Monday, Aug. 17, 2015

Art on Fire

Glitz and Grits brings two artists to city for event honoring arts

Bruce Odell - Vase

Glitz and Grits brings two artists to city for event honoring arts

Two South Louisiana artists are heading north to lend a hand at Shreveport’s Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.

Jim Tweedy and Bruce Odell are two men who are firmly established in their particular art of choice. Tweedy is a much celebrated painter of sports and comedic animals. Odell is a much awarded potter and practitioner of Raku Firing, an ancient Japanese technique for heating pottery.

Both men will be at the museum in September for the biennial Glitz and Grits fundraiser, said Margaret Fuhr Green, chairman of the Friends of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, which is hosting the event.

This year’s Glitz and Grits is set for Sept. 26. Tickets are $150.

And in addition to good food and music, Green said, those in attendance will get to witness two completely different styles of art.

For Tweedy, a Covington-based painter, that artistic style is highlighted by lush and colorful sports-themed paintings. Canvases filled with the beauty of sports from majestic polo players to powerful baseball sluggers caught in mid-swing.

And then there is Tweedy’s more imaginative creations: Charlie the Red Cat and Jim Tweedy’s Friendly Doggies.

The latter two projects display the comical whimsy of the artist.

Tweedy attributes the cartoon-nature of both Charlie and the Friendly Doggies to his dad, Byron, who was a Disney animator prior to World War II.

“My first art lessons were from my dad,” said Tweedy, recalling moments at his family’s kitchen table where he’d watch his dad doodle.

“That’s why I love the cartoons,” he added.

It’s a love that must show through his art, because the it’s reciprocated by the cartoons’ popularity, especially his Friendly Doggies.

“These crazy little dogs that I do,” Tweedy said. “They are extremely popular.”

Tweedy has already been tapped to create the Glitz and Grits publicity poster as well as the fundraiser’s official T-shirt. He’ll also contribute some items to the night’s silent auction.

Tweedy added: “I will probably try and do some work while I’m there.”

Also displaying his craft for all to see will be Odell, a World Champion Potter and three-time winner of the U.S. Pottery Olympics.

Odell, who is based in Lafayette, will heat the September night up demonstrating Raku firing, a technique that involves heating a piece of pottery up to 2,000-degrees, then allowing it to air cool.

“I’ll be demonstrating Raku firing as much as they want,” Odell said, adding the process brings out an array of colors on the copper parts of the pottery.

“You’re able to get a range of color you can’t get any other way,” he said. “You can watch the color develop.”

Odell began developing his techniques in 1976. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Odell turned his pottery skills into a business, one he’s been cultivating for nearly 40 years.

With Raku firing, onlookers will witness Odell use flammable liquid and a very trained hand to create a one-of-akind artwork.

Both artists add up to “one very fun evening,” Green said.

And while art is the focus of the night, Green said, food and music will also get a good bit of play. Live music will be provided by Lafayette’s Bayou Boys. And the night’s food will be cooked up by David Alvis of Silver Star Catering, which will include a cobbler bar.

Green said past Glitz and Grits fundraiser have been “very well-attended,” usually bring in 1,000 attendees. Getting people in the door is important, too, because the Friends of the Exhibit Museum hope to raise $150,000 at the event.

It’s money that helps the nonprofit museum bring in new art, not salary and operational needs.

“Friend’s funds primarily go to the exhibits,” Green said.

The funds also help the museum’s future, according to Wayne Waddell, administrator of the Northern Region of the Museums Program.

“The Friends were instrumental in keeping our museum open during recent state budget cuts,” he said.

Waddell added, “Glitz and Grits is the largest Friends fundraising event showcasing special exhibits and celebrity guests all in an effort to grow support and awareness for the museum.”

Besides shining a light on the museum itself, the event has a similar effect for the attending artists, like Tweedy and Odell.

“Glitz and Grits give artists an opportunity to increase their exposure by showcasing their work in Northwest Louisiana,” Waddell said. “And it also encourages their fans to visit the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.”

“It truly is a win-win for all involved.”

–RT Morgan

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