Friday, August 8, 2008

Well folks, this is it. I had planned on having a much longer run at this blog than it has turned out. For reasons that I can't divulge, and they are good reasons, I've decided to bid this blog adieu. It's been fun while it lasted. Hopefully, My NLA has provided artists with inspiration and connected a few buyers with sellers, which was its purpose all along.
Thanks to all of you who have visited and best wishes to the artists who made it possible.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Southern Artists Offered Exposure

"Bread and Butter" by me, Monica Crowe

Listen up, artists. The second annual Gulf South
Regional Contemporary Art Exhibition has sounded the call for two- and three-dimensional submissions. Those who live in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are encouraged to enter. BECA gallery, a contemporary space in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, will display the juried works from Jan. 3 – Feb. 28, 2009.

This means the display will be on exhibit during Prospect 1, New Orleans tourist-attraction effort at revitalizing its arts and culture identity. To learn more about my perspective of Prospect 1, see the article I wrote for my regular column in the Ruston Daily Leader.

Entry deadline is Nov. 10. Complete information and submission guidelines may be downloaded from

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trent Pettit Layers Up

All work by Trent Pettit
Arts School Poster: 2007 LA Tech. Univ. Student Art Show Poster

Trent Pettit is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University's School of Art, where he earned a bachelor's of fine arts degree in 2007 in communication arts. He has had his art featured at Design Related and is the winner of the 2006 Louisiana Peach Festival poster contest.
Pettit accepts commissions and may be contacted at
See more of his work at: Gig Posters

As the creator of the 2006 Louisiana Peach Festival poster, how did you come up with the concept?

They had an original run that was signed and numbered and then sold as collectibles. As for the concept: they provided us with the theme "Life is Sweet." From there, I made some observations about the nature of the festival and Ruston itself, eventually leading to the rustic and timely aesthetic of the final piece.

John Reuben: Selection from various merch projects

What media do you use in your artwork?

All of my work is outputted digitally, but I often utilize a lot of 'hands-on' processes before actually getting those things to a digital form. That's basically just scanning a lot of found materials gathered from various sources (be that vintage book art, garbage or stuff I burned when making breakfast this morning) or drawing my own sometimes.

"Greenbacks" Selected page from a personal book project "Apathy in the Gallery," an illustrated exploration of early photography's documentation of the Native Americans during early American western expansion.

Have you exhibited anywhere? Exhibiting anywhere soon?

Louisiana College Student Art show 2002 and Louisiana Tech University Student Art Show 2004 and 2006.

What are your plans for the future of your art?

I try to keep learning and experimenting with new processes and styles, so hopefully it'll all continue to evolve as I learn new things. I'm looking forward to eventually investing some more time screen printing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gutter Park: Jason Byron Nelson

Virus Girl
The artwork of Jason Byron Nelson including T-shirts, prints and paintings are available at

I live and work in Monroe. I’ve been trying to escape for a while… though now it seems the creative community here is blossoming so maybe I’ll stick around.

I work digitally at first. Then if I think the work could translate beyond pixels to paint, I’ll put it on canvas, paper, wood, etc. For these pieces, I generally use acrylics and spray paint, but I love to experiment. I’ll throw in glitter, fabric, plastic, metallic leaf, etc.

Gotten any press?
Depends on you definition of coverage. I’ve been written up several times in the local rags, and i’ve designed some shirts that have garnered global attention, but that’s about it.


What subject matter are you drawn to and why?
I like the combination (or juxtaposition) of innocence and darkness. Or maybe it’s innocence filtered through a darker gaze; I don’t know. I always say that my goal is to simply make the viewer think. If someone walks away from one of my pieces outraged, that’s OK, but if someone walks away indifferent then I’ve failed miserably.

Do you create to convey a message?
No. I design knowing that the message is in the eye of the beholder. I may try to provoke discussion but never to influence.

What inspires your art?
Practically everything. Other artists and music mostly. Particularly those rare, creative souls who are trying to do something original and unique.


Where have you exhibited recently? Also, list current or future exhibits.
I have a show at the Arender Gallery in Monroe that’s just about to go down. I have no plans to show again any time soon. I’m sort of schizophrenic with my creativity and right now I’m focusing on a children’s book that I have written and illustrated.

Name one thing you like about the art scene in north Louisiana.
For a long time, it would have been difficult for me to answer that one. There’s always been a creative scene here but it’s always been so disjointed that any momentum would always die out. But for the first time in a long time, many of the creative brains in the area, whether they be the musicians or the writers or the visual artists -- they are coming together -- galleries are cooperating and there’s people like you and your blog. It’s a good time to be into the arts in northeast Louisiana right now. We’ll see if it sticks.


Name one thing you would change about the art scene in north Louisiana.

The ambition in the area has always been greater than the money that supports it. If I could change one thing it would be people’s perception on the necessity of art. Sometimes art in our area is seen as decoration-- something the tourist committee can use in an ad to promote local culture. We’re more than that. What we provide is incalculable.

Tell me about your writing: Is it a hobby? How does the writing influence your art or vice versa?
Like most aspects of my creativity, it comes in waves. Writing is something I did every day for about seven years -- poems, short stories, plays, you name it … and then I stopped. I put it aside to focus on my artwork. But I knew that eventually the two outlets would meld -– subconsciously, it was probably always the plan. I’ve always loved the combination of art and literature. (I have a collection of graphic novels I’m quite proud of). So far, I’ve illustrated four of my stories. As I mentioned before, I’ve made one into a complete book that I’m currently shopping to publishers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sally Heller: Art With an Eco Conscious Edge

All installation artwork by Sally Heller

Sally Heller (New Orleans) is an installation artist who has exhibited throughout the country and has been interviewed by such notable publications as News Week and Louisiana Life.

Describe your installation art. (What materials are used? What is the subject matter? etc.)
I create artificial landscapes out of what I term "human detritus"--low end consumer goods such as wire, plastic, felt, --the bric a brac we discard but use in an often glutinous capacity. I start out building trees and connect them with webbing that I see as molecular energy-- structural devices that can trap the detritus but also spread it like a virus. Despite this sounding pessimistic, the pieces are cheerful, humorous and upbeat in their color and posture.

How long have you been a working artist?
Since I received an MFA from Virginia Comm
onwealth University in 1980

What led to your feature article in Louisiana Life? John Kemp had seen my installation at Gallery g in New Orleans and thought it would be an apt article for the green issue. He also reviewed the show for Art News Magazine.

The article seems to allude to the "green" message in your art. Did you intend to make an eco-conscious statement with your art? If so, why?
I think the work addresses the eco issue naturally because of my use of manufactured goods to create an artificial nature. The amount of plastic and other manmade materials alludes to the consumer society in which we live.

Have you gotten other press recently? List.
-- Newsweek this summer about culture in New Orleans post Katrina
--Art Papers-- a review this past spring
-- various Ohio papers/ blogs in Feb/April after doing a show there

How did you end up getting the opportunity to design installations for Bergdorf Goodman in NYC?
I have a friend who is in charge of the window designs there and she has been keeping up with my installations and thought it would be a good window. They sometimes ask artists to design their window interiors. She asked if I could do it during Fashion Week last year, but I had other obligations.

Any other big plans on the horizon?

I'm currently working on a large sculpture to concur with Prospect 1 that will be placed outside the Convention Center.
I have an installation in Chicago in a few weeks and a show in Atlanta in May.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nifty Thrifty Owl: Vintage Meets Modern Mode

All posters by Jesse Gresham; all jewelry by Alison Ritchey

Nifty Thrifty Owl is the Web shop of Alison Ritchey and Jesse Gresham. See more of Gresham's work here. The pair list their artistic inspirations as Henry Darger, Craig Thompson, El Lizzitsky and Diane Arbus.

Why were you drawn to your craft?
I'm drawn to so many things. Some things end up sticking more than others. What I love the most to make are things that people can use. I also love recycling, so to be able to find things that would otherwise be thrown out and then make it something better is ideal.

J: I just love creating and communicating things through art and design.

What is your creative process like?
A: Most of my materials are found and rare. I want my products to be far from mass produced. So I have to start with what I have. My creative process begins by me looking at all of my materials, and as my creative wheels begin to turn I come up with ideas on how I can put it all together.

J: Usually it starts with an idea. Sometimes, a picture in my head, a phrase or a word in journal, or being inspired by a book, a movie, nature, or from my past experiences. That idea might be written down and then it is played over in my head. I do research and brainstorming; most problems are worked out before I get behind the computer.

What are the tools of your trade?
A: I use mostly found, vintage things. I'm obsessed with vintage buttons. They just don't make them the same anymore. But I do buy some new vintage inspired things as well.

J: Imagery, type... found imagery from books, or found online, as well as my own hand drawn ideas that I scan in. These ideas are mixed back and forth through Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. They may be printed, Xeroxed, and then scanned back in for more manipulation.

What music do you listen to while working in the studio?
-- Broken Social Scene
-- John Lennon
-- M83
-- Flaming Lips
-- TV On the Radio
-- Mogwai
-- Stars
-- Rouge Wave

What is your dream career in the arts?

Definitely to own my own business. I want to have a shop of all handmade and vintage things-- a place where people can come and find unique things that they don't have to worry about a bunch of other people having. I want it to be a shop that has lots of art and handmade things from other people as well.

B: I think it would be amazing to have a job that involved both art and design/music. Or a design job where I could only do the jobs I was interested in. That would be a dream career. I would also like to be a half owner of shop that sold art and handmade, fashion and furniture.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Thoughts Company

Downtown Building

All photography depicted here is by Morgan Presley, of Shreveport. Her work can be found in her little corner of the Web at Happy Thoughts Company.

How did you get started with photography?
I've always been interested in all types of art. Give me a paintbrush, a stick of charcoal, a camera; I'll give anything a try.

What inspires your work?
As silly as it may seem, the "style" of photo I've been recently inspired by were photos from an Urban Outfitters catalog I got in the mail some time ago. That accounts for about half of my photos. The other half, I suppose, were just inspired by my spontaneous urge to take pictures of random objects.

Which artists, if any, have been inspirational?
I actually don't really know of any professional photographers. Since I'm somewhat new to being a photographer myself, most of my past art works were inspired by other types artists. So, in reference to the last question, I guess that would be the photographer for Urban Outfitters catalogs.

What kind of camera do you use?
I just have your average little digital camera. A small white Kodak Easy Share digital camera. I would like to get something better, but that's what I have for now.

To Photoshop or not to Photoshop- Your thoughts?
I use IPhoto on my pictures to change the contrast a bit and for better cropping. I'm not against photoshop at all, I'm sure I'd use it if I had it. There's nothing wrong with a little touch-up.

Have you had formal art training?
In high school I had a wonderful art teacher who was very supportive of my photography interests. She would let me borrow her photography books and also let me use my own photos for my paintings and sketches. I don't know if that would really be considered "formal" training, but that's the closest thing I've done.

Have you won any awards for your work?

I have never entered any of my photos in art shows, but some of my paintings and sketches have won a few awards in regional shows.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ruston Artists Exhibit at New Orleans Musuem of Art

"Scribes N0. 451 and 452" by Robert Berguson, Louisiana Tech University School of Art professor emeritus, is now on display at New Orleans Museum of Art.

Louisiana Tech University School of Art professor Marie Bukowski and professor emeritus Robert Berguson are part of a memorial exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art that honors the late Cole Pratt, a Crescent City gallery owner.

"A Tribute to Cole Pratt: His Gallery's First Fifteen Years, 1993-2008" features 29 artists that Pratt fostered.
Bukowski's "Capsule No. 20" and Berguson's "Scribes No. 451 and 452" are included. The exhibition runs through Sept. 21.

Robert Coleman "Cole" Pratt Jr., a loyal friend and longtime supporter of the New Orleans Museum of Art, died unexpectedly April 19. A native of Mississippi, Cole was well known for the Magazine Street gallery he opened in uptown New Orleans.

More information about the exhibit and about the NOMA can be found at

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Straight Talk With Crooked Little Studio

Crooked Little Studio is based in Shreveport. Artist, Diana Hamiter's religious-themed pendants made from Scrabble tiles and original art can be found at Jacob's Well, a Catholic book and gift store located at 2459 E. 70th St. in Shreveport.

Do you have any formal art training? (Where and what did you study?)
I have a bachelor's of fine art in graphic design from Louisiana Tech University, 1986. I worked full-time as a graphic artist from the time I graduated till about six years ago when I went back to school for a semester to get my alternative teaching certificate. Now I'm teaching art to elementary and middle school students at St. Joseph School in Shreveport. I still take a few freelance design projects from time to time.

What medium do you generally work in on paper/canvas?
I usually work in ink (Micron pens) and add color with watercolor pencils. Occasionally I'll use colored pencil, too.

What inspires your work?
Mostly nature. I can sit and watch God's smallest of creatures for hours...dragonflies, lizards, frogs, insects. I have bird feeders right outside my studio window so I can watch the birds. My family owns a "farm" (the kind without cows and chickens - lol) in Carmel. There's LOTS of inspiration for me there. Stress just melts away when I ride into the woods and just sit and take in my surroundings.

For the uninitiated, explain what ACEO and ATC's are.
ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals." ATC stands for "Art Trading Cards." Basically, they're trading cards created by artists. Artists have produced miniatures as a means for trading or self-promotion throughout modern history. Some artists today believe they should only be traded (ATC), but some artists produce them to sell them (ACEO). There's only one rule: the size must be 2.5" by 3.5" -- the same size as a trading card or playing card. Beyond that, the sky's the limit. I've seen them made of all kinds of media. Their size makes them affordable and easy to collect. I have a great little collection of them myself.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Katherine Amman Vellard Exhibits Work

"Source" oil and graphite on paper

Through July 25, Other Worlds, a series of works by Louisiana Tech University (Ruston) art professor Katherine Amman Vellard, will be on display at the Abercrombie Gallery located in the Shearman Fine Arts Center at McNeese State University. Other Worlds is a series of abstract renderings on paper created with many layers of oil pastel and graphite.


Vellard has exhibited in over 70 national and international shows including The Holy Mysteries exhibition at St. John the Divine in New York City. In 2003 she was the recipient of the artist fellowship award by the Louisiana Division of the Arts.

The gallery is located at 4205 Ryan St., Lake Charles, La., 70609. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more information call 337.475.5000 | 800.622.3352 or e-mail

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rebecca Rebouche:Touring Talent

All artwork by Rebecca Rebouche

Rebecca Rebouche is a nationally touring artist whose work will grace the cover of Austin, Texas, based Rare Magazine's August issue. This is one rising star to watch.

What medium do you typically work in?
I work in paint-based mixed media, which includes acrylic paint and collaged paper, fabric, stitching, sewing, graphite, china marker, taping and various gels and modeling pastes. Most of my work is two-dimensional; however, I have been expanding my range to include soft-sculpture, textiles and installations.

What inspires your work?
Typically I go about my day with a watchful eye, and when I see something I like I take a mental photo of it, later sketching it and using those sketches as a sort of language of symbols. I then use those symbols to make visual sentences or haiku's with my work.

Tell me about the tour you are on right now?
I have been showing this body of work since October 2007, and I am currently in my very exciting first year as an emerging artist. I don't yet have a gallery or any solid representation, which is an exciting time of possibility and unknowns. Right now I am showing my work circus style, at national open-air Art Festivals around the country. I am on a two-month tour that has taken me from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Virginia Beach, then to Des Moines, and now I am in Denver. Next I make a long haul over to Jackson Hole, Wyo. for a show and some camping in the Tetons.

What music are you listening to on the road?
Theresa Andersson's new EP "I the River," which gives me exciting fantasies of hula hoops and birds and flying. I can't wait for her new album "Hummingbird Go!" Also Beirut, some Talking Heads when necessary, and trusty iPod mix-lists.

Is selling your artwork your primary job?
Yes, it's surreal to say so, and a dream come true. I am a full-time artist. (It's possible. Don't believe what they tell you.) hehe.
I have a Website, two blogs and an Etsy shop. I sell my work at art markets and festivals in the New Orleans area and at national art festivals. I also accept illustration assignments and some commissions when they move me.

What has been the most interesting job you've had in the arts?
Well, I worked in advertising for four years after school--prior to doing this artist life -- and it's something that I'm glad I did. The ad world is very interesting and provides for lots of fun times, weird stories, late nights and strange people, and in many ways prepared me for this more autonomous "artist job."

What will you do when you return from your tour?
Well, after returning to New Orleans for a hot second in August I have a show in Austin on Aug. 23 in conjunction with the release of RARE magazine August issue, for which I am the cover artist! The show will be the RARE August launch party, held at the hip eco-friendly clothing boutique, Montage Clothings. I'm looking forward to a fun night of sweet art, earth-friendly fashion, a projected style show in the courtyard, circus tent dressing rooms, hula hoops, sparkly tonics and good music.
After that, the slide into fall is full of unknowns... more national art shows on the horizon, including one in Bar Harbor, Minn. and one in Atlanta. Anyone interested can stay tuned to my site and blogs for all the dish.
Ans, I'm looking forward to the exciting and unprecedented first-ever biennial in New Orleans, "Prospect"(Nov. 2008-Jan. 2009). I don't have any legitimate representation to be included in the Biennial per se, but expect to see my work in a mobile gallery, roaming the streets of New Orleans and stopping for anyone with a wandering art-loving eye.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Randi Anderson: Sweet Art

Artist Randi Anderson of The Art of Happiness has had paintings commissioned by ABC network for the set of Samantha Who.

Randi Anderson was one of 10 finalists in Kirkland's Home Stores' first Next Great American Artist contest, which gained her a feature in the Louisiana Tech University Young Alumni magazine. Then, solidifying her position as a rising star, American Broadcasting Company--better known as ABC-- commissioned two large cupcake paintings for use on the set of the television show Samantha Who. The episode featuring her artwork aired near the end of last season. Though no longer a Ruston resident, Anderson was hosted by Kim Birch at the Townsend House during the Artist Studio Tour last fall.

Anderson's artwork summons a sweet tooth as it generally focuses on brightly pigmented confectionery foods.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Ruston but now reside in Longview, Texas.

Are you a self-taught artist?
For the most part, yes. *Editor's note: Anderson earned a speech communication degree at La. Tech.

What were you doing for work before you started focusing on your full time art business?
After college I spent months job hunting and finally took a marketing job as the outreach coordinator for a home health agency. About three days into it, I realized that wasn't what I wanted to do after all. What I did want to do was my art, so I quit and have been making a go of the art thing ever since!

Anderson blogs about her life and artwork at Sweetly, Happily, Artfuly.

What inspires your work?
Anything and everything. All things bright and cheerful, for sure. I'm often inspired by retro color schemes and patterns-- things that are inherently nostalgic. Much of my art revolves around food. That's probably due in no small part to the fact that I'm a southern girl and food is of great importance around here-- am I right?
The food I portray are treats and those, like most of my subjects, are things that make people smile. I'm drawn to simplicity, bold colors and whimsy, and I gravitate toward subjects that lend themselves easily to being portrayed using those three characteristics.

My grandmother and I used to paint pictures at her dining table and we jokingly called it our "first-grade art" because it was oftentimes primitive and experimental at best. I think what I do now is just an extension of that "first-grade art." It is very reminiscent of those pictures you drew with crayons back when all you wanted was to brighten up the 'fridge. It isn't about causing people to contemplate anything or making some great statement for me...that I leave to the real artists. What I do is about making people happy...not just others but me too. It's distinctly uncomplicated and fun so that being surrounded by my art is somewhere pleasant to be.

What art supplies can be found in your workspace?
In addition to lots of acrylic paints and brushes, I have boxes, jars, baskets and Tupperware containers filled with all sorts of random things such as: buttons, beads, clay, glitter, paper mache', sequins, tiles, glass pieces, wire, vintage magazines, fabric, markers, oil pastels, clothes pins, ribbon, rick rack...
You just never know what you might need! Now finding it when you need it is another story.

I discovered Anderson's work when I met her at her booth (pictured above) at the Louisiana Peach Festival, which was kicked off June 27-29.

Other than your Web site, do you sell your work at any stores?
Currently, no, though I'm always looking for new avenues. I'm hoping to have an Etsy store up and filled sometime this month (grand opening announcement will be posted on my blog). I participated in the Peach Festival this year at the end of June and I am hoping to have a booth at Cedartown Marketplace this November. Occasionally I put limited seasonal artwork and craft pieces on eBay for individual sale around the holidays.

Any advice for those who are looking to start a creative business?
Go for it. You'll never know if you don't and you'll be none the worse for trying.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pressa Russa: Offbeat Letterpress Stationery

1. "I Can't Wait to Start Trig!" is a large Moleskine journal with graph pages. 2. "I Spy" comes in a set of four mini button notecards and envelopes.

Pressa Russa: the letterpress stationery of Lisa Smith
Smith has a bachelor's degree in fine art from Louisiana State University and has been featured on numerous blogs.

Where are you from?
Born in Louisiana. As an Army brat I traveled like a gypsy as a kid.

"Smokin', Drinkin' & Loud Music" comes in a set of eight invitations and envelopes.

Where do you currently live?
After a brief 1 1/2 year stint in England (England Air Force Base) I now live in Shreveport.

How did you get started with letterpress?
After years of being fascinated with the process of setting up pages manually with moveable type and images, I decided to save my pennies and buy a press. I was lucky enough to find a 5 x 8 tabletop press on Ebay that was being sold by the granddaughter of a former printer.
When it arrived I'll admit I didn't have a clue how to use it, but after reading several books and lots of trial and error I have taught myself the basics of letterpress. Unfortunately there is not a letterpress "community" here in northwest Louisiana, but I often visit letterpress sites to pick up tips about ink, paper, etc.

What is your studio space like?

My studio is set up in what was the wet bar of my house. It's the perfect size with counter space, cabinets and a sink.

1. Set of four mini notecards and envelopes "Open Wounds From the Cutting Edge." 2. Wire bound hardback journal, "Come On" red Triumph.

What inspires your work?
I love bright colors and bold images; I think that comes through in both my shops.

What artists, if any, have been inspirational?
Oh, I love artists who combine words and images.
-- Banksy
-- Andy Warhol
-- graffiti
-- album art

Have you exhibited anywhere?
I have exhibited my paintings in Shreveport. If you're an artist today, the Internet has really opened the door to worldwide exposure!

What do you hope for the future of Pressa Russa?
Well, I've sold enough to pay for the press, so actually I've met my initial goal. As for the future, as long as I sell enough to pay for the ink and paper I'm a happy camper!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Boston Terrier Love

Last night I happily happened upon the dog paintings of Brian Rubenacker, an artist from Michigan whose Etsy site if nothing else tells viewers that he is a Boston terrier fanatic. Well Ruben., if I may, you are not alone. I too prefer the all American snorting, farting dogs who have a vaccum cleaner's appetite for random funk (namely toe jam and socks).

Miss Lulu McPiggles Crowe

Really, how can you not love this face? From Lulu McPiggles (my faithful friend) and I, Happy Fourth of July weekend, readers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sweet Pickles: The Art of Melanie Millsap

Melanie Millsap is a Shreveport resident. Find her products at

What is your process like? (Do you make the pottery yourself or do you order it ready to paint on?)
I select a piece of bisque I want to paint. (I used to start from greenware but its so time consuming. Now I use only bisque.) I paint my piece and let it dry overnight. I glaze it, let this dry completely, then into the kiln it goes. It's fired at 1,800 degrees, which makes it food and dishwasher safe. But most pieces I still wash by hand to preserve the beauty and keep from any accidental chipping. I just started playing with clay to form my own pieces. This is still a work in process for me.

Tell me about your products. Do you stay within a line of work such as tea sets and serving ware?
I paint what appeals to me usually. I guess I do tend to stay in the lines of children's and serving pieces because this is what I like. However, I am always thinking of new things I want to paint. My mind runs constantly with ideas.

Have you had formal art training?
No formal art training. I took a couple of art classes way back in high school. My dad is an artist so maybe this is where I get it from.

Do you sell your work from a physical store?

Right now I don't sell any of my wares at a "physical" store-- through a Web site only. Although I do sell on occasion to locals who have found me through Etsy and of course I don't usually mail these items to them. I do sell my tea sets through a tea party company in Virginia. The Web site is

Photographer: Jessica Wethington

"The Pig Reads Oprah" Accepted into the La. Tech University School of Art 2008 Student Show
All photos by Jessica Wethington

What is your art background? (formal training, years practicing, etc.)
Currently working on a bachelors of fine arts in photography; became interested and started taking pictures about five years ago. I never took an art class in high school. I also dabble in steel and mixed media sculpture.

What would you say your style is?

I find that most if not all of my work has a photojournalistic feel to it, but that's my opinion. My style is my own, just like every artist has a unique style. I like thinking outside the box, but some of my favorite images come from the everyday, familiar scenery.

"Smile" taken near the Eiffel Tower, Paris

What inspires your art?
My art is inspired by life, both my personal life and the lives of those who surround me. I also draw inspiration from other artists. If I find a piece that particularly moves me, I usually write the artist's name down and go back later and research their work. Some of my favorite artists are Jackson Pollock, Alison Jackson, Richard Serra, Pablo Picasso and Robert Mapplethorpe.

If you could work with or be mentored by any artist, who would it be?
Hands down, Annie Leibovitz. I have admired her work for years; her Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair covers are classics.

What music do you listen to while you work?
-- Regina Spektor
-- The Shins
-- The Decemberists
-- Johnny Cash
-- The New Pornographers
-- Motion City Soundtrack
-- Bayside
-- The Morning Benders
-- Soundtracks-- Garden State, Elizabethtown and Juno.
I am always listening to music.

What do you plan to do after graduating?
Get my masters in photojournalism from University of Missouri, Columbia or University of Texas, Austin, then get a job with a magazine.

What is your dream job in the arts?
Getting paid to take pictures! I would love to work for National Geographic or Rolling Stone.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gurly Gurl: Bench Jeweler/ Metalsmith

Monique Leon: Gurly Gurl
How did you end up in New Orleans?

I was in Atlanta selling at an antique show. I had lived in Massachusetts my whole life and had never been to New Orleans, and felt like I was so close, I just had to take a side trip to go down there. My first impression was that it was a bit mysterious, a little dangerous, very organic and open to artists. The heat was incredible, and I loved it. I really felt like this was the place for me.

How does the city inspire your work?

I'm inspired in so many ways. The ironwork & architecture of the French Quarter is so enchanting. I walk the streets and so often find myself saying 'I cant believe I live in such a beautiful place.' I am so grateful to be here, and I see that there are so many other people that feel this way too.
That is one of the reasons why I built a "fleur d' lis" line, because it's a symbol of the city, a badge of honor -- elegance, grace, a connection to its roots and history. That history is everywhere.
There's also a huge artistic community here; it's hard not to be inspired or influenced by others.

Tell me a little about your antique business? How does it inspire you?
I gave up my formal antique business a short while after moving here. I had a cute little shop in Massachusetts and had been doing it there for years. I really appreciate things from the past. They offer me reference and inspiration.
It was a fabulous history lesson, all ages/ time periods learned through objects that people used. And everything had a story, how it was made or used, or who owned it... But sitting in a shop with antiques wasn't my real passion like making jewelry was, and that always seemed out of reach for me while I was still a full time antique dealer.
I decided that I was going to start over as jeweler, I was going to either sink or swim and dove headlong into making jewelry. I worked for jewelers, apprenticed under some wonderfully talented master jewelers. I worked for Mignon Faget, Tom Mann. I did anything that got me building, making or repairing anything jewelry related.

Are you currently a bench jeweler?

Absolutely! I have a studio in my home. I can fabricate any kind of fine jewelry there.
Though I consider myself a bench jeweler, I would expand the definition to metalsmith because I also make small sculptural pieces as well as setting stones and building jewelry. I sell online and to several galleries across the country.

Can you do custom orders via the Internet? How does it work?
Yes, I'm currently selling on Etsy at The site is a wonderful outlet for small studios like myself, and it is very easy to navigate. I get custom order requests through it or from word of mouth. When I'm contacted by a customer, very often they have something in mind or maybe just the general elements of an idea.
I gather images that they send my way or I provide some to connect myself and the customer to something tangible to describe what they are looking to get made. ( It could be a photographs or images collected for surfing the Web.) We go back and forth through e-mail, sketches and phone calls to solidify the design. It seems to work out surprisingly well, though you may not think that designing something hundreds of miles apart would work, but it does!

What or whom are your favorite inspirational Web sites/ artists?

-- Call me crazy but I surf (it). It's a typeface site. I love how sculptural letters and form in text can be.
-- Closest to my heart is the metalsmith Georg Jensen. His things are completely hand fabricated (most particularly the early last century items). You can look at the dimples made by someone's hammer and almost hear the rhythmic tap, tap, tap. It thrills me. As for a contemporary artist Daniel Brush is also an unparalleled metalsmith.
-- Art Nouveau /Jugendstil school of thought also always grabs my attention. But I also like ultra modern contemporary design in furniture & architecture.
I remember a professor in art school asking a group of students on the last day of school, "If nothing else, just please be inspired by and make beautiful things."
I really try to work by that request.