River Region Art Association volunteers were sitting in the Gonzales gallery Saturday waiting for young artists to pick up their art and ribbons from the March Into Art show.

During a lull, larger than life artist John Buckley popped in the door to announce that he was back. Holding a 3D art piece made of recycled Mardi Gras beads, Buckley, who stand over 6 feet tall and sports long hair, distinctive beard and a booming voice, said that while he created pieces for Mardi Gras, "we didn't really have much Mardi Gras."

One by one, Buckley marched in more than a dozen pieces. "These were made for Black History Month, but we really didn't do a show for that, either."

Volunteer Sharon Flanagan was excited to see Buckley again. It had been awhile since Buckley brought in any work for sale at the Gonzales gallery. In fact, it's been a while since the association has seen several artists and customers.

While art has been a popular pastime for many during the coronavirus, typical art shows, festivals that feature art exhibits and art competitions have been limited. And Flanagan said, so has the association's budget stream.

But as Buckley continued to pull art work from his truck, Flanagan said she is hopeful the group's summer art classes and workshops will bring people back to the gallery and more people getting vaccinations will result  visits and shopping at the gallery.

As Flanagan and Buckley talked about how his work was be exhibited, in walked twins Madelyn and Isabella Muse. The twins participated in the March into Art contest and stopped by to pick up their art.

"We usually have a reception to honor the young artists, but not this year," Flanagan said. "We wanted to do something, so we set up this safe wa for them to pick up their ribbons and art."

Flanagan said the young talent they see from the entries each year in the group youth art contests give her hope that things will turn around for the gallery.

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Some more of that young talent walked in when two sisters picked up their haul of ribbons and artwork. Natalie and Amelia Crawford each had entered several drawings and paintings in the contest and they picked up several first place ribbons. 

Both girls said they've been drawing for a long time. Despite their young ages, Amelia is 9, the sisters said they look forward to working on art projects. They picked up a few porcelain bunnies and eggs to paint during an Easter break trip.

Flanagan reminded the girls of the association's upcoming Community Art Exhibit.

The show will be held at the main Ascension Parish Library, 120 S. Irma Blvd., in Gonzales. Categories of art include painting, drawing, mixed media and digital but are not limited to these.

Art will be accepted for exhibition from noon to 4 p.m. April 9 and from 10 a.m. to noon April 10. Arrangements can be made for alternative drop off dates by calling the gallery.

The show is available for viewing April 21-24.

While the budget is tight and visitors few, Flanagan is optimist that things can turn around. She said the gallery adheres to COVID-19 protocols and masks are mandatory. 

The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For information, call (225) 644-8496.

Email Darlene Denstorff at ddenstorff@theadvocate.com