by Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein
This is an excerpt – for full article, visit louisianaculturalvistas.org
Editor’s Note: The Louisiana Art & Science Museum in downtown Baton Rouge (100 S. River Road) presents Monuments & Metaphors: Art in Public Spaces through June 28, 2015. The exhibition spotlights some of the most endearing and recognizable public art in Baton Rouge as well as new projects by such initiatives as The Walls Project, the Museum of Public Art, and the Percent for Art Program of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Curator Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein offers this overview highlighting six of the more than 43 works interpreted in the display.
Baton Rouge is growing, and new construction, revitalization efforts and beautification projects are prompting residents and visitors alike to take renewed interest in their surroundings—and in public art. Unbeknown to many, Baton Rouge is home to a host of public works of art. Taking a variety of forms ranging from massive structures and large-scale murals to ephemeral pieces meant to last only a short while, this type of art is located where people live, work and play. Often made in response to a specific site and its use, public art reflects a community’s values while helping to define its cultural identity and sense of place. In short, public art tells the story of a community.
Thus it is not surprising that Baton Rouge, a city on the move, is experiencing a plethora of recent and upcoming public art projects, ranging from murals on derelict homes by contemporary graffiti artists in Old South Baton Rouge to a bronze reproduction of Enrique Alferez’s 1930s-era relief from Charity Hospital in New Orleans, soon to be installed in the new Louisiana State University Medical Education and Innovation Center. While a number of these are commissions through the Percent for Art Program of the Louisiana Division of the Arts/Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, others are being spearheaded by local nonprofits. The Museum of Public Art, a revitalization initiative, commissions murals to instill hope for residents of the once vital neighborhood of Old South Baton Rouge while The Walls Project brings artists, community members, and downtown businesses together for a common cause. Yet, it is the newly implemented city-planning projects carried out by the Downtown Development District that has caused renewed interest in Baton Rouge’s oldest public artworks.
A selection of these historically significant monuments and murals dating from the 1930s by Conrad Albrizio, Angela Gregory, Frank Hayden and Ivan provide the context for contemporary commissions in Monuments & Metaphors: Art in Public Spaces. The exhibition takes a collective view of public art in Baton Rouge, and reveals their hidden stories through preparatory drawings, maquettes, full-scale photographs and even 3D prints.
Anthem by Lin Emery
Downtown – State Library of Louisiana, 700 Block of N. Third Street
Tucked behind the State Library of Louisiana on Third Street is Anthem, among the fine works that comprise the Louisiana State Art Collection. Made in 1983, the polished aluminum sculpture is one the first outdoor installations by New Orleans-based artist Lin Emery. Internationally recognized for her kinetic sculptures, Emery is inspired by forms found in nature. In addition to Anthem, Baton Rouge is host to a newly created public work commissioned through the Percent for Art Program of the Louisiana Division of the Arts/Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Suspended over the rotunda of the newly opened E.J. Ourso College of Business Education Center on the Louisiana State University campus, Lyric was installed in 2014. The Percent for Art’s enabling legislation stipulates that whenever more than $2,000,000 in state funds is spent by a state agency for the construction or renovation of a state building, one-percent of the state money is expended to acquire, conserve, or restore and install works of art for display in, on top of, or on the grounds of the state building.