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Monday, April 20, 2020

Creativity on Parade

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Community FB page ‘Buy Local Art NW Louisiana’ creating stir

The country-wide quarantine due to COVID-19 has affected many elements of “life as we know it.” But not even a global pandemic can dull the vibrant strokes of the artist community’s brushes. Art is alive and thriving in northwest Louisiana, bringing joy and hope amid uncertainty.

The Buy Local Art NW Louisiana Facebook page is one avenue artists are utilizing to share their talent. Created by Ben Humphries in March 2019, the Buy Local ART NW Louisiana Facebook page continues to grow and offer fresh bursts of inspiration and color to a world gone gray.

Humphries first started the page last spring to promote his own art. “It was originally called Buy Local Art Shreveport,” Humphries explained. “When the current pandemic struck, I was contacted by Casey Jones, who wanted the Regional Arts Council to join with utilizing the page to promote local art.”

Humphries then changed the page name to Buy Local Art NW Louisiana to include all area artists and began encouraging other artists to join and invite their friends. “We needed artists to participate, but also their non-artist friends because they are the potential buyers,” Humphries said. “I didn’t want the page just to be artists sitting around looking at each other’s work.”

The “albums” feature on the Facebook page has made it possible for an artist to post his/her work in one easily located place. “Creating albums provides a virtual gallery for viewers and potential buyers to browse,” Humphries said.

So far, it’s been a hit. Local artists from all over Northwest Louisiana have had great success buying and selling art through this platform.

Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, is another local art lover who helps run the monthly Downtown Artwalk, which has been on hold during the stay-at-home order. “The reason we do Artwalk is for several reasons – to encourage people to explore downtown, show off our places and spaces, and introduce the public to the amazing diversity of local artists, who do everything from paint to photograph, make body lotions and jewelry, pottery and more,” Swaine said. “Since the crackdown on events and gatherings, these artists, who usually depend on face-to-face interaction, have been seriously hurt economically. This Facebook page has been a godsend to them in allowing them a space to show their works where a lot of eyes are watching.”

Swaine has purchased two items so far – a painting and a suncatcher. “I know many of the artists on this page and trust them completely,” Swaine said. “These aren’t fly-by-night folks looking for a quick buck, but rather, artists who are looking for ongoing relationships between artist and customer and will work with you to get you the perfect item.”

Christie Cassell sold eight paintings from her first post. “There are so many diverse artists, one for everyone’s taste and budget. It’s a great opportunity for local artists to share what they do, as well as support themselves,” Cassell said.

All the participating artists are grateful for Humphries taking the time and initiative to create this opportunity for exposure and sales.

Robert Trudeau, a multi-media art maven, has sold two pieces. “They were both nifty, encouraging interactions,” Trudeau said. “Customers Venmo me their payment, and I put the art on the porch for retrieval.”

Tiffany Baker has sold three pieces of art and will be selling two more shortly. “I’m very happy because without this page, it would be hard for my work to be seen,” Baker said.

Ben Ware is another local artist who was instrumental in helping develop the page and in helping grow it to its current membership of over 2,000 people. “I watched the NWLA artist page grow from just a few people to over 2,000 in just a short period,” Ware said. “I’ve sold two pieces I’ve posted and made connections with artists and art lovers from all over. I love this platform and the feeling of community it brings.”

“I’m a painter and mixed-media artist who joined the group a couple of weeks ago, and in that short time, I’ve met a number of other artists and art lovers and sold a painting.” Ginger Garfield said. “It’s a supportive and fun community. I’m grateful to Ben for creating it, to SRAC for promoting it, and to the Northwest Louisiana art community for making it so vibrant!” Kayla Martin is another artist who has made three successful sales via the page. “I really enjoy being able to see the wide variety of artists we have living locally,” Martin said. “Plus, it’s so heartwarming to see so many people have a positive response to our artwork.”

The Facebook page also provides an opportunity for artists who don’t have a lot of exposure elsewhere, especially during the pandemic, like for Thomas Rodgers and Stephanie Simms. “I’ve been trying my best to get my things sold on other social media sites, but they don’t really have a place to advertise. Here, not only can I sell, but I have an easier time doing it,” Rodgers said.

“I’m kind of an introvert and work a lot, so I don’t get out to the shows as much as I’d like. This page is awesome!” Simms said.

Jennifer Heard is another member of the Buy Local Art NW Louisiana page and has made several large sales. Heard works mostly with acrylic on reclaimed wood, but also does some pieces on canvas. “I focus mainly on birds or nature themes,” Heard said. Two of her large, flying pelican pieces have been recently commissioned.

In a time of national crisis, it’s important to continue to focus on helping one another and supporting local businesses. The Buy Local Art NW Louisiana Facebook page is just one way we can do exactly that.

ON STANDS NOW!

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