad you did. To explore these options and many more, visit www.visitstfrancisvillela.com/stay

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MUSEUM

* Black History Month Exhibits: History of the Hardwood Community & Hatian Art from the Stokes Collection

* Revamped Museum Store: Louisiana books and handcrafts, including Grandmother’s Buttons jewelry

//MAY 24 31 FRANCISVILLE - YOU’LL LOVE IT HERE
Ferdinand St. St. Francisville
11757
225-635-6330

VISUAL ARTS

Art in the Capital City

A GUIDE TO BATON ROUGE'S EVER-EVOLVING ART SCENE

Beneath the overwhelming (and loud) aesthetics that come with being Louisiana’s political hub and SEC temple, Baton Rouge holds tightly to an intimate and lively arts scene—made up of diverse perspectives brought in by the city’s universities, legacy artists who have worked here for decades, and an ever-growing crop of emerging creatives benefitting from and contributing to local arts programming.

The “scene” itself is still a relatively young one, with origins going back to the 1930s with the creation of the Baton Rouge Art League (BRAL). At the time, the arts were largely confined to the university settings. Founded by seven local women, BRAL aimed to bring the arts to the community by facilitating art exhibitions and developing a permanent collection—all while raising funds to support public school art programs and continuing education for its artist members. The League was also responsible for establishing the Louisiana Art Commission, a precursor to today’s Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. Today, one of BRAL’s most important functions is to preserve and exhibit works by some of Louisiana’s earliest professional artists, included in the Louisiana WPA Art Collection—featuring artists such as Clarence Millet, Charles Reineke, and John McCrady. These works can still be seen today in local museums and galleries, as well as in their permanent home at the Louisiana State Archives.

Another major development in Baton Rouge’s arts landscape took place in the 1960s, when a group of LSU faculty members couldn’t find anywhere in the city to display their contemporary work. They opened the Unit 8 Gallery in 1965, before officially becoming the Baton Rouge Gallery (BRG) in 1966. Still in operation today, BRG is one of the oldest artist cooperatives in the nation—featuring a diverse collection of works by artists working in, or with a connection to, Baton Rouge.

In 1973, the Junior League of Baton Rouge proposed the creation of a local Arts & Humanities Council for the city, dedicated to promoting "cultural growth, economic development, and educational enhancement through the arts" across eleven parishes in the Greater Baton Rouge Area. From its early days, the council facilitated arts festivals, public art, and local performances while providing opportunities and resources for local artists—missions it continues today on a larger scale from its headquarters in the state-of-the-art Cary Saurage Community Arts Center.

Since then, the city has welcomed state-of-the-art museums with galleries dedicated to exhibitions by both local and international artists (all within a short drive of one another), fostered the opening of dozens of locally-operated galleries dedicated to everything from experimental art to art-as-wellness, invested in projects that have woven a rich tapestry of public art across the city, and facilitated a range of arts education initiatives for all ages.

Art Museums

The LSU Museum of Art

Open since 1962, first in the University’s Memorial Tower, the LSU Museum of Art has occupied the transformative Shaw Center for the Arts since it opened in downtown Baton Rouge in 2005. Today, it occupies 13,000 square feet of space dedicated solely to exhibiting world-class painting, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, and other mediums. These include the museum’s permanent collection of over 6,500 objects, which features artifacts of Chinese jade and one of the most comprehensive public collections of Louisiana art in existence, with works by regional legends such as Clementine Hunter, Conrad Albrizio, and Marie Persac. Many of these Louisiana works are permanently displayed in the 6,000 square foot gallery exhibition titled Art in Louisiana: Views into the Collection

The rest of the museum is dedicated to high-caliber traveling exhibitions. In recent years, these have included shows featuring Warhol prints, a collection of works by the most esteemed contemporary Black American artists of the twentieth century, and exhibitions by featured Southern artists such as Louisiana’s own Letitia Huckaby.

The museum hosts opening and closing receptions around its traveling exhibitions, often bringing renowned artists in to engage directly with the community; in addition to a variety of regular programming (panels, tours, lectures) organized thematically around current exhibitions, often partnering with local organizations in multi-disciplinary explorations of art. A dedicated interactive learning area in the galleries, as well as family programming (crafts, music, and storytell-

ing) on the first Thursday and Sunday of the month, provide a portal for small children to engage directly with the arts at little or no cost.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the LSU Museum of Art in our calendar on page 14. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at lsumoa.org.

The Louisiana Art & Science Museum

The Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM), which opened in the 1970s in a circa-1925 historic railroad depot on the Mississippi River’s banks, explores the intersections of art and science. In addition to permanent features like the Ancient Egypt Gallery (featuring a Ptolemaic-era mummy) and the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, the museum has exhibited hundreds of works that lend themselves to scientific

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 32 PAINTING THE TOWN 32 FROM THE SHAW CENTER TO YES WE CANNIBAL // 36 NEW ORLEANS, AN ART CITY SINCE THE 18TH CENTURY // 41 THE INSPIRATION OF ARNAUDVILLE AND NOT-SO-BARE WALLS • MAY 2024
Features
"Marian Anderson singing 'Ave Maria'" by Baton Rouge artist Malaika Favorite. Umbrella image: "VENERATE," by Roz Lecompte.

Art Galleries

The World of Zydeco

The most obligatory entry point into the Baton Rouge art world is without a doubt the Baton Rouge Gallery (BRG), which for almost sixty years now has operated as a nonprofit showcasing high-caliber contemporary art by artists living and working in Baton Rouge. Occupying a circa-1927 pool house that was historically closed after the civil rights protest known as the Baton Rouge Swim-In, the gallery still operates in the manner of an artist cooperative—meaning that its members are chosen by the existing artists as a group. Current members include elders who have in many ways defined and elevated the Baton Rouge art scene such as Edward Pramuk (one of the gallery’s founders), Randell Henry, Judi Betts, and Frank Hayden; as well as a host of the city’s biggest emerging artists of today, many of them coming out of LSU and Southern University’s art programs. In addition to its member shows, BRG brings local creatives together for weekly Sundays@4 events that offer a venue for local authors, artists, musicians, and performers to engage directly with the community. Each April, the gallery clears its walls to make space for an exhibition of works by local high school students, and in January hosts one of Baton Rouge’s most popular arts events of the year, the juried exhibit Surreal Salon —celebrating pop-surrealist works from around the globe and culminating in a soirée that brings the spirit of the exhibition to life with a costume party rivaling Mardi Gras. BRG is also responsible for bringing local art to the city’s newest arrivals through its rotating showcase of more than fifty works on display at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.

investigation and discourse. Featured shows over the last decade have included studies of color and sound, exhibits of astrophotography, and artistic expressions of our current climate crisis.

LASM is one of the city’s most beloved resources for families, offering an abundance of programming for art and science lovers of all ages. In addition to exhibition-specific lectures, artist meet and greets, and demonstrations, the museum offers regular educational activities for children, including storytimes and craft events held every first and third Saturday of the month. The museum also has a dedicated space, the Discovery Depot, where tykes can engage with art and science through imaginative play during regular museum hours.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in our calendar on page 15. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at lasm.org.

Capitol Park Museum

Opened in 2006 in the Capitol Area neighborhood of downtown Baton Rouge as part of the Louisiana State Museum system, the Capitol Park Museum’s thematic range reaches beyond fine art and into Louisiana history, industry, and culture as a whole. These areas, of course, frequently intersect with the arts, presenting opportunities for fascinating exhibitions such as a 2019 documentary photo project on the descendents of Canary Islanders in Louisiana and beyond, or Mitoloji Latannyèr/Mythologies Louisianaises —an artistic exploration of French, Creole, and Tunica languages in Louisiana, featuring over forty paintings, images, sculptures, and stories—which is currently on display through the end of the year.

In addition to historical lectures and panels, the Capitol Park Museum frequently hosts film screenings, artist discussions, and workshops in association with its exhibitions.

Learn more about the museum’s offerings at louisianastatemuseum.org/ museum/capitol-park-museum.

West Baton Rouge Museum

A quick jaunt across the river brings you to this Port Allen treasure, founded in 1968 to preserve the history and cultural heritage of the surrounding region. In addition to exhibitions and programming with an emphasis on local history, the West Baton Rouge Museum frequently and thoughtfully showcases the work of Louisiana working artists such as Ben Peabody, Douglas Bourgeois, and others; as well as legacy artists such as Angela Gregory and George Rodrigue.

Presenting some of the most dynamic cultural programming in the region, the West Baton Rouge Museum regularly brings authors, artists, musicians, and historians to its galleries to explore the historical context surrounding its exhibitions, as well as the culture of the region at large. Each month brings a wealth of lectures, artisan-led workshops, concerts, kids' activities, and more.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the West Baton Rouge Museum in our calendar on page 27. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at westbatonrougemuseum.org.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is one of Baton Rouge’s newest arts spaces, Yes We Cannibal. In an unassuming building in Baton Rouge’s Mid City neighborhood, co-founders Mat Keel and Liz Lessner have introduced their ambitious, anti-profit home for collective social and artistic experimentation—showcasing works by some of the globe’s most exciting and boundary-pushing modern artists, as well as featuring local artists exploring issues directly affecting this region, such as the future of Louisiana’s oil industry, students’ experiences at Baton Rouge’s Broadmoor High, and more. Filling a space for philosophically-tilted, speculative, and avante-garde artistic exploration—since its opening in 2020, Yes We Cannibal has unlocked new layers of the city’s artistic fabric.

Mid City, where revitalization initiatives have ushered in a host of locally-owned, creatively-inclined businesses, is home to several of the city’s best commercial galleries and frame shops, as well. Elizabethan Gallery has been operated by Liz Walker since 1977, and the current gallery space is filled wall-to-wall with the work of local artists in a range of styles—with a bent toward impressionistic landscapes and vivid depictions of flora and fauna. Right down the road, you’ll find Frameworks Gallery, which has been around just as long, and represents a smaller collection of contemporary

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"City Slickers" acrylic oil on canvas. By Baton Rouge artist Randell Henry. "Lily pads," by Baton Rouge artist Carol Hallock.

Louisiana artists. Just outside of the neighborhood is Ann Connelly Fine Art—one of the city’s preeminent galleries, representing a highly-curated group of local, national, and international artists in a chic, airy gallery space. Across the city are more galleries with smaller, but distinguished collections, including: Acadian Frame & Art, operated by Cathy Sherburne for over thirty years; The Framing Boutique at Studio de Chene, operated by artist Marla Hoppenstedt; and The Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa—which joins immersive art experiences with inner and outer wellness.

End your gallery tour in the arts hub of Baton Rouge that is the downtown district. In the Shaw Center for the Arts alone, you’ll discover three distinct galleries. The Gallery at the Manship Theatre features rotating exhibitions of local and national artists, and the Jones Walker Foyer just below it focuses on artists working in Baton Rouge. Accessible from the ground level sidewalk, the LSU School of Art Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery brings the work of the university’s students and faculty out of the campus setting and into the downtown community. Director of Galleries at LSU Courtney Taylor has hinted at new initiatives in the works at Glassell, and plans to bring more activated, community-facing exhibitions and programming to the space—emphasizing its role as one of the most ultra-contemporary venues for art in the city.

And an exploration of Baton Rouge arts would not be complete without a pilgrimage to the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s groundbreaking Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, which having opened in 2021 is still a bright and shiny new addition to the downtown arts scene. With over 12,000 square feet of space dedicated to local artists and arts organizations, the Arts Council has added an impressive facility to the city's visual arts estate. The Center’s Shell Gallery hosts a rotation of exhibitions by local and traveling artists, including the Center’s artists-in-residence.

5 Artists You Should Know

Randell Henry

One of Baton Rouge’s most established and respected artists, Randell Henry has been working and teaching in the region for over forty years now. His abstract mixed media works lend themselves to viewer interpretation—brilliant expressions of color, shape, and pattern that vibrate with energy and movement. For Henry himself, though, the works, in a language of their own, often convey private expressions and ideas on family, culture, mythology, and music. The resonance of such improvisational artistry has brought Henry’s work to esteemed exhibitions and institutions across the globe. But here in Baton Rouge, aspiring artists get the benefit of his hands-on mentorship.

Henry has said that he knew he wanted to be an artist from a very young age, and spent his elementary years reading about artists and art movements. Today, he encourages such curiosity in students across the region in his roles as a Professor at Southern University and his involvement in various community outreach programs—through which he works with aspiring artists in kindergarten, in nursing homes, and within the prison system. He is also on the board at the Baton Rouge Gallery.

See more of Henry’s work at batonrougegallery.org/randell-henry.

Liz Lessner

As the co-founder of the experimental cultural space Yes We Cannibal in Mid City, Liz Lessner has introduced a new home for counter-cultural, ultramodern expressions of the arts in Ba ton Rouge. Her own artistic practice is similarly innovative— creating kinetic sculptures and installations designed around distinct sensory experiences and interaction opportunities. From a starting point of reconceiving human “gesture,” Less ner explores the human experience from new vantage points. She makes use of traditional materials infused with modern technology to play with themes such as entrapment versus pri vacy versus embrace, transform the act of breathing into some thing tactile, and electronically recreate the sensation of being in a rainstorm.

An instructor at the LSU College of Art & Design, Lessner encourages students and community mem bers to engage in new, critical approaches to design. See more of her work at batonrougegallery.org/liz-lessner and lizlessner.com

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 34
"Semiotic salvage 13". Sculpture by Baton Rouge artist Liz Lessner.

Carol Hallock

One of Baton Rouge’s bestselling artists, according to gallery owner Liz Walker, Carol Hallock’s meditative oil paintings seem to stir something in the collective soul. A Baton Rouge native who now splits her time between her homes in Lacombe, Louisiana and in Mississippi, Hallock’s works are instinctive—beauty observed from the seat of a kayak and translated, in signature loose, expressive brushstrokes, onto canvas. A master of perspective and restraint, her impressionist style and soothing color palette produce a dreamlike effect that has drawn the attention of collectors across Louisiana and beyond. You can even find Hallock’s work in the Louisiana Governor’s mansion.

Hallock is represented by Elizabethan Gallery, Gallery 600 Julia in New Orleans, Rita Durio and Associates in Lafayette, and Pineapple Gallery in Mandeville.

See more of her work at carolhallock.com.

Malaika Favorite

Since she was a child growing up in Geismar just outside of Baton Rouge, Malaika Favorite has expressed herself through the arts. With a BA and MFA from LSU, she has returned again and again to the Greater Baton Rouge area—making a name for herself in the Atlanta and Augusta art and literary scenes in between—before setting down roots in the place she grew up, in 2016. Working from a metal studio on her family’s property, Favorite investigates subjects of family, faith, legacy, and Black identity through abstract mixed-media works—including her iconic washboard art, an homage to women’s labor within the home. Her art takes many forms, whether that be oil and acrylic painting, lithographs, or found object collages and sculpture. Favorite has been exhibited in museums around the country, and is included in major collections around the region, including at LSU, the Alexandria Museum of Art, and the River Road African American Museum.

Soon, Favorite’s work will represent Black Louisiana

storytelling on a grand scale—as part of the Louisiana-themed murals adorning Disney World’s new ride “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” inspired by the animated film The Princess and the Frog, which was set in New Orleans. The ride, which will replace the iconic “Splash Mountain” in the Magic Kingdom, will officially open later this summer.

See more of Favorite’s work at batonrougegallery.org/malaika-favorite and malaikafavorite.artspan.com.

Jeremiah Ariaz

When documentary photographer Jeremiah Ariaz arrived in the South to teach the art of photography to LSU students, his artistic preoccupation was with the American West. Interested in the mythology of the frontier, he set out to explore the relationships between the land and the people who have occupied it, and the stories that emerge from those interactions. It was here in Louisiana, though, that he discovered a subculture parallel to that Western imagination, in a place popular perceptions of the “cowboy” wouldn’t imagine: Black Creole communities. Started in 2014, his documentary project Louisiana Trail Riders —documenting the world of Black equestrian clubs in Louisiana—propelled him to national acclaim, initiating a conversation about under-recognized Black history that has recently taken over popular discourse in the wake of Beyonce’s album Cowboy Carter

Still teaching at LSU, Ariaz’s more recent ongoing projects include a photographic series of small town newspaper offices in Kansas surviving in our transformed media landscape; and a collection of dystopian scenes from swing states across America, capturing the collective anxieties of our current political landscape.

Ariaz is represented by Nashville’s Zeitgeist Gallery and he is a member of Baton Rouge Gallery.

See more of his work at jeremiahariaz.com. •

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JUNE

JULY

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VISITBROOKHAVENMS.COM
"Troy, (Opelousas) 2017." From Baton Rouge photographer Jeremiah Ariaz's "Louisiana Trail Riders" series.
10TH: A’KEELA & THE BEATS
14TH: THE BRIDGE BAND
19TH: THE LINCOLN OUTFIT BROOKHAVEN, MS MUSIC LINEUP RAILROAD PARK STAGE 7:00 - 9:00 PM

A City of the Arts

A GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS'S EXPANSIVE AND DIVERSE VISUAL ARTS SCENE

Beyond its world-renowned music and culinary landscapes, New Orleans has also long been hhost to a vibrant world of the visual arts all its own. Bolstered by its historic role as a port city bringing in famed European painters, New Orleans’s art scene has experienced a post-Katrina surge of revitalization and inspiration in the contemporary art sphere, and in many respects is finally gaining the recognition it deserves as one of America's visual arts capitals.

From the city's earliest days, New Orleans has been deeply connected to the fine arts world of Europe. The French survey painter Jean Pierre Lassus completed his “Veue et Perspective de la Nouvelle Orléans” depicting the young colony in 1726 (see it on page 52), which today hangs at the French National Archives in Paris. Any French art created in New Orleans in subsequent years was likely lost in the fires that leveled the vast majority of the Vieux Carré at the end of the 18th century. Painters of French as well as Spanish descent continued to produce portraits and landscapes through the early 1800s, and portraiture particularly experienced a surge of interest around the 1830s, when French artist Jean Joseph Vaudechamp was painting New Orleans’s most notable citizens. Many of his portraits remain in the collections of the Louisiana State Museum and local private collectors today.

One of the most significant moments in New

Orleans’s arts history came in 1873, when Edgar Degas completed one of his earliest impressionist paintings of his uncle Michel Musson’s cotton exchange. This work, completed during Degas’s Reconstruction-era visit to the city, made him the only member of the French Impressionist movement to paint in the United States.

Interest in art gained momentum in New Orleans, and in 1880 the Southern Art Union was formed by local artists, quickly amassing hundreds of members. After that organization splintered, the Artists’ Association of New Orleans was formed in its wake in 1886. Besides founding an art school, the Artists’ Association of New Orleans would develop and bolster the city’s first true community of professional artists. In 1884, New Orleans hosted one of the earliest international art exhibitions as part of the World Cotton Centennial.

In 1887, The H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College was founded as the first coordinate college for women in the United States, and not long after, The Newcomb Art College was established by artists and brothers William and Ellsworth Woodward, with the help of Gertrude Roberts Smith. This seminal arts education institution instructed women artists in mediums and topics from ceramics, to mechanical and architectural drawing, to woodcarving. Just before the turn of the 20th century, faculty members launched Newcomb Pottery, which quickly became popular with collectors

and museums across the country. Today, Newcomb continues its legacy of instructing young artists as part of Tulane University.

The New Orleans Arts and Crafts Club was established in 1922, and helped usher in what has been called the “French Quarter Renaissance,” which was characterized by a symbiotic relationship between younger avant garde French Quarter artists and wealthy Uptown and Garden District collectors and patrons. Although the club hosted a highly successful artist costume ball each year, the Depression greatly slowed its momentum in the 1930s, and by 1951 the group had folded.

In 1980, Dorothy Jurisich Coleman and Auseklis Ozols opened the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts (NOAFA) on Magazine Street, providing training in classical visual arts. Today, more contemporary mediums are exhibited and taught at the NOAFA, too.

As more galleries began to crop up in the then somewhat-neglected New Orleans Warehouse District, the non-profit Arts District of New Orleans Association (ADNO) was founded in the 1990s to help organize gallery leadership and unify promotional efforts with the intent of drawing more art lovers to the area. ADNO still hosts free “First Saturday” opening receptions across its member galleries each month, and sponsors Jammin’ on Julia, White Linen Night, and Art for Arts’ Sake each year to generate further appreciation for the arts among locals and visitors.

One of the largest and most important developments for New Orleans’s art scene was the establishment of the only triennial arts exhibition of its kind in the United States: Prospect New Orleans. Inspired by the Venice Biennale that started in 1895 to exhibit art from across the globe, Dan Cameron—former curator of the New Museum of Contemporary Art as well as artistic director/organizer of Istanbul and Taipei Biennales—was struck by the United States’ lack of a large-scale biennial or triennial. When he visited New Orleans in 2006 just months after Hurricane Katrina, Cameron realized the city’s need for economic recovery, along with its long cultural legacy as an international port city, made it the perfect location for such an ambitious exhibition. Prospect.1 brought artists from across the world to New Orleans for the first iteration of the triennial in 2008, which remains one of the most influential art exhibitions ever held in New Orleans.

2024 is a Prospect year, meaning that P.6: the future is present, the harbinger is home opens across the city on November 2 and runs through February 2, 2025. Curated by Artistic Directors Ebony G. Patterson and Miranda Lash, P.6 features more local artists than previous Prospects (Hannah Chalew, Ruth Owens, L. Kasimu Harris, Thomas Deaton, and Christian Dinh among them), and also will continue its legacy of bringing in countless artists and art enthusiasts from around the globe for the city-wide event.

Beyond its larger arts institutions and museums (more on those below), New Orleans’s visual art is intricately woven throughout the city in the form of a vibrant gallery scene centered around the Warehouse Arts District on Julia Street and countless smaller galleries dotting Magazine and Royal Streets, plus an eclectic community of street vendors surrounding Jackson Square in the French Quarter and ample opportunities for arts markets and other events, too.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 36 FINE ARTS
"Bottomland Chimera," 2023, by New Orleans artist Hannah Chalew.

Art Museums

New Orleans Museum of Art

The Isaac Delgado Museum of Art was founded in 1911, imagined and funded by its local art collector and philanthropist namesake. Delgado died less than a month after the opening of his grand art museum crowning City Park’s central circle, today named the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).

In 1970, a renovation and massive expansion of the Greek Revival building, along with reinvigorated art acquisitions, positioned NOMA in the upper twenty-five percent of art institutions in the country in terms of scale and importance. It remains the oldest and largest fine art museum in New Orleans, and today boasts a collection of over fifty thousand works— including ninety significant sculptural works in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which encompasses twelve acres of finely landscaped paths and gardens.

The museum also offers a rich slate of community programming—including NOMA at Night, events that open up the galleries after hours for live music performances, art talks, and performances. Gallery talks, film screenings, book clubs, family days, and art workshops round out an ever-changing calendar.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art in our calendar on page 15. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at noma.org.

The Louisiana State Museum in the Cabildo

The turn of the twentieth century also brought the formation of the Louisiana State Museum, which today operates ten museums across the state, but originally found its home in the historic Cabildo and Presbytere buildings on Jackson Square in 1912. Besides extensive records and artifacts, the collections include both historic and contemporary art, and the museum in the Cabildo regularly hosts exhibitions ranging in focus from traditional and contemporary art to local history.

Learn more about what’s currently on exhibit and coming up at The Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo at louisianastatemuseum.org/museum/cabildo.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art

In 1999, the Roger Ogden Museum of Southern Art was established, finding its home in the Warehouse District across the street from the Contemporary Arts

Center in 2003. The Ogden not only holds the largest and most substantial collection of Southern art in the world, with over four thousand holdings by artists from fifteen southern states; but also regularly hosts exhibitions and other programming that examines contemporary art in the context of southern cultural traditions, presenting a “comprehensive story of the South.”

The Ogden hosts a whole slate of educational arts programming for a variety of ages, plus weekly meditations in the galleries on Thursdays, monthly “Hey Y’all” art talks, and Ogden After Hours events featuring live performances.

Learn more about the exhibitions and programs offered at the Ogden Museum of Southern art at ogdenmuseum.org.

The Contemporary Arts Center

The Contemporary Arts Center was founded in 1976, and its expansive Warehouse District building continues to host visual arts exhibitions in its galleries, as well as theatre performances, lectures, and concerts.

The CAC offers artist residencies for both visual and performing artists, as well as programming that includes Inter[SECTOR], a three-year multidisciplinary project inviting artists to collaborate and address issues related to social justice. There are also youth programs, including a teen museum board.

Learn more about all that’s going on at the Contemporary Arts Center at cacno.org.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

In addition to preserving and stewarding tens of thousands of library items and artifacts, The Historic New Orleans Collection houses in its collections hundreds of historic artworks. The recently-renovated Exhibition Center on Royal Street presents exhibitions on a broad swath of local culture and arts topics.

THNOC’s other programming frequently delves into the visual arts, as well. Past topics included as part of the Williams Lecture series are the life of New Orleans sculptor Enrique Alvarez and the history of Carnival photography.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection in our calendar on page 17. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at hnoc.org.

Art Galleries

Warehouse Arts District

In the Warehouse District, beyond the local contemporary epicenters of the Ogden and the CAC, turn onto Julia Street to experience local contemporary art in smaller gallery venues, which often house works that are as impressive as the larger institutional collections.

Heading down Camp Street toward Julia from the CAC, you’ll find Spillman Blackwell Fine Art, where gallerists Leslie-Claire Spillman and Amy Blackwell’s “artist-centered and community-accessible” space hosts shows by local, national, and international artists.

When you get to Julia Street, the first block to your left kicks off the highly-concentrated galleries, many of them members of the ADNO. Gryder Gallery offers a space for contemporary experimentation by both well-established and emerging artists, particularly those whose work explores larger global and philosophical questions. Across the Street, The Degas Gallery emphasizes “fine contemporary paintings and drawings characterized by vibrant color and surface texture,” as a nod to its namesake. The Guess-McCall Gallery displays modern art ranging from New Orleans streetscapes to cheeky illustrations and abstracts. Across from that, New Orleans-born visual artist George Schmidt’s Gallery and Studio exhibits his locally-focused “anti-modernist” paintings and drawings. Gallery 600 Julia at the end of the block cycles in exhibitions by popular local artists in its front rooms and maintains a large and varied assortment of works by other artists across its walls, often stretching floor-to-ceiling.

Continuing down Julia in the direction of the river will bring you to Ariodante Contemporary Crafts, which cycles in an eclectic variety of paintings, jewelry, sculpture, and “lagniappe” by local artists and craftspeople. Further down the block, Callan Contemporary emphasizes figurative and abstract sculpture and paintings by mid-career and emerging artists from across the world.

Once you pass Magazine Street, you’ll come to Ibis Contemporary Art Gallery, a newer gallery opened in 2021 that hosts solo and group exhibitions by both affiliate and guest artists—last year, solo exhibitions of Katrina Andry and Hannah Chalew’s works were featured among Ibis’s varied and elevated curations. Gallery co-owner Louis Marinaro’s Landscapes in Relief is currently on display alongside other exhibits, which sadly will be Ibis’s last, as the gallery has announced its closure in late June of this year.

Next door is longstanding contemporary art staple Arthur Roger Gallery, which opened in 1978 shortly after the CAC, just as the New Orleans art scene was gaining momentum. The gallery’s founder and namesake was instrumental in the early forming of the ADNO, and since the 1980s Arthur Roger Gallery has frequently participated in national and international art events like the Chicago International Art Exhibition (now called EXPO Chicago). Arthur Roger was also a catalyst for organizing the highly-successful Louisiana Arts Exposition at the 1984 World’s Fair. Throughout its history, the gallery has hosted exhibitions by many of the Crescent City’s most influential pioneering contemporary artists, and continues to represent the estates of New Orleans legacy artists including George Durea, John T. Scott, Ida Kohlmeyer, and others. When the gallery made its fortieth anniversary in 2017, Roger donated his personal collection of contemporary art spanning from 1970 onward to the New Orleans Museum of Art, a contribution described by NOMA Director Susan

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"Purple Rain Bar" from New Orleans photographer L. Kasimu Harris's "Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges" series.

Evolution of the Revolution

May 18 - August 25, 2024

Taylor as “transformative”. Arthur Roger Gallery continues to be an important home for contemporary art in the city, featuring exhibitions by important long-active locals like Douglas Bourgeois, as well as emerging artists and creative group shows.

Continuing towards the river will land you at the Ferrara Showman Gallery, coowned by artist and activist Jonathan Ferrara and curator and art historian Matthew Weldon Showman, who describe their space as, “a commercial gallery with a public conscience.” Founded in 1998, this is also one of the more established galleries on Julia, with a commitment to showcasing local and international artists whose work is centered on a larger mission and message. Like Arthur Roger, the Ferrara Showman Gallery has garnered a reputation in the larger art world beyond New Orleans through collaborations and exhibitions with museums and art institutions across the country and world.

Further down near the end of the ADNO stretch is LeMieux Galleries, another long-standing staple that made its fortieth anniversary last year. From its inception, LeMieux has emphasized local and “third coast” artists, but since changing ownership in 2015 when gallery employees Christy Wood and Jordan Blanton purchased the gallery, LeMieux’s scope has widened to include more emerging artists from across the South.

Magazine Street

Preview party featuring ED WILLS with BLUES 4 $ALE www.WestBatonRougeMuseum.org

May 17th • 6-8PM

While less concentrated and organized than the ADNO, galleries of various size and scope dot most of the length of Magazine Street. Among them, beginning on the Uptown side is the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art, which frequently hosts exhibitions by its students and faculty, as well as well-established local artists. There is also the airy, Louisiana-themed gallery of artist Casey Langteau; the solo gallery of environment-focused painter Billy Solitario; the Firehouse Loft’s speakeasy-style contemporary exhibition space; and the Carol Robinson Gallery, established in 1980 to showcase works by national and regional artists.

Galleries on Magazine get more frequent continuing toward downtown. Neal Auction House is worth noting for its ever-changing collection of historical art and antiques; abstract art and jewelry-focused ESOM Art is just past that; then there’s the Alex Beard Studio containing the local artist’s often Louisiana-focused abstracts. The Kevin Gillentine Gallery displays an assortment of local art and offers framing services; and the Zana Brown Studio Gallery features ethereal, organically-textured paintings and sculptures. Past that, the Sulllivan Gallery exhibits local as well as

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 38
"Sexy Car Girl," by New Orleans artist Ruth Owens.

regional and national artists; and Cole Pratt Gallery’s lightfilled space showcases works by artists from across the South, ranging from paintings to ceramics. Just down the street from those is Metairie abstract sculptor and painter Julie Silvers’ gallery; then the ambitious Sidewalk Side Studio, which features an ever-rotating display of works by up-and-coming talent.

Next, Gallery Huracan features large-scale colorful paintings and watercolors by local artist and educator Kathleen Trapolin.

Jumping out on a stretch of the street that mostly features restaurants, shops, and bars is the Terrance Osborne Gallery, showcasing the brightly-colored, New Orleans-centric paintings and prints of its beloved namesake. A few blocks further, the Anton Haardt Gallery focuses on “Southern Folk and Outsider Art;” while Megan Barnes Art Gallery features Barnes’ reverse glass and mixed media paintings. Further downtown on Jackson Street, Gallery B. Fos includes the vibrant, New Orleans-inspired pop art paintings of local artist Becky Fos. Around the corner on Jackson, you’ll find the funky art studio of iconic French-New Orleans sign painter/folk artist Simon

Galleries on and surrounding Magazine thin out nearing the interstate, but you’ll find contemporary painter and textile artist Amanda Talley’s studio; then near the overpass, TEN NINETEEN —an innovative space that aims to encourage “culture shifts” by featuring exhibitions in conversation with other events like performances, public dialogues, and more.

Approaching the intersection of Magazine and Julia in the Warehouse Arts District, galleries ramp up again. Octavia Fine Arts offers a sleek space showing contemporary fine art by local and international artists, and is worth a stroll down the block if you’re already pursuing the galleries on Julia Street.

Royal Street

Similar to Magazine or Julia Streets, Royal Street in the French Quarter offers a veritable treasure trove of smaller art galleries. Windsor Fine Art spans both traditional and modern works; and continuing toward the Marigny from there you’ll be met with a steady stream of galleries.

M.S. Rau and its adjacent gallery boasts an impressive collection of fine art paintings including those by masters like Renoir and Rockwell.

Rodrigue Studios behind St. Louis Cathedral is a wonderful space to see many original “Blue Dog” paintings. Frank Relle’s gallery, with his striking, limited-edition nature photographs, break up the plethora of paintings; then the dark, figurative works by Iranian-New Orleans painter David Harouni can be seen at Harouni Gallery Mortal Machine Gallery next door turns its curatorial eye to “low brow,” pop, and surreal art; the expressive paintings and pen-and-ink drawings depicting the city’s jazz and live music by Emilie Rhys are in the next block at Scene by Rhys Fine Art

Other Galleries

While Royal, Magazine, and Julia streets boast the most galleries per block, art galleries dot the whole larger landscape of the city, if you know where to look.

Where Y’Art Works in the Marigny neighborhood hosts a collective of local artists, and also serves as a consulting agency to connect them with local individuals and organizations seeking commissions.

More than a gallery and absolutely worth a visit is Brandon “BMike” Odums’ StudioBE , a massive former warehouse in the Bywater housing large murals and art installations by Odums and other local artists, primarily focused on depicting the Black experience in New Orleans.

On the first floor of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ Turner Hall, the Helis Foundation John Scott Center displays fifty-one sculptures, paintings, and other mixed-media works by influential New Orleans artist and educator John Scott, and offers a community gathering space for dialogues and programming about the arts and humanities.

Around a block off Royal Street in the French Quarter is A Gallery for Fine Photography, which opened in 1973 and has housed an impressive collection of historical and contemporary photographs, starting with its first solo exhibition: a 1975 retrospective of photographs by Ansel Adams. It continues to host regular exhibitions by respected photographers from New Orleans and elsewhere.

Over in the Tremé neighborhood, the new Other Plans Gallery hosts a variety of local contemporary artists.

Another smaller and underrated area to pursue art is Oak Street—there you’ll find Frenchy Gallery, with colorful figurative live music pieces, as well as the New Orleans Photo Alliance, which houses photography exhibitions and educational programs.

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5 Artists You Should Know

Willie Birch

Willie Birch is regarded as a highly-respected elder of the New Orleans arts community, with a career spanning nearly fifty years. He returned to his birth city in 1994 after living in New York City for several years after earning his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. In New York he became known particularly for his papier-mâché sculptures, and upon his return to New Orleans, Birch began drawing a series of portraits of his neighbors.

His intent was to push back against the stereotypical images of African Americans displayed in popular media, and he continues to use his artistic practice to explore the everyday individuals and scenes of New Orleans, and thereby what it means to present life from his own perspective, rather than through the Euro-centric lens that has dominated the art world. He continues to find inspiration in his city’s architecture, music, cultural traditions like Black Masking Indians, and community.

As of 2000, Birch works exclusively in black-and-white. His large-scale paintings were featured in the original iteration of Prospect.1, and his works have been included in exhibitions across the United States. Birch’s works are also included in many private and museum collections, including those at The Ogden, NOMA, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Learn more about Willie Birch and his work at williebirch.com.

Ruth Owens

Today Ruth Owens’ paintings are fixtures of the New Orleans art world, where she is represented by the Ferrara Showman Gallery and has been selected as a featured artist in the upcoming Prospect.6 triennial. She is also a member of the artist collective The Front, which has an artist-led, nonprofit exhibition space that regularly hosts exhibitions and other innovative programming. But, her presence on the New Orleans art scene is relatively recent: Before getting her MFA at the University of New Orleans in 2018 and establishing herself as a successful artist, Owens spent twenty-five years working as a cosmetic surgeon.

Owens was born in Bavaria to a German mother and African-American father in the military. Impacted by her experience growing up in Germany and sporadically returning to various parts of the United States when her father was transferred, Owens’ work often grapples with identity, and the physical as well as spiritual relationships between bodies and the natural world that surrounds them. Frequently making a Black or mixed-race figure the focal point of her paintings, Owens’ work considers the possibilities for creating “a spiritual Black ecology,” while considering the complicated and historically-fraught relationship between Black individuals and nature.

Learn more about Owens and her work at ruthowensart.com or ferrarashowman.com.

Katrina Andry

Katrina Andry, who was born in New Orleans and earned her MFA in Printmaking at LSU, creates works in a variety of mediums including woodcut prints, monotype, linocut, acrylic, and mylar. While layers of imagery are evident in her works—some of which have been described as pushing “the medium of printmaking to the point of multimedia,” Andry’s pieces contain complex layers of meaning, too.

Her work calls into question our cultural emphasis on individualism, challenging the notion that success is based solely on individual merit by assessing the ways racial prejudices disproportionately disadvantage people of color. Andry often lends new interpretations of Southern history in her works—her recent solo exhibition Afro-what-if-ism: Reimagining One Night in 1811 at Ibis Contemporary Gallery considers what might have

happened during and following the 1811 German Coast Uprising, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. The result is simultaneously whimsical and powerful, as scenes of Black leisure and childhood joy are juxtaposed with the violence and flames such desires for comfort have cost African Americans across history. Andry was among the artists included in Prospect.5, and her works are included in permanent collections at The Ogden, NOMA, and other art institutions nationwide.

Learn more about Andry and her work at katrina-andry.com.

L. Kasimu Harris

L. Kasimu Harris utilizes his photographic lens to tell the stories of underrepresented communities and the spaces they inhabit. His work has been included in countless group exhibitions across the country, as well as two international exhibitions and eight solo shows. His photographs are included in collections at The Ogden, NOMA, Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane, and other art institutions internationally.

His ongoing Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges series documents the Black cultural epicenters in New Orleans that are swiftly being lost to gentrification, and has been shown at the Hilliard Art Museum in Lafayette and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. New photographs for the series are set to debut as part of the upcoming Prospect.6 triennial this fall.

Learn more about Harris and his work at lkasimuharris.com.

Hannah Chalew

Hannah Chalew’s multimedia sculptures and installations turn over the daunting questions posed by our changing climate, particularly the implications for those of us living in South Louisiana. Through her works, the environmental activist and educator assesses the events of the past that resulted in the current crisis, and envisions what future life may look like.

Chalew has said that she didn’t realize her deep artistic connections with her home in New Orleans until she left for college in Boston, and Hurricane Katrina hit shortly thereafter. She was inspired by the first Prospect in 2008 to create art in and for the city; now she will be one of the forty-nine artists whose work is featured in Prospect.6. She was also selected as a South Arts Prize Winner and Louisiana State Fellow in 2022.

Learn more about Chalew and her practice at hannahchalew.com. •

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"Happy Birthday," by New Orleans artist Willie Birch. "The Magnolias Didn't Mind," by New Orleans artist Katrina Andry.

Art in Acadiana

A GUIDE TO GREATER LAFAYETTE'S LIVELY ART SCENE

Though Lafayette and the surrounding Acadiana region have long been home to a diverse tapestry of cultural expression—the organization of arts-focused initiatives on a community level can be traced back to the mid twentieth century, when the oil boom brought a new wave of commerce to the area. This era of opportunity in the 1940s represented a shift in Lafayette, as it transformed from a small farming community to a hub of business, industry, and tourism. The population mushroomed, as did a totally re-invigorated infrastructure of restaurants, theatres, and hotels to support it. More schools opened, and the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) expanded to meet the need. Nationally acclaimed artists and collectors began looking beyond nearby hubs of New Orleans and Houston as sites for galleries, and many set up in Lafayette—including artist James Cyphers, who opened his gallery in 1959 and exhibited works by some of the most famous artists in the world, including Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Degas.

The university established the School of Art and Ar-

chitecture in the 1950s, attracting some of the area’s first professional artist-educators—some of whom helped to organize the Lafayette Art Association in 1959. The organization was dedicated to facilitating local appreciation of and participation in high quality arts and art-making through critique lectures, art auctions, and workshops. Their programming included some of the city’s first large-scale public art exhibitions of local artists, including Lafayette educator, painter, and poet Pearl Mary Segura. Meanwhile, SLI’s School of Art faculty members set about producing exhibitions on campus in “The Stairwell Gallery” in Brown Ayers Hall. Fundraising efforts by local organizations and philanthropists sought to build a home for such showcases of local art, and thereby established Lafayette’s first art museum—the Art Center for Southwest Louisiana, opened in 1968 in a building designed by acclaimed Louisiana architect A. Hays Town. The museum would bring some of the first nationally and internationally recognized artists to exhibit in the region and quickly became the city’s premiere arts institution. Later, the museum would officially partner with the existing SLI University

Art Museum and move to an even more state-of-the-art exhibition space to become the Hilliard Art Museum.

In 1975 another group of community members came together to form the arts advocacy organization, the Acadiana Arts Council. Formed as part of a growing awareness for the importance of the arts and arts education across the country, the Council was dedicated to supporting artists and arts organizations through grants, and facilitating arts programming in the community itself. In 2004, the same year the new Hilliard museum opened its doors, the Arts Council established its own center and exhibition space in downtown Lafayette—the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

Towards the end of the twentieth century, artists like George Rodrigue with his “Blue Dogs”, Elemore Morgan Jr. with his en plein air Vermilion Parish landscapes, Herb Roe’s classical realism, and Robert Dafford’s murals emerged nationally as acclaimed artistic articulations of the Acadiana region—further elevating Lafayette and its surrounding area as a place of inspiration and setting the stage for the vibrant, dynamic Acadiana arts community that exists today.

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Left: "Salvation," in wood, 2024, by Acadiana sculptor Russell Whiting. Right: "FACADE," acrylic paint and pastels on wood canvas, by Acadiana artist Roz LeCompte.

Art Museums

The Hilliard Art Museum

Since its establishment as The Art Center for Southwest Louisiana in 1968, the Hilliard has merged education with the arts to provide access and opportunities for the community to engage with the global arts world, while also spotlighting the best of Louisiana’s own artistic talent. Within its 11,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Hilliard displays a rotating selection from its permanent collections—which include treasuries of Japanese woodblock prints, American and European sculptures, 150 artworks by Henry Botkin, and an extensive collection of work by Louisiana artists, including John McCrady, Hunt Slonem, Margaret Evangeline, Cora Kelly Ward, and more.

In addition, the museum’s galleries are always host to a slate of traveling exhibitions. In recent years, these have included showcases of works by Salvador Dalí and Sir Winston Churchill; artistic explorations by national and international artists, and regular exhibits featuring bodies of work by Louisiana artists, including Fred Packard, Philip Gould, Dickie Landry, and L. Kasimu Harris—plus annual showcases of artwork by students in the Lafayette Parish School System Talented Visual Arts Program.

The museum invites the public to come and engage with the artwork it holds through seasonal opening receptions, gallery tours, yoga in the galleries, opportunities for children to make art with professional artists, and its “Creative Conversations” lecture series.

See what’s currently on exhibit at the Hilliard Art Museum in our calendar on page 14. Learn more about the museum’s offerings at hilliardmuseum.org.

The Acadiana Center for the Arts

Opened in 2004 by the Acadiana Arts Council, the ACA fosters the arts in Acadiana through education—by supporting artistic integration in local school curriculums, facilitating arts experiences for local public school students, and training "Teaching Artists" to bring creative workshops to local classrooms; through community development—by supporting local creatives through grant opportunities and providing professional development workshops; and by bringing high caliber performing arts experiences to the stage.

In its galleries, the ACA exhibits a rotating schedule of highly curated art in its 6,000 square feet of exhibition space—which is divided into a Main Gallery devoted to often-local mid-career and veteran artists and group exhibitions; a first floor side gallery often used for installation work, the Coca-Cola Studio, which is curated with the help of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and the ACA Café space for smaller exhibits, which can be seen through the glass windows by passerby on the sidewalk. In recent years, the Center’s galleries have featured exhibits honoring the work of legends like Tina Girouard, group shows exploring concepts such as the global experience of Créolité, and surveys of contemporary artists’ work—the likes of Stephanie Patton and Brandon Ballengée.

Art Galleries

To best understand the Acadiana art scene, a good place to begin is on the outskirts of Lafayette, in the little town of Arnaudville. Here is where, in 2005, the mixed media artist George Marks embarked on the nationally-recognized creative placemaking project that is NUNU Arts & Culture Collective. For almost twenty years now, the gallery and community it promises has attracted a wave of creatives, drawn to establish their studios in the quiet, though culturally-rich, rural community. Visit NUNU almost any day and find an eclectic gathering of artists, musicians, thinkers, and community-builders gathered around sipping coffee, or in the back working on their creative projects. Most of the historic warehouse where NUNU resides is occupied by gallery space, showcasing a rotation of international and local artistic explorations of Francophone culture, as well as selections from the Collective’s member artists. Visitors can also peruse member artists’ work in the adjacent marketplace, where paintings, books, pottery, and other art objects are for sale. With its ambitious calendar of artist receptions, culture tables, concerts, workshops, and more—NUNU is a great place to immerse oneself in the regional art community, and connect with artists in action.

While wandering the backroads beyond Lafayette, discover other locally-owned small town galleries exhibiting area artists: including artist Paul Schexnayder’s A&E Gallery in New Iberia and Pink Alligator Gallery in Breaux Bridge. Breaux Bridge is also home to the Teche Center for the Arts, which regularly exhibits local artists and hosts creative workshops.

In Lafayette proper, a conglomerate of galleries and arts-focused businesses have congregated downtown—where the first Saturday artwalk transforms the district into an arts-focused wonderland, with businesses open late, galleries hosting openings, and independent artists and creatives setting up booths on the sidewalk. At the center of this community is Basin Arts, a multidisciplinary contemporary arts incubator, which hosts resident artists in its space (go say "hi" to Dirk Guidry) and brings together the artist community for regular critique nights, open studios, and more. The gallery space at Basin Arts regularly features exciting, immersive installations and artwork by Lafayette artists on a rotating basis. Basin Arts is also responsible for much of the art visitors to downtown Lafayette will see in local businesses—thanks to its revolutionary Bare Walls service, which allows businesses to rent local artwork at an affordable rate that also provides a residual income to artists.

Also downtown, find the Louisiana Craft Guild’s gallery, Sans Souci Fine Crafts —which exclusively features some of the best of Louisiana artisanship in mediums ranging from pottery and furniture to metalwork and photography. The Lafayette Art Association, who helped launch Lafayette’s creative arts scene over sixty years ago, has their Main Gallery on the outskirts of the downtown district near the university and Oil Center—where they display regular exhibitions of member work, offering a rich sampling of the area’s emerging and veteran artists. Artists engage directly with the community through a robust offering of workshops in mediums from jewelry making to tatting to alcohol inks. You can also find LAA member work on display across town at the Lafayette Public Library, City Hall, the Convention & Visitors Center, the Vermilionville Acadian Cultural Center, and Poupart’s Bistro.

Digging their heels into the rich cultural soil of the Acadiana region, many local artists maintain studios and galleries open to the public. Downtown, you’ll find Atrium Gallery, featuring the work of Louisiana landscape painter Stephen Frederick; as well as Pavy Studio —with its display of small-batch textiles and wallpaper derived from the art of internationally-renowned mixed-media painter Francis Pavy. Over on Garfield Street is the Warehouse on Garfield, the longtime studio and gallery space occupied by Herb Roe, a veteran of the Lafayette art scene whose distinct style of realism has captured various aspects of South Louisiana culture since the early 2000s. Visit the gallery to see selections from his extensive body of work, as well as those of a small collective of other working artists.

Outside of the downtown district, other artist-specific galleries in Lafayette that are well-worth the visit include Benoit Gallery—where Lafayette native Bryant Benoit’s multi-media collages illustrate the history and legacy of Creole life in South Louisiana. Tony Bernard’s gallery is also worth a visit, featuring his lively collection of “Cajun Pop” paintings. Bernard was a mentee of the one and only George Rodrigue—whose artwork perhaps more than any other artist has come to represent Louisiana’s culture. The Rodrigue family still operates a studio of the late artist’s work just five minutes away from Bernard’s studio, featuring a selection of his most famous works.

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"Feedin' Tyme II," by Acadiana artist Bryant Benoit.

5 Artists You Should Know

Bryant Benoit

From his gallery space in North Lafayette, Bryant Benoit continues his decades-long study of Creole life. His multi-media collages combine old photographs with his own fresh renderings in acrylic paint, conveying a continuity across generations—all experiencing the shared tensions and energy vibrating through Benoit’s rich compositions. A self-taught artist, Benoit started out working in construction, following in his father’s footsteps—before starting over and investing all into his creative practice. From 2013–2020 he operated downtown, before moving his gallery into his uncle’s old TV shop on the Northside, near where grew up. He opened up in 2021, and has been there ever since.

Capturing the depth and vibrancy of Louisiana’s Black Creole culture through scenes depicting traditional architecture, Zydeco dancehalls, and vignettes of domestic family life—Benoit has described his art as a form of visual storytelling using layers of love, pain, family, and spirituality. His work has been featured in galleries across the region and is included in collections across the globe; it has been featured in various juried art shows and festivals, including at the inaugural African American Heritage Foundation’s Celebration and the Zydeco Extravaganza. His work can also be seen around Acadiana at Youngsville’s City & Sports Complex, in local businesses as part of the Bare Walls Project, and at the Artbox on Pinhook and Surrey. One of his works is even featured on Zydeco performer Keith Frank’s 2021 album, The Resurrection of the Creole Connection

See more of Benoit’s work at benoitgallery.com.

Dusty Reed

If you frequent Louisiana festivals, and spend any time around the art vendors, you’ll recognize Dusty Reed’s work in an instant. Called “The Cajun Picasso,” Reed is a born and bred South Louisianan who embarked on his journey as a professional artist in 2010, emerging with a distinct style that simultaneously captured the spirit of South Louisiana culture and introduced something altogether different to the local arts scene. Reed’s paintings, sculptures, and multi-media compositions are centered on iconography integral to life in this region—musical instruments, Catholic saints, “FouDoo” dolls, a cat named “Minou"—all depicted in a contemporary folk art style infused with Cubism. Reed describes the approach as “Colk Art”. This year, Reed was honored with the distinction of being the official artist for Festival International de Louisiane in April, his work adorning the collectible festival pin and poster.

From his studio and galleryspace in the Lafayette Art Association gallery, where he is thecurrent Artist in Residence, Reed conducts art classes and workshops—ranging from byob arts experiences to multiple-session intensives.

See more of Reed’s work at cajunpicasso.com.

Roz LeCompte

Best known as one of the creators behind the jewelry brand Secondline Jewels and its line of adornments made from recycled drum cymbals (owned by the likes of Phil Collins and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd), the self-taught multi-disciplinary artist Roz LeCompte has re-emerged in full force on the Acadiana fine art scene in recent years. Her abstract works—delivered in mediums ranging form textiles to photography to painting—transmute an underlying tension between chaos and order, illustrated through contrasting shapes and colors.

Over the last two years, the Broussard-based artist has had her work featured in some of the region’s highest acclaimed juried art shows, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s annual Louisiana Contemporary exhibition in 2022, the Masur Museum’s 60th annual national competition in 2023, and the

"Strung out," by Lafayette artist Dusty Reed, "The Cajun Picasso".

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Acadiana Center for the Arts Bicentennial exhibition in 2023. Last year, her paintings were also featured in the July, August, and September editions of British Vogue as part of the magazine’s “retail gallery” feature. Her most recent major project, though, was the immersive installation Femme Unmuted, created in collaboration with Andrea Villien through Basin Arts’ Projectspace Residency program. Featuring interactive sculpture-making, poetry, dance, and a gallery of visual artwork—the installation explored the act of empowering women to reclaim their voices, which have been silenced throughout history. The concept of Femme Unmuted will continue, LeCompte has teased, in the form of a future podcast and web forum.

See more of LeCompte’s work at rozlecompte.com.

Melissa Bonin

Carrying on in the tradition of Louisiana artists Alexander Drysdale and Elemore Morgan, Jr., while pushing forward into more contemporary realms, Melissa Bonin is today considered one of Louisiana’s preeminent landscape artists. After studying under Morgan at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now ULL) through the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Bonin continued her studies in fine art in France, at Bennington College in Vermont, and at the Massachusetts School of Fine Art in Boston. She then returned to her hometown in New Iberia and opened a gallery with fellow local artists there. Since then, she has worked as a professional artist in the Acadiana community—now living and operating out of Lafayette.

environs are weighed against the traditions of the old masters and the techniques of modern art, and she’s described them more as a capturing of the “feeling” a place enacts within her than the exact image of the place itself. Delivered via abstraction in naturalistic color palettes,

Russell Whiting

From his secluded home in rural Breaux Bridge, sculptor Russell Whiting operates in an open-air studio that he has described as a replica of the shipyard environments of his past. The self-taught artist has been carving wood since his childhood, but it was the welding classes in prison that taught him the basis of the skills that he’s now mastered. After serving a sentence of twelve years for manslaughter after killing a man he saw beating a woman, Whiting went to work in Louisiana shipyards and offshore drilling rigs. On those jobs, he learned how to manipulate steel with an oxy-acetylene torch—a skill he brought home to his art practice. By 1990, he joined the Louisiana art circuit, showcasing his steel sculptures—soon earning enough acclaim and gallery representation to practice his art full-time.

"Marsh

her paintings evoke a sense of memory, of spirituality. She’s exhibited around the world, and her paintings are included in the private collections of celebrities including Emeril Lagasse, Christian LeBlanc, and Blake Lively; as well as in public collections including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Bayou Teche Museum, and the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion.

Since then, Whiting has become nationally-known for his signature, painterly torch technique. From raw ideas inspired by ancient mythology, seared into his mind, he transforms blocks of steel sourced from a New Iberia scrapyard into elegant effigies that now grace dozens of sculpture gardens, galleries, and private collections around the nation. Two of his most famous works include his depiction of Greek mythology’s Icarus, a stunning sculpture that overlooks the Tennessee River in Chattanooga; and his depiction of the famous Cajun/Zydeco icon Amédé Ardoin at the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center. In 2020, the ACA presented a thirty-year retrospective honoring the artist’s contribution to the world of contemporary sculpture.

Her impressionistic renderings of Louisiana’s natural

See more of Bonin’s work at melissabonin.com and at Magazine Street Gallery in New Orleans.

See more of Whiting’s work at river-gallery.com/artist/russell-whiting. •

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song II in Rose and Blue," by Acadiana artist Melissa Bonin.

The Art and Craft of Custom Furniture

Each custom-built piece created by All Wood Furniture begins with a drawing. That’s where the art comes in. Thirty-two years ago, before Dave Duhon launched a business building custom dining tables out of reclaimed cypress wood in his home town of Carencro, Louisiana, Doug Duhon’s first career was as a commercial artist. “I started out doing ads and creating logos and all that,” he said. When Dave’s furniturebuilding business, which was born in a sweet potato warehouse in 1993, began getting requests from people wanting custom furnishings, it was natural for Dave to make a crude sketch and build the piece. When Doug came aboard in 2005 it was natural to reach for his paper and pencil to help customers visualize how their finished product would look.

Drawing comes easily to the Duhons. To help a visitor grasp how a board foot of reclaimed cypress yields less useable wood than the same foot of new material, he pulls out a pen and renders the board in deft strokes, adding detail to illustrate how useable wood diminishes once the surfaces marred by weathering, cracking, and insect damage are cut away. “I’ve always done 2D—two-dimensional—flat art,” Duhon said. “I’m able to turn around drawings pretty quickly, so if somebody is having trouble visualizing how a piece will look I can draw it in front of them. Then they’ll say, ‘Well, that’s exactly what we wanted.’ ”

One such customer was a Lafayette-based artist—a painter, who visited All Wood’s Lafayette showroom and bought a table and small cabinet for her studio. Impressed with the quality and finish, she asked for a price for a custom-built workbench. Armed with pad, pen, and measuring tape, Doug visited the artist’s studio to find out exactly what she had in mind. She wanted a corner unit, with drawers built to hold different-sized supplies like large-format sheets of paper and rows of paint bottles. “Most people, when they’re dealing with a corner unit, they don’t realize that they’re going to have a wasted area here,” Doug explained, indicating the area where the two main sections of cabinet meet in the corner. “As I’m measuring, she goes, ‘If I could have a place to keep all my long rolls of paper …’ I drew it up with an open space in that corner for the rolls, and big drawers for the other supplies. She loved it. We’re building the piece right now.”

As the share of All Wood’s business involving custom work has grown, Doug has incorporated three-dimensional, CADrendered illustration into the furniture design process. Doing so not only lets him show a customer exactly how her finished dining hutch will look, but also to see it rendered in different styles—Shaker versus French versus Bonnet-Top style, for example. A customer can compare

all of the casegood styles the company’s builders offer, explore furnishings by room, application, color and finish; and check out items already in stock in the company’s Baton Rouge and Lafayette showrooms, at www.allwoodcompany.com.

Notwithstanding the introduction of new technology to the design process, at its heart AllWood Furniture remains a family-owned company that hand-builds every piece of solid cypress furniture in its Carencro workshop. Using as much as 150,000 board feet of sustainably sourced cypress each year, fifteen craftspeople create high-quality hutches, sideboards, beds, desks, bookcases, casegoods, outdoor furniture, and the sought-after dining tables with which the Duhon brothers made their reputation. Between seventy and eighty percent of pieces are made with new wood—sustainably sourced cypress harvested from throughout the Mississippi River watershed. The balance is made using reclaimed wood—old, weathered cypress with a former life as cabin, barn, or general store building etched into its features. Old cypress is getting hard to find, but Dave Duhon, who’s usually masterminding ideas at the Carencro shop, has amassed a stockpile over the years. Lately he’s been dipping into that private reserve, hand-picking sections with particularly handsome grain patterns and color variations, which he uses to build unique tabletops, and add distinctive flourishes to casegoods, headboards, and other prominent surfaces. When a customer arrives with a pickup truck load of cypress salvaged from a family home or barn, and asks for a special piece to be built out of it, the brothers leap at the opportunity. “Around here we come with a dowry of wood,” Doug says with a smile.

Regardless of whether the wood is new or old, each piece of All Wood furniture is finished with high-quality, pre-catalyzed lacquer, which is applied in multiple layers and hand-sanded to achieve a silky, luxurious finish. Combined with the natural rot- and insect-resistance that has made cypress a sought-after building material for centuries, the finish further ensures that every piece of All Wood furniture, drawn to measure, hand-built using solid wood by Louisiana crafters, will add beauty, function, and durability to the home for generations. Visit one of the company’s two showrooms, or the website, to learn more.

All Wood Furniture locations

10269 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge (225) 293-5118

1508 W. Pinhook Road, Lafayette (337) 262-0059

allwoodfurniture.com

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A special advertising feature from All Wood Furniture

Cuisine

49 SOUPÇON: TASTY TIDBITS FOR LOUISIANA FOODIES

THINGS ARE GETTIN' SPICY

46 MR. MCILHENNY'S PEPPERS // 48 MESTIZO CELEBRATES 25 YEARS IN BATON ROUGE //

MADE IN LOUISIANA

The Treasure on Avery Island

INSIDE THE HOME OF LOUISIANA'S WORLD FAMOUS HOT SAUCE

Louisiana is famous for its food and its cocktails, for its coffees and spices. But where do all these products begin?

We (writer-photographer duo Kristy and Paul Christiansen) are on a mission to discover the origins of some of our most famous and unique locally made products through the Country Roads series, “Made in Louisiana”.

Our continued pursuit of Louisiana-made products led my husband and me to Iberia Parish, where Avery Island serves as home to the iconic pepper sauce TABASCO®. After crossing a small bridge and getting directions from the entrance station, we headed to the ticket booth to begin our Avery Island Fan Experience. The self-guided tour begins in the TABASCO® Museum, which provides an extensive history of the hot pepper sauce and its creator, Edmund McIlhenny.

When McIlhenny moved to New Orleans in 1841 at the age of twenty-six, he likely had no idea he would one day develop a hot pepper sauce that would be revered by chefs, taken into battle inside soldiers' MREs (Meals, Readyto-Eat), and grace dinner tables around the world. Today, TABASCO® Sauce is a kitchen essential, nearly guaranteed a place of honor next to every salt and pepper shaker. But its origins date back

to a series of circumstances that put the right person in the right place at the right time.

Born in Hagerston, Maryland in 1815, McIlhenny was the son of a merchant, tavern keeper, and local politician who grew up to pursue a career in finance. After his move to New Orleans, he rose through the ranks, from bookkeeper to independent banker, and along the way married Mary Eliza Avery, daughter of a Baton Rouge jurist. His new in-laws owned an island south of Lafayette known as Ile Petite Anse, Cajun French for Little Cove Island. The remote property featured gentle hills rising to 160 feet above sea level, an uncommon feature in South Louisiana. Underneath the surface lay a salt dome built up over millions of years as an ancient body of water evaporated. Its depth is thought to penetrate deeper into the earth’s surface than Mount Everest extends skyward.

When the American Civil War broke

out, both the McIlhennys and the Averys took refuge at Il Petite Anse, and while living there, McIlhenny planted a garden. The family’s oral history claims that after the war, McIlhenny returned to the island and found the last remaining evidence of his garden—some pepper plants—growing in a chicken hedge. His banking career in shambles, McIlhenny shifted gears and used his remaining pepper plants, mixed with the island’s salt and some vinegar, to create his first batch of hot pepper sauce. He called it “Tabasco,” a Mexican Indian word that means “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.” Hoping to spice up the blandness of post-war food, McIlhenny bottled the sauce for family and friends in the only thing he could find—repurposed long-necked cologne bottles. By 1868, he produced his first commercial pepper crop and the TABASCO® Brand was born.

More than 155 years later, the product has changed very little. Only three

ingredients make up the famed sauce— the hot red pepper known as Capsicum frutescens variety tabasco, salt mined from Il Petite Anse (which is today called Avery Island), and high-quality distilled vinegar. The peppers ripen until they turn a precise shade of red, matched against a little red stick, or le petit bâton rouge. They are then immediately picked, mashed, mixed with salt, and placed in white oak barrels for up to three years.

Touring the TABASCO® complex, we caught the sharp scent of the pepper mash before we entered the warehouse holding the oak barrels. Each one was covered in a layer of salt and then stacked up to six barrels high, where the pepper mash is left to age, a process that refines the flavor. Once completed, a McIlhenny family member will verify its perfection before the mash is sent next door to the factory.

The tour led us past a bamboo forest toward the far end of the factory, a red brick building with stepped gables rem-

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2024
MAY

iniscent of Dutch design. Here, we continued our behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of TABASCO® Sauce. The first of several large rooms featured the next step in the process, where the pepper mash is poured into 1,800-gallon wooden vats and stirred with vinegar for two to three weeks. The mixture is then strained to discard any pepper skins and seeds, tested, and finally bottled in signature TABASCO® bottles bearing the diamond logo. The massive bottling line was a flurry of activity, where staff kept a watchful eye over the conveyer belts shuttling TABASCO® bottles from one destination to another.

“Every bottle of TABASCO® Sauce is produced on Avery Island,” said Kate Neuhaus, director of Global Marketing Communications for McIlhenny Company, who went on to say that on any given day about 700,000 bottles are shipped worldwide (to almost 200 countries and territories).

The sauce’s path from a postwar consolation prize to global recognition is due, in part, to marketing genius. McIlhenny originally used horse and buggy to bring his bottles to New Iberia, where he would ship them out to New Orleans by steamboat by way of the Bayou Teche and Atchafalaya swamp. In 1870, a distant relative of the Avery family, John C. Henshaw from New York City, brought TABASCO® to cities across the Northeast and soon landed an agreement with E.C. Hazard and Company, one

of America’s largest food manufacturers and distributers. From there, the TA BASCO® Brand continued to grow. By the late 1870s, it was being sold through the United States and Europe.

“Since the brand was first introduced, we’ve been lucky enough to be includ ed in pop-culture moments that have helped to make TABASCO® Sauce syn onymous with certain foods and dining occasions,” said Neuhaus. “Not to men tion we’ve built long-lasting relationships with chefs and members of the industry that have helped to make TABASCO® Sauce both a household and restaurant staple.”

Six generations later, TABASCO® is still family-owned and -operated and has expanded its TABASCO Family of Flavors® to include eight additional varieties to the original hot pepper sauce. It’s home base of Avery Island houses not only the factory and many of the workers but also an enchanting natural environment known as Jungle Gardens, where alligators lazily lounge alongside lagoons and nesting egrets prune feathers in the rookery that saved their existence. •

Visitors can tour both the TABASCO® factory and the 170-acre Jungle Gardens seven days a week. Tickets can be purchased online at tabasco.com.

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and Maintenance 225-955-7584 • rakusabi1@gmail.com • artistryoflight.com • MARY T. WILEY
Design

RESTAURANTS

Spice, Hold the Sugar

MESTIZO

CELEBRATES TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF UPENDING EXPECTATIONS

Story and photos by Lucie Monk

In Baton Rouge’s past quarter-century, we’ve seen five governors, four mayors; hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes sending hordes of people into and out of the city; and perhaps most consequentially for Jim Urdiales and his restaurant Mestizo, a greater affinity from local diners for all things “Local”.

Now is that local or lo-cal? At Mestizo, it can be both. The “Mexican with a Louisiana flair” restaurant up-ends ideas of traditional Mexican and blows past TexMex to serve zesty cuisine with a dietary conscience.

When I first ordered “taco salad” at a beloved Tex-Mex restaurant in my hometown, I was wowed by a throne of crunchy corn tortilla padded with ground beef, melt-in-your-mouth yellow cheese, and orange tomatoes resembling Legos in both shape and flavor. The dusting of iceberg lettuce made the whole mess nearly verdant. “So that was the healthy choice?” I thought at ten years old. “This is going to be a cinch.”

We’ve all wandered in the desert of faux-nutrition, if wandering can include a shuffle down the buffet line at Piccadilly, where vegetable options include carrot souffle and macaroni & cheese. "As my metabolism has waned and I've finally looked up "how to avoid cholesterol" (please, don't take my biscuits!), I’m grateful for the spots like Mestizo that help me when I can’t help myself.

“There are about seventy to eighty dishes you can get on our menu, so I understand if it takes you a minute,” I overheard my server, Dallas, tell another table on a recent lunch there. He steered

them toward the Power Bowl, with a choice of protein nestled among antioxidant-rich purple rice, black beans, avocado, spinach, tomatillo sauce, onions, cotija cheese, and pico de gallo. “The purple rice was developed by LSU,” said Dallas. I have no dietary restrictions beyond “you better have salted my hamburger or I’ll simply perish” and “a roasted potato should never be wet,” but I am always eager to be appealed to by an unfamiliar ingredient. Hence, Dallas recommended the jackfruit enchiladas. “The sweet chili sauce is going to balance well with that mole rosa.”

Dallas’s upbeat and informative approach allows even the most guarded diners to relax and can be credited, in part, to Urdiales’s lifelong experience in restaurants. In creating dishes at Mestizo, he thinks of his teen self approaching a table. “I understand the menu from the perspective of the chef, the customer, and the server trying to sell the menu,” Urdiales told me.

This instinct runs in the family, it seems. In 1940, Urdiales’s grandparents Joe and Eva opened El Rio in Lake Charles. Here in Baton Rouge, his Uncle Joe’s El Rio Grande has remained a favorite along Airline Highway since 1962 and is now run by Jim’s cousin Raul Urdiales. And when he was as young as eight, Urdiales was helping out in

his parents’ Carlos Mexican Restaurant, which operated on the corner of Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard until its 2016 closing.

He opened Mestizo in the old Tastee Donut building on Sherwood Forest Boulevard in 1999 before relocating in 2006 to the Acadian Thruway location, where the restaurant still stands today, a stone’s throw away from the interstate. (If you’re going to spend an hour crawling toward the Mississippi River bridge, what’s thirty minutes more to stop for tapas and a small margarita? Call it an antidote to rush hour road rage.)

With his bonafides as a restaurateur marketing Mexican food in Louisiana firmly intact, Urdiales could have thumbed his nose at a 2012 blog review lambasting his lack of vegetarian options. He may even have clapped back, in the modern parlance. Instead he added a few more vegetarian items, then a few more

when those were gobbled up. Now he cites that unimpressed review as a turning point for Mestizo. A visitor today will be swimming in vibrant, vegetable-forward options, certain on the steak or redfish—unless forgoing altogether—but struggling to choose between the broccoli and brussel sprout mash or the quinoa salad. There are separate menus for gluten-free and keto dishes (swap the tortillas for lettuce wraps in a scrumptious ahi tuna taco with a side of pistachio mole) as well as keto and low-carb cocktails and mocktails. You can even let Mestizo handle the daily stress of home cooking with their meal prep offerings.

Urdiales writes a new menu each year, letting the restaurant remain malleable to his experiences in food and travel as well as the desires of his diners. “I remember having my first grain bowl in a restaurant and realizing we could offer something similar,” he told me. “It could be highly customizable and empower the custom-

On an episode of the local podcast, The Patty G Show, last year, Urdiales told host Patrick Gremillion, “I like to evolve the menu. I like to tell a fun story. I like to challenge people to think a little differently when they dine in my restaurant.”

Consider a visit to Mestizo an immersion in local culture too, whether it’s the environmental and exuberant paintings by artist Chase Mullen or the flyers for Dancing for Big Buddy, in which Urdiales’s longtime partner Y’zell Williamson is competing. At Christmastime, the restaurant hosts a market to connect shoppers with local artisans.

With Omega-3s in abundance and a light hand on the salt shaker, Mestizo should make it well past twenty-five years. Still they celebrated this year’s big anniversary in late March after a year and a half in planning. Three hundred guests packed inside to wish Urdiales and his team well. “It felt like a wedding,” he said, blaming the talents of John Gray for the “jazzy dance party” that kept the crowd going until the wee hours. •

Stop by Mestizo on the 25th of the month for the rest of the year for special anniversary events.

Visit mestizorestaurant.com for details.

For twenty-five years, Mestizo's Jim Urdiales has delivered traditional Mexican flavors with a "Louisiana flair," always leaving room for evolution.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 48
Jackfruit enchiladas served with mole rosa at Mestizo. Crawfish tacos in flash-fried tortillas at Mestizo.

LATEST IN TASTE Soupçon

A DASH OF DINING NEWS

A New Tsunami

Same bright, delicious “Sunflower”-style sashimi and Hung lo rolls; new digs. Louisiana’s favorite sushi restaurant just opened its newest location at the corner of Bluebonnet and Highland Road—a much anticipated addition to the Tsunami family. The original Baton Rouge location is well-known as having one of the best views in town—with its stunning Mississippi River skyline. Tsunami-Highland focuses its energy on interior aesthetics, created by local high concept design studio Tiek Byday, who has infused the space with the aesthetics of otherworldly luxury. Stay up to date with the new restaurant on Instagram @tsunamihighlandbr

A Tasting Menu Gone Wild

For years, the tasting menu at elegant Garden District dining staple Coquette was a beloved prix fixe option for New Orleans diners. It won’t be available any longer, but never fear: Chef Michael Stoltzfus is bringing that concept at an

even higher level to his new restaurant Wild South, which opened at the end of February in the space that formerly housed Lengua Madre. Wild South’s always-changing menus—a sample of which includes dishes like lion’s mane mushrooms with black garlic and cured egg yolk; and an oyster roast with swordfish bacon, green garlic, and trout roe— are created to showcase the traditional ingredients and foodways of South Louisiana, with Stoltzfus’s elevated spin. wildsouthrestaurant.com.

Here’s to More Kimchi

“We couldn’t help ourselves, we just had to stop by. You could smell this food a block away!” “I love seeing kimchi on a menu in Baton Rouge.” Such was the chatter ahead of us in a long line of folks eager to try whatever was wafting so deliciously down Baton Rouge’s Main Street. The culprits were likely the braised beef or stir-fried shrimp, but truly everything at Okki Tokki, a

Korean restaurant opened last month, looked and smelled compelling. With a build-a-bowl dining set-up, a dizzying array of possibilities lay ahead. The choice between sweet potato noodles or garlic fried-rice, and whether to opt for gochujang vinaigrette or soy tahini, presents a challenge for those with indecisive demeanors. The beverage choices must also be taken into consideration, where else can you have a melon soda? Amidst many tempting options and a prime downtown location, Okki Tokki is already becoming a new favorite lunch spot in the Capital region. Keep up with the restaurant on Instagram @eatokkitokki

Reimagining the Pizza Joint

In late April, Big River Pizza Company finally opened its doors to guests, following a period of high anticipation from St. Francisville locals and heaping helpings of love and hardwork poured into the

project by owners Morgan and Lizzie Moss. With vintage and industrial style touches, what had been a long-vacant building formerly occupied by the West Feliciana Council on Aging has transformed into a highly aesthetic indoor/outdoor dining space one might expect to find in a more metropolitan location. There is much to rave about at Big River, but its multifunctionality stands out. The pizzeria offers fast-casual, family-friendly dining which doesn’t sacrifice quality or flavor, provided by the wood-fired Marra Forni oven, hand–thrown sourdough pizza crust, and even seasonal salad options. Beyond fresh pizza, diners can enjoy hand-dipped ice cream cones from the adjoined ice creamery. Oh, and, snug in the back of Big River you’ll find Proud Mary’s, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar, which, with lush fabrics and animal-print carpeting, speaks loudly and clearly for itself. bigriverpizzacompany.com •

//MAY 24 49
Big River Pizza Company, St. Francisville. Courtesy of Lizzie Moss.

OUR SUSTAINABLE GARDEN

The Fertilizer Girl

In the spring of 2009, I was a nineteen-year-old college student looking for a side-hustle, when I discovered landscaping. I am now thirty-five, and not much has changed. It was the perfect job for me. I got to work outside, I felt my body grow strong, I was working with three of my closest friends, I learned an abundance of new skills each day, and I had a place to put into practice the horticulture knowledge I was garnering at LSU. My soul felt nourished in a way I had never quite felt in my young life.

Back then, I was the fertilizer gal. at was the totality of my job. I spent most of my days, alone, traveling from residential garden bed to HOA subdivision entrance, fertilizing. I purchased, on the company card, copious amounts of Miracle Gro granules from Home Depot every other workday. As my boss

instructed me, there was no such thing as too much Miracle Gro. I traveled around Baton Rouge in my 1994 black Jeep Cherokee, tugging along three subpar garden hoses, bulk chemicals, and a milk crate of rusted garden tools. I lived my days spraying blue water upon every patch of land I encountered, listening to a slew of garden podcasts and Fela Kuti albums along the way. It was actual heaven. I will never forget those solo days amongst the masses of zinnias and fuschias. e back of my Jeep was stained blue, spare tire and all, and boy did I wear that blue like the greatest badge of honor—the sweatiest and most back-broken badge of honor. I worked hard, and it showed. I loved every second of that job, and it changed the course of my life.

I think about these early landscaping days often. Early spring, I am desperate

for foliar growth and blooms. When I, likely, should be meditating on garden stillness and embracing the moment, more often I am waking up, walking my gardens, and looking for any centimeter of new growth, any bloom to burst. It's a blessing and a curse. It is about this time I also start to think about fertilizing my garden. I wonder if I just fertilized three times before that upcoming craw sh boil, would the garden be all the more popping? e fact is, though, a lot has changed since my Miracle Gro days.

Since then, I’ve come to understand that working with synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Gro is depending on chemicals to sustain life. Brilliantly-marketed to promise abundant gardens, synthetic fertilizers are manmade and derived from salts and petroleum. When you apply synthetic fertilizer you will receive a great boost in growth, but at a serious

cost. ese chemicals, when absorbed into the soil, deplete the earth of all life—working essentially as antibiotics. Earthworms and other critters that aid your cause of growth are killed or sent scurrying, leaving your plants entirely dependent on these manmade neon spheres. In addition, the chemicals don’t a ect your garden alone, but often are transported via runo into nearby soils and waterways—causing harm there as well.

And as I’ve said before, the more alive your soil, the more alive your garden. One of my favorite gardening analogies is this: Do you want an energy drink or a smoothie? Chemical fertilizers are like energy drinks. ey give you an instant jolt of energy but are most often detrimental to your health. Alternatively, a smoothie with fresh vegetables and fruit (natural fertilizing methods) will o er a

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 50 PLANT FOOD 50 THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR FERTILIZER MAY 2024
Outdoors

more subtle increase in energy, o ering true sustenance long term.

Chemical fertilizer use has proven to be one of the greatest detriments to the nursery trade and gardening industry— which, in the interest of pro t, have continued to highly encourage their use despite the harm they cause to the environment.

e good news is there are plenty of “smoothie” natural fertilizing options available—many of them exciting, old school (and free!) techniques. Some of my favorites are adding dried leaves to ower beds, as well as compost teas and biochar. But, simply put, when it comes to natural fertilizing, I o er one word: carbon. “Plant food” is not neon. Plant food is organic matter. e addition of biomass, and the decay thereof, encourages carbon. My goal is always to add more organic matter to the garden— adding and storing more carbon within the earth, and thus: begetting more life!

You can always purchase natural fertilizers and mulches, but these resources are often available closer than you think, for free. Composting at home is one of the best ways to create your own natural fertilizer from your family’s food waste: leaves falling in your front yard (leaves can be mulch and fertilizer), co ee grounds from breakfast, clippings from your lawn, and more.

May Plant Spotlight: Salvia Farinacea

Starting a composting endeavor at your home can present in various forms. If you live in a city and are concerned about your compost attracting unwanted rodents, you can purchase an enclosed compost barrel. If you have the space, I suggest something as simple as large piles in a corner of your yard. We make our compost bins out of old pal-

Not only is this one of my most used and beloved native perennials, it has a special place in the spring garden. I believe it is almost always the rst of perennial blooms to open.

It is perfect in its truest form, yet it’s also the salvia from whence seemingly a thousand cultivars have sprung. Each year plant breeders create more cultivars and each year I purchase and ogle over all.

I have seen it growing in the wild, often near a river or stream, a few yards o in soil that is moist but well drained. Elegant and sturdy, the plant boasts the sweetest pale purple blooms. I love it in a naturalist meadow or in a more curated cottage garden amongst other purples, pinks, and whites (bee balm, native hibiscus, phlox and more!). It reseeds well, the hummingbirds and bees adore it, and it is incredibly drought tolerant.

lets. It's nice to have multiple compost spaces “cooking” at once. Once you have one pile/barrel of compost ready for use, you can then be adding to and turning a separate pile so that you always have space to be adding to. You want a nice mix of “browns” and “greens”. Brown materials (leaves, sawdust, small branches) add carbon, and green materials

(kitchen scraps, leaf clippings, co ee grinds) o er nitrogen.

It's actually that simple. Ditch the costly chemical fertilizers and begin the enriching process of “building” your soil with organic matter. A lively soil, full of fungal activity and microorganisms, has the power to correct PH, retain moisture, and truly feed our plants.

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Parts

Culture

STRANGE TRUE STORIES, PART V

Was Sieur Charles the Father?

SEEKING FAMILY ORIGINS IN NEW ORLEANS'S COLONIAL ERA

Randy Newman’s song “Louisiana 1927” gets me every time: “What has happened down here is the wind have changed. Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain. Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline … Louisiana. Louisiana. They're tryin' to wash us away. They're tryin' to wash us away…”

Lately, Newman’s words and Doppler Radar maps have catapulted me back to my ancestral home in South Louisiana to wade through historic archives before they wash away. Irrational, maybe. Although archivists have diligently digitized acres of historic papers, I’m often haunted by the documents and relics that exist only on shelves or in boxes in Louisiana libraries and museums, vulnerable to hurricanes, floods, and fires. Poof. Gone.

Some families chronicle their roots and pass them on. Not mine. We’ve scuttled on for generations with no interest in lugging the weight of what came before, leaving it up to curious descendants to pry long after reliable sources are gone. That’s me—the prier.

I’ve pried deeply into the history of my Charpantier relatives in Louisiana who apparently dodged the guillotine and covertly immigrated to Patterson, Louisiana, from the Palace of Versailles. Their mysterious French Revolution story in George W. Cable’s Strange True Stories of Louisiana originally set me on this research journey (see Parts 1-4, published in previous issues of Country Roads and available at countryroadsmag.com). However, research roadblocks shifted my focus to lower hanging fruit—my paternal Planchard line in New Orleans, our ancestral home base. There, I hoped to find more stable genealogical ground.

Stable? No. In a city built on mud and pilings, situated below sea level so that the dead must be buried above ground, where Gulf Coast hurricanes churn soggy terrain like swizzle sticks in a Sazerac and solid land dissolves into marsh by the hour, the notion of stable ground, even in terms of historical records, seems ludicrous.

What I Found

After sifting through documents at the Historic New Orleans Collection, Tulane University, Louisiana State University, New Orleans Public Libraries, the Louisiana State Archives, the Edith Garland Dupré Library at the University of Lafayette, and more, I learned that several of my ancestors came to New Orleans directly from France, decades before the Charpantiers immigrated to the Bayou Teche area.

I took the advice of New Orleans genealogist Jari C. Honora, with the Historic New Orleans Collection, who urged me to start with recent family members and work backwards. So, beginning with my grandfather, Louis Martin Planchard, Sr., the oldest Planchard I ever knew, I traced our New Orleans line back to the early colonial years. The paper trail stopped with my fourth great-grandfather—Antoine François de Planchard, born in 1730 in Nolay, a medieval commune in Burgundy, part of the Côte-d'Or department of France.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 52 CLUTTER & KUDZU 52 A GENEALOGICAL JOURNEY TO COLONIAL NEW ORLEANS // 56 CONTEMPLATING CLUTTER // 57 BOOK REVIEW: AYURELLA HORN-MILLER'S "DEVOURED" • MAY 2024
I-IV of Nina Flournoy's "Strange True Stories" series can be found in our April, May, August, and October 2023 issues respectively, and online at countryraodsmag.com. Artwork by Jean Pierre Lassus, from the collection of the Centre des archives d'outre-mer, France. Created in 1726, this is believed to be the only contemporary artistic rendering of New Orleans before 1763.

His walled hometown sat about 150 miles from Paris, in a region now called Burgundy-Franche-Comté. The area was shaped over the centuries by a series of powerful Burgundian Dukes whose wine presses earned them the reputation as "Lords of the best wines in Christendom." It appears that I come by my love for wine naturally.

I was unable to find a ship’s manifest showing when Antoine left Burgundy or arrived in Louisiana. However, I discovered that another Planchard preceded Antoine in colonial Louisiana—Sieur Charles Dupuy de Planchard. (Sieur is a title of respect assigned to Frenchmen of high social status.) Although I was unable to scrounge up documentation confirming that Dupuy was Antoine’s father and therefore my direct ancestor, I did find much that would indicate a connection. For one, the population in the vast region comprising Louisiana was miniscule at the time, and since Dupuy was the only Planchard on record before Antoine, he almost certainly had to be his father or uncle.

But without solid proof, I was operating strictly on an assumption that the two men were related—a strategy that Honora warned might amount to a wild goose chase.

I ran with it anyway.

Sieur Charles Dupuy de Planchard

Born in France around 1695, Sieur Dupuy served as an officer on the Role de la Reine (1732-33), a ship that often departed from Lorient, the main port of the French East India Company. This tidbit led me to other military records indicating that he journeyed to La Louisane, Nouvelle Orléans as early as 1718, when explorer Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville and his younger brother Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne d’Bienville were seeking a site for the capital of the French colony. Records indicate Sieur Planchard traveled back and forth between New Orleans and France from 1718 to the late-1730s.

Settling this vast territory had drained the French economy; in 1712 Louis XIV turned France's colonial interests over to a private company—the Company of the Indies (Compagnie des Indes). It held a tight monopoly on Louisiana culture and trade, with control over the slave trade, immigration, negotiations with native tribes, and the purchase and exportation of Louisiana-grown goods.

After Louis XIV died in 1715, leaving the throne to five-year-old Louis XV, Duke Phillipe d’Orleans was appointed to serve as regent until the child was older. (Louis XV officially became king in 1723.) Duc d’Orleans was intent on continuing the colonial efforts in Louisiana and put Scottish financier John Law in charge of the Company. To promote the failing territory, Law launched a propaganda campaign promising French settlers riches and free land there. To support Law’s efforts in the Louisiana settlement, d’Orleans commissioned more military officers to the region.

Among them was Sieur Dupuy de Planchard. Planchard, and other military overseeing Louisiana, faced grueling transatlantic travel, disease, coastal swamps, smugglers, pirates, snakes, malaria, and scurvy. Many military voyagers either died, deserted, or returned to France.

But Dupuy stayed. After Bienville dubbed the French capital of the colony at that crook in the river in 1718 (though it didn’t become the permanent capital until 1722) and named it for Duc d’Orleans—he claimed the best land for himself. He granted generous land concessions to relatives, wealthy Frenchmen, and high-ranking military officers, including Dupuy Planchard.

Dupuy received a parcel of riverfront land that today comprises Audubon Park, and was among the first to own property in the French Quarter. He was listed in one census around 1732, living on Rue Royal with a wife and son. Could it be Antoine?

I discovered a significant connection in a deed for a Royal Street property owned by Antoine’s son Louis de Planchard, my third great-grandfather, located where the Cornstalk Hotel now stands. It was passed to Louis from his father. Was this origi-

//MAY 24 53
[
"IN A CITY BUILT ON MUD AND PILINGS, SITUATED BELOW SEA LEVEL SO THAT THE DEAD MUST BE BURIED ABOVE GROUND, WHERE GULF COAST HURRICANES CHURN SOGGY TERRAIN LIKE SWIZZLE STICKS IN A SAZERAC AND SOLID LAND DISSOLVES INTO MARSH BY THE HOUR, THE NOTION OF STABLE GROUND, EVEN IN TERMS OF HISTORICAL RECORDS, SEEMS LUDICROUS."

nally Dupuy’s property, passed down to Antoine before that?

As a soldier, Dupuy would have been tasked with helping construct New Orleans’s first crude levee. They devised ways to raise and strengthen the levee until its final completion in 1727—rising with an eighteen-foot crown and sixty-foot base, running more than a mile long. If they could only see today’s nearly $15 billion network of levees and floodwalls built to protect greater New Orleans.

Flooding issues aside, conditions were far from ideal in early New Orleans—attempts at economic revitalization through farming, trapping, and trade fell short. So, the King ordered Bienville to return to France in 1725. Many other early settlers followed. But again, Sieur Dupuy Planchard stayed, putting down roots in New Orleans. Why did he choose to stay under such poor conditions? Did he foresee the potential of this city in the swamp? What was in it for him?

Historian Shannon Dawdy observed that the first

military privateers who settled Louisiana depended on “the violation of imperial law” for their livelihoods. She said that Louisiana officers and traders often “skimmed profits from the Indian trade; used the king’s ships to conduct their own business; ‘redistributed’ goods from the Company [of the Indies] and military stores at exorbitant prices,” among other acts of “rogue colonialism.”

Et tu, Sieur Planchard?

Who can say if Planchard devoted allegiance to the crown in support of the ancien regime, or if he morphed from a loyal officer to a crooked agent of self-interest?

He does appear in A History of French Louisiana: The Company of the Indies, 1723–1731, in a reference to the low pay of officers in French colonial Louisiana, who had to be resourceful in supplementing their income. Many did so by cultivating crops on their properties by the river—though few could afford to purchase the enslaved labor necessary to do so effectively.

Planchard was one of those few. One document confirms enslaved individuals at his residence, and another shows his request for enslaved Africans to work and

maintain his property during long absences.

A letter from Governor Bienville in 1733 specifically requests that Dupuy Planchard be granted passage back to France as he “is an older officer who has served for a long time.”

In The Memoir of Lieutenant Dumont, 1715–1747: A Sojourner in the French Atlantic, published in 1747, the author commended “Sieur Dupuy Planchard, a high-ranking Adjutant Major in the French military,” for taking pity on a discredited soldier who had been kicked out of the company. Although that’s his only mention of Planchard, Dumont reconstructs experiences of fellow officers—dealing with corrupt leaders, senseless battles, random disasters, rough transatlantic voyages, scarce rations, and poor living conditions.

Documents in the Louisiana Historical Archives reference Planchard’s appointment as ensign, rising in the ranks to Adjutant Major, overseeing troops in the Company of the Indies in 1727. One ship manifest lists Officer Planchard embarking at the port in Pondichery, India (also a French colony), sailing through the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico in 1732. Planchard’s name is sprinkled through volumes of Dispatches to Louisiana from 1721-1731: Accounts of La Compagnie des Indes. He appears in civil suits and petitions regarding gambling debts, land disputes, and other minor quibbles in French colonial Louisiana, such as a fine for “speaking to Marie, a negress.” But these records fail to definitively link Dupuy with Antoine.

In Nancy Miller Surrey’s Calendar of Manuscripts in the Paris Archives, I found military documents for Dupuy Planchard issued from Île-de-France or Paris from 1725 to 1749. Most dealt with orders or appointments, and the last one requested a retirement pension and the Cross of the Order of St. Louis for his service to the King. However, I didn’t find his name on lists of medal recipients. Sorry, Dupuy.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 54
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One notice from the Balize military post in Louisiana, dated 1731, was signed by Bernard de Verges, Dupuy Planchard, and Jacques Santiago Esnoul de Livaudais. Not only is de Verges related to me through my Charpantier ancestors, but Livaudais is my fifth great-grandfather. Another connection?

Forgive the giant leap, Mr. Honora, but since Dupuy served with Livaudais, I believe it to be plausible that their families intermingled, leading Dupuy’s grandson Louis de Planchard (my third great-grandfather) to marry Livaudais’s granddaughter, Charlotte Hortense Charbonnet (my third great-grandmother). This still doesn’t prove Dupuy is Antoine’s father, but I’d bet my car they’re related.

Antoine François de Planchard

By all indications, Antoine himself came from an elite French lineage. Records indicate that French-born Antoine served as Captain in the French Liège infantry before he married Perinne Angelique La Loire (1731-1782), the daughter of Claude Jousset De La Loire and Marie Anne la Croix Leblanc—two of the oldest, most prominent families in Louisiana. Marianne Leblanc, my fifth great-grandmother, who immigrated to Louisiana from St. Laurent, Diocese St. Malo, Brittany, France, was the daughter of Marquis Henry Le Blanc and Servanne Le Marie, both of noble French lineage.

Also, Perinne’s father, Claude La Loire (my fifth great grandfather) had the distinction of being the first “official” French male child born in the Colony of Louisiana—the first ever Louisiana Creole. That alone should earn me a spot on a Mardi Gras float.

As a military officer, Antoine would have participated in many of the battles throughout that period in Louisiana, while his wife Perinne reared their two children, Marie Anne Claude De Planchard (1771-1852) and Louis De Planchard (1773-1853), for whom my

grandfather, father, and brother were named. (Since I had no sons, I passed the name to one of my daughters, Louise Planchard Flournoy. Close enough. Though she was born and raised in Dallas, and most of her friends flocked to UT, she insisted on LSU. It’s in the blood.)

Like most French Louisianans, Antoine resisted the Spanish takeover of Louisiana in 1763. Outraged at the prospect of being ruled by Spaniards, Louisiana leaders implored the king not to give up the territory. When King Louis held onto his conviction and transferred the territory to his Bourbon cousin Charles III, French Louisiana led a rebellion against Spanish governor Antonio de Ulloa.

The Revolt of 1768, led by the Creole elite of New Orleans and German Coast settlers hell-bent on reversing the transfer of French Louisiana to Spain, failed. The insurrection fell apart when Spanish Governor Alejandro O’Reilly replaced Ulloa, bringing in 2,000 troops to put down the rebellion. Many of the pot-stirrers were Planchard-line relatives—all rounded up, tried, and sentenced to the gallows or prison. Those receiving the death sentence included five of my French Creole relatives—Villeré, de Lery, Lafreniere, D'Arensbourg and Noyan. Of those, one died, two got off, and two were executed in front of a firing squad at the Esplanade fort. Spain ruled Louisiana for the next forty years. Forced to accept Spanish authority, Antoine adapted his name to Antonio Francisco de Planchard, and joined the army as Captain in the Spanish Vierset Regiment. The regiment’s distinctive uniforms featured a white coat, jacket, blue cuffs, multiple gold buttons on the lapel, sleeves, and pockets; snug tights, and triangle hat lined with gold. He must have cut an impressive figure at the altar of Saint Louis Cathedral behind his daughter Marie in 1794, when she married Francois Augustin Montault de Monberaut, “Chevalier of the Royal Order of St. Louis.”

At that same altar three years later, Antoine’s son

Louis de Planchard married Hortense Charlotte Charbonnet. They raised their six children in New Orleans, including Jean Jacques (J.J.) Planchard (1808-1853), my second great-grandfather, whose son Noel Henry Planchard, my great grandfather (1845-1918), had my grandfather Louis Martin Planchard (1889-1974).

Other names from my Planchard line found in colonial New Orleans records include Livaudais, Charbonnet, La Loire, Marigny, Montault, Mandeville, De La Source, Trepagnier, Perret, LeBlanc, Dubreuil de Villars, and DeLery. These family names litter the rosters of soldiers in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, which culminated in the Battle of New Orleans.

The battle wasn’t technically in New Orleans. It took place in nearby Chalmette on plantations owned by my Planchard-line relatives, but that's another story.

Several genealogies list Antoine’s death year as 1803, though I have found no official records. Assuming they’re correct, Antoine died just months before Thomas Jefferson struck a bargain with Napoleon that would double the size of the United States—the Louisiana Purchase. Antoine’s passing at age seventy-three represented a milestone for my family. Possibly the son of the first Planchard to come to Louisiana, he was undoubtedly the first Planchard to put down permanent roots in New Orleans. I’m guessing Dupuy returned to France per his 1749 request, as I found no death records for him in Louisiana.

At this writing, I still don’t know if Dupuy is Antoine’s father. However, even if that’s not the case, records show Antoine Planchard is related to a trove of key players in New Orleans history, including Bienville, the city’s founder, and possibly the Duc d'Orleans. I can’t take any of this to the bank yet, but if my suspicions pan out, I’ve buried the lead. Plenty more prying to do. •

//MAY 24 55

Contemplating Clutter

THE THINGS WE HOLD ONTO, AND THE CREATIVE THRILL OF TOSSING THEM

The clutter I have rearranged, removed, or retrieved from holding boxes sits in the bright light of lamps or on shadowy shelves just beyond illumination in the room my wife calls "the study".

The space, once laughingly described as a fourth bedroom, is a walk-in closet filled with bicycle parts, tires, tubes, an assortment of radios (some of them working) a few cherished books, batteries charged or waiting to be charged, two circulating fans, an AM/FM radio with three knobs and an analog dial, a sullen computer printer, and a copier.

There are tools that must be taken outside to use. There’s a push-button phone which replaced the dial or rotary phone. There’s one of those, too. The phones work. Young grandsons once slipped into the study to call their parents—over and over.

There are paper calendars on the wall, one for the current year, one for the year past. There are doctors’ appointments inked in, should the doctors forget to remind me.

On the shadowy shelves, repose tubes of topographic maps of West Feliciana Parish, now committed to memory from years on my bicycle. Shoes, cycling clothes, rain gear, and old telephone books round out the inventory.

The clutter laps up to a small table that holds jars of pencils, personal device chargers, and a Periodic Table of the Elements laid out like a place mat in an Alamogorda Diner. A serviceable office chair with lumbar support fronts a laptop.

This clearing in a forest of stuff is my writing cockpit. Here, I listen to people on the radio who say they can declutter my life. I may buy their book or listen to an interview that sounds remarkably like all the other instructions on clearing one’s life of clutter. Rid our spaces of unwanted things and we free our minds of unwanted, worn-out thoughts.

It’s true. Straightening, cleaning, and tossing releases a kind of endorphin that does not require running shorts, cycling shoes, or free weights.

It’s an exercise worth doing even though we know the room will re-clutter and our minds re-fill. At work in the writing pit, I sense the remaining clutter that surrounds me, familiar things with good associations.

Who surrounds themselves with things that hold bad memories?

I cannot explain the relationship between core stuff and creativity. I cannot tell you why moving a jar of pens two inches to the left frees a jammed idea. But it does. •

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 56
ESSAY

Devoured

A COMPELLING INQUIRY INTO THE SOUTH'S MOST ICONIC INVASIVE SPECIES

Kudzu has become a visual symbol of the southern United States, an establishing-shot mainstay like barbed wire for Texas or the Statue of Liberty for New York. The curtains of green leaves draped luxuriously hover everything still mean “the South”—not bad for a vine native to east Asia that made its biggest advances during the Great Depression. Pretty but vilified (like this review’s author), the fast-spreading verdure is the poster child for invasive plant life. In her new book Devoured: The Extraordinary Story of Kudzu, the Vine that Ate the South, environmental reporter Ayurella HornMuller pokes through the underbrush to bring readers a fuller picture, both scientific and cultural, of this symbolic but understudied plant.

Devoured is a pleasantly sprawly book. Instead of starting with the first fateful imports of the vine and charging forward, Horn-Muller moves from topic to topic and interview to adventure, valuing story over chronology. Her interlocutors include artists, scientists, horror writers, bemused observers, and other people into whose lives kudzu has twined a tendril.

It turns out kudzu is more interesting than it looks. Technically edible, though reports of its palatability vary from culture to culture and gourmand to gourmand, the curious and the thrifty have jellied its blossoms, stewed its leaves, even approached its starchy root for potato-style uses. Occasionally used in traditional medi-

cine, kudzu has attracted attention from researchers who think it may be able to treat problem drinking. (HornMuller’s description of the experiment, with refrigerators full of subjects’ preferred beer, a “good table” ruined, and an ingeniously weighted coaster, is gold.) Artists have woven the plant’s tendrils into sculptures; authors have taken the sobriquet “vine that ate the South” to its gory extreme. Most intriguing is kudzu’s apparently near-supernatural ability to refresh soil, transforming thin, depleted earth into dark, fertile dirt: perfect for planting crops, if you can manage to reach them under the kudzu. This is the trait, of course, that most directly led to kudzu’s planting across North America.

Horn-Muller’s style takes some getting used to: she is the most idiosyncratic footnoter I’ve ever read, using notes to define the common term “fermentation” and comment that “the Peach State” nickname for Georgia is a relic of white supremacy without explaining how, and then calling Georgia “the Peach State” uncritically a few pages later.

Any quibbles about writing, however, are easily swept away by the author’s clear interest in and affection for her topic and fellow fanatics of the prodigious creeper. Her journalistic background serves her especially well, as she puts herself into the story just enough to build trust and investment without making the book Ayurella’s Kudzu Adventure, which would have been easy to do (and which I might well have done). Instead, her subjects have

the chance to emerge as their own characters, all of them charming on the topic the way true enthusiasts often are.

Horn-Muller, a mixed-race daughter of immigrants, feels a kinship with kudzu: like the vine, she has Asian roots and has encountered different attitudes about her presence here. This idea of invasiveness, of who or what gets to stay here, runs through her work. If not every point she makes on the topic wholly convinced me, she and her interviewees successfully bring the broader symbolism to the reader’s question: why is kudzu invasive but other plants naturalized? Are Asian carp and Asian hornets made dangerously exotic by these names?

Kudzu is here, and it’s not going anywhere: HornMuller convincingly argues that there is value in responsibly managing it, using it as we can, and simply living alongside it. It’s inspired the people in her book—maybe you’re next. •

//MAY 24 57 BOOK REVIEWS

Escapes

GET TO KNOW THE NEIGHBORHOOD

A Stroll Down Oak

EXPLORING NEW ORLEANS'S HISTORIC OAK STREET

“From little acorns grow mighty oaks,” one proverb reads, aptly describing the flourishing of New Orleans’s Oak Street from the 1800s to present. From the Krewe of Oak’s Midsummer Mardi Gras celebration in August to the fifteen-years-strong Poboy Festival in November—not to mention all of the friendly entrepreneurs and local businesses dotting the street, Oak has been a valued piece of the Carrollton neighborhood for many years. Let’s take a walk, shall we?

The levee parallel to River Road makes for a scenic start. Many walk and bike this path, passing the occasional horseback rider. Eventually, the trail leads to the storied Southport Hall. Southport opened as an illicit casino in the early 1900s and went on to harbor mafia connections and Freemasons before becoming the live music venue it is today. Inside, patrons can still see theoriginal counting room and antique keno board—all while enjoying performances by local bands.

Next, pass High Vintage, a high-end thrift frequently hosting sidewalk sales of one-of-a-kind garments. Call twenty-four hours ahead for an appointment to see their entire collection of vintage high fashion. Other quirky thrift-and-vintage shops on the route include Graffiti Graphics, Uptown Home Shop, and Glue Clothing Exchange. Of these, Glue and Graffiti Graphics offer the largest selection.

Walk a little further on this side of Oak and you’ll reach a little free library (8717 Oak Street), ready to receive or give new titles to those wandering by. Euphorbia Kava Bar, a quiet spot that vends kava food and drink, sits across the street. Spend a few hours indulging in the assortment of board games there, either in the cozy lounge area or out in the courtyard. The kava root grows in the Pacific Islands and is a mild, though bitter, intoxicant that consumers say alleviates stress and anxiety, among other conditions. Follow up the kava with a belly-full of the offerings at Breads on Oak, an organic and vegan bakery with a VRBO guesthouse for rent. Keep walking and you’ll meet your first fusion meal option, Ajun Cajun—beloved for its delicious Japanese-Cajun creations and a BYOB, cafeteria-style dining experience.

Next, we’ll pass Yes Yoga, where I once attended a 105-degree class during a Louisiana summer. Stepping into the 90-degree weather afterwards, I thought, “Wow, this feels lovely, my brain must be broken.” This might have been a good time to pop into the neighboring New Orleans Zen Temple, which offers daily zazen (seated meditation) sessions and retreats. For those looking for something a little more upbeat, walk a little further and attend a dance class at Artivism Dance Theatre instead, with offerings for all ages, ranging from K-Pop Klubbin’ to Tango Fundamentals.

Now we’ve reached the most famed part of Oak, where two New Orleans institutions perch as neighbors: Jacques-Imo's and the Maple Leaf Bar. Part of the K-Paul’s “Nawlins-style” culinary legacy, Jacques Leonardi’s restaurant is one of the hottest tickets in town— offering classic entrées like étouffée, shrimp Creole, country fried venison, and, of course, blackened redfish.

Next door, “The Leaf,” as it’s often called, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Since 1974, this live performance venue has served as an incubator for diverse local musical talent. The stage has range—you’re as likely to see a living legend, Grammy-award winning jazz performance as an up-and-comer performing their interpretation of the blues. Come on a Monday night to see Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner George Porter, Jr. and his trio.

If you drive by these two institutions at night, patrons are usually having such a good time that they’re standing in the middle of the street with no regard for cars. There’s even a permanently parked Jacques-Imo's truck out front, and the flatbed hosts a small table and chairs for the lucky couple who snags it first. If you’re really lucky, you might even experience the fruits of the massive streetside griddle: double-stacked paper plates cracking under the weight of a dozen charbroiled oysters. And sure, you could grab a drink from either bar, but if you’re seeking a more personalized recommendation, stop by Vino Fine Wine and Spirits. You can enjoy their complimentary tasting counter anytime you visit, in addition to paid wine and spirit tastings. Or reserve space in their wine cellar to watch sporting events on their eleven-foot television.

On this same block is also the can’t-be-missed Frenchy Gallery, featuring the quintessentially New Orleans works of painter Randy Leo Frechette, open by appointment.

About a block over is 14 Parishes, a restaurant named for the fourteen parishes of Jamaica—which also inspire the menu. Inside is a beautiful upstairs area called the Hummingbird Lounge which can be reserved for private events. If the lounge’s jewel tones and stained glass windows have you inspired, then hop on over to Eclectic Home next door—where you’ll find chic and modern furniture, decor, lighting, art, and accents.

Z’otz Cafe is next, the first of two coffee shops on Oak. For an intimate and eclectic vibe, settle in on the secret back patio with a mug of locally-roasted, fair trade, organic joe; and indulge in the small collection of books and board games. If little coffee-sipping gargoyles, high ceilings, and classical music are more your speed, you might try Rue De La Course at the other end of Oak instead. You’ll find it in the massive historic building that formerly housed the Marine Bank and Trust.

Don't miss the the kid-and-dog-friendly Oak Street Brewery, which partners with rotating food trucks and also invites customers to BYOF(ood). The microbrewery taproom is the retirement passion project of Kevin Greenaae, whose long history homebrewing has now culminated in Oak Street’s offerings of everything from lagers and wheats to Hefeweizens and IPAs. Enjoy a variety of activities here, such as pinball, trivia, darts, and board games.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 58 WALK WITH ME 58 GETTING BEYOND THE QUARTER MAY 2024
Story and photos by Samantha E. Krieger Some favorite spots on Oak Street are the iconic restaurant Jacque-Imo's, indie book store Blue Cypress Books, with resident bookstore cat, Kitty Meow, and Breads on Oak—a beloved organic and vegan bakery (see oppposite page).

Walking along, a pop inside More Fun Comics is a must—if only to say hello to Osteo, the resident leucistic ball python who calls the countertop his home. Explore this celebration of nerd culture with a wide selection of action figures, comic books, and video games (which you can play in the back). Across the street, grab a (walk-friendly) bite at Juan’s Flying Burrito, the city’s own “Creole taqueria.”

In a narrow alley nearby, you’ll find a tiny building filled to bursting with local artisans’ wares: we’ve arrived at Dimestore Cowgirl Trading Post. Jewelry, stickers, pottery, bags, greeting cards, art prints, skincare, oh my! The Post also recently partnered with Mary’s Rack to expand their offerings to curated, secondhand clothing and styling. I love coming here to idly browse or find gifts for friends.

Next, we’ll hit the izakaya establishment Sukeban. Japanese in origin, an izakaya is an informal hangout spot with drinks and small bites, and a sukeban is a “boss” or “delinquent girl.” The restaurant’s moniker is an homage to girl gangs who resisted societal norms in patriarchal Tokyo of the 1970s. These groups of women often patronized izakaya establishments, much like Sukeban, to grab a meal with friends. Sukeban’s owners also own the specialty Japanese knife and culinary shop Coutelier on the other end of Oak.

Nearby, Oak & Ale represents the recent merger between neighborhood institutions Oak Wine Bar and Ale on Oak—the two bars joined by a covered patio. And just across the street, you’ll find the woman-owned-and-operated Blue Cypress Books, an indie bookstore with a curated selection of secondhand and new modern literature, local writers and stories, children’s books, science fiction, cookbooks, and more. Be sure to say hello to bookstore cat Kitty Meow, have a chat with the booksellers, and mark your calendars for upcoming book clubs and author visits. You can also buy, sell, or trade books here.

A short detour to the right brings us to classic NOLA-Italian eatery and deli Cibo, whose sandwiches are the stuff of legend. After that, cross the streetcar tracks and walk on until you reach the New Orleans Photo Alliance, a teal and yellow cottage bursting from the sidewalk. In addition to organizing the eighteen-years strong PhotoNOLA photography festival, NOPA also offers periodic photography contests, educational programming, and use of their darkroom and gallery. Step inside to see their current exhibitions of local photographers.

We’re nearing the end of our walk, which means we must be at Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, the late chef and author Anthony Bourdain’s favorite bar. Its ever-twinkling red string lights beckon patrons inside… or is it the bar pups making the rounds for their pets? This dive also has a large foliage-covered back courtyard for when pleasant weather strikes.

Oak Street’s offerings are both diverse and numerous, far beyond the scope of a single walk. Had we needed a trim or new ink, we could have visited Family Barber Shop or Space Tiger Tattoos, respectively. Those seeking relaxation also have their choice of two spas: Body Bistro and Jade Magnolia, not to mention a handful of acupuncture and salon spots as well. Planning a wedding? One could order custom letterpress stationery from Eglantine Rose, then arrangements from Thibodeaux’s Floral Studio. Oak Street meets even our most basic needs, too, from Castellon Pharmacy to Canseco’s Market, as well as Haase’s, which has been selling baby clothes and shoes for six generations. Want to learn guitar? Visit New Orleans Guitar Studio for a lesson.

What is next on the horizon for this little acorn of a street? Six new businesses are preparing to make their home here: The Crystal Shoppe (rocks and crystals), The Old Alker Distillery (primarily distilling rum and whiskey, but also gin, vodka, craft cocktails, and a line of liqueurs), Plenty Planties (exotic plants and the hair/ body products made from them), Aguasanta (Mexican and Latin American fusion cuisine), Flavio Dolce Art Projects (an art gallery), and Neutral Ground Coffeehouse’s relocation from its former Danneel Street building (known for their Sunday open mic nights and other music events). You’ll have to join me on another stroll once they arrive. Come hungry, and ready for plenty of adventures. •

//MAY 24 59
MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 60
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The St. John Cathedral Oak

A sentinel of centuries stands in the heart of Lafayette

On the grounds of Lafayette’s Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist stands the St. John Cathedral Oak. Actually, the Cathedral Oak has stood a good deal longer than the cathedral whose red brick towers and cone-shaped roofs rise behind its sinuous, spreading limbs. With a massive, twisting trunk measuring more than twenty-nine feet in circumference, this venerable live oak is estimated to be as much as five hundred years old. So, it would have been impressive already when Jean Mouton—founder of Lafayette—donated this land to the Catholic Church in 1821. Indeed, it has been suggested that the cathedral’s first pastor, Michel Bernard Barriere, might have requested this particular plot from Mouton on account of the spectacular southern live oak tree (Quercus virginiana) that flourished there.

And the Cathedral Oak is still growing. In 1934, when Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens of the Southwest Louisiana Institute established the Live Oak Society, an organization whose founding members would be forty-three of the largest and oldest southern live oak trees in America, the Cathedral Oak’s circumference measured nineteen feet—large enough to make it a charter member and the thirty-third largest live oak known to Stephens. When the tree was measured again in May, 2008 by Lafayette arborist Jim Foret, its circumference had grown to 28 feet 8 inches, with a height of 126 feet and a limb spread of 210 feet. When Foret returned in 2015 with renowned live oak photographer and essayist William Guion to measure again, the gnarled, twisting trunk had expanded to a circumference of 29 feet 6 inches.

Typically, live oak trees grow more slowly as they age. But the Cathedral Oak—one of Louisiana’s most visible of the original Live Oak Society’s surviving members, has been carefully nurtured in recent years. In an article titled “Lafayette’s Ancient Oaks” published by Lafayette Travel, William Guion notes aborist Jim Foret’s observation: that the soil surrounding the great tree has been monitored and amended for decades, and that the removal of a nearby parking lot and addition of a protective fence in the 1990s have done much to reduce stress on the tree’s huge root system.

With consideration and expert care, heritage live oaks like the Cathedral Oak can be protected and preserved, enabling these greatest sentinels of Southern history and heritage to endure for centuries to come.

// MAY 24 61
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Sisters of the Hunt / Soeurs de la Chasse

PHOTOGRAPHER CAMILLE FARRAH LENAIN EXPLORES THE MYTHIC HUNTRESS IN MODERN DAY LOUISIANA AND FRANCE

This past deer season, just before I felled the third harvest of my life, I was soaking in the silence from the stand—a stand my husband had hauled out into a plot of clover, rye, and turnips he had planted in woods my father owned. Settling into the meditative tradition of observing, of listening, that accompanies the hunt, I became, as I always do, overwhelmed by the intimate wonder of such deep immersion in the wild—this little window of nature I was, for now, made privy to. When the time came to shoot, my husband whispered encouraging nothings in my ear, as he had the last time, and as my father had the first time.

My relationship to the hunt—my access to these moments—has always relied on my relationship with men. And as we lifted my kill onto the back of the four wheeler, he taking the front legs while I took the back, it occurred to me that I had every tool at my disposal to do this myself, if I wanted to. What, for all these years, has stopped me from wholly embracing the hunt as something of my own, the way my brothers and my father and my husband have?

The fact that I am a woman?

In the latest project by New Orleans-based, French-Algerian photographer Camille Farrah Lenain, the world of the hunt is explored from the perspective of the 21st century woman. Currently on exhibit at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective, Sisters of the Hunt / Soeurs de la Chasse centers the huntress, and the tensions of her role as killer and life-giver, nurturer and destroyer, a predator in a world that considers her prey.

When she first embarked on the project in 2019, Lenain was grappling with her own discomfort with gun culture in the United States, particularly here in Louisiana. “There was a curiosity towards the weapon itself,” she said, “like I have to accept that there will be guns around me if I’m going to keep living here. And for me, the easiest way to understand it and accept it is through hunting.”

But when she discovered a female friend of hers was an avid hunter, that curiosity evolved to an interrogation of gender: women and the weapon, women and hunting. “My questions were, ‘Why am I surprised to discover a woman hunting?’; ‘Why aren’t there more women hunting?’; Why is that visual representation missing?’” She set out to articulate the intricacies of women and their relationships with death, with men, and with nature.

Over the past five years, Lenain has sought out women in Louisiana and France who have developed hunting practices on their own, with their partners, or with other groups of women. She’s accompanied them in the blind, in the stand, and in the boat, and captured them in portraits that recall the mythic, powerful role of the huntress across history.

Jennifer, a teenager of Indigenous and French roots, standing beneath a bridge in Bunkie in full camo, with eye paint—her gun braced across her body. She told Lenain that she is the only girl she knows who hunts.

Esmé, a young girl on her first duck hunt with her father, embraced by her older sister as she looks out towards the sunrise.

Aurelie, holding you in her fierce gaze, wearing a white tank top, her gun held open over her shoulder. A blonde braid hanging beside the ridges of a gator tail, gripped by a shiny blue fingernail.

The portraits, Lenain explained, represent her reinvention of the world. In this world, women are the faces of the hunt. In this world, they have the power.

Through recorded interviews, against background noises of chirping birds and whooshing winds, Lenain draws personal oral histories out of the challenges and victories of being a woman hunter in today’s world. These are presented within the cocoon-like environs of two “blind” installations—one indoor and one outdoor—at NUNU. Inside, the audio plays over game cam footage: a woman describing how when she was a child, she had been allowed to join her daddy at the camp. How, when her body started to change, everything else did, too. “The hunting camp is for the men,” they’d tell her. “It’s not a place for ladies.” Another woman describes how the hunt offered her a sense of control, of power over her own destiny, after a devastating accident. Another tells of how sitting in the woods, waiting, she feels close to her ancestors. A gator hunter describes the way, when hunting with a group of women, the newest, most inexperienced hunter is pushed to the front—given the best opportunity for the kill.

Valerie, who says she is one of the only Black women hunters she knows, tells of one of her most memorable kills: “I was, like, so excited. I called my mom, put her on Facetime, and I was like ‘Look what I just did, girl!’”

“These women, as women who hunt, they have to carry a lot of different identities,” said Lenain. “They have to walk in a different world. They have to defend themselves in our male-dominated world, but also to be a woman and a mother. They are able to have grief for the animal, for the lost life. But also to get their shit together and bring the food back home to their family. People say, girls—she would never kill something. I’ve never seen a woman cry after they’ve killed an animal.”

A collective experience Lenain observed as she encountered these women across continents was that of realizing, through hunting, one’s own power—especially after really pivotal, challenging moments of life. “Often when you’re going through something intense, and you start questioning ‘Who owns the power? Who gives me the power?’” This is the moment when many women realized they could do it on their own, they could embrace the role of huntress. “You can carry a gun, you know how to shoot it. It’s a switch in the head. ‘Am I relying on men to give me this power, or can I give it to myself?’” •

See Sisters of the Hunt / Soeurs de la Chasse on display at NUNU Arts & Culture Collective in Arnaudville through May 26. There will be a screening of Lenain’s associated film The Waiting on May 17 with a panel featuring eight huntresses moderated by this writer. A closing event will take place on May 18, featuring live music and refreshments. See more of Lenain’s work at camillelenain.com.

MAY 24 // COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM 62
Sponsored by Tangipahoa Parish Tourism PERSPECTIVES: IMAGES OF OUR STATE
Photos courtesy of Camille Farrah Lenain. Valerie, a huntress from Carencro, Louisiana, blows a deer whistle inside her blind, during an evening hunt in Newton Texas. November 2023. Jennifer, a young huntress from Bunkie, Louisiana, holds a shotgun in front of the bayou by her house, where she goes hunting by herself. November 2019. A couple snipes and a mallard duck on the back of a truck, surrounded by saladelle, or sea lavender, a flower from Camargue, Southern France. August 2020. Sarah, a huntress from Texas, holds the alligator she harvested during a 10 women group hunt in the Henderson swamp in Louisiana. September 2023.
// MAY 24 63

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