Culture: Northwest Louisiana is Crushing It!

Critical Mass 5, Murals, and Tours Make Spring a Frenetic Season of Events in Shreveport

 

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One of the Shreveport Common murals, by Whitney Tates.Courtesy of Shreveport Regional Arts Council

One of the Shreveport Common murals, by Whitney Tates.Courtesy of Shreveport Regional Arts Council

Northwest Louisiana will be in a frenzy over the arts this April when the Shreveport Regional Arts Council brings art event after art event together with patrons, collectors, critics, artists, and performers to create a ferocity of cultural activity—a critical mass of appreciation, engagement, applause, and acknowledgement in a never-before-experienced April Culture Crush.

SRAC’S mission is to develop, produce, promote, advocate for, and maximize access to the arts for all in the region. The organization works to create a complete eco-system for the development of the arts, and April Culture Crush is designed to shine the light on both being a great artist and becoming an avid art collector.

Developing the cultural economy starts with early childhood education. Young artists within the ten-parish region are encouraged to “get attached” to the arts at the 33rd annual ArtBreak Festival (April 24–30). The aspiring artist is urged to exhibit his or her first piece or production in an Entrepreneurial Artists’ Exhibition/Showcase on March 30. The experienced artists (always more than a hundred of them since the inaugural Critical Mass in 2011) don’t need much persuading to submit their work for critique by nationally renowned critics at Critical Mass 5 (April 4 and 6), and to apply to create temporary studio space for public viewing and demonstrations in Visual Artists’ Exhibition Studios (April 6–June 3). And the working artists in Ruston, Minden, Homer, Shreveport, and Bossier invite you to see how their art is created and exhibited in the Artists’ Studio Tours (April 7–9).

The seasoned collector welcomes the opportunity to share why a decades-old personal collection is of value to him or her on an Art Collectors’ Tour of Homes (April 2). And the established arts organization knows how important it is to continually create motivating and mentoring opportunities for the arts by bringing well-known artists such as Lesli Marshall to facilitate The Big Scene Shreveport Common Murals Debut (April 1).

“The Shreveport Regional Arts Council has garnered a national reputation for continually building on their successes for providing artists and arts organizations the programs and services needed to thrive in Northwest Louisiana,” said Henry Price, Caddo Parish Arts Administrator. “I don’t know any other organization that would take on the ambitious challenge of staging nine huge art events in one month, but SRAC has that kind of daunting commitment to stimulate the cultural economy in Northwest Louisiana. They do it over and over again, and always do it well.”

What does it mean for an artist to have virtually every corner of the April calendar “crushed” with exhibitions and activities? Taffie Garsee, winner of the Critical Mass 2 Best of Show award, is among the artists whose work will be unveiled as a Shreveport Common Mural on April 1 during The Big Scene and Texas Street Makers Fair.

“Being chosen as a Shreveport Common mural artist and having the opportunity to work with Dallas-based mixed media artist, Lesli Marshall, has been an incredible experience,” said Garsee. “SRAC is continuously doing something to encourage and grow the artists in our ten parishes, starting with the student ArtBreak Festival, which I participated in as a young person; to the Entrepreneurial Arts Training Program, which taught me the business of art; all the way to the critical review process of Critical Mass, for which I was honored with the Best of Show award in 2014. Wherever art is being taught, exhibited, critiqued, or created in Northwest Louisiana, you can bet SRAC is behind it, and that is extremely valuable to artists such as me.”

Collector Rick Rose admits he can’t paint, sculpt, or even create found-object assemblage, but he is an expressive person who loves art and its cultural importance, so he collects. Rose’s home will be on the April 2 Art Collectors’ Tour.

“It is so exciting to go inside someone else’s home to see art that you may never see in a museum, studio, or gallery. This is a personal, rich, and intimate opportunity that SRAC is making possible during April Culture Crush,” said Rose. “Every piece I have has a story about why I acquired it, and in each of those circumstances, the artist is part of that. I’ve lived in over a dozen cities and have traveled to thirty countries, which is reflected in my choice of artists and their art. When you see my art, you learn about me.”

So don’t be “fooled” when April 1 appears on your calendar–the Shreveport Regional Arts Council really does plan to fill thirty full days in April with art for the collector and the collected during April Culture Crush.

 

 

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