When artist Natalie Hutchinson moved into Baton Rouge’s Ogden Park area in 2005, affordability and abundance of stately trees were big parts of the attraction. She later discovered another reason she seemed to fit in.
“The more I got to know my neighbors, [the more I found out that] a lot of them already were artists,” Hutchinson said. “It just sort of grew.”
On Saturday, the number of artists does more than grow. It breaks out all over the neighborhood.
The third annual Ogden Park Prowl will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the neighborhood bordered by Acadian Thruway and Ogden Drive (near Baton Rouge Magnet High School) to the east and west, and North Boulevard and Government Street to the north and south. The Prowl will feature all manner of art, as well as food, drink and music to make it an overgrown block party.
The Prowl began fairly informally in 2013, with Ogden Park’s artists displaying their wares, and was so well-received in the neighborhood that it was expanded last year, said Lauren Lambert-Tompkins, president of the Ogden Park Neighborhood Association, which puts on the event. It grew last year to about 500 visitors, and Lambert-Tompkins thinks that number may double this time around. There are 142 artists signed up, also a significant increase from 2014.
Because Ogden Park is inside Baton Rouge’s Mid City Arts District, art sales are tax-free.
“We have so many artists in this neighborhood who kind of wanted an opportunity to show off their own works,” she said. “We have a lot of the more traditional artists — painting, acrylics, sketching — but we also have a lot of artisans: a leather-maker, jewelry makers. A lot of people are selling their crafts, their wares. We’re also going to have three or four stages for live musicians and spoken word. We’re also celebrating culinary art. We’re going to have a food truck roundup, and some local restaurants are doing little pop-up tents.
“We found when you put out a general call for artists … art is a very broad term. We’re not ones to judge what is and isn’t art. Sometimes we get some interesting things, like aerial performers and spoken word and some things that might not traditionally be thought of as art. If you consider yourself an artist, we’ll accept you.”
The artists aren’t limited to those living in the neighborhood, but will come from throughout the area, setting up shop in front of homes and at some of the businesses that border Ogden Park. Last year, Lambert-Tompkins said, there were a dozen stops on each street for visitors to explore. This year, Beverly Drive will be blocked off to vehicles so it can serve as a children’s area from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
As with most festivals, the food will be an eclectic mix: Mexican, barbecue, chicken and sweets dominate the culinary lineup, and rock, jazz, blues and spoken word will come from four adult stages, with age-appropriate fare at the Kid’s Stop Stage.
But the food and music are the lagniappe at this festival, which celebrates artistic diversity. That alone doesn’t make it unique, but the fact that it draws much of the artistry from a single neighborhood gives it its own flavor.
Hutchinson, a mixed-media painter, said it’s not just Ogden Park’s artists who like having the Prowl fill the streets with people one day a year.
“Everyone’s embraced it,” she said. “I haven’t heard any negative thoughts about it at all. A lot of people are amazed that this is actually going on in their neighborhood. They never thought that anything like that would ever happen. We have White Light Night and all these art walks, which is nice, but is more toward the businesses in Mid City and isn’t geared toward the neighborhoods of the community.
“It’s nice to know you can walk down the street and know your friends are working on some art. It’s a really cool idea.”
Check out the music at this year’s Ogden Park Prowl
Dizzy Arts Main Stage
North end of Beverly Street
Musicians: The Rakers, Ship of Fools, Minos the Saint
Spoken Word Stage
South end of Beverly Street
Local spoken word performers, organized by Desiree Dallagiacomo
Musicians: Dolo Jazz Suite including AF the Naysayer, Ganz Feld and David D’Angelo
Cake Ball Stage
(cake balls donated by Brew Ha-Ha)
Musicians: Lee Ann Raye, local blues artists’ “jam session”
Bricks & Bombs Stage
North end of Hearthstone
Musicians: Denton Hatcher, Ryan Harris, Benjamin Moore
Kid’s Stop Stage
Corner of Beverly and Wilshire
Musicians: Mrs. Dorothy and Her Traveling Shaky Egg Band, Baton Rouge Magnet High School’s Mike Esnault
Atomic Pop Shop on Government Street will also host a few musicians.