"Art Melt" is the largest multimedia juried art exhibit in Louisiana, organizers say. It’s also a party — two parties, really.

Last year, Forum 35, the young professionals’ group that puts on the event, toned down the festival aspects to focus more attention on the art, said Jessica Trepagnier, president-elect of Forum 35 and co-chairwoman of "Art Melt." The overwhelming response: “Where’s the festival?”

This weekend, the festival is back. Trepagnier said the music, food and other "Art Melt" trappings help advance the event’s cultural mission and attract people who might otherwise think of art as something only found in quiet, stuffy museums.

“It gives people an opportunity to learn about the arts scene and what it means to our community and how they can experience that throughout their everyday lives,” she said.

Forum 35 hosts a ticketed "Art Melt" preview party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the Capitol Park Museum. Show winners are announced, partygoers vote for their favorites and collectors get first crack at purchasing the works before the pieces become available to the general public.

The Capitol Park Museum opens the exhibition to the public for free from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. There will be music, food and drinks, a cultural stage, an arts market and a children’s village. The museum will display the "Art Melt" selections for six weeks, Trepagnier said.

"Art Melt" received 265 submissions from 69 artists and selected 45 pieces, Trepagnier said. Only Louisiana artists are eligible. Regional arts councils and college and university arts programs help Forum 35 spread the word throughout the state, she said.

The show is not limited to any particular style or medium. Evaluating the works when you’re not comparing “apples to apples” is challenging, said Allison Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Modern and Contemporary Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art and one of "Art Melt’s" three jurors.

Young said she looked for originality in concept or process along with skilled execution. In the end, gut instinct often wins out, she said.

This marks the 15th annual "Art Melt." Over the years, the event has helped Baton Rouge residents grow more accustomed to contemporary art, said Jason Andreasen, executive director of Baton Rouge Gallery.

Andreasen likes that "Art Melt" is not restricted to certain types of art because it means audience members are more likely to find work they enjoy and find meaningful, he said. He hopes "Art Melt" attendees come away with a greater appreciation for the skill and talent of Louisiana artists.

It takes dedication to create art, he notes, and it takes guts to put it on display for public scrutiny.

“That’s something that isn’t easy, and it’s something that should be celebrated,” Andreasen said.


'ART MELT'

WHEN: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Capitol Park Museum, 660 N. 4th St., Baton Rouge

COST: Free.