Public art enriches and beautifies a community. Vibrant murals, whimsical statues and fantastical sculptures improve our quality of life through their ability to enhance an environment, ignite our imaginations, remind us of our history and inspire our future. Public art benefits the community through placemaking, bringing people together, and can be used as a tool in economic development.
“So We May Live into Yours” Mural designed by Emily Jane Cruz and Ali Hijazi
City of Monroe: Murals Abound
Public art manifests throughout Northeast Louisiana beginning with a visitor’s first impression when arriving at the Monroe Regional Airport. As one of three public murals completed in Monroe this summer, “So We May Live into Yours” includes an abstract Monroe skyline integrated with technology. This vinyl installation on the window of the airport terminal represents the history and the future of the city.
The next mural, installed at the Monroe Civic Center, is entitled “Songs from the Silver Waters.” The mural acknowledges the broad history of Ouachita Parish while highlighting the purpose and function of the Monroe Civic Center. The final mural, installed at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, is a colorful and abstract rendering of running horses. In popular culture, a stampede symbolizes a display of magnificence and power.
The Masur Museum of Art in Monroe received a grant from the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau to create these three public murals. Additionally, the museum was awarded a grant from the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council to commission area artists to create designs for a bus wrap, creating movable public art displays. Working with two Monroe Transit buses, artists designed one side of the buses with a focus on the essence of Monroe, the local landscape and our history. These works of art are now making their rounds about town, adding beauty to an everyday part of life in our city.
Bulldogs, Fish and Herons: Oh MY!
Memphis has Tigers, New Orleans has Bead Dogs, and Slidell has Pelicans. Now, Ruston has BuIldogs, Farmerville has Fish, and soon Monroe-West Monroe will have Herons.
Ruston launched a community-wide public arts project, dubbed the Bulldog Project, following the immense success of its painted murals. Spearheaded by the Ruston Cultural District, this public arts project created ten fiberglass Bulldog statues designed by local artists. The Bulldogs are placed at various locations throughout the City of Ruston, allowing artists to showcase their work publicly. After two years, seven of the 10 Bulldogs will be auctioned off and moved to permanent locations determined by the winning bidders.
Public response to the Bulldogs proved overwhelmingly positive, with hundreds of photos of the statues shared on social media. A thousand Bulldog location maps have been given out since the “unleashing,” so people can discover all ten Bulldogs, which has quickly become a must-do activity in Ruston.
Bulldog statues can be found at the following locations: Cook Park, Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visitors Center), Louisiana Tech University, Lambright Sports and Wellness Center, Boys and Girls Club NCLA, Ruston Farmers Market, The Dixie Center for the Arts, Bank of Ruston, Railroad Park, and City Hall.
Farmerville: Fishing Fantasy
Farmerville’s flight of fancy, entitled a “Fishing Fantasy,” embodies the beauty of Lake D’Arbonne, while highlighting a popular activity on the lake. This sparkling glass tile-covered sculpture will soon make its public appearance on the lawn of the Union Parish Courthouse in Farmerville. The seven-foot tall art piece, designed and executed by mosaic artist Jamie Anderson, will be Farmerville’s first permanent free-standing art installation.
The work was commissioned by the Union Parish Museum of History and Art as a gift to the community. The project was supported by 55 donors who purchased commemorative bricks and by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts as administered through the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council. Public unveiling of the sculpture will take place during December.
Monroe-West Monroe: Herons on the Bayou
Herons embody our community’s love of nature and the great outdoors. Appropriately, the next public arts project on the horizon is “Herons on the Bayou.” This project allows local artists to paint seven-foot tall, fiberglass and metal heron sculptures, sponsored by area businesses. For a $2,500 donation, a unique heron will be created for the business to install at their establishment or at a public location. More than 30 herons will be placed throughout Ouachita Parish. This massive undertaking is supported by the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council and led by Brooke Foy, whose organization, ARROW Public Art, also organized the volunteer effort, “One Mile of Love” to paint the seawall in West Monroe. Visit https://nelaarts.org/herons-on-the-bayou/ to become a sponsor.
These latest examples of creativity and imagination add to our growing outdoor gallery of public art. Other prominent works of public art include the Coca Cola murals in Monroe and West Monroe, the Great Blue Heron at Restoration Park in West Monroe, the Maypop in downtown Monroe and the Trenton Flowers on Antique Alley.
To keep the creativity flowing, the City of West Monroe is calling for artists to submit 2-D visual works of art to be displayed at City Hall. The submission should center around the theme, “Year of the River” in honor of the Ouachita River. To learn more about submitting artwork, call the City of West Monroe Mayor’s Office at (318) 396-2600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.