A Day in the Life of the Arts: 2021
A painter. A dancer. A fiddler. A florist.
Artists from 15 varied disciplines are all highlighted in inRegister’s annual look at our vibrant local arts community, as captured by four photographers on a single day. Journey with us from dawn until dusk as we peek in on talented Baton Rougeans who reveal that even after a year full of challenges, the creative spirit is alive and well in our city.
The first fiery fingers of sunlight flicker through the openings in the Pelican sculpture at the bluff on the campus of Southern University. This 4-foot-high aluminum depiction of a mother and baby pelicans harks back to the avian image on the Louisiana state flag and was created by renowned Baton Rouge artist Frank Hayden in 1976 in honor of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. The sculpture was made with metal from the Kaiser Aluminum plant that opened in Baton Rouge just before World War II and operated until the early 1980s.
Under the watchful eye of the Dalai Lama on the front porch of his Spanish Town home, jewelry designer Jay Cudd of Jay Van Studios uses traditional tools to cut and forget delicate shapes for his latest piece. Cudd’s handcrafted designs are in the early modernist style and often include decorative forged chain designs in sterling silver. He also cuts, shapes and polishes stones like plume agate and orbicular jasper to achieve vibrant colors and patterns. Cudd’s skill in creating fine forms first blossomed in his work as a furniture designer, builder and conservator for more than 30 years before he began exploring the world of jewelry only a few years ago. jayvanstudios.com and @jayvanstudios on Instagram
To see this artist’s work, there’s no need to step inside the doors of a gallery—or inside any doors, for that matter. Jennifer Hester of Blooming Chalk helps make local businesses look good through stylized window art that is often the first thing a customer sees when they arrive at a retail destination. Hester also creates custom chalkboard and acrylic signs for weddings and special events. She got her start at a sign company creating large-format vinyl signs before becoming a sign artist at Trader Joe’s and eventually a full-time freelance artist. Here, she touches up her large-scale designs on the front window of Main Squeeze Juice Co. bloomingchalk.com and @bloomingchalk on Instagram
LSU Textile & Costume Museum director Pam Vinci (left) styles traditional Maya textiles in the museum’s new exhibition gallery space, located within the Human Ecology Building on LSU’s campus. “Traje: Maya Textile Artistry” will be on display in the new gallery when COVID restrictions permit. It features Maya-inspired textile items primarily from Guatemala, part of a 200-plus-piece collection of Maya artifacts recently donated to the museum. Meanwhile, a coordinating exhibition, “Traje: Maya Textile Artistry, Wearable Art Exhibition,” is now open to visitors in the old gallery and features seven pieces created by apparel designers associated with university programs around the country; at top, assistant professor Casey Stannard puts the finishing touches on the display of a dress she created for that exhibition. lsu.edu/textilemuseum
The art of expansion: Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge executive director Renee Chatelain (right) and staff members Jonathan Grimes and Leea Russell prepare for a walk-through to check progress on construction inside the Triangle Building downtown. Once the home of the District Attorney’s office, this structure is being renovated to become the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, which will serve as Arts Council headquarters and as a hub for arts activity of all sorts, from theater performances to music recording to painting masterpieces. artsbr.org
Two artists, two interpretations of a familiar downtown scene. Nanci Charpentier and David Gary, members of the Baton Rouge Plein Air artists’ group, paint the colorful corner of Third Street and Florida Street. Gary founded the group in 2017 as a way for local artists to connect and get constructive critiques of their work, all while appreciating the beauty found throughout the city. facebook.com/batonrougepleinair
Floral artistry is a family affair for Meagan Jenkins of Meagan Jenkins Flowers. Here, Jenkins works on combinations of colorful blossoms for compote centerpieces for Easter tables with a little moral support from her son Sam, 3, and Daisy, 2. Tulips, daffodils and butterfly ranunculus are all part of the sweet-scented mix that Jenkins is using on this day as she works from home, an arrangement many working parents are all too familiar with these days. meaganjenkinsflowers.com and @meaganjenkinsflowers on Instagram
Three-year-old Xavier Andreasen peruses the artwork on display at the Baton Rouge Gallery. Xavier’s father, Jason Andreasen, has served as the gallery’s president and CEO since 2008, after moving to Baton Rouge from his hometown of Miami three years earlier. The circular artworks that have captured Xavier’s interest here are part of mixed-media artist Matt Morris’ “Planets” exhibition, in which he creates the illusion of peering through a window into another world. The exhibition is on display until April 1; beginning April 6, a juried exhibition of high school artists will fill this space. batonrougegallery.org
Ceramic artist and LSU art professor Michaelene Walsh reviews a wall of her work at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. These ceramic pencils are one of four art installations she created for the hospital’s St. Jude wing. Walsh hand-built and slip cast each whimsical piece before glazing them in a variety of colors and surface textures. “I used imagery that was familiar and relatable to kids: ice cream cones, birds, stuffed toys, pencils,” she says. “My thought was that it would both capture kids’ attention and offer something to talk about with adults. Given the location of the work in the cancer wing, the joyful colors and patterns might provide a brief respite amidst a very difficult time for these children and their caregivers.” Walsh is now working on the donor wall for the new Cary Saurage Community Arts Center downtown, and she will have a show at the Baton Rouge Gallery in September.
Artisan Conrad Freeman of Freeman Handcrafted works in his wood shop off Florida Boulevard creating contemporary custom furniture with a streamlined aesthetic. Freeman, who has a degree in sculpture from LSU, says he loves the small details and adding his personal signature to the furniture he creates. Shown here is his Luna stool, available in the FreemanHandcrafted Etsy shop in maple, walnut or white oak. This piece is part of a collection inspired by Scandinavian, Danish and Pacific Northwest design, and each item is built by hand using traditional methods. “I put so much care and obsessive energy into my pieces,” Freeman says. “This is not just a job for me but an expression of my innermost parts.” freemanhandcrafted.com
LSU Museum of Art curator Courtney Taylor, executive director Daniel Stetson, and Collections Committee chair Ben Jeffers view recently acquired paintings in preparation for the new exhibition “Collection Spotlight: Recent Acquisitions by Black Artists.” Supported by the Winifred and Kevin P. Reilly Initiative for Underrepresented Artists and the LSU MOA Annual Exhibition Fund, the show is slated to run from March 28 through September 26. Jeffers and his wife Salomia are longtime art collectors, and items from their own collection were recently on display at the museum as part of its “Living with Art” show. The paintings visible here in the museum’s collections storage area include (clockwise from top left) Madelyn Sneed-Grays’ Two Strikes (2020, oil on canvas), Mario Moore’s During and After the Battle (2020, oil on linen), and Whitfield Lovell’s Cada Dia (2004, charcoal on wood). lsumoa.org
As Theatre Baton Rouge prepares for its next in-person production, set designer and technical director Kenneth Mayfield (right) and associate technical director Kevin Mayfield design, construct and prep the set for Clybourne Park, slated to run March 25-28 on the theater’s main stage. Written by Bruce Norris and directed by Andrew Nathan Vessel, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play is inspired by the events in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. theatrebr.org
Lola Woodward (center) and the rest of the 8- to 10-year-old members of the Junior Dance Company at Cangelosi Dance Project warm up at the barre. Artistic director Kris Cangelosi (back row, advising the girls on technique) founded the studio in 1989, and today her offerings include an annual Holiday Nutcracker performance, community outreach, a competition team, and junior, teen and senior companies, along with classes for students as young as 3. Dance school students are trained in classical ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary dance and tumbling. cangelosidanceproject.com
Nyama Contemporary Dance Company dancers Kamryn Johnson, Julian Guillory and Kerrington Griffin leap to new heights on the fourth-floor outdoor terrace of the River Center Branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. Nyama is a new professional dance company founded by artistic director Roxi Victorian that offers Black and other minority dance artists opportunities to “explore, create and perform, highlighting their strengths and abilities while fully embracing the African American aesthetic and rich cultural history.” Nyama will be in residence at the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center beginning this summer, and Victorian and her team are busy building the repertoire for their debut performance, Destination, which is slated to take place in late July or early August. “While building a dance company from the ground up is not an easy task, it is certainly rewarding,” Victorian says, “and we look forward to sharing all that we have been working on with our Baton Rouge arts community.” nyamadance.com and @nyamadance on Instagram
Peyton Falgoust (guitar and vocals) and Regina Cates (fiddle) of the Peyton Falgoust Band play on the outdoor deck at BLDG 5 in the Perkins Road Overpass district. Falgoust and Cates have been playing together in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area for two years, but this evening is their first gig at BLDG 5. Misti Broussard, who owns BLDG 5 along with her husband Brumby, says the restaurant began offering live music in March 2020 only to see it stop soon after with the COVID shutdowns. They picked back up again last fall on the deck, allowing diners to relax in the fresh air while taking in some mellow tunes. “Our customers love it, and our team loves it,” Broussard says, noting that music can be heard here every Wednesday evening and on other days of the week depending on weather. “Our new rooftop deck and bar should be finished soon, and we might start having some live music up there too.” bldg5.com and @bldg5 on Instagram facebook.com/peytonfalgoustband