Tuesday, March 26, 2019


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It has been called America’s classiest cocktail.

The martini – a mix of, well, that depends on your tastes – and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist – has quite a history.

According to Thrillist.com, the martini was the first drink of the day for United States House of Representative – and future president – Gerald Ford.

The martini was Richard Nixon’s last drink before he stepped down as president.

For years, the martini has been used as an excuse – from meeting friends to hashing out a complicated business deal.

“Let’s catch up over martinis!” “Do you want to try and work out the numbers over a martini?” Saturday, March 30, from 7-11 p.m., you can have a martini and celebrate the arts. Artini in the Plaza, which raises money for the Bossier Arts Council (BAC), will be held outside in Bossier City’s East Bank Plaza in the East Bank District. The dress is “artsy casual.” Tickets are $65, and include heavy hors d’oeuvres catered by Le Louisiane, and live music from the cover band – and appropriately named – “Tipsey.”

“This fundraiser really is the core of the funding for our programming throughout the year,” said BAC Executive Director Robin Jones. “Without this fundraiser, we wouldn’t be able to do any of our programs.”

The 10th “Artiniversary” will feature 18 restaurants and bars competing for top martini honors in three categories.

“Who doesn’t love a good martini?” asks Emerie Eck Gentry, Artini’s chairperson. “It’s just a fun way to get different businesses in town to compete in a friendly competition for the coveted prize of People’s Choice, Judge’s Choice or Most Creative.”

All of the martinis at this year’s event will be vodka-based and will range from traditional to way-out-there.

“You’ve got your savory,” Gentry said. “You’ve got your sweet. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen coconut. We’ve seen a Bar-B-Que martini. We’ve seen a pizza olive mix martini. We’ve seen watermelon and blue lemonade and all different varieties. It’s no different than your wines or bourbons. It’s tasting different creations our local businesses have made for us.”

Gentry said there is an art to making a martini.

“The creation of the martini is part of our art scheme at this event. It’s definitely a great way for our local bartenders and restaurants to get creative and showcase what they can really do.”

But there is also an art to decorating the glass from which you will drink your martini.

“The public came out and painted the martini glasses,” Gentry said. “Some are amateurs, some are aspiring artists, and some are full-fledged artists. You get to pick out which glass you want, and you get to keep it … all different forms of art are on your glass.”

Each year, Artini presents a featured artist. This year, it’s Megan Davis Taylor. She will create the three awards, which will go to the winner in each of the martini contest categories.

“It might be something to hang on the wall,” Gentry said. “It might be a trophy. Whatever the artist envisions as that award is what (the winner) will get.”

Taylor’s portfolio may give a hint as to what the awards will look like.

“She is well-known for her Funky Chicken paintings and farm animals,” Gentry said. “She lives in Bossier and has a resident studio at the Bossier Arts Council, so it was a really easy fit this year.”

Taylor will also be doing something new at Artini.

“She will be painting the event,” Gentry explained. “She will paint the event on canvas and people will be able to buy raffle tickets to win the finished product. We’re really excited about that aspect of it.”

Each year, Artini also presents the Mover and Shaker Award. Gentry said the award goes to “somebody from the community that leaves a legacy in any way, shape or form.”

This year’s recipient is Steve Porter. “He’s a local art teacher,” Gentry said. “He helps students prepare for art competitions and mentors them, showcases their work, and is always willing to help the Arts Council.”

The BAC’s mission is “to support local artists and support local programming,” Jones said. That support is offered to artists throughout Bossier, Caddo, Webster and Lincoln parishes.

“A lot of them know how to paint, but they don’t know how to promote themselves or sell their artwork,” Jones said. “So, we help them with all of those different aspects. We started with ‘we are an art gallery,’ but there is so much more as an organization we can do to support children, students and local artists from that gallery. It has blossomed into this incredible art community.”

You will find the BAC at 630 Barksdale Blvd., just across from the East Bank Plaza. It has two galleries which you can visit at no cost.

“We have an emerging artist gallery for artists who have less than six exhibitions,” Jones said. “That’s sort of a step-stone gallery, so they start there. Then, after they have gone through that process, we bring them into our main gallery and pair them with another artist. That teaches them to collaborate—to come up with a consistent theme.”

The BAC also gives artists exposure to people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to see the artists’ work.

“If we offer a show to an artist that’s from Ruston, their audience in Ruston may have seen their work, but this gives them access to a different audience,” Jones said. “It helps them become more comfortable stepping outside the community they’re in and showcasing their work in different communities.”

While the BAC lends a helping hand to current artists, the organization encourages future artists—children.

“We start when they are young, and we explain how the arts can affect local people—how they can make your world more beautiful. How they’re important to your lifestyle and your community.”

And Jones says for girls and boys, there is a direct correlation between arts and learning.

“Studies have shown that children who are exposed to the arts at an early age actually retain more information when they are learning lessons.”

Artini has only been held outside one other time, and that was on a rooftop. If it rains this time, there is a contingency plan, considering Artini’s proximity to the BAC.

“We’ll just move it into the Bossier Arts Council and have a great time!’ For tickets to Artini, or to learn more about BAC, you may visit www.bossierarts.org, or call 741-8310.


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