By Kim Lyle
Capital city summers can be a bit flavorless, especially with the mass evacuation that happens on the LSU campus. Luckily, a pinch of art and a dash of community can help spice up the long, humid days.
The 14th Annual Summer Invitational Art Exhibition will hold its opening reception on July 11, from 7-9 p.m. The venue is the LSU School of Art Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery in the Shaw Center.
There will be tasty snacks and live fortune telling as part of a performance piece. A monetary prize will be offered to the show’s best piece, thanks to the generosity of artist Libby Johnson. In the judge’s seats will be artists Leslie and Scott Finch.
The inspiration for this year’s theme comes from the Van Morrison song of the same name, Into the Mystic.
“I was thinking of magical realism as a literary genre and how cool it is that magical events will happen in an otherwise everyday setting,” said Malia Krolak, the gallery director of the LSU School of Art. “Then I thought about the song by Van Morrison. Those lyrics were perfect, and so I chose that theme because all the artists are creatively delving into the mystic world of their imaginations.”
The artists participating in the show were all carefully chosen by Krolak and have been asked to create art in all media pertaining to the theme provided. This year the gallery will house the work of over 50 artists including LSU faculty, alumni, and local artists.
“We receive works in every medium you could imagine—glass, paper, paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and photography,” said Krolak. “I try to invite new artists every year and also keep folks that have been with us every show since the first. It’s a mix or old and new faces which keeps it consistently great and fresh as well.”
Last year’s theme was REWORK, which encouraged all artists to reuse and recycle existing materials into new pieces. Walls were lined with posters from the previous year’s exhibition. All of the artists’ works seemed to resonate deeply with viewers, setting the hopes for this year’s show high.
“Based on past turnouts, the gallery is expecting at least 300 attendees at the opening reception with a total estimated number of 1,000 gallery visitors over the span of the exhibition,” said Krolak.
The exhibit has come a long way from its humble beginnings nearly 15 years ago when the idea began as a way to unite artists in the Baton Rouge area.
“The Director of the School of Art at the time, Michael Crespo, and I thought it would be fun to have a big group show in the summertime,” said Krolak. “Many of the students are gone and it’s the perfect time to reach out to our community of artists in and around Baton Rouge.”
As the years go by, the hopes for the project always remained the same.
“The goals of the show are to collect the fantastic art created by talented people in our city in one space and celebrate it,” said Krolak. “The School of Art graduates a lot of gifted artists but there are also community members that aren’t necessarily affiliated with LSU, and their work is terrific. So this is a chance to showcase the variety and excellence of voices in our community. We want to keep going forever.”