Tuesday, October 22, 2013

'Bending Sticks' in Louisiana

From Penelope Maunsell:

Last week I found myself deep in Cajun country with my great friend Linda Usdin taking Bending Sticks:  the Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty to three screening venues in central Louisiana.  It was the second half of our Southern Circuit tour – Kenny (co-director of the film) had completed the first half in Georgia the week before. Our first stop was at Banners of McNeese State University in Lake Charles.  It was a Saturday night and pouring down rain. Buckets of it.  We had a small, damp, but very interested audience full of good questions, and we had a lively discussion about impermanent art afterwards.
Sunday, our day off, we drove to Lafayette, where we found to our delight the Festival Acadiens et Creoles on the grounds of Louisiana State University. Two or three stages with musicians all day long, thirty booths selling different wonderful food, and a terrific craft fair. Thankfully the predicted rain held off.  We had a couple of Bloody Mary’s, shared crawfish étoufée, wonderful fried shrimp and a Boudin Ball (a kind of delicious sausage) beneath a live oak covered in Spanish moss. After our meal we wandered from stage to stage listening to music, and watching people dancing. I really enjoyed the impossibly young Babineaux Sisters who moved easily between fiddle, guitar, and accordion and sang in marvelous lilting Cajun French. In the evening we found a local family attraction, Randol’s Cajun restaurant and dance hall, complete with a Zydeco band. We had a couple of beers, the most delicious crawfish bisque and watched people of all ages and skills dancing the two step and twirling to the music. Linda and I even got up and had a go.

Our second screening was in Vermilionville - a living history museum and folklife park on the banks of bayou Vermilion with its original homes dating back to 1765. We walked around the village and explored the beautifully restored houses and workshops that once belonged to Acadian, Native American and Creole peoples and saw an alligator in the lake.  The screening was in their big dance hall and the BluRay of Bending Sticks looked and sounded its very best through their excellent projector and sound system. We had a good discussion after the screening with a small but enthusiastic audience and ate the delicious jambalaya provided by our hosts. The next morning we returned to Vermilionville for a brisk walk in an effort to work off some of the calories we‘d accumulated.

On the way to Alexandria, our last stop, we managed a visit to the beautiful Shadows-on the Teche Plantation in New Iberia and had an oyster Po’ Boy in St. Martinville on the Bayou Teche.

In Alexandria we stayed in the home of an extraordinary couple – Nicole and David Holcome, who are avid supporters of the arts and whose house is chock full of their amazing art collection. I mean every square inch covered in art – even the laundry room. Wonderful, funny and beautiful stuff. Lovely to stay in a home after a few nights in hotels. The screening was in the theatre at the Coughlin-Sanders Performance Arts Center where they had laid out hors d’oeuvres with a stick theme – and attempted small Patrick Dougherty creations. Patrick would have thoroughly enjoyed this. Quite funny.  Again a small but very interested and appreciative audience and a conversation that continued into the night about art and impermanence. We left the next morning each with a beautifully hand painted egg from Nicole and a book of plays from David. Now a week later I find myself reliving every moment of this memorable trip.

Coughlin-Sanders Performing Arts Center (Alexandria, LA) with Nicole & David Holcomb in the foreground. I'm in the back!

Yours truely answering audience questions.