Where Art Leads Us

Grocery Store in the Rain by Melanie Parent. Photo courtesy of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

Summer artspace exhibitions follow the distinct journeys of two artists

By Pat Viser

Artists Julie Crews and Melanie Parent couldn’t be more different. One artist hopes her portraits and landscapes take her deeper into relationship with the people in her portraits. The other artist seldom photographs people, preferring to capture solitary, dream-like landscapes that evoke a sense of loneliness and a longing for a place. But both see their art as a journey and invite you to traverse the Getting There and the Distance Nearer Home with them this summer at artspace in downtown Shreveport. Getting There by Julie Crews opens May 31 in CoolSpace at artspace. A Distance Nearer Home by Melanie Parent opens July 12.

Getting There is a very different solo show for Crews, whose previous exhibitions have often included the “things” of her everyday life as a mother of five—children’s toys, Dum Dum suckers, or a rack of clothes from a shopping trip. They offer intimate glimpses into her personal life. This is an exhibition dominated by portraits and landscapes, and the roads that lead to them.

“I hope this exhibition of tiny portraits of people who intersect my life will help people reflect on the relationships in their lives—help people think about the head space and the heart space that we devote to one another,” said Crews. “These paintings are about spending time at the canvas with individuals on my terms and finding out what those persons say within me.”

Parent’s exhibition title, A Distance Nearer Home, takes its inspiration from Robert Frost’s poem, “Desert”; the solitary, searching, almost dream-like feel of the photographs in this show invite the viewer not to be afraid to step in to distant places nearer our Northwest Louisiana home. This was the sort of fear Parent herself had to overcome to become an artist—to finally have the courage to leave her house after several years as a recluse—and through her camera to expose herself to the world outside.

“I hope that through my photographs—whether of a solitary lady on an empty rural grocery aisle or of a storefront taken through my rain-soaked camera lens—people will be drawn in,” said Parent. “I want to evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for something forgotten and precious through what I capture with my camera. I want people to see things that they see everyday in a different way, and not to fear their own desert places.”

“I want people to see things that they see everyday in a different way, and not to fear their own desert places.” –Melanie Parent

In addition to the exhibitions upstairs at artspace, you are invited to take the road less traveled and visit eight full-time artists studios that will be located downstairs in MainSpace from May 31 to August 11. An artist studio is often a private sanctum seldom open for public viewing, but this summer is a rare opportunity to take a sneak peek as Northwest Louisiana artists paint, sculpt, photograph, and create right before your eyes. Each artist selected will also provide a “lunch & learn” opportunity, including a “How I Do It” demonstration of his or her unique art form and an explanation of the “secret sauce” that makes the work unique. Lunch & Learns will be offered each week for eleven weeks during the summer, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Across the palette, down the canvas, and atop the performance stage, it is always an ARTful journey at artspace, and this summer promises quite an adventure. Hop on board and explore a variety of camps that take you around the block of the color wheel, help you find the intersections between art and nature, peruse the POP in POP Art, and so much more! In the camps, students will use various techniques to discover art through drawing, painting, sculpting, movement, writing, and even music! Have a budding performing ARTie? The performing arts can provide a real kick when the wonderful music traditions of Huddie Ledbetter, James Burton, and other Northwest Louisiana performers are brought to life through art! Art Camp students will also have the opportunity to learn from professional artists this summer as they interact weekly with the eight Northwest Louisiana Artists occupying studios in artspace from May to August. Campers will actually see the art of these pros being created and receive instruction to help them along their art path. Camps are June 11 through August 3 for ages 9 to 14. Sign up for half-day or full-day experiences at our website, artspaceshreveport.com.

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