Art Talk Archives

Art Talk 3/25/2011

April Honaker

For most of us, art and science are subjects so different that we
rarely consider the possibility of connecting them. After all, our
general experience with art and science in school rarely, if ever,
brings the two together. Art and science are taught by different
teachers, in different classrooms, and sometimes even in different

Despite the frequent isolation of art and science, local artist Jay
Gould brings the two together in an exhibition opening tonight,
Friday, March 25, at the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center, 509 W.
Alabama. A reception will be held from 6-8 p.m.

His exhibition titled Interrogations On a Nanoscale is the culmination
of a project he completed with Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM)
at Tech. While working on the project, the Tech photography professor
spent time with researchers in various fields including nanotechnology
and biomedical engineering.

About the experience, Gould said, “What I found was a large number of
people curious about what art could do for their research. We all were
a little unsure, and perhaps still are, but in general I think that
the work I managed with them was interesting and has potential to
become really unique in the future and provide new research avenues
for more than just me.”

Though Gould said science has always been a part of his work, he had
never before been asked to create within a research environment and
described the experience as “exciting and daunting.” He added, “Hoping
that I could make artwork that would reflect their research, but still
remain creative and uniquely my own was a challenge, however, the type
of challenge that I enjoy.”

According to Gould, the exhibition includes a diverse mix of
photographs and assemblages that reflect the research of two groups at
the IfM.

One set of constructions combines photography, film, Plexiglas, and
vinyl; this set relates specifically to the research of Dr. Chad
O’Neil, who works with Micro-electric-mechanical systems (MEMS). The
exhibition also includes two series of photographs, both inspired by
conversations Gould had with Dr. Mark DeCoster, who is currently
principal investigator in the Cellular Neuroscience Lab at Tech.

Gould said, “I tried to keep the work respectful to their ideas, but
create an imaginative way for a public to relate to their research and
ask questions.”

Despite what traditional education suggests about the relationship
between art and science, Gould said, “I have always believed in a
strong connection between art and science. Perhaps this stems from
being a photographer, and my medium being so steeped in science
throughout its history.”

In fact, Gould sees distinct similarities in the two fields and calls
attention to the way both use equipment to investigate feelings and
objects that can’t be seen or understood without assistance.

For example, he said, “A scientist may use a microscope to see the
very, very small, while I use a camera to distill an emotion inside me
that simply doesn’t render otherwise.  We both explore, search, and
attempt to make sense of things, just in a somewhat different manner.”

To learn more about how Gould brings art and science together, visit
his exhibition Interrogations On a Nanoscale which will be on display
at the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center through April 20.

For an opportunity to meet Gould and mingle with other arts
enthusiasts, visit the reception tonight, Friday, March 25, from 6-8
p.m. You can also hear Gould speak at the Enterprise Center on April 6
at 7 p.m. He said, “I will be discussing my work, past and present,
and detailing my opinion of art’s connection with science.  I will
also be discussing my experience with the IfM and what I hope it will
become in the future.”

Art Talk 3/18/2011
April Honaker

Sarah Albritton, born in 1936 as Sarah Mae Drayton, is a lifelong,
African American native of Ruston whose hardships, art, cooking, lay
preaching, and general involvement in the community have made an
impact here. A collection of Albritton’s art is currently on display
at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, and a reception for the
artist will be held this Sunday, March 20, from 3-5 p.m.

Albritton’s memory paintings tell a complex story. While traditional
memory painters often depict a nostalgic or idealistic view of the
past, Albritton often depicts pain and struggle. Many of her paintings
are inspired by personal experience—a life characterized by abuse,
poverty, abandonment, rejection, and the effects of racial
segregation. At the same time, many of her paintings are also
surprisingly optimistic, including stories of redemption and evidence
of her connection to God.

Perhaps more importantly, Albritton’s work reflects and remembers not
only her own history but also tells us something about our history and
records experiences shared by others who’ve lived like or near her.

Albritton began painting in the early 90’s. In fact, her participation
in a 1993 NCLAC fundraiser, Celebrity Paint-Offs, sparked her
creativity and caught the attention of Susan Roach and Peter Jones.
Through her own will-power and the encouragement of Roach and Jones,
Albritton has overcome the weight of her past in multiple realms
including cooking, business, volunteerism, and art among others.

Roach and Jones have been particularly instrumental in helping
Albritton share her art and life stories with a broader spectrum of
people. After the Celebrity Paint-Offs, Albritton began painting
stories from her life that were first written in her unpublished
autobiography. This effort led to her first exhibition in Ruston at
Louisiana Tech in 1996, and then a traveling exhibition and catalog,
On My Way: the Arts of Sarah Albritton.

The 1998 catalog was funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment
for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for
the Humanities, and by support from Louisiana Tech University and
participating museums. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities gave
both Albritton and Roach Special Humanities Awards for their work on
the project, and Albritton received the 2001 Louisiana Governor’s Folk
Artist Award.

Her memory paintings selected for this exhibit from the On My Way
catalog will feature the underlying stories and commentary for the
paintings in the artist’s own words, as recorded by Roach, a
professional folklorist, and edited by Roach and Albritton.  Also
showing will be newer works from 1999-2011, many of which are smaller
but continue with Albritton’s life story. After surgery curtailed her
arm movement, she began to paint in smaller formats.
In the course of her artistic career, Albritton’s work has also been
shown at the Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, La., the Louisiana State
University Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, La., the Louisiana State
Museum, Presbytere, New Orleans, and the African American Museum,
Dallas, Texas, and at the Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans.

Not consciously patterning her work after other artists, Albritton is
familiar with Clementine Hunter and Grandma Moses. Like Hunter,
Albritton paints regional landscapes and folk traditions such as
baptisms, funerals, homecomings, cotton picking, hog killing, fishing,
picnics, and clothes washing.

Unlike Hunter, Albritton includes herself as a protagonist with
hovering angels among the numerous figures in her complicated
landscapes, even in visionary works such as Hell and Pay Day, which
depict judgment day. A devout Baptist, poet, and lay-preacher, she
considers her creative arts to be God-given gifts.

Roach and Jones, the curators of the exhibition, place her as a
self-taught artist. A devout Baptist, she considers her own creativity
to be a God-given gift: “Didn’t nobody teach me this; God gave it to
me; it’s a talent, and you’re supposed to use anything the Lord give
you. If you don’t, he’ll take it.”

Those who attend the reception for Albritton at the Library Events
Center this Sunday from 3-5 p.m. will have an opportunity to meet
Albritton. She will be there with additional paintings (not included
in the exhibit) and posters that will be for sale just for that day.

Art Talk 3/11/11

John Emory, Jr.
The folks at the Dixie are getting ready for two events that always create a lot ofexcitement. For the sixth year running, the Dixie Center for the Arts will host the DixieHorizon Entertainer Search on Saturday, March 19 at 2:00PM, and the Joe WoodsWildwood Express Showcase on Saturday, April 30 at 6:00PM. Tickets are availablenow for both events at the Dixie Box Office or by calling Libby at 255-1450.
CJ Matlock known for her expertise in producing shows and finding new performersis busy collecting applications for the talent search. She invites everyone to comedowntown for the talent search this month to showcase a special talent or cheer on afavorite entertainer. As CJ points out, “All are welcome to participate in the competitionopen to all age groups.” For the last five years there’s been a variety of entertainersgrace the historic Dixie stage, often with surprising results. Of special note, there’s alsoa drawing at the talent search for two Joe Woods Wildwood Express Tickets and a giftcertificate to Ponchatulas.
Peggy Dring of Arcadia, 2010 Dixie Horizon Winner, will entertain during the event andalso return to the Dixie for the Joe Woods Wildwood Express Showcase. Each year thetalent search awards cash prizes to the top three acts and the winning artist is featuredat the Joe Woods tribute show on April 30. CJ wants to encourage new entertainersto “Cause something to happen”! The talent search gives many people a chance toperform for the first time in an extraordinary theatre.
The Joe Woods Wildwood Express Show at the Dixie Theater was a famous Saturdaynight event in Ruston for many years. The show was one of the last seen in the oldDixie Theater and appropriately one of the first in the newly renovated Dixie Center forthe Arts. Joe Woods and his group always had a dream. They dreamed of a place inRuston where families could hear great music. That dream was put on hold after theclose of the historic theatre in downtown Ruston, but today Joe’s dream is certainly areality.
Joe’s wife, Mary Ann Woods and longtime MC, Mildred May along with WildwoodExpress members and friends come together each year to salute Joe in the most fittingtribute possible. Joe and his band gave of their time and talents to raise money formany causes and today the tribute show is a fund raiser for the theatre that was hometo the music of Joe and the Wildwood Express Band.
This years show has that special touch of family and the past as Travis Woods, JayWoods, Jeff Woods, Rita Spillers, Rick Nelson, Joe Burton, Laymon Godwin and DavidBurton return as the Wildwood Express Band. Talented artists singing with the bandinclude Alice Prophit, Bob Durden, Cyndi and Gus Cameron, Sandra Powell, AndyGriffin, Jimmy Standley, Mary Hollis Graham, Libby English, James Goudy, Peggy Dringand Ron Alexander. And don’t forget, the 2011 Dixie Horizon Entertainer will performthe winning number from the talent competition.
Entry forms for the Horizon Entertainer Search are available at the Dixie orcall CJ Matlock at 251-2086 for details and registration. Also available and http://www.dixiecenter. org. Buy your tickets now at the Dixie,$5.00 for talent search and $15.00 reserved seating for the tribute show.

Art Talk 3/4/11

April Honaker

This week, the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC) is spreading awareness of two of our biggest annual fundraisers, our Keep the Arts Afloat Benefit and our silent auction, which takes place annually at the Krewe of Allegro Mardi Gras Ball.

Loyal supporters of NCLAC may remember Keep the Arts Afloat as the Pick Up the Arts Benefit or simply as the NCLAC Truck Raffle. Despite the new name, this fundraiser still has the same spirit.
So what’s so special about Arts Afloat and why should you donate?

By donating just $100 to NCLAC as part of our Keep the Arts Afloat Benefit, you automatically become eligible to win a $10,000 grand prize. Only the first 250 donors will be eligible for the final drawing, and you do not have to be present at the drawing to win. Where can you find better odds of winning $10,000?

Provided all 250 tickets are sold, the grand prize drawing will take place during NCLAC’s annual Peach Art Exhibit awards ceremony in June during the Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival.

Your donation not only makes you eligible to win great prizes; it also helps fund NCLAC’s current programs, including the Summer Arts Camps for kids, Drama Warehouse, the Peach Festival Art Exhibit, and our annual Holiday Arts Tour, which averages an economic impact of more than $70,000 in Lincoln parish.

NCLAC believes the arts have the potential to enhance people’s lives. Through our programs, we strive to foster opportunities for creative and cultural expression across the five parishes we serve: Lincoln, Bienville, Jackson, Union, and Claiborne. Every donation helps us achieve these goals.

Tickets can be purchased this Saturday from a NCLAC representative at the annual Krewe of Allegro Mardi Gras Ball. This celebration, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. on March 5 in the Ruston Civic Center, also supports the Ruston Civic Symphony Society through ticket sales and NCLAC through an additional silent auction.

One of NCLAC’s priority partners, RCSS strives to bring classical music to area schools, an effort of growing importance as many of our area schools face further budget and program cuts this year.

Tickets to the Ball are $60 per person and include dinner by Campatori Catering, musical entertainment by Harmon Drew Orchestra, and 2 complimentary drinks, plus a cash bar.

In addition to these festivities and the silent auction, attendees of this black-tie-optional event can enter a raffle drawing for a chance to win a fleur de lis diamond pendant at $50 per ticket.

NCLAC Executive Director Leigh Anne Chambers said auction items include gift certificates from local businesses such as Lewis Boutique, The Fashion, and Add Life, as well as original art by local artists, restaurant gift certificates, and more. Artists featured in the auction include Josh Chambers, Peter Jones, Kent Follette and Slaughterhead among others. Ten percent of the silent auction proceeds will go to RCSS and the remainder will fund NCLAC projects, a nonprofit organization.

Also, reigning king and queen of the ball, Darryl and Maureen Johnson, will crown new royalty, longtime RCSS patrons Ken and Delores Taylor.

Want to go?

A few tickets are still available. Interested parties should contact Becky Napper at 243-8887 as soon as possible to secure a seat. To learn more about NCLAC and our programs, please visit our website, or if you’d like to make a donation, stop by our office in the Dixie Center for the Arts, or call us at 318-255-1450 for more information.

Art Talk 2/18/2011

John Emory

Join us at the Dixie as we welcome back “The Nashville Sound Revival, featuring Jason Coleman, grandson of Floyd Cramer, and Meagan Taylor, great-niece of Chet Atkins.”

With Meagan on guitar and Jason at the Dixie’s grand piano, the audience will be treated to a combination of classic songs made famous by Floyd and Chet, as well as an eclectic mix of country, folk and gospel melodies highlighted by the duo’s unique vocal and musical harmonies.

Blessed with talent inherited from his maternal grandfather, Jason has played the piano since he was barely able to reach the keys.  Over time his playing style has progressed and matured into an uncanny reflection of the signature style of his grandfather.

At age five, Jason began taking piano lessons.  Though his formal training was important to his musical development and complemented his innate ability to play by ear, Jason always preferred to play the songs he heard on the radio and in movies rather than classical pieces.  “I never liked to practice at the piano – I just wanted to play,” Jason says.  “But when you think of practice as just playing the piano, it’s not so bad.”

Jason and Meagan’s paths only crossed in recent years, but their musical styles were compatible from the very beginning, although it’s really not surprise , considering the

musical relationship shared by their predecessors.  Growing up as the great-niece of

Chet Atkins, Meagan was surrounded by a heritage of music.  Though her great-uncle had helped her with the fiddle as a child, she turned to Chet for guitar in 1999, and he

helped her until he was no longer able to play.  Since his passing, she has been privileged to to continue learning Chet’s distinct finger style from many of his close friends.

Today the two young performers enjoy solo careers as well as performing as a duo.  In recent years Jason has recorded and produced three of his own solo instrumental albums.  In 2006, he released his sophomore album, “Legacy”, a collection of the songs for which his grandfather is best remembered.  Meagan recently recorded a solo guitar album of her own, “Where It All Began”, featuring many of the songs made famous by her great-uncle.  In 2007, Jason and Meagan recorded their debut album as a duo, “Revival”, at Historic RCA Studio B in Nashville, the very same studio where Floyd and Chet spent many of their early years making countless hit records.

While writing this story, I listened to Jason and Meagan’s music as I remembered my childhood and the times I watched the albums of Floyd Cramer and Chet Atkins drop to the turntable of the stereo my family’s home.  The musical tribute that Jason and Meagan share with us today is truly a reflection of our past.

All of us at the Dixie want to encourage you to join us Monday night, February 21 at 7:00 as we welcome Jason and Meagan back to Ruston.   We also want to thank Johnny Maxwell for his generous sponsorship of a truly remarkable concert experience.  Please call the Dixie Center for the Arts at 255-1450 for details and tickets.

Art Talk 2/4/2011
April Honaker

Distinguished local artist Hooshang Khorasani’s work is sought after by art collectors worldwide, and lately the demand for his work has been growing. Currently, Khorasani’s paintings are part of three exhibitions across the country—one at Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana; one at the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas; and another at the Attleboro Arts Museum in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Khorasani’s work has been featured in simultaneous shows more and more over the last few years. “It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s always good to get work and be busy.”

Khorasani’s experience includes a BFA in painting, plus 12 years as a graphic designer and an award-winning illustrator. He has worked not only in America, but also in Spain, since the mid 1980’s, and his paintings complement collections of major corporations, as well as private collectors in Europe and the United States.

His body of work is diverse. Working in acrylic and mixed media, Khorasani paints abstracts, florals, still lifes, female figures, and horses. According to his artist statements, energy is something he strives to capture and convey regardless of the subject matter.

He calls his latest series of abstracts Color Storm, and explained that he is using more color than ever in this series.

Works in the Rockport and Attleboro shows come from this series while a single, 36×36-inch mixed-media painting called “The Road Not Taken #2,” which is from an earlier series, will be featured in the exhibition at Yellowstone. A live auction will take place on March 5 to close this exhibition.

Khorasani said that Arts Auction 43 at Yellowstone would be a big night. Sales of the work will not only benefit the museum, but also the artists through commission. “The Road Not Taken #2” is one of a wide variety of works and artists featured in the exhibition, the theme of which is “On the Wing.” According to a museum release, “Air and sky set the tone for many of the works.”

Museum officials say the auction is a premier showcase of art that draws collectors from across the country and features some of the region’s most prominent artists.
Mary Maxon and Ellen Ornitz served as jurors to the Yellowstone exhibition. Maxon has been curator of exhibits and collections for the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, since 1998. Ornitz is a sculptor and has served as the visual arts director for the Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture in Bozeman, Montana, since 1997.

Hooshang said it was his second year to have his work selected for exhibition and auction at Yellowstone.

While Khorasani is showing alongside a stellar group of professional artists in Yellowstone, he is the featured artist in the Rockport, Texas show named “Color Storm” after his latest series. The show includes 51 of his abstract, floral, and equine works. At the same time, Steve Maness a ceramic artist from Houston will be showing.

“Color Storm” will run Jan. 26 through Feb. 26 with a reception planned from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 5. For those interested in attending the reception in Rockport, Gail Burgan one of Khorasani’s agents will be on site.

Two additional works from the Color Storm series are on display in Attleboro.

Khorasani strives to stay busy painting and promoting his work. “It is fun and business at the same time,” he said.

Those interested in Khorasani’s work are invited to make an appointment to visit his Ruston studio. He can be reached at 318-255-9368, 278-0070, or via email at More information is also available on his blog:

Art Talk
April Honaker
Local photographer Rodney Smith has overcome great adversity along his path to success.

Of his work, Smith said, “I like to take pictures of the way things are,” which seems to be a simple enough statement, but coming from Rodney, it means much more.

Growing up, Smith was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, a visual perception problem identified by Educational Psychologist Helen Irlen in the 1980’s, so things literally look different to him.

While Irlen Syndrome is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed as a learning disorder or dyslexia, in reality this perception problem affects the way a person sees things. Whether the cause originates in the eye or the brain is unknown.

For those diagnosed with Irlen, reading is particularly difficult. Words blur, and patterns appear to shift on the page. These problems worsen as individuals continue to read. Light sensitivity is also an issue.

Despite the challenge presented by Irlen Syndrome, Smith received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from Louisiana Tech University in May 2010. Before graduation, his senior project was on exhibition, along with the work of other BFA candidates, at the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center.

At that time, his work caught the attention of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council’s Executive Director Leigh Anne Chambers. She said, “I feel like I’m part of a dialogue when I look Rodney’s photographs. They speak to me, and I feel the need to respond.”

Chambers response to Smith’s work is consistent with his vision. “I try to let people have a voice without projecting something on to them,” he said.

His work from this project depicts the Southside of Monroe in a very realistic, uncensored way. Residents of this area in Monroe are largely low-income African Americans. One can imagine that Smith stood out as a white, middle class college student with a fancy camera.

Smith developed a curiosity about the area while doing construction as a teenager on 3rd St. with his dad. When the thought of photographing the area came to him in college, he didn’t hesitate.

“Initially, I just walked in and said I wanted to make images and learn about the culture,” he explained. Some residents were certainly skeptical of Smith, some welcomed him, and others allowed him to earn their trust.

Smith admits to being scared at times, and describes a moment early in his work when he was exploring what appeared to be an abandoned house. Alone, he was alarmed the sudden approach of another person he could only hear. When he made his presence know, the other person fled. Smith said that he realized then he would need an ally from the neighborhood with him at all times.

He spent a lot of time in the area and would sometimes spend hours shooting photographs and talking with residents only to come away with a single image that met his standards. He always made an effort to give prints to those he photographed.

Smith continues to be interested in this type of documentary. When approached by Chambers about a collaborative project, he jumped at the chance.

At this time, NCLAC is launching a fundraising campaign to support a project in which Smith will document the important people, places, and landmarks in Lincoln parish. The work resulting from this project will be presented in a public exhibition. Both NCLAC and Smith would also like to expand the project to serve Jackson, Union, Claiborne, and Bienville parishes.

Donations to the Lincoln parish documentation project can be mailed to NCLAC, P.O. Box 911, Ruston, LA 71270.

For a glimpse of at some of Smith’s work, you can visit 102 A Bistro on 102 N. Monroe St. from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. At this time, an opening reception will be held for “Studies in Black & White,” an exhibition featuring artists Bethany Basirico and Rodney Smith. The exhibition is the fourth collaboration between 102 and NCLAC, and the opening will have a wine tasting and delicious appetizers.  The work will remain on exhibition until the end of April and can be viewed during the restaurants normal business hours.

Art Talk 1/7/2011

Mark D. Guinn

The Louisiana Tech University Theatre is proud to announce their upcoming production of “KAB Man” a joint project with the Lincoln Parish Police Jury and the committee to “Keep Lincoln Beautiful”. Directed and co-authored by Mr. Mark D. Guinn (Production Manager and Professor in the School of Performing Arts) and the Advanced Acting class, “KAB Man” is a video game themed play action-packed with “trashy” villains and clean-cut heroes who promote the benefits of recycling, cleaning, and maintaining the earth.  Below is a word about the production from Mark D. Guinn.

“Like Fat Tuesday at midnight on Bourbon Street, litter and pollution

form the foundation of the environment. It’s a dark time in
Louisiana. Big Pollution (head villain) is on the rise and with the League of Trash (his gang); he is determined to trash Louisiana. Plastik, Styro, Cig-Man, Alumini-
Anne, and Wrapper Man are trashing the cities of Louisiana. In the
wake of the League of Trash city streets are draped in plastic bags,
cigarette butts line the boulevards, non-recycled aluminum resources
lay unrealized and fast food wrappers fill the green void. Styrofoam
cups carelessly drift the languid waterways. The good citizens of the
state are struggling with pollution from the Gulf Coast to the Piney
Hills. The peril of pollution is upon us! Help!

Who can we turn to aid us in our effort for a greener state?

KAB Man!



Keep America Beautiful Man, Keep Louisiana Beautiful Belle, and Keep
Lincoln Parish Beautiful are here! These heroes have united and vowed
to clean up Louisiana. Following the efforts of Iron Eye Cody they are
putting litter in its’ place!

Come join the Department of Theatre and celebrate the adventures of K-
Linc, KeelaBelle, and KAB Man as they fight for a clean, green
Louisiana. A rollicking modern melodrama for all ages this bold and
saucy show is sure to delight. A true product of our community this
show, originally conceived by Mark Guinn and developed by the students
of the Department of Theatre and the Stage Combat Advanced Acting
Class, is brought to you by Louisiana Tech Department of Theatre, the
generosity of Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s Keep Lincoln Parish Green
Committee and Keep America Beautiful.

The show is also part of Tech Theatre Players Food Fight! series. The
Food Fight! shows are a national competition to raise food donations
that are turned over to local food banks. This year Tech Theatre
Players are looking keep the coveted Food Fight Belt, an award given
to the organization that generates the most donations and fill the
local food bank. Come see the show and bring along a couple of cans of
food to help the local food banks.

Remember… Keep Louisiana Beautiful!”

KAB Man performances are scheduled to run January 12 – 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm in Howard Auditorium with an additional 2:00 matinee on Saturday, located in the Howard Center for the Performing Arts. The Box Office, located in the lobby of Howard Auditorium, will open for general admission for this event beginning January 4. The Box Office hours are Monday – Friday, 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm, and their number is 318-257-3942. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for students (with a valid student I.D.), $6 for children 14 and under, $5 for seniors, $4 for groups of 12 or more, and $5 for continuing education.

Art Talk 12/31/10

By John Emory, Jr.

The Dixie begins 2011 with an exciting act that’s sure to warm your heart during the overcast and cold days of January.  The talented musicians of Nash Street from Starkville, Mississippi call Nashville, Tennessee home today as they continue their musical journey with a sound uniquely their own. The influences of Chris Thile, The Eagles, Little Big Town, and Allison Krauss and Union Station have had a great impact on the group known for its soulful melodies. The blending of blues, folk, pop, bluegrass and country has produced a sound known as “grassroots country”.

Nash Street got its big break in 2008 upon winning the Twenty-sixth annual Colgate Country Showdown in Nashville. The competition brings regional finalists together for a final show on the stage of the famous Ryman Auditorium. Many of today’s artists including Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert have competed in the longest running country music talent search. Upon being named “Best New Act in Country Music” the band was awarded a cash price of $100,000.

The band includes Daniel Hare on upright base, sisters Hannah and Caroline Melby on fiddle and mandolin respectively, Ben Mathis on rhythm guitar, and Clay Lezon lead guitar. Often asked how the band got its name, there’s a very logical answer. Nash Street is the name of the street that the Melby family calls home. During the early days the family home was always filled with music as it became the band’s rehearsal hall.

Join us at the Dixie in downtown Ruston, on Saturday, January 8 at 7:00PM as we welcome back to Ruston a band that we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future. Songs from the new album, “Between Hope & Heartache” will be featured during the concert that will also include traditional favorites.

Nash Street first appeared at the Dixie Center for the Arts in November 2008 when they performed a benefit concert for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central Louisiana. On a special note, Daniel Hare actually has Lincoln Parish roots. As a descendent of the Edwards and Whitman families he holds a special place in the hearts of local families.

The show sponsored by Sallie and John Emory is one of those that you don’t want to miss. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you at the Dixie on January 8 for a real good time. All seats are reserved with admission by season ticket or $20.00. Give Libby English a call at 255-1450 for tickets or stop by the box office Wednesday through Friday from 10:00AM to 1:00PM. Libby may be rehearsing for an upcoming event, so please leave a message if she doesn’t answer.

Art Talk 12/17/2010

April Honaker

The School of Art at Louisiana Tech University is committed to providing a well-rounded education for its students while also providing the campus and local community with opportunities to experience fine art.

The current exhibition on display in the School of Art’s Main Gallery accomplishes these goals. In fact, Jes Schrom, who is the School of Art’s Gallery Coordinator, believes all exhibitions help give students a fuller view of their field. She said, “Every show benefits our students by showing them the work of professionals in the field who make a living doing what they do.”

The current exhibition is a selection of works published in a book by Focal Press entitled, The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images.

The following photographers from the book are included in the exhibition:

Angela Faris Belt

Angie Buckley

Alida Fish

Carol Golemboski

Cynthia Greig

Mark L. Eshbaugh

Thomas Kellner

Each of these photographers is well-respected and accomplished in the field. As of February 2009, more than three dozen schools have officially adopted the book in which they appear. In addition, more than 4,000 copies have been sold, and 450 review copies distributed.

The book is a response to the failure of many photography programs to provide students with comprehensive training in both the technical and creative aspects of photography. Angela Faris Belt, who is both a photographer and the author of the book, feels that too many photography programs are turning out new graduates who are either prepared to become professional, commercial photographers; or fine art photographers, who may also teach, but not both.

Belt feels students need to receive both components in their education to truly excel as photographers, regardless of the career path they choose.

Schrom agrees with Belt that “learning the technical aspects as well as the creative aspects is important in any area of study.” She pointed out how more and more jobs in the U.S. require people to be creative and innovative. While other jobs are being shipped over seas, jobs requiring people to think outside the box are growing.

For this reason, Schrom maintains that students in any field can benefit from exposure to art. She said, “We hope the exhibition and the book will start conversations about the need for this [creative component] in all areas of education, and we want the community to be able to appreciate creative endeavors.”

In a way, Schrom feels the current exhibition and the book from which it is taken both counter the common misconception that artmajors have limited options and that they will all ultimately end up working minimum wage jobs. Schrom strongly believes this is not the case.

While most of the photographers included in the book are professors of photography in addition to practicing their craft, some also have other skills and professions. For example, Mark L. Eshbaugh, who doesn’t teach, is a writer and musician as well. There are more opportunities for practicing photographers than we realize—sports photography, catalog photography, and corporate photography, for example.

Schrom said, “It is our responsibility to share these options with students and the community.”

The exhibition provides an interesting and informative view of contemporary photographic practices, and it represents an exciting range of these practices.

To view the exhibition, visit the Louisiana Tech University School of Art’s Main Gallery, which is located in the Visual Arts Center between Tech Drive and Mayfield Street, next to the Natatorium, and across from A.E. Phillips School. The galleries are open weekdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and admission is free. For more information please call the School of Art at 318-257-3909

Art Talk 12/10/2010

By John Emory, Jr.

The Russ-Town Band made up of over fifty local musicians will present its annual concert in support of Toys for Tots and Christian Community Action in Lincoln Parish.  The band, conducted by Lawrence Gibbs of the La. Tech faculty, brings to the stage of the Dixie Center for the Arts the warmth and sounds of Christmas. The all volunteer band that features our neighbors, friends and family members is a true testament to their love of music and our community.

Members of the band are community leaders committed to making the arts in Ruston a top priority. From working on the Dixie renovation to offering advice in the redesign of Ruston’s Railroad Park, Gibbs and other musicians have given much to the community. As Lynne Gnemi, president of the Dixie organization puts it, “The high standards of the band have been a catalyst for change in our community.”

We invite everyone to spend just a little time with us at the Dixie on Friday, December 17, beginning at 7:00pm. You’ll find yourself reflecting on the joys of Christmas as we enjoy the music of those who so willingly share their talents with us.

Admission to Russ-Town Family Christmas is free with donations of canned food items and toys collected for distribution in our community. David Hedgepeth Interiors is once again pleased to sponsor the event that has become a Christmas tradition at the Dixie.
Your contribution to Toys for Tots and Christian Community Action will make Christmas brighter for someone right here at home.

All of us here at the Dixie wish you a very Merry Christmas and offer a sincere thank you for your support of the Dixie Center for the Arts and our entire community.

Art Talk 12/3/2010

April Honaker

Stitchville. The word itself calls up the imagination. My first thoughts, especially this time of year, are of Whoville, that happy imaginary city in Dr. Seuss’s story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but other fictional “villes” follow closely behind—The Incredibles’ Metroville and Superman’s Smallville for example.

For me the word certainly suggests some place intriguing and fantasy-like—a place I’d like to visit.

If you are not already familiar with Stitchville, your mind is surely spinning now.

Stitchville is actually a quaint little shop filled with specialty yarns, colorful fabrics, sewing and knitting supplies, and lots of cheer.

In keeping with the playfulness of its name, Stitchville is, according to owner Allie Bennett, also a place to escape the business and stress of our daily lives—a kind of haven.

She envisions Stitchville as “a place for creative expression.” At the same time, she realizes that it would be difficult to harbor all the creative art forms under one small and cozy roof. Thus, Stitchville contains the creative tools needed to learn and experiment in her own areas of knowledge and interest.

Allie says she really started sewing and making costumes as a theatre major at Louisiana Tech. She also worked at Fabulous Fabrics here in Ruston as a student. During that time, she dreamed of one day opening a shop like Stitchville.

Allie honed her skills making costumes for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival for three summers and moved a few times after graduating, but life eventually brought her and her husband Richard back to Ruston, where Allie said she knew is was time to open her shop.

She said, “Richard and I feel like Ruston is in the beginning stages of exploding both artistically and commercially.” They want Stitchville to be a part of that explosion. “There seems to be a movement of people getting back to the things they enjoy,” Allie said.

According to Allie, people also seem to be searching for new interests and hobbies. Stitchville can fill that need. “It is a place for people to learn a new skill and be proud of themselves for it,” she explained.

Allie then begins to tell me about a little girl who took one of the hand knitting classes recently and got so in to it. She loved it, and her mom said she wanted to hand knit everything. “The key is making it fun,” Allie said.

Seeing people, especially children, find something they enjoy makes Allie happy.

She says, “If I could do it all for free, I would.” She loves it that much, and she always tries to give people whatever small bits of advice she can. She even tells about a man who stumbled into her store looking for dyes to darken some burlap for a duck blind. Though she didn’t have any dyes, she suggested coffee, and the man left smiling.

Allie has been offering classes since September, when Stitchville opened. She says that classes have always been a part of the plan.

She offers Machine 101 classes for total beginners on Thursday evenings. “You don’t even have to have a machine,” she said. The classes are about three hours long. They cost $35 plus supplies, and you walk away with a completed grocery tote, a pair of pajama pants, or something similarly simple.

On Fridays, Allie offers Sip ‘n’ Sew, a class in which the participants are welcome to bring a bottle of wine to sip. Allie provides snacks and participants make a wine tote. This class is $40 plus supplies.

Allie also offers $25 lunch time classes for intermediate sewers. She explains that these classes are more focused and vary in terms of the task.

Tuesdays are all about knitting. Every Tuesday, Allie offers 10% off on knitting supplies, has a knitting lunch, which garners an extra 5% off, and invites people to just drop by to sit and knit from 3-5 p.m. Finally, $15 knitting classes run from 5:30-8 p.m.

After experiencing my first knitting classes, I am nearly finished with my first scarf, and I must say it feels good. It was also just nice to relax and chat with other women for a few hours while doing something creative and productive at the same time.

Allie says, “I want it to be something people will continue to do and will take in their own direction,” but most importantly she wants them to have fun. “Our lives are too stressful to do something we are supposed to enjoy and stress out about it,” she adds.

To learn more about Stitchville or the classes, you can stop by 111 E. Mississippi Ave. in Ruston from Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. or you can visit for a full calendar, email, and details. You can also call 318-255-6446.

Art Talk 11/26/2010

By John Emory, Jr.

Begin Your Christmas Holidays at the Dixie

The Lowes celebrate Christmas at the Dixie Center for the Arts on Monday, November 29. This most talented family has been entertaining hundreds of thousands around the world for over 25 years. The Dixie is excited to present their Christmas Spectacular, a combination of every kind of musical and dance talent you can imagine. Get ready for two power-packed hours of high energy entertainment by America’s most talented family.

All seven of the Lowe siblings began studying and performing music of the masters

at very young ages. Soon additional instruments, dance classes, and vocal lessons were added along with more teachers and more practice time. Today, the nine Lowes offer an amazing blend of show-stopping favorites, spectacular dance, 6-part harmony, a stirring patriotic tribute, and more.

Classically trained and multi-talented, the Lowe Family will please the most discriminating theatre patron. After every performance, the same words resonate in the theatre, “How can one family have so much energy and so much talent?”

The Lowes appeared with the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra on their national TV and radio broadcast. They also have been featured as special guests during the Olympics and China’s New Year’s celebration televised internationally.

In addition to China, the Lowe Family has distinguished themselves as consummate performers across the globe, giving select concerts in Europe, Canada and Latin America while continuing to captivate audiences throughout America.

A few tickets are still available for the 7:00 p.m. Monday night performance sponsored by Kilpatrick Funeral Homes. All seats are reserved with admission by season ticket or $20.00. The show is headed for a sell out, so call Libby English today at 255-1450 to reserve your seat for “One unforgettable Show.”

Art Talk 11/5/2010

April Honaker

The North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC) is in the final stages of planning its 13th Annual Holiday Arts Tour: The Year of the Song. The Tour is slated for November 19-21.

This multidisciplinary arts weekend provides visitors with an opportunity to experience a variety of art forms and a chance to meet with artists to learn more about their craft. Select artists, including Hooshang Khorasani, Dianne Springer, and M. Douglas Walton among others, will open their private studios for the weekend, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of how they work.

Each year, the Holiday Arts Tour draws arts enthusiasts not only into our historic downtown, but also into the rural Piney Hills that make our region so unique.  NCLAC’s Executive Director, Leigh Anne Chambers said, “Our hope to is to increase Ruston’s visibility and reputation as a cultural destination. We couldn’t do this without the generous support of our sponsors and the participation of local businesses.”

NCLAC’s Tour sponsors contribute not only to our region’s cultural economy but also to its overall economy. The Tour itself is a partnership between NCLAC, local businesses, and artists to create a single weekend during the holiday season in which visitors can eat and shop while enjoying live entertainment and experiencing north Louisiana’s rich arts and culture.

For these reasons, NCLAC is thrilled to offer the Tour each year. Because the Tour sponsors are such an integral part of making it happen, NCLAC wants to thank them. NCLAC received a $7,500 Decentralized Arts Funding grant this year from the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. The grant allowed us to market the Tour more heavily and to feature more musicians this year.

NCLAC also received a $2,000 grant from Plum Creek Foundation to bring in Kevin Gordon, a Louisiana-born singer-songwriter, now living in Nashville, who will be teaching our first ever Singer-Songwriters’ Workshop during the Tour. Gordon will also be kicking off our Open-Mic Singer-Songwriters’ Concert at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the grants received this year, NCLAC has received generous support from Teresa’s Flooring and Decorating of West Monroe. Leighanna Otwell, Teresa’s daughter, said, “We are pleased to support NCLAC. It benefits us, it benefits the arts council, it benefits the community, and it benefits Caleb.” Caleb Clark is Leighanna’s fiancé and a Tour artist, who will be participating at Donnie Bell Design this year.

Other proud supporters of the Tour include Houck and Riggle LLC, the Ruston-Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Holiday Inn Express. We’d also like to thank those who contributed to the success of Artoberfest, a fundraiser held earlier this fall. Donations from Marsala Beverage Company, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, 3 Docs Brew House, and Jean Gourd, Ph.D. helped raise money for the Tour.

The participation and financial support of local businesses, galleries, museums, and artist studios is also crucial to the success of the Tour. The following sites will be participating and hosting artists this year:

Dixie Center for the Arts

Lincoln Parish Museum

Lincoln Parish Library Events Center

Crescent City Coffeehouse

Art Innovations

Turbo Goat

Gallery 210

Bell Jar

Donnie Bell Design

Martha’s Boutique

Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse

Fine Line Art Supply and Print Lab

All That Jazz

The Fashion


Lewis’s Boutique

Chartreuse Pear


Sundown Tavern

Loretta’s Stitchin’ Post and Gallery

Louisiana Tech University, School of Art

Grambling State University, Art Dept. (at Tech)

Hooshang Khorasani (Studio)

Follette Pottery

Garden Delights

Dianne Springer (Studio)

M. Douglas Walton (Studio)

NCLAC cannot thank these sites enough, and we are pleased to see that they are happy to help. Kelly Hogan, owner and manger of The Fashion, said, “We love interacting with the arts community—the Tour is a great way to kick off our holiday season.” We hope the community will agree and join us in celebrating Holiday Arts Tour 2010: The Year of the Song.

Tour hours will be 3-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 pm. Sunday. Our Tour brochures will contain complete details, including any exceptions to the above times. They will be available at all participating sites during the Tour weekend. Details are also available online at

Art Talk 10/29/2010

April Honaker

Though Ruston lacks the number of privately owned galleries and art museums found in urban areas, this bustling college town offers more than meets the eye, especially for art enthusiasts. To those friends of mine who say, “There’s nothing to do in Ruston,” I say, “You haven’t dug deep enough.”

Right now through November 18, Louisiana Tech University’s School of Art (SOA) Galleries are featuring two renowned exhibitions: AIGA 365 and AIGA 50 books/ 50 covers. These exhibitions are the result of two international design competitions sponsored annually by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

AIGA, which is the professional association for design, stimulates thinking about design, demonstrates the value of design and empowers the success of designers at each stage of their careers. AIGA’s mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design.

According to a press release from the SOA, “AIGA’s suite of competitions is widely recognized as the most discerning statement on design excellence today, extending a legacy that began more than 90 years ago.” To have the resulting exhibitions here in Ruston is a privilege.

Jes Schrom, the SOA gallery director, explained that a selection committee meets quarterly to plan the exhibition schedule. New to the director position this year, Schrom expressed thanks to former gallery director Mary Louise Carter and former faculty member Adrienne Hooker for helping to secure the exhibition. She said, “Our goal in choosing this exhibition was to expose students and the community to the high level of design that is happening worldwide.”

The SOA typically pays individual artists a small stipend to exhibit in the galleries, but the prestige of the AIGA exhibitions warranted a rental fee. However, Schrom said, “We consider all exhibitions held in the gallery to be an investment in our students’ education.” She explained, “One of the most important things to do as an art student is to view work in person, to get a glimpse of the world in which you plan to participate.”

Plus, in this case, AIGA agreed to have their President Wes MCWhorter lecture for free, so at the opening on October 26, students got to listen to one of the most prominent speakers in the field of design. In addition, a number of professors will be incorporating assignments related to the AIGA exhibitions in their classrooms.

Schrom said, “My goal as director is to give our students and the community a place to enjoy innovative, high caliber art work from around the country, to engage individuals in critical thinking, and to bring people together to share in the excitement of art.”

These exhibitions, which in Schrom’s opinion constitute “the best of the best,” give students and the community an opportunity to experience the level of artwork found in all fine galleries and art museums. The advantages of viewing the exhibitions are immense for both students and professional designers.

As Schrom said, “Art has proven to be integral in creating strong communities, neighborhoods, and individuals.” Inviting the public to visit the AIGA exhibitions, Schrom added, “We hope that art enriches and engages everyone who visits our galleries.”

The AIGA exhibitions 365 and 50 books/ 50 covers will be on display in the SOA galleries through Nov. 18. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the SOA at 318-257-3909.

Art Talk 10/15/2010

April Honaker

For students enrolled in the School of Art at Louisiana Tech University, learning extends beyond the classroom. Professors do more than just help students develop their talent and creativity. Photography professors Frank Hamrick, Jes Schrom, and Jay Gould recently accompanied a group of five students to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. From Oct. 7-9, the group experienced the annual, regional conference of the Society for Photographic Education (SPE).

The mission of SPE, a nonprofit membership organization, is to provide a forum for the discussion of photography and related media as a means of creative expression and cultural insight. SPE also seeks to promote a broader understanding of the medium in all its forms, and to foster the development of its practice, teaching, scholarship and criticism.

As members of the south central region of SPE, Tech’s professors regularly show their commitment to SPE’s mission by getting involved. Schrom is currently the regional secretary, Gould manages the regional website, and Hamrick served as a guest lecturer at the regional conference. In addition, all three regularly review professional and student portfolios for the national conference each year.

In addition, the conference featured six photography exhibitions, and Tech was represented twice. One of Hamrick’s handmade books and one of graduate student Dan Snow’s photographs were chosen for display.

However, the conference not only provides Tech faculty and students with a chance to build their résumés. “Attending the conference is [also] important for our students. I believe they come back with a sense of identity and belonging to something,” Hamrick said.

While at the conference, undergraduate students Ashley Matthews and Martin Meyers, as well as graduate students Ashley Feagin, Caleb Clark, and Dan Snow, all soaked up the knowledge of guest speakers and witnessed renowned photography exhibitions, which included The Bikeriders, a collection by Danny Lyon, and Black on White America, a collection by Leonard Freed.

Graduate student Ashley Feagin said the conference serves artists in two ways “networking and artistic stimulation.” Feagin has attended three regional conferences and feels, “[Attending SPESC] is not only artistically beneficial but also begins building potential connects for
future employment after grad school.”

Also, Feagin and the other students were able to have their work critiqued by a new set of artists. For her this experience was particularly helpful. She said, “I gained some new insight into the work, along with some beneficial criticism.” According to Feagin, the many conference lectures are also beneficial to those conducting artistic research.

Overall, the conference gives students opportunities not found in the classroom. As Hamrick said, “The conference provides an environment full of possibilities.”

Art Talk 10/1/2010

April Honaker

Piney Hills Music, located at the corner of Trenton and Alabama in downtown Ruston, is hosting its 3rd Annual Rocktober Weekend next Friday and Saturday, October 8-9.

Not only will the weekend offer an exciting musical lineup; it will also support the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana.

From 6-9 p.m. on Friday, George Lynch will be playing at 3 Docs Brew House located at 2250 W. Alabama in Ruston. Lynch is best known for his role as lead guitarist for the 80’s metal band Dokken, as well as for his own bands Lynch Mob and Souls of We.

Friday night admission to 3 Docs, which can be paid at the door, is $5 and 5 cans of food or $10.  Those who opt to pay with $5 and 5 cans of food can register to win a guitar autographed by Lynch.

On Saturday, festivities will continue starting at 10 a.m.

From 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Piney Hills Music will restring your electric, acoustic, or bass guitar in exchange for five cans of food. Last year, the business restrung over 100 guitars, and people came from as far away as Georgia to be a part of the food drive.

From 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, local bands Dugdemona, Dorian’s Fall, and Nottaway will play live in Railroad Park. Those who donate 10 cans of food before the final performance can register to win a Jackson Randy Rhoads model guitar, which retails for $1870. There is no tickets-per-person limit.

According to Nicholas Goff of Piney Hills Music, “Rocktober Weekend is the kind of thing Ruston’s music scene needs.” He added, “Events like these show downtown businesses are a legitimate part of our community.”

Events like Rocktober Weekend do more than provide live local entertainment. They also draw people out of their homes and into the community, and they create opportunities for people to give back.

For Goff, the motivation to support the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana came when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005. His passion for the cause only intensified when Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast in 2008.

Goff got involved in helping the refugees of these hurricanes, and he watched as organizations like the Red Cross and the Foodbank struggled to support the victims.

He said, “I just saw a need and wanted to step in. Sometimes you just have to have a ‘We’ll do it attitude!’”

According to Goff, last year’s Rocktober Weekend garnered 2,778 cans of food, making Piney Hills Music one of the larger private donors to the Foodbank last year. This year, he hopes to reach 3,000 cans. Those interested in aiding the food drive can also donate using Wal-Mart gift cards, which will then be used to purchase canned food.

When you donate food during Rocktober Weekend, you’ll not only feel good about contributing to a good cause, you may also qualify for a 20% off, in-store discount at Piney Hills Music. Interested donors are encouraged to see store for details.

Despite the guitar give-aways and the other potential benefits to donors, which are certainly awesome, Rocktober Weekend is really about celebrating local music and supporting the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana. We hope you’ll rock out with us!

Art Talk 9/24/2010

April Honaker

Join the North Central Louisiana Arts Council in celebrating our first ever ARToberfest beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 1 at the Ruston Historic Firehouse. Tickets are $35 per person for NCLAC members and $45 for nonmembers.

All proceeds from this premier fundraising event will support NCLAC’s fall programs, particularly our 13th Annual Holiday Arts Tour, which will take place November 19-21 and will include a workshop and open-mic concert for singer-songwriters.

Based on Americans for the Arts figures, NCLAC’s Holiday Arts Tours have an average total economic impact in Lincoln parish of over $70,000 each year, which means your $35-45 ticket will help us grow the tour and drive more money back into our local economy

“With community support, NCLAC can better market Lincoln parish as a destination for arts and culture, which will ultimately put more money back in everyone’s pockets,” said NCLAC Executive Director Leigh Anne Chambers.

Supporting NCLAC is not only a smart investment. In this case, it’s also going to be fun.

“Like the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, our event will feature good music, good food, good beer, and good fun,” said Chambers. “2010 seemed the perfect time to put this plan into action since Oktoberfest began in 1810.”

ARToberfest activities will include beer-tasting, a German Food Cook-off, a “Best of the Region” appetizer contest, a German cakewalk, and live music.

Our volunteer planning committee, which includes Meg Waters, Megan Davenport, Rebecca Taylor, Lauren Coleman, Allie Bennett, and Hannah Bustamante, is doing an excellent job!

Major beer contributors include Marsala Beverage of Monroe, Lazy Magnolia Brewery of Mississippi, and 3Docs Brew House of Ruston. If you are interested in making a beer donation, three cases per brew will provide tasting for everyone. Your name and/or company logo will appear in the program along with a brief description of the brew.

Sundown Tavern, 102 a bistro, and others will participate in the appetizer contest. Cakewalk bakers will bring, among other German treats, a marble cake, a black forest cake, and a donauwellen wave cake. Cook-off and contest winners will be determined by popular vote.

Live music that night will include local favorites: singer-songwriter Sara Sullivan, Cain Budds and the Heady Brew, and Hair Nation, an 80’s tribute band consisting of John Shadowinds, Kevin Poland, Paul Shadowens, and Nate Keesler. NCLAC thanks these musicians for donating their talent!

For more information about attending, participating, or donating, call (318) 255-1450, write to, or visit the NCLAC offices in the Dixie Center for the Arts, 212 N. Vienna, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Only 120 tickets will be sold. Firehouse contract stipulations specify that tickets cannot be sold at the door, so if there are remaining tickets the night of the event, they will be sold at the Dixie.

Albanie Falletta Brings Hot Jazz to the Dixie

By John Emory, Jr. Event Chairman for the Dixie Center for the Arts

The words of T. Alan Armstrong truly describe the talent of guitarist/vocalist Albanie Falletta: “Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you, and you will find great things happen for you, to you and because of you.”  One may ask where passion begins in a person.

Albanie’s passion began with her grandmother Kay Thiels, a resident of Ruston who led her six children to the arts. “While it may not always be easy to get children dressed and out the door to a play or concert, the rewards are always there,” she said.

Kay and her husband Pete’s passion for the arts inspired the same passion in their seven grandchildren. Through the encouragement of her grandparents, Albanie developed a love of music. The audience will witness that love as she performs at the Dixie Center for the Arts in Ruston on Saturday, October 2.

For Albanie, life began in Monroe, Louisiana, but her family would soon find its way to Texas where her life would really begin. In San Marcos, Texas the nine year old picked up a guitar for the first time. Her creativity is rooted in west Texas, and her music today reflects the influence of her mentors and the state that she calls home.

Albanie will immediately tell anyone that her family has always supported her musical pursuits. “My parents have especially encouraged my creativity,” she said.

As a freshman in high school she began her study of Jazz, and at the age of sixteen, began playing professionally in the Texas Hill Country. In the city of Austin, she found success and calls the eclectic city her home today.

Another city that influences her music is New Orleans, where she will perform upon leaving Ruston. She has played in all kinds of places and performs regularly in Austin.  One of her most notable performances occurred during the 20th anniversary of the River Walk Jazz celebration in San Antonio. During the live radio broadcast, she had the pleasure of playing with Jim Cullum.

Albanie’s music is a tribute to many Jazz greats: “My music reflects my mentors and too many artists to list, but most significantly Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday, Lester Young and Duke Ellington.”

Our concert series at the Dixie, “Music from the Heart,” lives up to its name as we present Albanie & Her Fellas.  The guitar mastery and the soulful lyrics of the young artist from Texas are truly from a heart filled with passion.

We invite everyone to join us at the Dixie Center for the Arts as we welcome home Albanie Falletta on Saturday, October 2. Admission for the 7:00pm concert is by season ticket ($100 for six shows) or individual ticket ($20 per person). To inquire, contact Libby English in the Dixie’s box office at 318-255-1450. Albanie & Her Fellas is sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors, Bruce Cowan and Bobby Conville, Jr.

Art Talk

April Honaker 9/17/10

After speaking with Lincoln 21 ACHIEVE coordinator Cathi Cox this week, I thought, “Wow! I wouldn’t hesitate for a second about sending my child to school in Lincoln parish.”

Lincoln parish schools are doing some amazing things to enhance our children’s educations. Programs like Lincoln 21 ACHIEVE, New Tech @ Ruston, and STEM, a science, technology, engineering, and math magnet program, are expanding our children’s horizons in creative and innovative ways.

Lincoln ACHIEVE, which stands for Accelerating Children Higher In Educational Values Everywhere, was the vision of superintendent Danny Bell who wanted to strength the education of students at all grade and ability levels through community partnerships.

Fostering strong, effective partnerships is one of Cathi’s biggest responsibilities. AC/DC, an ACHIEVE partnership program that stands for Art, Create, Discover, Communicate, grew out of a single day in the arts five years ago. On that day, students visited various arts-related sites including the Dixie Center for the Arts, the Lincoln Parish Library, and the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center.

Cathi said, “We just saw how energized and engaged the kids were in that single day, and that’s how we got the idea for a yearlong program that could provide fine art experiences for fifth grade students.” AC/DC became that partnership program with the Enterprise Center, and it is now in its fourth year.

What makes the program so unique and expands its reach is the fact it’s literacy based. According to Cathi, “Everything in AC/DC has a strong literacy-based thread of activities.” Students get to view exhibitions at the Enterprise, meet and work with professional artists, write about their experiences, and create incredible art.

Cathi said, “It’s evolved beyond anything I ever dreamed it would, and I think that’s because we’ve had so many stakeholders at Tech get involved—professors and students from all levels and from different disciplines.”

In addition to broadening students’ horizons and enhancing their communication skills, AC/DC builds character. Because they are not allowed to leave school for projects like these unless they consistently behave appropriately, the project inspires good behavior and encourages them to take school more seriously.

Seeing the positive impact of AC/DC has led Cathi to initiate similar partnerships in other artistic genres. This year, ACHIEVE will begin a partnership with Chris Champion and his Craven Good Theatre Performance Group. Chris is a playwright and performing arts student at Grambling State University with an extensive professional background. His performance group will be working with students on multiple aspects of theatre.

Still other ACHIEVE programs continue to address the arts and life in new and different ways. For example, Frank Kelley Jr., who describes himself as “an artist with humble beginnings,” works with children twice a year, inspiring them with his personal story while encouraging them to embrace their own heritage and creativity.

According to Cathi, “The ACHIEVE fine arts palette is really expanding, and that’s exciting because we’re feeding dreaming, which we know is so important, and because we’re creating another generation of patrons for the arts.”

Because our area has such an incredibly dynamic arts community, it becomes doubly important to foster an appreciation for the arts, and as Cathi said, “You can’t do that without exposing [students] to the arts.”

For that reason, Cathi ensures creative, artistic components are present other Lincoln parish school projects, including New Tech @ Ruston and STEM. She makes sure these programs have the resources they need to be successful.

New Tech is a district initiative and learning model based at Ruston High School that is designed to empower students for success in the 21st century.  While the focus is on learning in all core areas, New Tech is a program thriving with innovation. For example, Cathi said, “In New Tech, all of our kids are taking animation and visual effects, so it is our goal that we will eventually be having a film-making festival. That’s just another arm of 21st century learning and 21st century art.”

Even Lincoln Parish Schools’ STEM magnet, which requires that 6-12 grade students test into the program, has a thread of creativity and innovation. As Cathi explained, “Though it’s not formal art, there is such creativity involved in engineering and building machines.” To Cathi, these complex machines are masterpieces.

The bottom line, as Cathi said, is that art is everywhere in Lincoln Parish Schools, and “We’re digging it.”

Art Talk 8/6/2010

April Honaker

On Saturday, August 14, an exhibition of local and regional artists will open at the Barnwell Garden and Art Center, 601 Clyde Fant Pkwy. in Shreveport. Ten artists from The Art Group, an association of professional artists from Ruston and the surrounding our area, will be exhibiting their most recent pieces.

The exhibition is called simply “Work of The Art Group” and will be on display from August 14 through Sunday, September 26, with a closing reception from 2-4 p.m. Works from the following artists will be on display in the Main Gallery:

Maggie Jones Boudreaux

Kit Gilbert

Kate Sartor Hilburn

Patricia Tait Jones

Camille Jungman

Laura Lewis

Catherine McVea

Annie W. Richardson

Katherine Vellard

Alexis Wreden

Though all of the artists are women, Gilbert explained to me that it just sort of happened that way. According to Hilburn, what really holds the group together is their commitment to be “working” artists.

In the beginning, the group did not intend to exhibit together. As Hilburn said, “We initially got together for critiques and information sharing.” Nevertheless, the group is excited about this opportunity, and the artists seem busier than ever with new personal projects, collaborations, and gallery affiliations.

“As a group, we are very eclectic in terms of styles and mediums, but we all take our art seriously,” Hilburn said, adding, “The show is a compilation of work—several pieces of each artist, expressing their own vision.” Individual artist statements will accompany the exhibition.

While “Work of The Art Group” will be celebrated with a closing reception, those interested in attending the opening can also attend Art Affaire in the Garden, an arts market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month.

According to the Barnwell, Art Affaire will feature live music and “a treasure- trove of handcrafted works in glass, jewelry, fiber arts, mixed media, visual art, photography, sculptures, and more.”

Among other things going on at the Barnwell, works of the Hoover Watercolor Society will be on display in the Corridor Gallery beginning September 3. Regular business hours at the Barnwell are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about “Work of The Art Group” and other Barnwell events, contact them at 318-673-7703 or visit their website:

Art Talk 7/23/2010

April Honaker

Even in the dog days of summer, exciting things are happening at the Dixie Center for the Arts. On July 29-August 1, Ruston Community Theatre will present its last play of the season, The Dixie Swim Club, a heart-warming dramatic comedy written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, and directed by Billy Chandler.

According to critic, Mark-Brian Sonna, it is a “Southern Americana bon-bon of a play” full of “deliciously charming” characters.

The Dixie Swim Club is the story of five southern women whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team. They set aside a long weekend every August at the same beach cottage on North Carolina’s outer banks to recharge their relationships. Amidst the sand and water, they catch up, laugh, and meddle in each other’s lives.

The plot focuses on four of their August weekends spread across 33 years. As their lives unfold and the years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another to get through the challenges that life flings at them. The Dixie Swim Club is a story of strength, love, and friendships that last forever.

Reminiscent of Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Lee Smith’s The Last Girls, the storyline makes a girl want to call up all her girlfriends and schedule long overdue girls’ night out.

The play is presented in memory of Harold and Sarah Zalesch through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Services. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances will start at 7:30 nightly. A Sunday matinee performance will start at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the door one hour before curtains open. Be sure to arrive early to browse the “Southern Summer Selections” exhibition in the Piney Hills Gallery, where all works are created by area artists and are available for purchase through the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC). Look for NCLAC Executive Director Leigh Anne Chambers.

For more information about what’s happening at the Dixie, call us at 318-255-1450 or stop by for a visit Tuesday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Art Talk 6/18/10

April Honaker

The history of the Russ-Town Band is a colorful one that began in 1994. That summer, a group of local friends with a passion for music got together and recognized the need for a professional quality musical ensemble in Ruston. The group included Lawrence Gibbs, who is the Associate Director of Bands at Louisiana Tech, his wife, and Anne and Charlie Gaushell, who were members of the LSU band in the 1950’s.

The friends decided to found the Russ-Town Band, and as Gibbs explained, their timing was perfect: “At that point, there had been a nationwide revival of the community band.”

In addition to filling a need in Ruston, the Band was also formed to satisfy the members’ nostalgia for the days when they played in their respective high school and college bands.

Gibbs said, “We wanted to have a group of musicians that really missed playing, and we felt Ruston needed a performing group to play local concerts that would rally the townspeople.”

As the friends began coordinating the band, they asked the late Oscar Barnes Jr. to serve as conductor. At the time, Barnes was retired from directing the Ruston High School band. During his career, Barnes had also served briefly as Director of Bands at Winnsboro High School and as Associate Director of Bands at LSU before beginning his tenure at Ruston High School in the 1950’s.

Barnes graciously agreed to conduct the Russ-Town Band and did so for nearly ten years until his health forced him to hand the baton to Gibbs, who admits he is still in awe at the success of the band. He explained, “I am constantly amazed by the reception of the town and the surrounding areas and by the number of musicians interested in playing.”

Consisting of around fifty area professional and semi-professional musicians, the band has become a prominent fixture in Ruston’s music scene. The band was formed by invitation only, and the members come from all walks of life and serve on a strictly volunteer basis.

During their first few years, the band typically played concerts at Ruston’s Railroad Park. Since 1996, however, they have been playing concerts at the Dixie Center for Arts. Gibbs said, “The Dixie has kind of become our home, so we’re excited to be playing there again.”

The Band performs their Americana music every year at the Dixie during the Louisiana Peach Festival. This year’s concert will take place Saturday, June 26 at 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Like all community bands, the Russ-Town Band plays for the entertainment and benefit of the community, and they hope to see you at the Dixie next Saturday.

Gibbs said, “We love the acoustics of the theatre. The audience gets a great sound, and there is not a bad seat.” So take a break from the heat and enjoy the “feel-good” music of the Russ-Town Band. We’re looking forward to a great concert.

Art Talk 5/28/10

April C. Honaker

This week, the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC) would like to thank all those who have given to our first annual “Pick Your Picasso” scholarship program. Through the generous donations of the following individuals and businesses, NCLAC has been able to offer scholarships for 20 children to attend one of our six Summer Arts Camps.


John & Yvette Broocks

Cathi Cox

Robert & Billie Dawkins

John F. Emory

John Emory, Jr.

Elizabeth English

Dr. & Mrs. Allen Herbert

Christopher V. Honaker

Laura Hunt

Margaret R. James

Peter R. Jones

Janine & Richard Lewis

Catherine T. McVea

John A. O’Neal

Bobby & Patsy Price

Karl & Shannon Puljak

Noula Rodakis

John & Nancy Wallace

Bill & Christie Weeks

William & Mary Ann Willoughby


Bank of Ruston

KLS Physics Group

Raising Canes

T.L. James & Company, Inc.

In addition to providing a specialized experience different from what children get in their schools, NCLAC strives to make its camps accessible to children of all income levels. With the help of our sponsors, NCLAC can now offer 20 children a chance to become Picassos for a week, and hopefully, a lifetime. NCLAC is coordinating with other non-profits and arts educators in the region to ensure that scholarships are given to children who need them and who have a love and talent for the arts.

Each NCLAC Summer Arts Camp is a five-day interactive arts workshop for children. All camps take place in donated spaces and run Monday through Friday (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.). Enrollment is limited to 51 to ensure individual attention. This year, NCLAC will also be offering a morning yoga option from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

During each camp, professional artists and arts educators teach classes in two-dimensional art (drawing, painting); three-dimensional art (sculpture, pottery, fiber arts); and drama. Each day, children learn about and experience each artistic genre in three, one-hour classroom sessions. Lessons extend beyond hands-on and interactive projects to include information about well-known artists, playwrights, and artistic movements. Students are also provided with daily snacks, and at the end of each week, they show off their work in an informal performance and art show.

NCLAC’s Summer Arts Camps are open to all children who will be starting grades 2-7 in the fall, and we are currently accepting registrations. Those who register before the first day of the selected camp will pay $60, and those who register on the first day will pay $65. Morning yoga will cost an additional $10. Again, each camp is limited to 51 students, so register for one of the following camps now.

  • June 14-18, Ruston I, First Baptist Church, 200 S. Trenton St.
  • June 21-25, Homer, Homer City Hall, 400 E. Main St.
  • July 5-9, Farmerville, Assembly of God, 920 S. Main
  • July 12-16, Ruston II, First Baptist Church, 200 S. Trenton St.
  • July 19-23, Arcadia, First United Methodist, 2122 Myrtle St.
  • July 26-30, Jonesboro, First United Methodist, 402 Fourth St.

Campers can register by calling 318-255-1450 or picking up a form from the Dixie Center for the Arts (212 N. Vienna).

Art Talk 5/7/10

April Honaker and Leigh Anne Chambers

The timeless musical Fiddler on the Roof will be presented tonight and Saturday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Howard Center for the Performing Arts. Even if you?ve seen another production of Fiddler, don?t miss this chance to see a fresh take on an old classic.

According to Theatre Professor Paul Crook, who plays Tevye, ?It?s an opportunity for the community to see the Louisiana Tech School of Performing Arts at its finest. This is truly a collaborative effort and provides an outstanding and exciting product on the stage.?

Headed by Director Dr. Kenneth Robbins, the creative and technical team delivers an atmosphere that truly complements the story. Crook said the team worked to create what he called ?a kind of minimalist design for the show.? I believe their efforts were successful. The subtlety of the set and lighting allows the characters and their stories to shine more brightly.

Other productions of Fiddler such as those of Jerome Robbins and Sammy Dallas Bayes have used much more elaborate designs with dominating Chagall-like elements and three-dimensional huts that spin on and off the stage. Tech?s minimalist take is conceptually different.

In Tech?s Fiddler, panels with simple lines, shapes, and colors are used throughout the play to suggest and anchor the village. Unlike the more literal sets used in other productions, this set lends itself to interpretation and creates tension. For example, the colors of the panels are reminiscent of a sunset, suggesting both the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath and the fading of tradition.

In a way, the minimalism of the set highlights the universal nature of the story. As Robbins said, ?Even though it?s set in 1905, it doesn?t matter; it still reveals human behaviors in a very clear and beautiful way.?

Everyone will respond differently to the play, but the story itself is timeless, allowing each of us to connect to it. For Crook, ?[The play] is a warning about the lack of tolerance and a celebration of perseverance.?

For Robbins, ?It?s more than Tevye?s story. It?s the story of Anatevka the village, a village that is so vital and alive, yet in spite of that, it is being dismantled. It?s being dispersed. The Jewish diaspora is really part of the whole fabric of the play.?

For me, the play is primarily a story about the relationship between fathers and daughters and about the changing traditions surrounding the ritual of marriage. One of the most poignant moments in the play occurs when Tzeitel, played by Anastasia Trammell, begs her father Tevye for permission to marry Motel, a tailor played by Matt Bass.

Another touching father-daughter moment occurs when Hodel, played by Emily Ledford, leaves her father to meet her fianc? Perchik, played by Chase Green, in Siberia. The pain Tevye feels while letting his daughter go is apparent in the delicacy of Crook?s expressions and gestures.
While Fiddler focuses on the sentimental themes, it does have its light-hearted moments.  The audience was roaring with laughter during Sullivan?s standout performance in ?The Dream,? which was highlighted by the outstanding efforts of the ensemble. Dianne Maroney-Grigsby?s choreography played to the strengths of the performers.

On behalf of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council and the community, I would like to applaud the hard work and dedication of the School of Performing Arts in producing an unforgettable Fiddler.  From the administrative team headed by Cherrie Sciro to the backstage running crew, their efforts were a credit to Louisiana Tech University.

Art Talk 4/30/2010

April Honaker

Undergraduate students in the School of Art at Louisiana Tech University are preparing for a special opportunity. On Monday, May 3, an exhibit of their work will open at the Masur Museum. The exhibit will be on display through May 10, and a reception will be held Thursday, May 6, from 6-8 p.m. in conjunction with the Don Cincone closing.

Cincone is a Louisiana artist whose work has been exhibited all over the world. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in art from Southern University and later studied in Paris before returning to the area. His work, which is colorful and suggestive of Picasso, is included in the collections of Walt Disney and Leonard Bernstein among others.

To view both the BFA Student Exhibition and the work of Cincone while mingling with other artists and art enthusiasts, be sure to attend the reception on May 6.

The following students’ work will be included in the Exhibition:

Lindsay Armstrong, mixed media installations

Matthew Blache, wood and steel sculpture

Lyndey Clayborn, printmaking

Meredith McEachern, ceramic sculpture

Danielle Milton, printmaking

Karelle Von Hefley, mixed media sculpture

Corey Westerfield, painting

The students credit professor Joey Slaughter and Masur curator Evelyn Stuart with giving them this opportunity. According to student Matthew Blache, “Getting a museum show is pretty substantial, especially for undergraduates.” Students pursuing Bachelor’s degrees rarely get the chance to exhibit their work in a major regional venue.

In addition to giving the students much appreciated publicity for their work, the museum exhibit is also giving them an educational experience. Though Professor Slaughter helped provide the opportunity, the students have done most of the preparation for the show.

Blache said, “[Slaughter] is like a ringleader in a way. He gives us a plan of attack and delegates who does what, but we’re the ones who are actually carrying everything out. It’s one coordinated effort.”

According to Meredith McEachern, the exhibit has helped them understand the logistics of preparing for a show. She explained, “When we graduate, we’re not going to have a teacher and the rest of our classmates to help us. It’s a lot of work, and [Slaughter] really stresses the importance of all the paperwork that goes behind it—the statements, and bios, and press releases.”

She said Slaughter encourages the students to keep a record of all their preparation, and added, “When we do graduate, we’ll have this knowledge and keep seeking other shows on our own.”

The BFA Student Exhibition will be on display in the Lower River Gallery at the Masur from May 3-10. The museum is located at 1400 South Grand Street in Monroe, and the hours are Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Art Talk 4/32/10

April Honaker

Next Friday, April 30, the Ruston Civic Symphony Society will present the Karkowska Sisters, two of the best in classical music. The duo will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Burkhalter Chapel at Trinity United Methodist Church.

The Karkowska Sisters offer extraordinary programs of virtuosity and laughter that are full of beautiful music, unforgettable stories, and comedy. Anna, a virtuoso violinist, and Kasha, a concert pianist, both graduated from the Julliard School of Music in New York and the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, Poland.

They have performed at Carnegie Hall and many other prestigious venues throughout North and Central America and Europe, winning top awards in international competitions and meeting with standing ovations and rave reviews.

Dick Porter of Mount Vernon, Ohio, a town smaller than Ruston, expressed appreciation to his community?s concert association for bringing in the duo. He said, ?The repartee between the sisters kept the audience laughing, while their duets held us spellbound.? In fact, the sisters? mastery of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” actually left him in tears.

Having the Karkowska Sisters in Ruston gives residents a unique chance to witness a violinist whose playing has been compared to Itzhak Perlman, the great Israeli violinist. However, the sisters? work as a duo is what makes their performances so memorable. Reporter Mark S. Jordan said, ?[T]heir musical partnership [?] is so close the two instruments seem at times controlled by one mind.?

Anna and Kasha are also very interested in furthering the music education of students. They will perform at Ruston High School and Ruston Junior High School on Friday, April 30 in conjunction with the Symphony Society’s goal of taking classical music to our schools.

Concert tickets are available at the door, or you can call John Emory, Jr. at 265-1954. Adults are $15, seniors 65 and over are $10, students with ID?s are $5, and children 12 and under are free. Bring your friends and come enjoy the talents of two remarkable young women. You can also visit for more about them.

Refreshments will be served, and one fortunate guest will receive a $100 gift certificate to 102 A Bistro.

A few weeks ago, the arts community wished Dolores Williams a happy retirement after her 13 years of service. Now she wishes to extend her thanks as well.

Dear NCLAC, Dixie Center for the Arts, and Ruston Community Theatre,

I?d like to thank you all for the nice reception you gave me for my retirement and for the much appreciated gifts and cards. I wish to thank the many people who came by to wish me well. I have enjoyed working with everyone at the Arts Council and all the friends I have made. I will miss all of you. Again, thank you for all you have done for me.



Art Talk 4/16/2010

April Honaker

Last week, the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC) announced an early registration discount for its upcoming 2010 Summer Arts Camps in Lincoln, Union, Claiborne, Bienville, and Union parishes. Children who will be starting grades 2-7 in the fall are eligible to attend, and parents can register by calling NCLAC at 318-255-1450.

In addition to providing a specialized experience different from what children get in their schools, NCLAC strives to make its camps accessible to children of all income levels.

Many of the children in this region do not have regular access to the level of arts education that NCLAC provides, and many are at-risk youth from Title I schools. About 18.20% of families and 26.50% of the population are below the poverty line, including 30.10% of those under age 18. This is 7-11% higher than the state average, and about 14-18% higher than the national average.

Therefore, in conjunction with early registration, NCLAC is also kicking off its first ever “Pick Your Picasso” sponsorship program. Our goal is to provide $1,200 in scholarships to 20 children in need (four per parish).

In Ruston, NCLAC is partnering with another non-profit, the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team (D.A.R.T.) to locate children in need of sponsorship. In the other four parishes, we are asking teachers to recommend children based on financial need, a love of the arts, and a talent for the arts.

With the help of our sponsors, NCLAC can offer these children a chance to become Picassos for a week, and hopefully, a lifetime. A donation of just $60 will sponsor one child in full, and a donation of any amount will help with the cost of supplies, snacks, and professional educators for your Picasso.

Those who sponsor at least one child will be thanked by name the May 28th “Art Talk.” This column will also be sent to newspapers in each parish. In addition, those who sponsor at least two children will be thanked by name on the back of our camp T-shirts.

NCLAC hopes you will consider partnering with us in this effort. If you have any further questions, please call Leigh Anne or April at 318-255-1450, or visit the Community Trust Bank across from Super 1 next week to learn more about “Pick Your Picasso, NCLAC’s programs, and some of the area’s finest artists.

If you would like to pick your Picasso today, please send a check to NCLAC’s Pick You Picasso, P.O. Box 911, Ruston, LA 71273. Thank you for supporting arts and education in north central Louisiana.

Art Talk 3/26/10

April C. Honaker

On Monday, Mar. 29, the Dixie Center for the Arts and the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC) will say farewell to long-time employee and friend Dolores Williams. If you’ve bought tickets for a Dixie show or purchased a piece of artwork from the Piney Hills Gallery, you’ve probably met Ms. Dolores.

The two organizations have shared her services since 2006 when the Dixie celebrated its grand re-opening. At the time, NCLAC moved its offices and gallery into the theatre, but Ms. Dolores had been coordinating NCLAC’s Piney Hills Gallery for nine years before she began selling tickets for the Dixie. She attributes her initial job with NCLAC to the recommendation of local artist Terry Plamondon.

In February of 1997, Ms. Dolores had been sewing some drapes for Mr. Plamondon’s new house when he overheard some of NCLAC’s board members discussing the need for a gallery coordinator. He thought of Ms. Dolores, and she was hired almost immediately.

She stayed with NCLAC and the Piney Hills Gallery through its many moves. Initially, she supervised the gallery on Park Avenue. Then, about a year later, she and NCLAC’s director Mary Anne Lewis moved into the old Dixie Theatre. However, when the Dixie closed for renovations, NCLAC was forced to seek a temporary location in the James Building.

When the Dixie Center for the Arts reopened in January of 2006, Ms. Dolores was happy to begin working for both NCLAC and the Dixie. Her responsibilities drastically increased as she began helping with the Dixie’s box office. NCLAC’s director at the time, Shelby McDuff, also got her started on the computer. She had never used a computer, but once she got started, she never looked back.

For the last four years, Ms. Dolores has assisted NCLAC not only with the gallery but also with membership files, Summer Arts Camps registration, and multiple fundraising activities. She has truly been an amazing asset to the Arts Council.

She’s also enjoyed working for NCLAC and the Dixie and said the experience has been good for her. She explained, “It’s kept me from staying at home. A lot of times after you retire, if you stay at home, you fall to pieces. It’s kept me from doing that, and it’s kept me a lot more active. I’ve also met a lot of people and made a lot of friends.”

This past Sunday, Ms. Dolores turned an incredible eighty years old. When I asked her how it felt to be finally retiring, she said, “It feels good. You know, I’ve tried three times, so I’m counting the days.” Ms. Dolores has been so important to both the Dixie and NCLAC that they’ve found it hard to say goodbye to her, but her break is well-deserved.

She plans to have some fun and spend more time with family during her retirement. Though she wants to continue volunteering for NCLAC, the Dixie, and possibly the hospital, she said, “Me and my sisters are gonna travel. You know we’ve gone to Branson about three times, and now we’ll just take a weekend and go different places just to do something for ourselves.”

About being eighty, Ms. Dolores said, “It doesn’t feel any different than 79. I know I’m old, and my memory is not as good, but I don’t really feel all that old. My daughter and my granddaughters won’t let me be old. They think I’m gonna live forever.” Ms. Dolores will live forever in the hearts of all those who know her, and she will certainly have a permanent place in the history of the arts in Ruston.

If you’d like to join the Dixie and NCLAC in wishing Ms. Dolores a happy retirement, please stop by the Piney Hills Gallery in the foyer of the Dixie on Monday, March 29, between 3 and 6 p.m.


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