DENHAM SPRINGS — The Arts Council of Livingston Parish will open its 2017 season in January with “Celebration of Art,” a large multimedia exhibit featuring the works of 19 artists from throughout the area.

The exhibit began Jan. 4 and runs through Jan. 28. A Second Saturday Reception will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at the group’s galleries on Hummell Street near the city’s Antique Village.

The Arts Council office and gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The event marks what Mary Felder, Arts Council of Livingston Parish’s president, tabbed a “re-opening.”

“Our gallery and offices did not flood, thankfully, but after the flood in August we closed the gallery so that other agencies working on flood recovery could use the facility," Felder said. "At the same time, some of our board members, and artists, were affected by the flood so we just could not continue.”

Felder said that the January exhibit will usher in a new year of exhibits and programs for the arts council.

“We are looking forward to an exciting year. The big exhibit in January will just be the beginning. We plan monthly exhibits throughout the year. The number of artist who participate in our programs is growing, and we think the future is bright for the arts community in Livingston Parish,” she said.

In addition to exhibits at the Arts Council Galleries, Felder said the council has been asked to sponsor the Art on Mattie Street event this year and has also agreed to organize the art exhibits and sales at the annual Fall and Spring Fests held in Denham Springs.

Felder said 2016 was a good year for the Arts Council until the floods came.

“What has been most rewarding is that the artists have been coming to us and this tells me that we are doing a good thing with the Arts Council," she said. "We want area artists to join together and interact and that is what we are trying to do."

The council has about 40 juried artists who meet on a monthly basis to discuss their art, exhibits and new things that they can learn, she said.

For example, Felder said the gallery will hold a Photoshop workshop later this year. She said that it is important for artists who plan to enter their works in exhibits to know how to photograph and share their works.

Felder said that general interest in the visual arts is increasing, and the number and variety of artists is steadily growing.

“We have talented artists who work with traditional art, sculpture, glass and fiber art, metal art, wood carving, jewelry making and photography. Photography is drawing an increased interest, and in March, the Louisiana Photography Society will do a show for us. We are looking forward to this event,” she said.

The Arts Council will resume its adult and children’s classes held on a regular monthly basis. The children’s classes are held on the third Saturday of each month and the Arts Council bears the cost of art supplies and pays the fee for professional artists who teach the classes.

Classes kick off with a special event for children in January. A Beginning Drawing & Watercolor Basics for Children, for ages 8-12, will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the gallery. Free materials will be provided by the arts council. Those interested are asked to register by Jan. 18 by telephone or email. The class will be taught by Terry Curtin.

“The Arts council also has summer art classes for elementary school students at the gallery and at the Lockhart Community Center,” she said.

“Our youth art program has been very successful in the past and when you attend their final exhibit you are just amazed at what these young artists are accomplishing," she added. "We think it is important to encourage young artists. Even if they don’t become active artist in later life they come to appreciate the arts and what the arts mean to the enhancement of a community.”

She said the Arts Council of Livingston Parish also supports the performing arts such as music, dance and drama. The Spotlight Theater program, which brings theatrical performances to the area, is supported by the council as well as music festivals.

“Our watchwords are ‘Illuminating and Enriching our Communities,’ and our focus is on providing a venue where artists can come to show and sell their works. For me, this is important. Artists needs a place where they can share their creativity with the entire community. We are here to serve the artists and at the same time the entire community. Art is an important part of everyone’s life and enjoying the beauty of what artists create is enriching for everyone,” she said.

The Arts Council was chartered in 2003 and has been a catalyst for the arts community since. Felder said membership in the council has tripled since its founding, indicating widespread support for the arts in Livingston and surrounding parishes.

The Arts Council of Livingston Parish is financially supported through fundraisers such as the Art Auction in the Barn, which has been held in the past, the generosity of local businesses and grants from various agencies. For example, the New Orleans Jazz Fest supports the council each year with generous donations.

Felder and Charlotte Reynolds, secretary for the Arts Council, encourage area residents to visit the gallery during the month of January for the “Celebration of Art” exhibit.

Artists slated to show their works during the exhibit are: Kristine Stone, Kerry Curtin, BeBe Tulley, Dody Sandifer, John Bolander, KC Kuhnert, Judy Momenzadah, Mary Felder, Michelle Conques, Marita Gentry, Sara Smith, Jerry Wacker, Cherie Ducote Breaux, Joseph Hotard, Marcia Arnold, Teri Sullivan, Liz Harmon, Michael Verrett and Kathy Reeves.