A massive exhibition reflecting the energy, passion, and powerful talent of Northwest Louisiana artists
By Pat Viser
Critical Mass 6
March 2 – May 5, 2018
Critical Mass is an annual open invitational exhibition and critic series. It is designed to advance professionalism in the arts in NWLA through a system of formal critique. Nationally acclaimed critics are curated by Robert L. Pincus, PhD, who is a contributor to ARTnews, Art in America, and The Wall Street Journal. Each critic reviews performing, visual, and literary art and names a “Best of Show” winner in each category. Each winner receives a $2,000 cash prize to support a solo exhibition/presentation produced in artspace several months later.
“It’s remarkable to think that SRAC [Shreveport Regional Arts Council] is in its sixth year of Critical Mass,” said Pincus. “I tell people in California about this program, and they marvel at its success and at the level of commitment of SRAC to the regional community of artists from every discipline. Seeing the excellent work presented during Critical Mass and SRAC’s dedication to a comprehensive plan that equips artists with the skills and resources needed to succeed makes me realize what a difference an inspired art council and inspired programming can make.”
Critical Mass 6 is a pivotal part of a deliberately planned arts ecosystem in NWLA. Beginning in 1976, SRAC starting working to form an intersection—a link—among art programming in the region. This ecosystem starts with arts in education for early childhood education through K–12 with the ArtBreak Festival and continues with the development of a NWLA Artist Directory, an Artist Entrepreneurial Training series, arts markets, artist commissions, and quarterly UNscene events which pair national artists with regional artists for innovative creativity.
The 2013 Critical Mass 1 “Best of Show” visual arts recipient, Joshua Chambers, encourages anyone interested in art in NWLA to visit Critical Mass. “Critical Mass is where artists self-select and bring what they believe to be their ‘A-game’ to be critiqued by a professional and viewed by an audience,” said Chambers.
Marilyn Couch, 2015 “Best of Show” visual artist, added, “Critical Mass is a true celebration of art. Each year I look forward to seeing NWLA artists unveil their most current expressions.”
2016 “Best of Show” entertainment winner spoken-word artist PoeticX said, “Being chosen entertainment winner of Critical Mass 5 was my realization that this was the moment for ‘taking artistry to higher heights.’”
2016 “Best of Show” literary winner David Bottoms said, “All creatives need a bit of feedback from time to time, and even a small favorable comment can buoy the spirit and provide a needed nudge.”
“There are actually two events that exemplify the level of commitment the Shreveport Regional Arts Council has to both young and old in the arts community,” said Critical Mass 2014 “Best of Show” visual art winner Taffie Garsee. “Critical Mass is an adult version of the student art festival, ArtBreak. I was an elementary student when I entered my first ‘big’ juried and judged art competition at ArtBreak. I didn’t win ArtBreak, but I believe ArtBreak helped grow me into that Critical Mass ‘Best of Show’ professional artist years later.”
ArtBreak is actually the place where SRAC’s goal to create a complete ecosystem for the development of the arts begins. SRAC will host the 34th ArtBreak April 23 through April 29, 2018, at the Shreveport Convention Center. The festival includes more than 100 Caddo public, private, charter, and home schools from early childhood education programs to 12th grade and features more than 50 hands-on art learning activities, more than 100 school and community performances, more than 3,000 student works of art, and almost $22,000 in cash awards.
Critical Mass 6 opens March 2 with the announcement of the “Best of Show” winners in each category. The show remains up through May 5, 2018 on two full floors of artspace at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport. For more information, visit www.artspaceshreveport.com.