Renee Chatelain, Arts Council president and CEO, stands in front of a massive, crocheted mural of singer and civil rights icon Marian Anderson. The mural, created by New York artist Olek, is one of the sights on the downtown HeART trail. Photo by Collin Richie.

Blazing trails: Get set for the Arts Council’s Ebb and Flow Festival Season and HeART Trail

Since 1973, the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge has inspired locals to see the world as their canvas. Now, it’s stretching its reach, moving into a new space that will encourage breakthrough art exploration and collaborating with other organizations to create the expanded Ebb and Flow Festival Season.

The Arts Council is planning its exciting move to the Triangle Building at 233 St. Ferdinand St., made possible by a JPMorgan Chase planning grant. Once the bustling offices of the district attorney, the new building is twice the size of the Arts Council’s current digs in the firehouse on Laurel Street.

“Preliminary plans for the Triangle Building include black-box rehearsal and dance space, an exhibition gallery, artist work spaces, a recording studio, community board rooms, and other multi-use areas for artists to develop their work,” says Renee Chatelain, Arts Council president and CEO. “The Arts Council continues to meet with community artists and arts organizations to determine need and impact so that this space is beneficial to the whole community.”

The Arts Council’s Ebb and Flow Festival will splash its way into downtown the weekend of April 6 and 7. This year, though, the organization leveraged the forces of Forum 35’s Art Flow (a new spin on its signature Art Melt), the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, Live After Five, Red Stick FutureFest, the Third Street Songwriter’s Festival, and the Young Entrepreneurs Academy to make the Ebb and Flow Festival Season, which runs from March to May.

“The Ebb and Flow Festival celebrates our unique place on the river, but it also celebrates our innovation,” says Chatelain. “When we asked our community to get involved, we were amazed.”

In February, the Arts Council and its partners unveiled a new app called FLOWBR that will help users enjoy the Ebb and Flow Festival Season. One unique feature is the chance for the public to vote in art shows.

Spring in Baton Rouge has always brought out wonderful festivals and events. “We said, ‘Why don’t we coordinate?’” says Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology at Visit Baton Rouge.

This new concept in Baton Rouge festivals proved inspirational and ignited more ideas for getting art to everybody. Example: the HeART Trail, a 3.2-mile walking trail throughout downtown Baton Rouge that’s launching in conjunction with the festival and was developed by designer Taylor Jacobsen.

One creation on the trail that’s sure to draw curious eyes is a large, crocheted mural of classical singer and civil rights icon Marian Anderson titled TRAILBLAZER, created by Olek, a New York City-based fiber artist. The mural hangs on the Arts Council’s new building with powerful symbolism.

“Crochet, the way I create it, is a metaphor for the complexity and interconnectedness of our body and its systems and psychology,” said Olek in a 2009 artist’s statement. “The connections are stronger as one fabric as opposed to separate strands.”

Download the FLOWBR app in Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store, or visit