Second Saturday - October 2015
Crusin' into Fall!
This month’s Second Saturday Art Walk shares the stage in Old Town with the biggest event of the year: Cruisin’ the Coast! Find out why locals take advantage of both events!
- story by Ana Balka, photos by Ellis Anderson
Jenise McCardell sits at a workbench with a clear view of anyone walking through the door of Gallery 220, an artists’ collective located at 220 Main Street that showcases a constantly evolving flow of work by more than 20 artists. She carves the geometric image of a building onto a ceramic slab while we talk. Once complete, the plaque will be one of many distinctive pieces McCardell sells at Clay Creations, the business that she and her husband, potter Mark Currier, run in the back of Gallery 220.
McCardell and Currier own the distinctive art deco building, and by now most locals know the story of how they hastily made repairs after hurricane Katrina and hosted a Second Saturday gathering only weeks after the storm devastated the coast. The event was so healing, the couple opened their doors every Saturday evening for the next several months, giving exhausted survivors an opportunity to come together as a community, and giving local artists a venue to show and sell their work. The artists involved became a collective, grew in number, and today flourish as a group of mutually supportive talents under one roof.
For the Second Saturday Art Walk in Bay St. Louis each month, the Gallery features one or two artists. October’s featured artists are Barbara Beaudry Brodtmann and Janet G. Densmore. Second Saturday this month will be especially exciting, with the influx of visitors in town for Cruisin’ the Coast, which runs October 4–11. Stop in, say hello, and view work that spans an array of mediums and styles from the artists in the Gallery 220 collective.
Barbara Brodtmann knows watercolor. The local painter, one of Gallery 220’s featured artists for October, not only paints in watercolor on canvas and paper, but also conducts workshops at businesses and and private functions.
Brodtmann has been introducing others to the benefits of painting for a long time, and these days her teaching revolves around one-day workshops with businesses like the Beau Rivage.
She also does classes for private parties like bridal showers, instructing students - who come from all experience levels - on color, materials, and methods. Sometimes, she says, the most exciting results come from people who have never painted before, who come to a class with no preconceived notions, inhibitions, or hangups about their skills.
Brotdmann’s own artistic practice goes piece by piece, rather than in terms of bodies of work. She is motivated by light and color, and finds inspiration in nature and the marine life on the beaches and in the marshes of the Gulf Coast. She loves animals: crabs, alligators, frogs, and birds are frequently her subjects. She has a special affinity for pelicans, and the portrayals of these majestic birds that she currently has on display in Gallery 220, while describing the birds’ intricate beauty in vivid color and detail, hold the animals in solemn esteem against dark backgrounds that also reveal complex, layered depth. These are not whimsical bird paintings, but respectful portraits of living creatures.
Whether painting an evening sky or a commissioned portrait of someone’s grandchild, writing the story of a New Orleans voodoo priestess or editing video for trial attorneys, Janet Densmore is going for one thing, and that’s the truth – the truth of that thing, drawn from a place of truth within herself.
The painter, writer, videographer, documentarian, and former performance artist and artists’ model works out of her studio in the Bay Artists’ Co-op, doing commissioned portraiture as well as her personally inspired pieces from oils and pastels.
Densmore is also compiling a body of work she will complete in the coming months that will include paintings, drawings, and 3-D assemblages exploring themes around identity and today’s technological culture.
Everything that Densmore does seems centered on the same concepts that drive her visual work. “Being creative, I think a big hurdle is to convince yourself that you’re worthy,” she says. Whatever you do, she says, “You don’t have to be technically great as much as you have to be great at articulating essentially who you are as a human being, because that’s different from everyone else, and it’s special."