Soaking in Culture
The Forum 35 Art Melt comes back for its ninth year of drenching Baton Rouge with art
By Jake ClappPosted Jul 11, 2012
When economic woes hit, it’s easy for the arts to get swept under the rug. Just take a look at the large cuts LSU went through in the last two years: Arts programs were among the first, and most noticeable, to be trimmed. Forum 35 wants to change that, and they’ll do so by showing that a thriving arts culture is crucial to a thriving local economy with the ninth annual Forum 35 Art Melt.
The largest multi-media, juried art show in Louisiana will run from 5-11 p.m. on July 14 at the Shaw Center of the Performing Arts. The free event includes over 60 submissions from artists with a variety of styles, residing across Louisiana and competing in a blind judging with prizes of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place.
The show isn’t restrained to the inside though. Audiences can wander outside the Shaw Center, around a blocked-off Third Street, and take in music and performances by local and regional acts, food and drink form local restaurants and food trucks, and an arts marketplace.
With 623 submissions, this year’s Art Melt is by far the biggest, thereby proving that art is alive and well in Louisiana.
“It speaks to the culture that we have down here,” said Christy Marino, co-chair for Art Melt. “Every year we bring jurors in and they’re just blown away by the talent that lives in Louisiana.”
This year’s jurors are Chief Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Franklin Sirmans; Curator of Modern Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Ron Platt; and LSU professor and photographer, Thomas Neff.
With a year’s worth of organizing work behind her, Marino said she was amazed at the level of participation in this year’s event and credits social media with the large draw.
New this year, Forum 35 is adding an educational aspect to Art Melt with a large panel discussion, “State of the Arts.” Audiences can wander up to the fifth floor of the Shaw Center at 5 p.m. for the free panel discussion with Jason Andreasen of Baton Rouge Gallery; Jordana Pomeroy of LSU Museum of Art; Kelly Pepper with the Louisiana Department of Administration; photographer David Humphreys; Louisiana Arts Council representative Gerri Hobdy; and David Conteras, MFA candidate at LSU.
The panel discussion will talk about the state of Louisiana arts culture, what that means for the state, and how budding artists can market themselves and grow in the competitive environment.
“The more culturally advanced a city is, the better the economy,” said Emily Adams, Art Melt co-chair with Marino. “It’s really good for our economy to encourage local artists and creative people to not only continue doing what they are to improve our quality of life in Louisiana, but to also stay here and contribute to business.”
Art is such a crucial part of Louisiana culture, Adams said, but it’s sad to see that during economic downturns, people move themselves away from arts.
“The art community in Louisiana has one of the nation’s richest histories, but we are lacking in arts economy when compared to other states,” Adams said. “We aren’t suffering, but we have to think how do we do better as a state, and that includes keeping artists in mind.”
Art Melt isn’t just exposure for artists and audiences, said Jessica Boone, president of Forum 35. It’s a celebration of Louisiana life.
“The culture of Louisiana is something unique to us,” Boone said. “While we’re different in Lafayette, different in New Orleans, or different in Baton Rouge, we still bring this unique flavor of organic cultural arts.”
The full experience
In addition to the juried art show on the inside, be sure to look around outside for the following:
Music and performances by local and regional artists, including Twin Killers, Rareluth, Hitchhiker, the Cangelosi Dance Project, and Of Moving Colors.
Browse through the arts marketplace set up outside the Shaw Center. Local craft makers and artists will be selling their wares for most of the afternoon.
Tag a special graffiti wall while you’re hanging around Third Street. Make sure the wall belongs to Art Melt first, though.
Cash bars and an abundance of food will be on-site from local restaurants and food trucks to keep you fueled for the evening.
If you don’t feel like going home after Art Melt wraps up, you can wander over to The Roux House and Happy’s Irish Pub for their post-Art-Melt block pARTy and live art battle. Ten bucks gets you into both venues where eight local artists, including Alex Harvie, Jacob Zumo, and Marc Fresh, will be displaying their own abilities.
New this year, attendees can join in the discussion with the “State of the Arts” special panel. The event will explore the artistic and cultural climate of Louisiana and open a discussion about the factors that contribute to the successfulness of an arts community. The budding artist can learn how to get involved, and what makes for development and growth in the arts scene.
Panelists include Jason Andreasen of the Baton Rouge Gallery; Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, executive director of LSU MOA; Kelly Pepper, community development and outreach at the Louisiana Department of Administration; photographer David Humphreys; Louisiana State Arts Council representative Gerri Hobdy; and David Contreras, MFA candidate at LSU.
This event is free to the public and will take place July 14 from 5-6 p.m. in the lobby of the LSU Museum of Art administrative offices on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts.
The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Community School for the Arts asked Baton Rouge children to artfully portray their thoughts on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Submissions came in from kids, ages 3-14 years old.
The winners of the Kids Show competition were selected by the Arts Council and will be shown in the Shaw Center’s Jones Walker Foyer at 5 p.m., beginning July 14, and running for two weeks.
They’re not judging you…that much
Wondering who’s making all the decisions? Get to know this year’s judges.
Franklin Sirmans, national judge
Since January 2010, Sirmans has worked as the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prior to joining LACMA, Sirmans worked as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Menil Collection in Houston, from 2006-2010.
Ron Platt, regional judge
Ron Platt joined the Birmingham Museum of Art in 2007 as the Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, where he organizes and implements exhibitions, installations, and their accompanying publications. He also leads in the acquisition of works for the Museum’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art.
Plat is also the former curator of exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, where he organized over 20 exhibitions.
Thomas Neff, local judge
Photographer Thomas Neff has been on the LSU faculty since 1982 but still manages to have time to take photos that land in the California Museum of Photography, The Houston Museum of Modern Art, the Louisiana State Museum, the Spencer Museum, and numerous college, university, and private collections.
Neff’s focus for the past 40 years has been on people, landscapes, and architecture from around the world, including a series of portraits and narratives of New Orleans citizens who did not evacuate during Katrina entitled “Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina.”
If you’re the type of person who loves sneak peeks, try the Art Melt Preview Party in the Manship Theatre Gallery, Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre, and Jones Walker Foyer on July 13, from 7-11 p.m.
Guests can meet the jurors and artists, dine on appetizers and cocktails from Bravo, and get the early news on this year’s winners – all while Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Neighborhood Threat, and Of Moving Colors provide the evening’s entertainment.
If that’s not enough, Louisiana Culinary Institute will pit chef against chef as teams compete to create tasty, artistic dishes in the Melt Down Culinary Competition.
And if you’ve been looking for that “just right” piece to tie your room together, in addition to seeing the new art first, attending the preview party also allows you to buy the art first.
Tentative Performance Schedule:
5:00 p.m. – Gypsy Space Caravan
5:45 p.m. – Hitchhiker
6:30 p.m. – Ryan Brunet and the Malfecteurs
7:15 p.m. – The Bedlamville Triflers
8:15 p.m. – Rareluth
9:30 p.m. – Twin Killers
Town Square Stage (North Blvd.):
6:00 p.m. – Of Moving Colors
6:15 p.m. – Cangelosi Dance Project
6:30 p.m. – Opera Louisianne
6:45 p.m. – Marching Drum Corps
7:00 p.m. – Of Moving Colors
7:15 p.m. – Peter Simon Music
7:45 p.m. – Opera Louisianne
8:00 p.m. – Poetry Slam
8:30 p.m. – Break Dancers
9:00 p.m. – Cangelosi Dance Project
9:15 p.m. – Peter Simon Music
9:30 p.m. – Poetry slam
10:00 p.m. – Break Dancers
Tickets are $75 per person, or $50 for Forum 35 members and can be purchased through www.ArtMelt.org.
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