By Tara Bennett
It was during the ‘60s when Baton Rouge’s art scene began to develop, after the emergence of the Baton Rouge Gallery. Since then, Baton Rouge has seen a substantial amount of popularity in local artist’s showcases and festivals. Now has never been a better time to immerse in the opportunities for art that are thriving in the growing city.
One of these opportunities is Art Melt, the largest multi-media, juried art exhibition in Louisiana. Organized by the young professionals group Forum 35, Art Melt strives to promote professional artists throughout the state of Louisiana while providing an opportunity for the public to experience the best of local fine art, music, and performing arts.
The application for 2015 Art Melt closed on June 5, and now the real logistics will begin as Forum 35 prepares for Baton Rouge’s largest art festival returning for its 12th year. More than 130 applicants from all over Louisiana applied with over 300 selected works to participate in Art Melt’s juried show.
“It was a great showing this year,” said Ellen Mathis, the 2015 Art Melt chairperson. “They only accept 50-60 pieces in the show. We’ll end up with the strongest pieces of the show.”
The jurors will be making their final decision within the next couple of days. This year’s jurors include Kitty Pheney, the director of new initiatives for the LSU School of Art; Keene Kopper the director of the May Gallery in New Orleans and Patty Ortiz, an independent curator in San Antonio and former director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
“Art Melt just stood out to me as a great gift from our young professional community to Baton Rouge,” said Mathis. “I think Louisiana has one of the most special and unique cultures across the world and to sit down and celebrate that culture is a great opportunity…highlighting that is really important for any community and I think Forum 35 giving that to Baton Rouge is a great gift.”
The event will open to the public on Saturday, July 25 at the Capitol Park Museum in downtown Baton Rouge from 5-9 p.m. and remain on display for six weeks. Admission is free to the public. Entertainment during Saturday’s event will include a music stage and a cultural performance stage with the performances lasting until 10 p.m. Scheduled entertainment includes performances by Pacifico, Bedlamville Triflers, The Chambers, Corey Ledet & the Zydeco Band, AirSeekers, Two Bear Moon, Gulf Coast Theatre on Tap, Dance Collective BR, Cangelosi Dance Project, Valkyrie Belly Dance. BR Music Studios/Pineapple Democracy, Poetry Slam, and the Brian Breen Trio.
“The idea of Art Melt has always been to give the community an opportunity to interact with the cultural performers of Louisiana and also to give those artists an opportunity to have their work seen by the public,” said Mathis. “It’s really all about access for us.”
As in Art Melts past, the public event will be preceded by the Art Melt Preview Party on Friday, July 24 from 7-11 p.m. in the museum. At the preview party, guests will be able to mingle with the featured artists, purchase artwork and get a first look at the exhibited works prior to the Art Melt public opening. The Preview Party includes an awards ceremony that recognizes the 2015 Art Melt winners and honors the 2015 Forum 35 Art Melt Louisiana Art Legend. Cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres will be served. Tickets are still available at $75 each and cocktail attire is required.
“It’s all about being a patron of the arts,” said Mathis. “The whole event is really all about celebrating the really special culture of Louisiana.”
For more information, visit artmelt.org.