A Little Bit of Tour History
The Open Studio Tours began back in 1971 when a group of ten artists decided to organize a way for the general public to see their works, both finished and in progress. They wanted not only to display their art, but to also show how those works were produced. Thus, the first Open Studio Tour was born.
Among those first ten artists to open their workshops to the public were George Rodrigue, Rollin Tyrell, and Sara Parker. Rodrigue was a young artist at the time, very pre-Blue Dog, and his work was described as depicting dark rural Louisiana landscapes. Although his Blue Dogs became wildly popular later in his career, his older works are also treasured. Some of them were undoubtedly on display on that first Tour, and very likely purchased by early collectors.
Rollin Tyrell was a craftsman who did aluminum castings. His sculptures were often abstract in nature, and were one of a kind because of his use of assorted extraneous objects when modelling the molten aluminum. Suzanne and Pat Juneau are among the local collectors who have samples of works. Tyrell is the grandfather of sculptor Kelly Guidry of Breaux Bridge, who begins his works with the help of a chainsaw. Kelly will be on the 2018 Tour, and he chaired the 2003-2005 Tours.
Sara Parker, the only surviving artist from the original Tour, is still producing wonderful watercolors, despite being “of a certain age.” Her works have an oriental flavor and serenity to them, and in the words of one collector, “They have a very calming effect on me.” One of her many fans might have purchased a painting from her on that first Tour, or gotten to observe her technique on a work in progress.
Either way, an exciting possibility. And who knows, the artists and craftsmen on the 2018 Tour may be or become the newest incarnation of the talent of George Rodrigue, Rollin Tyrell, or Sara Parker. This guide will help you make that determination. Use it for the Tour, and to contact the artists and craftsmen listed herein at your convenience after the Tour.
The Tours were held annually over the years, with the occasional hiatus as the artists and craftsmen sometimes failed to agree on how the Tours should be handled, and volunteers were hard to find. The latest hiatus ended three years ago when the Louisiana Craft Guild and the Lafayette Art Association joined forces to reactivate the Tours.
Under the leadership of Burnell Lemoine, and with the cooperation and assistance of the Craft Guild, the Art Association, the participating artists and craftsmen and a host of volunteers, the 2016 and the 2017 Tours were a huge success, and the 2018 Tour promises to be even bigger and better.
In preparing for the 2018 Tour, Tour Chairman Lemoine expressed his gratitude to everyone involved, and particularly recognized the help provided by the Lafayette Conventions and Visitors Commission, the Louisiana Economic Development Authority, Right Angle Advertising, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
The Louisiana Crafts Guild At the Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery
The Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery at Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette was recently named one of the top places to shop in the South by Southern Living Magazine. And why not? It’s the home of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, an organization with a membership of over 250 skilled craftsmen whose works are featured at Sans Souci.
The gallery features one of a kind traditional and contemporary crafts created by its imaginative and skilled artisan members in a wide variety of media. This includes pottery, jewelry, glass, textiles, metal and wood sculptures, assorted utilitarian objects that are also works of art , and so forth – the gallery continually tries to amaze its patrons by presenting a constantly-changing variety of the best in Southern crafts.
The Sans Souci building may be the oldest surviving commercial building in downtown Lafayette. Built around 1840 by Richard Chargois, an early business leader in Lafayette, the building has had a wide assortment of uses in its long history.
After its construction, the building first welcomed guests as the Lafayette Inn. It has also served as a carpenter's store, a grocery market, and a tinsmith shop. It housed Lafayette's first post office and newspaper.
The Gallery’s name, “Sans Souci,” comes from the Sans Souci Bookstore, opened in the building in 1943 by Edith Garland Dupre, one of the nine founders of ULL, originally known theSouthwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute. The name was then changed to Southwest Louisiana Institute and finally to USL before its current incarnation as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. ULL’s library, the Edith Garland Dupre Library, was so named in her honor.
After Edith’s death, the Sans Souci building and the surrounding property were acquired by the City of Lafayette, and in 2003-04, the bookstore was restored with the help of the Louisiana Crafts Guild from almost a complete ruin. It has been the home of the Guild ever since.
The Guild is an ardent supporter of its craftspeople and a dedicated promoter of their works through the gallery and such activities as the Open Studio Tour. Go on the tour and then to the Gallery, and shop till you drop – you will be glad you did.
Lafayette Art Association and Gallery: Visual Arts for Everyone.
The Lafayette Art Association was established in 1959 by a group of artists and collectors for the purpose of promoting, encouraging, and supporting public awareness and education in the visual arts. Incorporated in 1969 as a non-profit literary and educational organization, it has evolved over the years to become a major force in art education for the community as well as a gallery for exhibition and sale of the works of its member artists.
The gallery at 1008 East St. Mary will almost overwhelm visitors with the quantity, variety, and quality of the art and crafts on display, and the artists at work in the small studios within the gallery will (usually) be delighted to show you their works in progress.
With over two hundred members, the Lafayette Art Association has an ambitious agenda for art education, including scholarships in fine arts and theater, as well as exhibitions, lectures, competitions, classes and workshops. These include some for members only, some for the general public, some for adults, some for children, some for photography, and so forth. Something for everyone with an interest in the arts.
The organization is driven by member support and an all-volunteer staff. It operates and maintains the main gallery on St. Mary, as well as several “satellite” galleries around the City of Lafayette. The galleries are free and open to the general public.
Among the many art-related activities that the LAA supports is the Open Studio Tour. The main gallery will be open for the Tour, and several artists will be at work on the premises. Be sure to make this one of your stops - the Season for gift-giving is fast approaching, and you can find the perfect presents for the art-lovers in your life, or perhaps something just for you – there is no such thing as too much art.