Just down Interstate 20 in Monroe is a Downtown Gallery Crawl this Thursday night. These are great evenings that are worth the short drive east. from Ann Bloxom Smith:
Thursday, August 7, is another chance to see great local art with the opportunity to purchase original pieces—as well as to visit with friends and neighbors, enjoy
the beautiful downtown areas of Monroe and West Monroe, hear good music, and partake in “cool” food and drink during this hot month. More than sixty cool, eclectic artists are members of the Downtown Arts Alliance, which, along with its sponsors, produce the Downtown Gallery Crawl every other month on the first Thursday, 5-9 pm.
UPSTAIRS gallery will be a good starting point. It’s upstairs, of course, at 135 Art Alley (N. 2nd Street) in Monroe. Two guest artists will show an extremely innovative, extremely COOL version of storytelling via video and mixed media. Austin Bantel and Kelsea McCrary will be collaborating on this show called “Watch the Throne,” a commentary on how we show and tell through digital media. They’ll be giving an artist talk at 7 pm.
Right next door is the Big Room, which welcomes “cool” visiting artists Kay McDonald, Lacey Mitcham, and Alyssa Posey showing paintings and mixed media work, and Josh Mitchell with functional and sculptural woodwork made predominantly from reclaimed materials. Resident artists include Rick Sikes exhibiting oil portraits; Christen Parker, paintings; Victoria Smith, narrative illustrations; Emily Caldwell, collages; and Amy Ouchley, nature-inspired jewelry. Betsy Putnam, a new resident artist, will exhibit her mixed media work. As a special treat, Putnam will also show work upstairs at Cotton Restaurant.
Sugar Gallery, 133 Art Alley, will have something for everyone: mixed media aluminum and alcohol ink art by Stacy Medaries; award-winning photography by Burg Ransom; Mary Thompson’s oil paintings; acrylic paintings by Leah Smith Reitzell; and watercolor and mixed media art by Melanie Douthit. Sugar Gallery will also host photographer William Holley in the loft area.
MAD Art Gallery at 130 Art Alley will welcome three guest artists at this Crawl. Lora Lee, a local metalsmith/artist living in Calhoun, Louisiana, will be showing the beauty of creating with salvaged materials including coins, copper, and paper. Her sculptures will show women in various forms: the Maiden, the Mother, the Warrior, and the Dreamer. She will also have some of her handcrafted forged jewelry on display. Second, Heather Ramsey Miles is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a concentration in Ceramics. After many years in the banking industry she decided life would be more fulfilling as a full-time artist, creating and helping other people unlock their creative potential. In addition to ceramics, Miles works with wood, paint, sculpture, welding, and sewing. Finally, a special guest artist, Cynthia K. Cloud, will be featured in the foyer of the gallery with her “Sea Scapes” sculptures—each completely unique and natural. These pieces have no dyes added and are waterproof so that they can be displayed outdoors or indoors.
Luna Blue Yoga Studio and Gallery, 428 DeSiard Street in Monroe, will be showing a mixed media series of large-scale portraits--a solo show by Ian Blaylock
titled "Mixed Emotions." He will give an artist talk at 6 pm, explaining his art and answering questions. The series is about the pains, obstacles, and successes of life told through the faces of women. He says, “My hope is to give insight that struggles are a natural part of life, offering the opportunity for us to get to know ourselves better and to learn about our strengths. Then we can become happier and more confident people."
The Palace Gallery on DeSiard Street will show a body of work titled A Portrait of Mississippi, by Erin Austen Abbott, from Tupelo, Mississippi. She studied photography at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle. She has had shows in several European countries as well as across the United States. Her work is even studied in the art curriculum at the University of Milan in Milan, Italy. She is also the creator of the “One Night Stand Motel Art Show Series,” a series of art shows transforming a motel and its rooms into a one-night art show, giving artists a chance to show their work in a non-traditional setting. Erin has had her work published in Esquire, Teen Vogue, Alternative Press, LA Times, Uppercase, and Southern Spaces. Erin is also the owner of Amelia, a shop on the historic Oxford square, and is currently living in Water Valley, Mississippi.
Other Monroe galleries that will be open and displaying new art are the DOWNSTAIRS gallery and Arender Studio, both on Art Alley. Arender will be displaying art by Joshua Chambers, a Shreveport artist working in mixed media.
In downtown West Monroe, more COOL art will be shown at two new galleries as well as at the oldest and largest art co-op in Louisiana—Ouachita River Art Gallery—all three conveniently located on Trenton Street (Antique Alley). To add to the convenience for art lovers, the trolley will be running all evening, giving free rides among the galleries on both sides of the river.
One of the new galleries is Sacred Expressions, 314 Trenton, West Monroe, where owner Lori A. Brown will be exhibiting her own work including various media. She is a licensed counselor and art therapist, using art as a method of helping others. The second new gallery is Hamilton House, at 318 Trenton.
Finally, the featured artist for the Ouachita River Art Gallery’s Crawl is Margaret Mays Ellerman of Winnsboro. Ellerman is an art educator, teaching classes at Franklin Parish High School. Her show “Between the Lines” is the culmination of a yearlong study of making hand-decorated paper and artist-altered commercial papers for use in sketchbooks and collage paintings and working with continuous line drawing. She says, “In looking for a way to utilize contour and gesture drawing to portray humor in my work, I hit upon the idea of using my drawings, paint, decorated papers, glue, and words in mixed media paintings.” Her work has been accepted and has won many awards in national and regional art competitions. The show will hang at the gallery through the month of August.
The weather may be hot, but these shows will be COOL! And so are the sponsors. Led by Creed and Creed Law Offices, sponsors include Bancorp South, Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Sir Speedy, Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, the News-Star, KEDM Public Radio, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Delta Style, Restaurant Cotton, Atmos Energy, Heck Law Firm, Rawls DeSigns, Community Trust Bank, Cross Keys Bank, Hollis and Company Jewelers, Marsala Beverage, Lavalle Salomon Law Offices, and Charles Kincade Law Offices. Many thanks to them!