Monday, February 6, 2012

The Art and Soul of Lafayette

"Ever since the decentralization of cities and rise of suburbs that followed the industrial era, we judge how well a downtown
"recovered" by attracting businesses or shifting into an arts and cultural hub for the community" (Cathy Webre, Greater Lafayette Business Journal, 2008).

According to Ms. Webre:
"Nearly 1,000,000 attendees enjoy live music, festivals, special events and cultural programs and facilities in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, each year."

The downtown is an attractive,
"walkable" several block area, and on a recent weekday, we searched out some of the downtown artwork as we followed the map and description in the brochure entitled: "Downtown: The Art and Soul of Lafayette, LA."

Urns of Justice by Dianna Moore

Flanking the courthouse entrance stairs, these award-winning sculptural urns are a contrast to the archetypal figure of blindfolded justice carrying a sword and scales.

Horizon by Robert Dafford

Part of the internation-al mural series in which each mural in the series has a flying fiddle symbolically passing through the walls between cultures (Louisiana, Canada, France, and Belgium). Locally the scene can be viewed as Cajun music being exported to the world.

Ex-Garage by Robert Dafford

A 125-foot tall mural of 1950s-era cars covers the side of an office building that previouisly was a parking garage. Closer inspection reveals area musicians and traditions reflected in the car's bumpers and hubcaps.

Inflourescence Blooming Flower by Robert "Bob" Wiggs

Symbolizing downtown's rebirth, the concept represents 30 years of study by the artist of a design system found in nature. The sculpture is 25 feet tall with a 12-foot diameter bloom.

Till All That's Left Is A Postcard by Robert Dafford

This 100-foot-wide mural depicts the every-changing Atchafalaya River Basin. It examines the way our perception of nature has been changed by photographs and the editing process, the nature of 2-D and 3-D images and the possibility that one day the wilderness might be found only on a postcard.

The thought that the beauty of the Atchafalaya could be reduced to a postcard or a memory was sobering, but studying the artist's work was captivating. I particularly marveled at the water droplets on the leaf and the intricate details presented in the wings of the dragonfly.

Premier, Dernier,et Toujours (First, Last and Always) by Robert Dafford

The muralist visualizes the chess game between world powers England and France that originally caused the Acadian exile to Louisiana in the 18th century and, finally, the commercial-ization into the future of all things Cajun. As the artist describes this image, the fabric of Acadian life itself forms the curtain between the Cajuns and the outside world.

To fully appreciate this work, we would have needed a ladder to view all the small frames that depicted scenes of Acadian life.

"American cities are measured by the condition of their downtown districts, regularly as indicators of quality-of-life issues or from an economic development standpoint. From this basis, Lafayette -- and, by extension, all of Acadiana -- is an attractive place to live and work" (Cathy Webre).

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