Angela Gregory, “Plantation Madonna,” 1938, cast 2014; bronze; ed. 12/12. Courtesy LSUMOA.

On exhibit: Angela Gregory at LSU Museum of Art

LSU Museum of Art, July 12-October 14

If you’ve ever dined on frog legs or foie gras at The Gregory restaurant and bar that’s at the center of the downtown Watermark Hotel, you’ve spent a moment in the world of Angela Gregory, one of Louisiana’s finest female artists of the 20th century. The restaurant is even named for this sculptor and architect, who in the late 1940s created the ornate bas-relief murals that surround the sleek dining space.

Gregory’s works in a variety of media are the focus of an exhibition that begins July 12 at the LSU Museum of Art, which holds four of her bronze sculptures and five of her plaster maquettes in its permanent collection, along with a plaster medallion, a mantel lintel and a set of molds.

After graduating from New Orleans’ Newcomb College in 1925, Gregory was the only American admitted to study sculpture with Antoine Bourdelle, a protégé of Auguste Rodin, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumerie in Paris. “Gregory trained with the best,” says LSU Museum of Art curator Courtney Taylor. “Her style reflects her exceptional academic study, but her particularly sensitive, individual portrayals are what drive enduring interest.”

Gregory was also known for breaking boundaries, Taylor points out, from her rare success as a female sculptor of architectural features to her representations of African American subjects. “Looking backward,” says Taylor, “interest in her art has grown as art historians and curators seek to find the few women in the period who were admitted into the male-dominated art world.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, gallery talks with Gregory scholar Susan Hymel as well as conservator Elise Grenier, who restored Gregory’s sculptures at the Watermark, are now being planned.