Saturday May 14th marked the second ever ART NIGHT OUT gallery crawl in Lafayette Louisiana. It was enjoyed by all! We, our motley group of 5, went to 4 venues, made friends, looked at art, and followed it up with a little after party at a local “pub” (pardon my Irish).
The first stop was Cité des Arts with Valentin Valris, a Haitian artist specializing in voodoo flags, a time honored sequin folk-art tradition in his native Haiti that he was indeed born into - but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Amy Bonwell, curator and haitian arts advocate (also estate executive of artist Tina Girouard, 1946-2020) graciously took the time to explain the cultural implication of Valris’ work, which derives from religious artifacts of the Hatian indigenous traditions, synchronized with religious iconology of the Western influence. In other words, these beautiful sequined artworks are based on voodoo flags, but are altered and made for the tourists who come to Haiti and are an important part of the economic picture for the Hatian craftspeople. We were able to video chat with the artist who is waiting on an artist visa so he can come here to join family and continue to develop his career. Follow him on Instagram to help him share his important work with the world @valentinvalris
Then we followed along our pre-charted path to WhooJoo glass artist Craig 'Whoojoo' McCullen. A fixture of downtown Lafayette, he has been at this very location, making art, for 40+ years. Craig and the other artists took time to chat with us about the changing face of the downtown Lafayette art scene. We enjoyed browsing the fantastic paintings, stained glass works, and fascinating artworks on display from several local artists. Whoojoo glass is a time honored tradition in downtown Lafayette, so don’t hesitate to pop in during the regular opening hours. Really it's not to be missed. You can keep up with them via their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/whoojooglass/
Next came Acadiana Center for the Arts where we experienced the mixed technique paintings of Mostapha Romly, an artist working in photography, painting, drawing, and video, from Morocco. You can learn more by following him on instagram @mostapharomli He is an important player in
developing visual arts in his home location. His work takes on the topic of the woman’s body and violence against it especially in the arab muslim world, via paradoxically beautiful mixed media work. More information about this timely and I’d even say urgent work can be found on his website http://www.romli.com/index-ang.html
Then in the main gallery we enjoyed a fabulous comprehensive retrospective display of the “lyrical abstracts” of the late African American artist Eugene Martin (1938-2005). Martin was originally from Washington DC, and his early life began with some tragic circumstances.
He ended up in Lafayette Louisiana for the later years, and is absolutely a local treasure. The paintings were so colorful and beautiful, and downright fun, and the sheer number of them bore testimony to the greatness of this amazing talent. Definitely a crowd pleaser and a bit of a history lesson as well. Check out his life work and amazing story here https://eugenemartinart.com/
Last but most certainly not least, we arrived at 549 Jefferson st, Deuxieme Vie Creative, where the mission is to take found or discarded materials and give them a “second life” by transforming them into Fine Art. Donald LeBlanc, returned via this event, to the space of his former “Gallery 549” of 18 years, after a 5 year hiatus. Don explained his paintings, made with found materials and otherwise discarded house paint, as a juxtaposition of the hard edged “boundaries” designed by us mere mortals, in play with organic elements, and how he takes inspiration from his historical work researching archives of maps and aerial views of Louisiana.
The man made boundaries interplay with the organic features. You can definitely see this in his beautiful work! Learn more about this amazing artist by checking out the exhibition which runs until June 5, at gallery Deuxieme Vie Creative and you can follow the gallery on instagram @2eviecreative
A great time was had by all, and no doubt ART NIGHT OUT will be back for July Second Saturday Artwalk so no worries if you missed this one. In short, Lafyette is incredible for diversity and love of the arts, proportionally phenomenal considering the small size of this vibrant town we are so lucky to call home.
Until next time,
Dr. Elizabeth Matthews