A big Up Front congratulations goes out to Adisyn Estes, a student at Sam Houston High School, who just won third place in the junior division of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts visual art contest for 2021. Estes was one of 13 Louisiana high school students to be awarded in the competition. The art work she entered was titled Silenced by Circumstance.
For this year’s contest, students were encouraged to create songs or visual art about how COVID-19, social distancing and quarantine had effected their lives, as well as the ways in which “disaster and disease” affect history in general.
The late Louisiana artist George Rodrigue first translated his encounters with adversity into art when he was a child confined to his bed by polio. He later created a series of paintings called “Hurricanes” that depicted his experiences of Hurricanes Isadore and Lilli in his hometown of New Iberia. He would go on to produce paintings about Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Since the first art contest in 2010, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts has awarded $530,000 in college scholarships to Louisiana students. Creative high school youths from public, private, charter and home schools are invited to compete each year. Learn more at georgerodriguefoundation.org.
Rains Worse Than Freeze For Sugarcane
Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers were quite worried that the record Mardi Gras freeze would put a big hurt on the state’s crop. But that didn’t happen.
What did hurt were the rains of March and April. At the time, Kenneth Gravois, LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist, said “this is going to be the second or third wettest April on record.”
Wet weather is a problem for sugarcane because it prevents fertilizer applications. Fortunately, said Gravois, the March and April damage was mostly felt in just “a few old stubble fields.” He said, “if we start getting warm and dry for the month of May, we can catch up a lot of that growth.” Of course, he said that before the brutal rains of May 17.
Still, there’s some good news from Gravois: “By far, the conditions (under which) we harvest the previous year’s crop has the biggest effect on the next year’s crop. So we had relatively dry conditions for harvesting the 2020 crop. That bodes well.”
He says nighttime temperatures above 70 degrees and daytime temperatures above 85 will bolster the sugarcane. We may be in that temperature range when this magazine hits the stands.
Gravois expects Louisiana will have a sugarcane crop exceeding 500,000 acres this year.
Ritz Academy Helps Out Kaufman Students
Many of the students of M.J. Kaufman Elementary live below the poverty level. They rely on their school for nutrition, food and drink. Some time ago, the Ritz Academy started taking donations of food in order to help meet these students’ needs. Eventually, Ritz’s donation effort spread to the point that it started to receive donations that were shipped from other states.
In the first month of this program, the Ritz Academy delivered more than 100 gallon bags of food each week. The bags are distributed to students on Fridays so that the contents provide for weekend meals.
Want to help? If you’d like to participate, send non-perishable donations to The Ritz Academy at 5000 Common St., Lake Charles, LA 70607. Those who make monetary donations exceeding $20 will get a t-shirt for the project that was designed by the Ritz Academy.
Record Sales In Lafayette
I don’t know how seriously people take the traditional rivalry between Lake Charles and Lafayette. Those who take it very seriously are certainly well aware that for several years in a row, Lafayette has been hammered by a recession that was said to be well-nigh devastating.
Well, the COVID-19 restrictions are now pretty much lifted, and the Lafayette economy has responded by bouncing back with a vengeance. New statistics show that in March, the city had its greatest revenue ever for a single month. Its $697 million March sales total surpassed the previous monthly record, set in December, 2014, by $28 million.
With the $697 million haul, year-to-date sales were up 18 percent over 2020 figures.
Just as they did everywhere, restaurants and bars in Lafayette suffered terrible drops in revenue during lockdown. But in March, 2021, they experienced a $39 million increase in sales. That was no less than a 73-percent jump over the March 2020 level.
Do these figures mean that Lafayette is back in the game for the near future? I’m guessing that they do. But the economic stats of the next few months will let us know for sure.
Lake Charles’ experimental music ensemble “when the word was (((sound)))” just released their latest recording. Beholder is a 37-minute long piece of music. For the most part, it’s a series of slow melodic drones that have a soothing effect on the listener.
Unlike some really abstract drone music, Beholder doesn’t repeat the same melody or set of melodies over and over with little variation. Brand new melodies are folded into the mix every few seconds.
In the beginning, the music coincides with a long sample of someone providing instructions for meditation. Parts of the speech are obscured; the more colorful words are emphasized.
Five minutes in, a crescendo builds. The fact that this long piece is mainly made up of drones doesn’t mean that the texture of the music never changes; at times, it becomes louder and more dense; at other times, it becomes subdued and almost quiet.
At 18 minutes, another long spoken word sample is introduced, with the words quite a bit harder to understand this time around.
At 25 minutes, an especially melodic riff emerges; it dominates the overall drone to powerful effect. Part of the melody is a tone that sounds, to me, like vocalizing (although it could be entirely synthesized).
At times, Beholder sounded to me like some of the 1970s Berlin electronic bands, such as Tangerine Dream, or the instrumentals on the B sides of David Bowie’s Low and Heroes albums or even the old Nico records.
For 15 years now, “when the word was (((sound)))” has undertaken the lonesome task of creating experimental music in Southwest Louisiana. You can listen to their new work free of charge on Bandcamp.com. If you want to buy the MP3 for $9, the package will include a series of colorful computer-generated abstract artworks.
After the blows of COVID-19 and major weather events, many camps in the Lake Area decided to take a hiatus in the summer of 2021. If you’re looking for an art camp for your son or daughter, the Alexandria Museum of Art’s Art-O-Rama Live Summer Art Camp is proceeding as planned.
Here are the highlights of upcoming sessions:
• July 12-16: projects include sculptures inspired by the work of Alexander Calder, printmaking and “solar graphics.”
• July 19-23: “The Science of Art and Mind — With a Little History.” Campers will explore the ways in which famous artists play and experiment with the elements to create their works of art. The hands-on work will give campers plenty of opportunities to use their thoughts and imagination.
• July 26-30: “The Art of Today: Discovering Contemporary Art.” Artwork produced during the late 20th and early 21st centuries is the focus here. Campers learn about a different contemporary artist each day and make an art project inspired by the artist. Projects will include Tim Burton self-portraits, Takashi Murakami color wheel flowers, Yayoi Kusama pumpkins, Louise Bourgeois spider sculptures and Jean Michel Basquiat paintings.
• July 26-30: “Gallery Groove from Home.” This virtual summer art camp enables young people to participate from their homes. Museum educator Cindy Blair will guide campers as they create original works of art inspired by art from the museum’s exhibitions and vault. Projects will include a balance of sculpture, drawing and painting. All supplies and materials will be mailed or hand-delivered to the address provided during registration.
All the camps are half-day programs, with youths 6 to 9 meeting from 9 am to noon and those 10 to 12 meeting from 1 to 4 pm. The camp fee is $130. Registration deadlines vary, but you still have plenty of time. To proceed, just visit themuseum.org/kids-families.