Water, superstitions, identity and home — it’s all about the richness of life at Baton Rouge Gallery.
From the simplest joys of a backyard to an examination of culture and politics, gallery artists Mary Ann Caffery, Samuel J. Corso, David DuBose and Steve Schmidt offer a different slice of life in their exhibitions.
Their shows combine to make up Baton Rouge Gallery’s October exhibition, which runs through Oct. 29. And this introspective journey begins with a splash of color from Corso’s courtyard.
Corso recently moved from his home of 30 years into a Garden District house designed by legendary Louisiana architect A. Hays Town.
“I still can’t believe that I live in this house,” Corso says. “I drink coffee every morning in the courtyard.”
And it was in the courtyard where Corso discovered his next series of paintings. He loves spending time there, so why not paint what he loves? The result is a series of watermedia paintings he’s titled, “Color Book.”
Each painting explodes in vibrant, energetic colors that embody the organic shapes and lush landscape of Corso’s personal sanctuary — a sanctuary he willingly shares through his work.
“Art can be fun, and it’s OK for it to be fun,” he says. “And if you walk through the exhibit, you’ll see that I show the courtyard from different vantage points.”
The burst of color somehow complements Caffery’s series of black-and-white photos in her exhibit “Surrounded by Water” on the opposite side of the gallery.
Caffery explores how water has been a running theme in her work.
“Maybe it is because I live in south Louisiana and water is everywhere — in the air, the ground, the sky,” she says. “Maybe it is because water has been a recurring archetypal theme in my art over the years. Maybe it is because water behaves similar to my primary medium of glass in its reflection, transmission, and absorption of light.”
Caffery’s water threads through several vignettes, including her photos of the only surviving structure on Last Island off the coast of Grand Isle and the pelicans and fog taken on morning walks around the LSU Lakes.
“I visit Last Island annually to see if the structure is still there and what state they it’s in,” she says. “The LSU Lakes is one of my favorite places to photograph. For me there is something special about fog — it breaks landscapes down into very simple shapes and excludes details.”
Caffery’s show is followed by Schmidt’s exhibit of textured abstract paintings “Superstitions” in the back gallery.
“I like color,” Schmidt says. “I like the purity of paint — I like its texture.”
And he likes drawing out viewers’ inner detective by challenging them to make sense of his paintings. He’s made a few discoveries of his own along the way.
One of his paintings, “Distant Shore,” was simply an abstract piece at first. But that changed when Schmidt stepped away from it. Shapes symbolized a scene from his boyhood when he was scuba diving in Arkansas’ Lake Narilous. A young boy went under down shore, and Schmidt and his friends were called on to find him. They never found him, but the scene is still emotional for Schmidt.
“Tears were streaming down my face as I looked at this painting,” he says. “I was so glad to get rid of this through this painting.”
Sharing the gallery with Schmidt’s work is DuBose’s show “Above and Below,” in which he exposes layers of personal experience through his recent collection of original prints, drawings and mixed media works.