Exploring the Art Scene in Louisiana: A Journey Through the Creative Landscape of the Deep South

The Robinson Art Gallery in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, is a great place to explore the art scene in the state. With support from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, regional arts councils provide vital support to artists and audiences across the state. They fund public art installations and festivals, connect artists to communities, and encourage an appreciation of Louisiana's artistic traditions. We asked the executive directors of each of the state's nine regional arts councils to give their opinion on the state of the art in Louisiana.

This is what they said, along with a selection of works by artists from their regions. The real joy of working in the arts in Louisiana is that just about everyone makes art just about everywhere. The idea of creating things seems to come naturally to Louisianans and transcends class, race, age, and socioeconomic status. Within our roles at the New Orleans Arts Council, one of our many priorities is to involve artists as actively as possible in the process of rethinking public space. For example, the Arts Council produces LUNA Fête every December, a four-night event where they commission artists to produce large-scale works of art in public space made with light and technology. This has been a great way to get local artists involved in creatively and literally shedding light on some of the many areas of our city that lack adequate nighttime lighting.

Likewise, a city needs basic infrastructure elements such as garbage cans, benches and bicycle racks. Why not commission local artists to create unique examples worthy of a community as unique as New Orleans?However, one of the pleasures of living in Louisiana is to encounter spontaneous, fascinating and strange creativity in unexpected contexts. Like the House of Dance and Feathers or Wells Mardi Gras Museum on the top floor of Arnaud's restaurant. Part of what makes Louisiana great is that there are a lot of things that can be revealed to anyone who is committed to watching and digging below (and sometimes above) the surface.

In the deep South, Louisiana is the most uniquely diverse place, and its story, told by its people through art, is found in every corner and corner. In Baton Rouge and the Southeast Region, visual artists are prolific. These artists create contemporary and deeply emotional works on a multitude of platforms and media, conveying experiences in a moving way with a palpable effect for the viewer. The landscape scenes of Southern Louisiana and its wildlife have long been an inspiration for art today. The sense of pride and desire to preserve culture that is felt throughout Louisiana are present in the works of art in our area. I wonder if places like ours sometimes miss “the point”.

We tend to undervalue our own artists, we tend to buy art from other places, and we don't invest enough in building a cultural infrastructure that would undoubtedly generate great benefits, both artistic and economic. Acadiana has become a different place; a unique community where innovative artists with a very urban sensibility reshape a genuine and deeply rooted culture. Many local artists are willing to take risks and create works that transcend clichés of picturesque backwardness or blue dogs on every corner. While this new generation of local creatives is imbued with a deep sense of place, they are also changing the horizon of our community. This process isn't always comfortable but it's what keeps things from deteriorating into folklore. So here is an ode to Acadiana artists; perhaps unknown but as powerful as a grand étouffée.There are dreamscapes of imagination and fallibility expressed through Stephanie Patton's whimsical works on canvas; there are complex and architectural collages by Troy Dugas; mathematicians in his precise use of old labels; pencil works and images of animals by Ralph Bourque that prowl his dark and atmospheric swampy air; oil on canvas by Kathryn Keller; Jacob Broussards' and Pat Phillips' addressing uncomfortable issues such as sexuality or race; Francis Pavy's, John Hathorn's, Tom Secrest's exploration into what it means to live and work in South Louisiana. The visual arts at Acadiana have never been so lively, progressive and diverse.

I sincerely hope that we will take advantage of this other great cultural resource and give it some space in the center of the stage. In Louisiana, art isn't just found on canvas; art is reflected in every fiber of life here - from echoes of street guitarists to southwestern Louisiana cuisine crafted on plates. Visitors from all over the world migrate here to take this multisensory excursion through our wetlands, urban centers, galleries and music venues - but most importantly they come to experience it through its people. Our art is nothing without its people - it's as varied and colorful as its art, music, cuisine, and culture they represent. At the heel of the boot lies an experience that will leave you wanting more - you can savor copper touches from music in air; smell thick swamp air from photographs; hear eclectic sounds from world-famous food dancing on tables. Art in Northeastern Louisiana is enjoying a renaissance - with more opportunities for local artists than ever before - it's time for us all to appreciate this unique cultural resource!Exploring Louisiana's creative landscape can be an exciting journey for any traveler looking for something new. From street guitarists playing their tunes on street corners to world-famous cuisine crafted on plates - there's something for everyone here! From Baton Rouge to Acadiana - each region has its own unique flavor when it comes to art.

From Stephanie Patton's whimsical works on canvas to Troy Dugas' complex collages - there's something for everyone here! From Ralph Bourque's pencil works depicting animals prowling through dark swamps to Kathryn Keller's oil paintings - there's something for everyone here! From Jacob Broussard's addressing uncomfortable issues such as sexuality or race to Francis Pavy's exploration into what it means to live and work in South Louisiana - there's something for everyone here!Louisiana has so much more than meets the eye when it comes to its creative landscape - it's time for us all to appreciate this unique cultural resource!.

Jeri Mcanally
Jeri Mcanally

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