One can’t help thinking about the princesses’ jealousy.
Beatrice and Eugenie became a part of the international hype the moment they stepped out of their horse-drawn carriage. It wasn’t because they were daughters of Great Britain’s Prince Andrew. The fact that they are first cousins to Prince William, who was getting married that day didn’t really generate that much conversation.
No, it was their seemingly 10-story hats that drew all eyes on them.
Looking now at the subjects of Frankie Gould’s scratch board pieces hanging at Baton Rouge Gallery, one can’t help wondering if the young princesses would be jealous.
For even Gould was reminded of the ladies attending the June nuptials between Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton when she titled the pictures.
“Best Hat at the Royal Wedding No. 1,” the first one is called. The second has the same title but with the number two behind it. Each features a single Polish chicken, the birds known for their wild feather headdresses that look much like, well, hats at a royal wedding.
Gould came up with the titles while looking at photographs of these chickens, then created the pieces to match. It’s the way she operates.
This is different from April Hammock’s method.
“I’ll wait until the piece is done before I give it a title,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll put it aside for months then reflect on it before naming it.”
Hammock’s work is different from that of Gould’s. Hammock’s exhibit is divided into two sections, featuring surreal drawings and abstract paintings.
Then again, isn’t there something surreal about the idea of a Polish chicken fitting into the crowd at a royal wedding? Gould’s chickens certainly would.
Gould and Hammock are two artists members whose work is featured at Baton Rouge Gallery in July. Their work is joined by that of fellow artist members Steve Schmidt and Sarah Wiseman in this show, all of which combine to offer visitors something different.
“We’re seeing different work from these particular artists in this show,” said Jason Andreasen, the gallery’s executive director. “They’re all offering us something new, something different from their usual work.”
Especially in Hammock’s case.
“I usually work in realism,” Hammock said. “This is the first exhibit where I didn’t have a source in front of me while working. I just let the painting speak, and it was a little scary. But it was liberating, too.”
So, Hammock’s exhibit title Happy, Scary and Obscure is a perfect fit.
“I keep a dream journal,” she said. “And some of the dreams are happy, some of them are scary. And the paintings develop from the dreams.”
Some of the paintings are reminders of Louisiana hurricanes, the calm before the storm and the devastation afterward. Then again, maybe not. These are impressions from Hammock’s dreams. Viewers may see something different.
“The best part is how my work communicates to the viewer,” Hammock said. “Sometimes they see something different than what I see, and it’s interesting. It’s a way of learning about yourself, because the viewer can see something in you through the painting. I’m always learning from them.”
Hammock’s paintings hang in Baton Rouge Gallery’s Dufour Gallery in the back. Her surrealistic drawings hang in the front, two created by using graphite pencil, two in prismacolor.
“I like surrealism, because it’s a cross between realism and abstract,” Hammock said. “I’d like to continue working with this.”
Hammock has been an artist member at Baton Rouge Gallery since 2001. She earned her master’s degree in fine arts from LSU, where she also taught. Her teaching experience also includes the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Southeastern Louisiana University and Baton Rouge Magnet High School, where she serves as a Talented Visual Arts instructor.
Hammock’s drawings share the front gallery with Wiseman’s exhibit Marking Point, which investigates the relationship between physical states of being and thoughts.
She explores her own perceptions of culture, existence, migration, patterns and movement using surfaces that are, as she writes in her artist’s statement, “worked like the act of mulling over an event or feeling. Each layer is continually marked out, painted over and sanded through a search to reveal and conceal a dialogue centered around our relationship to the world around us.”
This is a continuous series for Wiseman. The pieces in this show were inspired by a recent trip to Europe, where she noted how people connect through building forms and architecture.
The architectural patterns show up within the layers of these paintings, which Wiseman calls a cross between abstraction and realism.
Wiseman’s painting, “Bone-like,” is one of the best examples of the themes flowing throughout her series.
She incorporates thread in her pieces, but the threads in “Bone-like” dangle in long strands from the center of the piece. Thread connects, as does the image of the bridge in “Bone-like.”
“When I was in Venice, I saw a bridge that looked a lot like a vertebrae,” Wiseman said. “I thought about how the vertebrae is a lot like a bridge. The bridge connects two pieces of land, bringing them together. The vertebrae holds our bodies up. I thought about this parallel of the organic body form versus the manmade bridge.”
“Bone-like” also is set on a background of scallop-like figures that fit neatly together.
“They’re small pieces that fit together like our vertebrae fit together,” Hammock said. “The vertebrae connect so we can stand, and the bridge connects people by connecting the two pieces of land.”
Wiseman is in her second year as an artist member. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Central Michigan University and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Alabama.
She now heads the painting area in SLU’s art department.
Back in the Dufour Gallery, Steve Schmidt’s exhibition Sweet Treats and Surprises, is a burst of color.
Schmidt writes in his artist’s statement that he continues to use “the ineffable nature of human experience” as the impetus for his work, resulting in abstract paintings that seek to evoke the indefinable and establish a communion felt rather than reasoned.
Schmidt works intuitively, allowing content to bubble up and reveal itself. He playfully says of these works, “the sentient forms that inhabit my paintings usually present somewhat of a ?dire’ quality, but I have come to expect this. I only then have to paint my way out.”
Schmidt is a Baton Rouge native and has been a Baton Rouge Gallery artist member since 1992. He earned his master of fine arts degree from LSU and has served as an associate professor of art at Baton Rouge Community College since 1999 while exhibiting his work throughout Louisiana.
In 2007, Schmidt’s tenure at Baton Rouge Community College led to his being honored with an Excellence Award by the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development.
And much like the bridge in Wiseman’s “Bone-like,” Gould’s exhibit, Avian Flew, connects works in the front gallery to those in the Dufour Gallery.
True, this is done simply by location. Her exhibit, after all, hangs in the hallway gallery connecting the bigger galleries.
But there’s something more here.
The poultry in Gould’s show are filled with humor through their titles and humanlike characteristics through the haughty behavior of chickens.
Think back to the royal wedding hats. The Polish chickens in Gould’s scratch board drawings hold up their headdresses with pride, no matter how flamboyant.
As did princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at Westminster Abbey in June.
Now look at Gould’s color pencil drawing, “If You’ll Be My Dixie Chicken, I’ll Be Your Tennessee Lamb.” The piece depicts a sheep looking back at a passing chicken.
The chicken tries to maintain a proper demeanor while deflecting the sheep’s natural smile. Gould named her piece for Little Feat’s song, “Dixie Chicken.” “Pick a Little, Peck a Little” from the musical The Music Man also inspired a piece.
“Animals are often my subjects,” Gould said.
Gould is the director and professor of communications at the LSU AgCenter. She’s been an artist member at the gallery since 1985.
Gould was seeking out a theme for this exhibit when she came across an article about avian flu while thumbing through a magazine.”
“I thought, ?That’s it,’” Gould said.
“There are so many phrases that we use in everyday life that relate to poultry. This show doesn’t just depict poultry but examines the influence of poultry in our everyday lives.”
This is especially through phrases in everyday language. Gould played with the phrasing of avian flu, changing it to Avian Flew in her title.
“Poultry has been a part of cartoons (Foghorn Leghorn), health risks (Avian flu), songs (Little Feat’s 'Dixie Chicken’) and a sign of cowardice,” Gould writes in her artist’s statement. “We use words or phrases that have their origin with poultry, such as 'chicken scratching,’ 'pecking order’ and 'cocky.’”
Then there’s the undeniable comical personality of chickens, who seem easily offended and filled with drama.
“Poultry project feistiness, flight, community, curiosity, fragility and elegance,” Gould writes.
Elegance that could even place them at a royal wedding.