Art & Brew
Cultural forces align in South Louisiana for a weekend of the best in Southern art & brew.
by Erin Z. Bass
Each year in February, the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette posts a call for artists for its annual juried exhibition, the Southern Open. Artists in all mediums living in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida can submit up to 10 pieces of work. A juror from the regional art world is chosen to judge, and the competition begins. In May, the exhibit opens, showcasing a sort of who’s who in Southern art, and an overall winner is chosen. Then, in July, the center closes out the summer with Gulf Brew, where visitors to Lafayette can sample the best brews in the Gulf South.
The intersection of these two events this upcoming weekend is a great excuse to make a trip over to South Louisiana. Southern Open juror Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, and art center Curator Brian Guidry have assembled an exhibit that will make viewers rethink their definition of “Southern art.” From a freestanding wall painted with a Confederate flag and another wall posted with “to do” lists from residents all over the city of New Orleans, these works are definitely nontraditional. (That’s why we made the exhibit one of our “Top 10 Events in the South” for June.)
“They’re all very sobering to a certain degree,” says Guidry about the pieces chosen. Arning says he was surprised by the large amount of applicants (75 by 26 artists). “I came to understand that this space and this show is beloved for the whole region,” he says. “When I walked into the space, I was thrilled. The old idea that you would have of regional themes is a thing of the past.”
Some of what viewers may think of as traditional Southern scenes, like a set of paintings depicting country Mardi Gras and three photographs with a New Orleans Saints theme, can be found in the mix, but another set of collages of passed-out youth with graffitied bodies and a table stacked with teacups are something else entirely.
Arning was also given the task of choosing three winners among the artists in the show. First place went to Adrian Price, a New Orleans artist who focuses on installations and will receive a solo exhibition at the center next May. In second place was Keith Dorwick, an English and Humanities professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who created the video piece included in the exhibit. And in third was Chris King, visual arts instructor at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches, Louisiana, whose work is reminiscent of pinup girls from the 1950s. (A full list of all the artists included in the exhibit can be found at the bottom of this article.)
The Southern Open comes down July 24, as Gulf Brew begins kicking off a few blocks away in Parc International. In the style of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the event invites microbreweries and brewmasters across the South to to offer a taste of their specialty brews. Featured beers this year include Abita Satsuma from Abita Springs, Louisiana, NOLA Hopitoulas IPA from New Orleans, LA-31 Boucanee from Arnaudville, Louisiana, Jefferson Stout and Southern Gold from Lazy Magnolia in Kiln, Mississippi, Strawberry Ale and Bayou Bock from Heiner Brau in Covington, Louisiana, and Canebrake from the new Parish Brewing Co. in Broussard, Louisiana.
Plenty of national and international brews from the likes of Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, Harpoon, Red Hook, Rogue and Sierra Nevada will also be on tap, and beer groups like the Dead Yeast Society, Brewstock and Mystic Krewe of Brew will be offering tastes of their homebrews and tips for novices in a craft brew area of the main tent. Dead Yeast will also be working on a special beer just for the event, to be appropriately named “Gulf Brew.”
The Southern Open can be viewed Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St. in downtown Lafayette. Admission is $5. Gulf Brew will be held from 6-10 p.m. July 24, and tickets are $25 for drinkers and $15 for non-drinkers. Purchase tickets online, by calling the center at 337-233-7060 or day-of until 1 p.m. at the center and at the park before the event.
Artists included in the Southern Open are:
Cynthia Alleman, Patricia “Muffin” Bernstein, Bess Bieluczyk, Jessica Bizer, Ralph Bourque, Blake Boyd, Bradford Daly, Stephen Paul Day, Lee Deigaard, Heather Delahoussaye, William Depauw, Keith Dorwick, Maja Georgiou, Jay Gould, Rachel Jones, Chris King, Stephen Kwok, Ariya Martin, Colin Miller, David Rae Morris, Stephanie Patton, Adrian Price, Mark Renner, Cameron Frederick Sands, David Sullivan and David Webber
Mark Renner and Cameron Frederick Sands