Zhen Returns To Lake Charles

Brad Goins Friday, April 19, 2019 Comments Off on Zhen Returns To Lake Charles
Zhen Returns To Lake Charles

The group of local artists known as Nancy Melton and Friends are planning a watercolor workshop that will be led by Lian Quan Zhen, who’ll be teaching in Lake Charles April 9 to 12.

Crab Swimming by Lian Quan Zhen


The workshop will be followed by a reception that’s open to the public. It all happens at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, April 12, 7 to 9 pm. 

Quan’s work is often thought to resonate with the Southwest Louisiana public, as he most often depicts such subjects as bayous, waterfowl, fish and fishing boats. 

Zhen’s paintings will be for sale at the reception. (If you get a signature from Zhen, he creates an original painting in the front of the book.) Art works by Nancy Melton and Friends will also be on sale.

A portion of proceeds will benefit such missions of St. Andrew Presbyterian as Heifer International, Abraham’s Tent and Potter’s House.

Zhen began painting at the age of 5 in Canton Province in China. After serving for some time as a family physician in the province, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1985. He went on to obtain a master’s in architecture from MIT. 

He has published six books of his art. Nancy Melton and friends invite him to Lake Charles to teach every couple of years or so.

If you’d like to attend Zhen’s workshop, send an email to artistnancymelton@gmail.com.

What Is The AITP?

A tremendous amount of media attention has been paid to the opening of the Panorama Music House. And that’s as it should be. The place is at once a new restaurant, bar, musical venue and cultural center. It preserves the historic architecture of the building (once home to the American Press and Rikenjaks), and will house a display of the Southwest Louisiana Music Museum.

If you were monitoring the Panorama’s activities during its first days of business, you might have noticed that members of the Southwest Louisiana Music School performed a solid six hours of music on the afternoon of March 23, with the AITP ensemble performing for three of those hours. After the show, school leader Marcus Johnson sent me a note:

“Hey Brad, Thanks so much for putting us in the events list. The Lake Charles Youth Band Nation is made up of several bands of students from around the Lake Area. The AITP (Advanced Industry Training Program) are also students from our music school, but the students must audition to be in this particular group. They are a little more advanced and get a few more performance opportunities throughout the semester. These students had a chance in 2016 to perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and play a mix of rock and roll, R&B and new music.”

Here’s a list of future performances of the Southwest Louisiana Music School:

— April 13: Hamilton Christian Academy 5K Family Fun Day, 10 am to 3 pm. All of the school’s bands will play.

— April 26, ArtWalk in downtown Lake Charles in front of the school’s studio at 313 Broad St. Times to be announced.

— April 28, Our Lady’s School Spring Carnival in Sulphur noon to 2 pm. All bands will perform.

— A performance of AITP at Downtown at Sundown is anticipated for either May 17 or 25.

—May 18, Spring Jam at Mellow Mushroom, 4 to 7 pm. All bands will perform.

Want to know more? Call 513-7905.

‘I Be Back’

My gentle giant; my kind, affectionate friend; my devoted mastiff Barnabas died on March 13. He was only 12 years old.

Barnabas enjoying some of Gabriela Guillen’s ice cream in Rayne.


He’d been having trouble walking recently. He’d gone to his favorite place, in the far part of the yard. There, he took a couple of final steps and fell into my wife Nydia’s lap. He spent his last moments being comforted by Nydia and our pet Siamese Chi Chi

Barnabas was a dog about town. He was known for providing free candy to children and Lagniappe Dining Guides to adults from his backpack while he made the rounds at Mardi Gras. In another costume, he represented rescued animals at Woofstock. 

His best known costume was the one he wore when he portrayed the Lagniappe Newshound. It came complete with glasses, a colorful necktie and a Stetson with a press pass in the hatband.


He loved all adults, children and cats. He even grew — after several years — to love mailmen. He was a friend to all he met. 

He was extremely gentle with the elderly; he loved visiting his Grandma, and always stopped to let residents and staff pet him at Villa Maria.

His favorite toy was a teddy bear. He loved to lie down; clamp his teeth into the bear; and stare into infinity.

Every morning when I left for work, Barnabas looked terribly sad. Each day, in an effort to comfort him, I said, “I be back.” I don’t know whether it ever made a difference to him.

Well, I be back, Barnabas. You keep waiting for me, OK?

Loyal family member, ambassador, friend. RIP Barnabas, our gentle giant.

Metoyer On Big Stage

The name of Rusty Metoyer is well known to lovers of Zydeco and the readers of Lagniappe. Rusty will be part of that long list of performers at the French Quarter Festival this year. Watch Rusty Metoyer and Zydeco Krush perform Saturday, April 13, 3:45 pm on the Chevron Stage.

‘Inside Criminal Minds’

If you’ve been a fan of true crime books for some time, you remember the days when the only place you could find them was in the little True Crime section tucked way in the back of the bookstore. That little section was always there, for the books sold quite well. But you always felt just a little like you were breaking a taboo when you picked up your volume. And you hoped nobody saw you with it at the check-out counter.

All that’s changed with the growth of internet commerce and streaming. Nowadays, used true crime books routinely list for less than $1 a copy on eBay. And YouTube and Hulu offer thousands of free (or almost free) true crime documentaries. 20/20 seems to have become one long, ongoing true crime doc.

Now that the taboo has gone behind closed doors and become private, the Banners series is coming along and making the subject of true crime public and respectable.

Criminal behavior expert William Aprill will deliver the Banners lecture “Unthinkable: Inside Criminal Minds” at the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center April 9, 7 pm. The center is located at 1001 Ryan St. at the intersection of Ryan and Kirby Streets. 

While giving listeners a “tour of the dark side of our society,” Aprill will strive to answer such questions as how are human monsters made? How do violent criminals pick their prey?

Aprill will bring more credibility to the subject than the host of talking heads trotting out truisms on 20/20. For 15 years, he’s been a licensed mental health professional specializing in post-traumatic interventions. He’s a former deputy sheriff of Orleans Parish and a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal of the Eastern District of Louisiana. 

He has taught civilian, law enforcement and military personnel in various fighting skills since 1990. He will, presumably, not only tell the audience what makes the vicious criminal how he is, but also provide some tips about what you might do if you run into him.

This is the ideal chance to indulge your guilty pleasure and feel sophisticated while doing so. Walk proudly into the 1911 Historic City Hall building. If you need more info on the event, call 475-5997.   

Newspaper Wars?

You’d think that with the current condition of the newspaper industry, two newspapers wouldn’t be able to carry on a drunken arm wrestling contest, much less engage in full-scale war.

But sometimes strange things fall into place. Lafayette’s The Current magazine reports that the Acadiana Advocate has hired a number of key personnel from Lafayette’s Daily Advertiser. The Current, which reported the move has been some time in the making, says the Acadiana Advocate is trying to weaken or eliminate the Daily Advertiser to reduce competition. (I don’t have any evidence other than the story to support this theory.)

Heading over to the Acadiana Advocate were the Daily Advertiser’s news director, sports editor, senior reporter Claire Taylor, a staff writer and a sports writer. All five of the Advertiser staffers made the move in a single weekend.

And yes, the Acadiana Advocate is owned by the same folks who own the Advocates in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, as well as the Crescent City’s Gambit magazine. I’d be extremely surprised if a city the size of Lafayette can continue to support two newspapers. I’d be pretty surprised if they can support one.

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