Tagged: drawing

From the Mouths (and Hands) of Babes : The Student Arts Expo 2013

Student Arts Expo 2013

by Reggie Rodrigue

The latest post from the Acadiana Center for the Arts Blog is up! It’s on the Student Arts Expo which took place earlier this month during Artwalk. It’s also a treatise on the vital roll that arts education plays in Lafayette Parish’s schools! There’s also a story in there focusing on the most incredible student arts project ever – at least by my estimation! By the end of the article, you will also be able to determine whether you are more creative than a 2nd grader! Good luck on that one!

If you are interested in reading the article, please follow this link to the Acadiana Center for the Arts Blog!


Mardi Garage: Herb Roe, Festival International de Louisiane and a Prime Location

Courir de Mardi Gras - Number 14_HRoe_2010

Herb Roe, “Courir de Mardi Gras – Number 14″, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″, 2010, photograph courtesy of the artist

Courir de Mardi Gras_Valse du Vacher_HRoe_2012

Herb Roe, “Courir de Mardi Gras – Valse du Vacher”, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″, 2012, photograph courtesy of the artist

Courir de Mardi Gras - McGees's Medley_HRoe_2013

Herb Roe, “Courir de Mardi Gras – McGee’s Medley”, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″, 2013, photograph courtesy of the artist

Tee Courir-Number 27_HRoe_2013

Herb Roe, “Tee Courir – Number 27″, oil on canvas, 5″ x 7”, 2013, photograph courtesy of the artist

Tee Courir-Number 29_HRoe_2013

Herb Roe, “Tee Courir – Number 29″, oil on canvas, 7” x 5″‘, 2013, photograph courtesy of the artist

Danse à cheval II_HRoe_2012

Herb Roe, “Danse a’ Cheval II”, graphite on paper, 18″ x 24″, 2012, photograph courtesy of the artist

Cajun Fiddler-Number 1_Lino block print_HRoe_2012

Herb Roe, “Cajun Fiddler I”, hand-painted lino block print, 10″ x 12″, 2012, photograph courtesy of the artist

Cajun Fiddler-Number 2_Lino block print_HRoe_2012

Herb Roe, “Cajun Fiddler II”, hand-painted lino block print, 10″ x 12″, 2012, photograph courtesy of the artist

by Reggie Rodrigue

It’s late April, and Mardi Gras is just a memory in our collective rearview mirror in Louisiana. However, the bon temps keep rolling! Festival International de Louisiane is about to kick off this Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Lafayette, LA. This 5-day world music festival juggernaut,”featuring six music stages, food court areas, street musicians and animators, arts and crafts boutiques, art galleries, beverage stands, cultural workshops, international cooking demonstrations and a world music store,” (www.festivalinternational.com) will take over Downtown Lafayette for another year.

In the midst of all of the international frivolity will be Lafayette artist Herb Roe. For this year’s installment of Festival International de Louisiane, Roe has  decided to open an exhibition of his “Courir de Mardi Gras” paintings, drawings and prints in the Garage, located at 205B West Vermillion St., Lafayette, LA, which is – surprise, surprise – a former garage. The location itself will be ideal for viewing Roe’s work as the Garage will be right beside the Vermilion St. Open Market once Festival begins.

To anyone from outside South Louisiana, Roe’s “Courir de Mardi Gras” works may seem like something out of a Surrealist phantasmagoria, with their grotesque depictions of otherworldly protagonists running amok in a bucolic setting. However, Roe is a died-in-the-wool realist painter, and his “Courir de Mardi Gras” works faithfully depict what the celebration of Mardi Gras in rural South Louisiana actually looks like in real life – minus the occasional post-apocalyptically red sky (You can’t keep it real all the time – as any Dave Chappelle fan knows).  In Roe’s work, one comes face-to-face with the bizarre yet rich tradition of the rural Mardi Gras.

Participants in the celebration make their own costumes, replete with homemade mesh masks and conical dunce caps. They ride on horseback through the small towns of Acadiana, creating mischief, teasing young children, performing feats of daring and chasing chickens donated by locals for the communal gumbo pot to be shared at the end of the day. In rural Acadiana, Mardi Gras is a day when the natural order of things is overturned and mayhem and merriment rule before the Catholic fasting season of Lent begins.

What’s especially engaging about Roe’s work is the perspective he has on this Louisiana tradition – for Roe isn’t originally from Louisiana. He was born in Ohio, and spent his childhood and adolescence between that state and Kentucky. Roe’s work with Lafayette, LA muralist Robert Dafford lead him to the Hub City and the subject of his current work. Certainly, he has spent a great deal of time living and working in Louisiana – enough to be considered a local by our standards. Yet, in his paintings of the Courir de Mardi Gras, one begins to understand his unique perspective of being an outsider on the inside track to one of Louisiana’s most mysterious and mystifying cultural experiences. Roe’s application of paint is almost clinical and diagnostic in it’s realism, and points toward his status as an observer outside of the scenarios which he is depicting. However, the scenarios are so removed from the daily currents of normal life that Roe’s realism is swallowed up in the tidal flow of color, pattern and pageantry that he is depicting. In this way, the wall between observer and participant breaks down in much the same way that the Mardi Gras celebration breaks down societal inhibitions and hierarchies. When viewing Roe’s “Courir de Mardi Gras” works, one succumbs to the ecstatic, drunkenness of the images in all of their obsessively detailed, hyperrealistic, stranger-than-fiction glory. They are a profound visual treat for anyone, whether you’re from Mamou, LA, Moscow or Madagascar, and the perfect visual accompaniment for the joyous celebration that is Festival International de Louisiane.

Herb Roe’s “Courir de Mardi Gras” exhibition at the Garage (205B West Vermillion St., Lafayette, LA) will be open during Festival International’s officially scheduled hours. For further information on Festival times and other Festival related information, visit its website, http://festivalinternational.com/site.php.

To visit Herb Roe’s artist website, follow this link: http://www.chromesun.com/

Eugene Martin at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art on Oxford American


Eugene Martin

“A Great Concept”


My fourth article for Oxford American has hit the virtual news stand! It’s about the current mini-retrospective exhibition “The Art of Eugene Martin: A Great Concept” at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, MS. Martin is one of the largely unsung heroes of Southern Art, and the article discusses his life, his work and the exhibition itself. It’s a truly inspiring read if I do say so myself – check it out here.


Willie Birch in “Prospect Lafayette”

Willie Birch

“We’ve Come This Far By Faith”

acrylic and charcoal on paper


detail of “We’ve Come This Far by Faith”

on view in the satellite exhibition “Prospect Lafayette” at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA until January 29, 2012 as a part of the Prospect New Orleans 2 Biennial.

*** Author”s note: To view a review of “Prospect Lafayette” on this site, click here.


Elizabeth Mclellan in “Parallel Play” at T-Lot

Elizabeth McLellan


sediment, charcoal and natural pigment on watercolor paper


on view in the group exhibition “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, 1940 Saint Claude Ave., New Orleans, from Friday, October 14 at 6:00pm – Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:00pm

Author’s note:  To read a review of “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, go to the previous post titled “Our Backyard Kicks Your Backyard’s Ass: ‘Parallel Play” at T-lot” here on “louisianaesthetic.”

Hannah Chalew in “Parallel Play” at T-Lot

Hannah Chalew

“Relict Landscape”

rebar, soil, wisteria, catsclaw, thread, wire, mesh


Hannah Chalew

“Odin St. Takeover Part II”

pen and ink on painted paper, wood, chicken wire, soil and creeping fig


Hannah Chalew


pen and ink and marker on paper


Hannah Chalew


pen and ink on paper, thread and pins on canvas


on view in the group exhibition “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, 1940 Saint Claude Ave., New Orleans, from Friday, October 14 at 6:00pm – Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:00pm

Author’s note:  To read a review of “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, go to the previous post titled “Our Backyard Kicks Your Backyard’s Ass: ‘Parallel Play” at T-lot” here on “louisianaesthetic.”

Our Backyard Kicks Your Backyard’s Ass: “Parallel Play” at the T-Lot

by Reggie Michael Rodrigue

On a bright and breezy Sunday afternoon – the day after the opening of the Prospect New Orleans Biennial to be exact – my wife and I made our first visit to T-Lot, a Prospect 2 Satellite in the St. Claude Arts District.  If you don’t already know, T-Lot is a little different than most art spaces in the city.   It’s actually a little different than most art spaces on the planet.  That’s because T-Lot is the only space that I know of that encompasses studio spaces and 8000+ square feet of backyard in the shape of a “T” that can converted into exhibition space.   This ain’t ya mama’s art gallery!  It’s more like your insane cousin’s! You know: the one who’s always trying to build rocket ships out of grain silo parts in his backyard and smells like cheetos and red bull … and oooooh, this so makes the difference!

We were there to see the exhibition “Parallel Play,” the second annual installment of communal T-Lot madness in which members and a select group of their fellow New Orleans peers blanket the entire compound with art.  The “front desk” was an unmanned folding table laid out on gravel in the “neck” of the T.  We walked a little further into the yard, and found T-Lot members Stephen Kwok and Natalie McLaurin hanging out on a set of bleachers under an avocado tree that occasionally sent an avocado or two to dive bomb the surrounding area.   Apparently, Kwok and McLaurin were gallery sitting for the day, and they took turns assisting us graciously throughout our stay there.

We were told by them to go back to the “front desk” and avail ourselves of the exhibition list/numbered map.  There was quite a lot to see, and it was scattered all over.  To follow the list meant criss-crossing the lot over and over again, but that didn’t matter because it was like some demented scavenger hunt for art that was pretty kooky and fun.  The adjacent neighbors only added to the fun, playing accidental DJ for us while we checked out the art.  A stream of funk and rap bounced into the T-Lot from their yard.  Natalie McLaurin said they didn’t mind their neighbors, and their neighbors didn’t mind them.  They both liked to party:  T-lot’s neighbors are Mardi Gras Indians.  In fact, we missed the big party/opening they had the night before.  Another unfortunate thing was the fact that some of the art was not fully functional because they involved performances or video projections that weren’t possible to duplicate in the light of that day. It was made clear to us that “Parallel Play” requires a little bit of shadow play as well.  We were sad to hear the news, but there was still a whole lot to enjoy.

Surprisingly, the piece that my wife and I enjoyed the most was a piece that wasn’t complete when we saw it!  Stephen Kwok and Dave Greber created an alter titled “Alt” that was a ziggurat with terraced sand pits installed in a tent.   The artists littered the thing with LED tea lights (all but one of them were out by the time we got there).  There was supposed to be a video projection by Greber at the top of it, but that was missing.  What was left behind though were “offerings:”  loose change, a coffee mug, ink pens, a note book, condemns, an empty aluminum can, a hammer, a cigarette lighter and an empty cigarette pack, etc.  Kwok and Greber left instructions in the tent for visitors to leave an “offering” on the alter, something that they felt they could part with.  The whole set up was both pathetic and incredibly awesome at the same time.  It was also quite beautiful just as it was.  My wife and I spent quite a bit of time perusing the sand pits, looking for interesting “offerings” and wondering about the people who left them behind.  For me, it felt like ancient history and the present had collapsed into this piece, into one moment of classical elegance and contemporary abandonment.  I spent a little bit of time wondering what it looked like the night before with all the LED’s a glow and one of Greber’s colorfully schizophrenic videos burning on top of the alter.  The thought of it, and it made me smile.  My wife left an old, empty bottle of Nasonex for posterity.

Kwok had some other smart things on view in the two-story studio all the way at the far end of the “T.”  Kwok knows that sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact, and with “FFF” he makes that point.  It is a sculptural installation of three white pedestals  topped with three different forms of cream: powdered creamer, moisturizing cream and heavy whipping cream.  God only knows why this was so interesting, but it was, and my wife was shocked to see the whipping cream atop one of the pedestals tremble when she walked.  What was so surprising to me was how such an austere conceptual piece made us feel like kids in kindergarten: “Kids this is cream, C-R-E-A-M!  Can you say cream?” Another great piece by Kwok was “Results, ” a white long-sleeved shirt decked out in countless homemade pinback buttons with various images and symbols on them.  It seemed like the entire world was buttoned to this shirt, and I thought it was an appropriate symbol for the kind of lives we lead today with not only our hearts but the world hanging on our sleeves.  Lastly, Kwok  presented a video called “Fixed” from his website.  It is a grid of staring competitions involving Kwok, recorded over video chat.  It’s proof that when we humans acquire great technology, ultimately it gets put to the silliest uses – sometimes rightly so.

Hannah Chalew presented a handful of works, all concerned with overgrowth and/or derelict spaces.  A topic close to every New Orleanian’s heart.    Her sculpture “Odin St. Takeover Part II” stood triumphant on its stilt legs, the paper house on top of it seeming to succumb to the elements of time and nature.  With Chalew, nature always has the upper hand.  She drapes an entire wall in the studio with handmade vine camouflage.  A couple of exquisite drawings of derelict spaces line the walls.  A beautiful collage/painting/wall sculpture titled “Intertwined”  delineates the planes of two houses with Chalew’s handmade “vines” without ever giving the viewer a glimpse of the homes themselves.   A lone  “vine” crosses the gulf between the two invisible houses.  Also on view outside is an arbor titled “Relict Landscape” which is made of actual vines planted in the ground and completed with a bench on which viewers can sit and peer out from under the arbor.  Chalew is branching out – literally.

Sadly, I felt the work of Natalie McLaurin deployed in the studio space and outside didn’t compare to the work I’ve seen from her in the past.  She offered two  sculptures of hardened clothing made possible by dipping them in resin.  These sculptures also had lights inside of them that we missed out on.  They hung from trees.  Inside, McLaurin offered some perfunctory drawings that suffered in comparison to Chalew’s which were near.  A sculpture of a cast of legs in jeans and sneakers and topped off by a paper bag stood near Mc Laurin’s drawings.  It made me yearn for one of the artist’s similar pieces with handmade bird wings instead.   One piece that could have worked was a piece of black fabric with mutliple, linear cuts across it.  It suffered from a poor presentation on another sheet of fabric.  I think if it would have been on a hard surface like a wall, it would have read better.  There was another installation of McLaurin’s concerning  what McLaurin left or gave away during her move from New York City to New Orleans, involving small sketches of these items placed in plastic sheets.  This piece lacked something in presentation as well, and I lost interest pretty quickly.   I was a little dejected.  All the poetry of the last work I saw from McLaurin was drained from this work.  What was worse was that she was being such an amazing host to us!  I felt like a heel and still do as I write this, but I gotta call ’em like I see ’em.  So sorry, Nat.

Another disappointment was Angela Berry’s sculpture “Biology of the Everyday,” a wooden and cement DNA strand that had about as much life as a neglected coat rack, although it did look like some kind of playground device from the 50’s that could poke a child’s eye out.  Other playground-looking sculptures faired a little better, but not by a whole lot.  James Goedert’s mutant ladder wasn’t so visually exciting.  It was simply a wooden ladder with one extremely long side that still didn’t manage to get one very far up in the air.  Yet, it’s title provided a good punchline: “So Long for So Little.”  Aah, conceptual sculpture jokes!  Katie Lerin’s “WARP//WEFT” was a jungle gym disguised as a weaving loom, or so it looked.  It was just OK.

I really dug Z Bhel’s “Wooden Army,” a mix of free-standing paintings of people on luan.  There was a pothead in the army, and everybody knows potheads are good for a laugh.  I imagine they must have been fun in the middle of all the  people who gathered on opening night.  I can imagine people bumping into them and apologizing to the sculptures.

Amanda Cassingham presented a performance in the form of a pamphlet advertizing the opportunity for the viewer to receive a cookie through the mail for a payment of $3.14 if they feel they “deserve” it.  This tongue in cheek offer was just ridiculous enough to pique our interest.  We snatched up a “Special Offer” pamphlet and plan on testing this capitalist/ social experiment soon.

I came to the conclusion that Jason Childers is the newest incarnation of Mr. Wizard.  His sculpture “XY, ZX,YZ”  is two squares made of thin lumber slats bisecting one another.  One is vertically oriented while the other is horizontal.  What looks like a low-rent, DIY minimalist snooze turns out to be an ingenious sculpture that is also a contraption of daVinci-like proportions.  The center of the sculpture is occupied by a shaft connected to ropes which are also connected to the lumber slats that form the squares.   Childers assembled the sculpture without the use of nails or glue.  He simply cranked the shaft in the center, and the tension exerted on the ropes pulled the squares together to form the final sculpture.  Who says art isn’t a science and science isn’t an art?  It’s sure not Jason Childers.  Granted, it took an explanation for me to even give this thing a second look, but I love it now!

Another artist who blew me away was Elizabeth McLellan, who presented a few large-scale drawings on paper on one of the fences in the back yard. Using charcoal, sediment and natural pigments, she conjured a world of decay and apocalypse that, despite the subject matter, was beautiful to behold.  In the drawings old homes and streets succumb to epic dust clouds in a mix deft representation and sublime abstraction.  Stunning!

My wife and I almost missed the last piece of the show, a prismatic and mirrored tour through an alleyway the follows the side and back of the two-story studio.  The piece is attributed to WNFG and is titled “Mind the Gap.”  I have a suspicion that WNFG is referring to the treachery of trying to walk down the alley which included a one to two foot drop on one side.  Whatever, the case, it was a great little installation that cocooned us in color, light, sky, dirt and images of ourselves, and was the perfect end to our visit to the T-Lot.

There were other pieces of art at T-lot that were OK. There were pieces that were completely missing.   I’ll leave all of these to rest.

On the whole, exploring T-Lot’s adult playground was a fantastic experience, and yes – their backyard definitely kicks your backyard’s ass – unless you have one of those giant pools with a light show and a volcano or something!  Then, you win.

“Parallel Play” is on view  at T-Lot, 1940 Saint Claude Ave., New Orleans, from Friday, October 14 at 6:00pm – Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:00pm