Friday, February 09, 2007
Writer-artist Michael Harold on artmaking and Shreveport over the recent haul
Michael Harold, visual & conceptual artist and writerly writer, recently wrote, in regards local historic perspective, "In the early 70s, I would take a bus to the Craft Alliance on Dalzell Street to see the (local) artists. Remember, it was late 60s, early 70s and the U.S. was in the middle of a high renaissance where art and culture was concerned. (Wars always bring out the best in artists, I think. I know that during the past six years I've done some of my best work ever. Mostly writing, though.) Even here in Shreveport, when they were not busy smoking dope, having sex and being routed out of various public parks by George D'Artois, the young people were walking around with Burroughs, Kerouac, Heller, Vonnegut, Plath, Beckett and Pynchon in their backpacks and listening to Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Doors, etc. Visual art was no different. Everyone with an interest in visual art was exposed to Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Body Art, Happenings, Environmental Art, and all the other art isms of the period.
The older artists in Shreveport, especially the ones you mention in the At-the-Loft blog, were fully aware of the larger cultural currents. Clyde Connell with her "church" and "ladder" and "reliquary" sculptures made of paper mache, hammered nails, stones and found objects. Talk about hidden (or not so hidden) meanings related to slavery, poverty, education, religion and judicial injustice. There were David Horner's and Jerry Slack's installations. There was Lucille Reed's minimalism.
These people were amazing. I followed them from Dalzell to the Craft Alliance at Centenary (now the Turner Art Center), to the Craft Alliance on Stoner (later renamed the Stoner Art Center).
And then there was At-the-Loft. The artists in this group are a big part of the reason I do art.
The At-the-Loft artists were the same people who brought Judy Chicago and Alan Sondheim to Shreveport. They invited artists like me and Bruce to put installations in the space (which was a very big deal to me). They participated with other groups such as the Artist's Transit, the Princess Park Works-In-Progress group, SRAC's public sculpture projects, the Red River Revel, the Eye-20 group and lots of others. And they set the example, especially the women. Donna Service (and her art partner, Donna Moore), exhibited the same type of no holds barred artistic guts as the At-the-Loft artists. Dorothy Hanna, too.
Thank god for the women artists in this town is all I've got to say. Many of the younger artists in the area (Allison Dickson comes to mind) are part of this larger work-in-progress. There is a lot of continuity here."
Please see more artists on the regional memory at the At-the-Loft Shreveport blog. And please consider contributing your thoughts and images. Send all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't fail to dig into the archives - past months - if you like the history.