Art Crawl Lineup for Thursday, 2/6/14

From our art pals in Monroe.....

Downtown Gallery Crawl: Thursday, February 6, 5-9 pm

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

It’s that time of year again—carnival season in Louisiana—and time to let the good times roll in downtown Monroe and West Monroe! Ten art galleries celebrate fine art, music, refreshments, and fun for all on Thursday, February 6, 5-9 pm.

Produced by the Downtown Arts Alliance, the Downtown Gallery Crawl provides an evening of fun for all ages. The Crawls are held on the first Thursday evenings of every other month—February, April, June, August, October and December. Because the galleries are within the Cultural Districts of Monroe and West Monroe, all purchases of original art are sales tax free.

Good times are surely ready to roll in MAD Art Gallery at 130 Art Alley (N. 2nd Street) in Monroe. Mixed media paintings by Emery Thibodeaux will be on display. As a graduate of the communication arts program at Louisiana Tech University, Thibodeaux’s primary occupation is graphic design. However, as an artist she enjoys creating organically and experimenting with various media. She also incorporates her love for digging through old magazines, books, and paper goods by giving these nostalgic items new life through art. This combination of ephemera, acrylics, inks, charcoal, etc. results in many pieces that are highly textured, colorful, and fun to explore. As usual at MAD, live music will be provided by Gray Matter.

Arender Studio and Gallery (131 Art Alley) is hosting a special benefit silent auction of beautiful photographs by Steni Hrafnsson. Proceeds will go toward paying for cancer treatments for his wife, Jeanette Hrafnsson, who is battling breast cancer. After a bi-lateral mastectomy and radiation therapy, she is facing skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. She explains, “I am blessed to have a family and friends who have held my hand, wiped the tears away when it became too much and took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself.  I move forward with my life one day at a time knowing that I am going to be ok and cancer free.  In other words I kicked cancer’s behind.”

New gallery Luna Blue is at 428 DeSiard Street, where owner Kim Batteford is hosting her second Gallery Crawl exhibit. Curator Kelsea McCreary has chosen two excellent artists for this show: LA Tech MFA students MC Davis and Whitney Causey. The show, entitled Thicker than Water, features works based on the artists’ families, lives, memories, Southern history, etc. With beautiful pieces of varying sizes, the show includes mixed media, photos, family portraits, etc., all pulling from the artists’ pasts.

In West Monroe, Ouachita River Art Gallery (308 Trenton Street) presents the works of Donna McGee during the month of February, inspired by the essence of nature—energy, motion, and change. According to Kahlil Gibran, “Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” McGee says, “For me art is a synthesis of what I see, what I know and what I feel revealed or made evident in the work.” The foundation of McGee’s work is rooted in her love of the natural world and her view that humans are an integral part of nature. Having taught art at the university level for 22 years and chair of the Art Department at Grambling State University from 2003-2011, she will be giving an artist talk at 6:45 pm. The River Gallery will also be exhibiting work by its other 30 artist-members.

Further rolling with the good times on the river, Livaudais Studio (122 South Grand) presents 9months, a photo series by Andy Bloxham, who will give his artist talk at 6 pm. Bloxham is returning to his hometown, where he uses his photography to tell stories—referring to a larger narrative but allowing the viewer only a brief glimpse of events. Bloxham’s work is his imagination, and photography allows him to play inside it. Having received his MFA in photography from Louisiana Tech, Bloxham’s photos have been displayed worldwide. He now teaches at West Virginia Wesleyan University, also guest-lecturing at various colleges and galleries

At the February Downtown Gallery Crawl The Palace (220 DeSiard) presents the collections of Alden McDonald, president and CEO of Liberty Bank and Trust Company, one of the top three African-American owned financial institutions in the United States. He is nationally recognized as an advocate and catalyst in the movement of minority businesses into the mainstream economy. Throughout his career, McDonald’s focus has been the promotion of entrepreneurship, the support of civic organizations and the empowerment of businesses and individuals. McDonald moved aggressively to lead rebuilding efforts for his bank and the entire New Orleans region after Hurricane Katrina. His extraordinary efforts were recognized and chronicled in the New York Times in 2006. That same year he was named one of Fortune Magazine’s Portraits of Power; and he has been celebrated on numerous occasions in Black Enterprise Magazine where he received the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award. Alden is also an avid art collector and patron. His collection of African-American Art stands as one of the most prestigious in the nation. The Palace is proud to present a sample of Alden McDonald's African-American Art collection in honor of Black History Month.

DOWNSTAIRS (137 Art Alley) presents ISOCLINE: new works by Rhyan Emery Taylor and Jess Van Alstyne, and Finding Home, a new mural that will be painted in Downtown Monroe by Nicholas Bustamante. Artist talks will begin at about 7:30 pm. While Rhyan Emery Taylor and Jessica Van Alstyne both dip into conceptual theory within their photographic practices, they also possess the desire for their emotions and experiences to lie within their imagery. Visually, they express themselves quite differently. Isocline began an opportunity for the two artists to exhibit their photographic works together and also take a collaborative approach in a space to make a unified connection between their works without the use of a camera. The two used objects and different mediums to represent themselves. The canvas is a piece of reclaimed wood Taylor found and applied an abstract painting to it. The candles were then placed and burned onto the piece by both Van Alstyne and Taylor to make the final piece. The process of burning the candles and moving them around emitted a series of sacramental moments. The finished product exhibits topographic details that provide evidence that everything and everyone is connected through their experiences. FINDING HOME, the new mural in downtown Monroe by Nicholas Bustamante, will eventually be 18 feet tall and 68 feet wide and will be painted on the Luna Blue building at 428 DeSiard Street through a donation of the site by Michael Echols and funding from Monroe Renaissance. Finding Home explores the beauty of Louisiana, specifically referencing images of Black Bayou, and celebrates the rich culture of the region. Louisiana Tech art students will assist the artist with producing the mural. Bustamante’s original painting, upon which the mural is based, will be on display at DOWNSTAIRS during the Crawl. The gallery will also be open 2-4 pm, Saturdays, and by appointment through March 8.

At the The Big Room and UPSTAIRS galleries (135 Art Alley), the carnival continues. Rick Sikes is the featured artist at Art Alley’s UPSTAIRS gallery with a solo show, Overstatements.  This show includes portraits, figure drawings and urban landscapes.  Sikes’ artist talk is at 7pm.  Having participated and won awards in many recent juried competitions, Rick has demonstrated a wide range of work and continues to push himself to higher levels, gathering fans along the way. Guest artists in The Big Room include Cindy Gibson exhibiting ceramic pieces and Chris Russell exhibiting his paintings for the first time. The gallery’s artists are also excited about members of the Ad Club exhibiting their award-winning work.  The Big Room welcomes new resident artists Victoria Smith, Christen Parker and Ben Bennett showing paintings, sculpture, and mixed media work.  Amy Ouchley will display her nature-inspired jewelry. EmJ Cruz will be back, as well as Octopi, and Emily Caldwell will present her always-creative collages and paintings. 

Finally, the party is always on at Art Alley’s Sugar Gallery, where resident artists are ready with new work. Jewelry by Diane Rosenberg, photographs by Burg Ransom, paintings and sculpture by Scott Stone, Crystal Stone, Mary Thompson, Stacy Medaries, and Leah Smith Reitzell—all are excellent and well worth a visit to this beautiful gallery. Party on, and let the good times roll!

Sponsors, led by presenter Creed and Creed Law Offices, are BancorpSouth, Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau, Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Sir Speedy, The News-Star, KEDM Public Radio, DeltaStyle, Louisiana Division of the Arts, Restaurant Cotton, , Choice Brands, Heck Law Firm, Riddle Builders, Rawls DeSigns, Community Trust Bank, Cross Keys Bank, Hollis and Company Jewelers, Atmos Energy Corporation, Lavalle Salomon Law Office, Warehouse Restaurant, Charles Kincade Law Office, and Marsala Beverage.

Sponsorships for 2014 Crawls are available now. For information on levels of support and benefits to sponsors, see the organization’s website at and Facebook page (search Downtown Gallery Crawl).

Downtown Arts Alliance

P.O. Box 2952

West Monroe, LA 71294

For more information, contact Ann Bloxom Smith, 318-503-5125,