One of the most anticipated shows presented each year by the Baton Rouge Gallery, this year’s Surreal Salon opened this month with works by 64 artists from 25 states and six countries.
The annual exhibition features works in the pop-surrealist or lowbrow style, a movement cultivated in Los Angeles in the 1970s that blends traditional surrealism with popular culture. Imagery from nature, fantastical representations, rich hues and other elements come together to create pieces that are often both edgy and whimsical.
But no matter its pure definition, it’s a lot of fun to take in. The style is known for tucking surprises amid common imagery. You’re just as likely to spot Mickey Mouse or a Big Mac as you are detailed natural landscapes. Its practitioners are also known for their highly technical skills, Andreasen says. “The detail is incredible,” he notes.
This year’s show is curated by renowned sculptor Beth Cavener, who chose the works from more than 700 submissions—the most Surreal Salon has ever received. The works were selected last fall in a blind jury process, with no names or biographical information included. Several works from Louisiana artists were accepted, including Becky Blackburn, Josiah Bolth, H. Grace Boyle and several others.
“It really speaks to the level of artists we have in the state,” Andreasen says.
The Montana-based Cavener is, “easily one of the most respected ceramic artists in the country,” and was on the gallery’s “dream list” of artists to approach to serve as the show’s juror, Andreasen says.
“When she emailed back and said she was interested in doing it, there was an audible scream from our office,” Andreasen says. “We got really excited not only to have her involved in the show but also to have a piece of hers here. When people come in, it’s the first work they’ll see.”
The exhibit features two companion events, including the popular Surreal Salon Soirée on Saturday, January 27, a creative costume party in which revelers dress in elaborate homemade attire. Around 2015, guests started creating costumes that play off the works in each year’s show, something that always sparks conversation and delights the artists themselves, Andreasen says. The Surreal Salon Soiree is a ticketed event that features food, an open bar and live music from Austin-based band The Octopus Project.
Cavener will also hold an artist talk about her work and pop surrealism on Monday, January 29, at 5 p.m. at the LSU College of Art and Design. The talk is free and open to the public.
The Surreal Salon exhibit will be featured through February 1. Baton Rouge Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Find more info at batonrougegallery.org.