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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Exhibition Focuses On The Art Of Flowers


“Flower Power” by Pictropoli.

R.W. Norton Art Gallery brings the outside in with BLOOM!

Shreveport’s R. W. Norton Art Gallery has long been a top destination for locals and visitors alike. Established in 1966, the museum spans more than four millennia of artwork. In the springtime especially, all eyes turn to the Norton’s expansive gardens.

For the last eight years, however, the museum’s interior has grown its own take on flora with the gallery’s annual BLOOM! Exhibition.

According to Emily Feazel, designer of exhibits and special events, “The Norton’s botanical gardens are one of the city’s most beautiful places to visit, especially in the springtime. Kip Dehart, the Norton’s head of grounds, puts so much love and care into the gardens for the community to enjoy.

So, why not have an art exhibition featuring the same beautiful blossoms inside, just as they are bursting forth in the gardens?

“Guardian of Whimsical Dreams” by Clostio.

“BLOOM! started with an idea by one of Norton’s former educators, Micah Stewart. There wouldn’t be a BLOOM! Exhibition without Micah Stewart or Kip Dehart.

“BLOOM! is always an annual favorite of visitors,” Emily continues, “and brings in a lot of people to the museum. The Norton’s permanent collection is incredible. From Rodin to Rembrandt and Cassatt to Nelson, the works displayed year-round are unlike anything else in the area. But, special exhibitions like BLOOM! bring a new vibe to the museum by featuring works you would not normally see on a day-to-day visit during other times of the year. It makes it special.

“Since its inception eight years ago,” Emily adds, “the exhibition has grown tremendously. The first year, we only had around 60 submissions, all local artists, and we chose 25 to display. This year, we received 435 submissions from across the globe and chose 60 pieces. The display of pieces changes every year. This is not a stagnant exhibition and is continuously morphing to fit each year’s work. For example, last year, we only selected 50 pieces.

We changed that number to 60 this year to accommodate more pieces and showcase more artists. We love seeing the creativity, eclectic styles and subject matter shown each year.”

Some countries and states were represented this year for the first time, including Pakistan, South Africa and Nigeria, in addition to the United States, which included first-time submissions from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

“Fish Out of Water” by Grengs.

It is no easy task to judge. “It’s extremely difficult to choose, as there are so many beautiful pieces. But, the main thing we want for any exhibition is to be dynamic and showcase different mediums and styles. You will never see the same show twice!” says Emily. “Artists from across the country and the world submit an application and an image of their work via email. Our judges meet and view the images together, to determine which pieces will be exhibited.”

Among those chosen this year are local artists Taffie Garsee and Whitney Tates. Taffie Garsee says, “It’s always an honor to be accepted into any juried show.” Whitney Tates agrees: “This exhibition holds a special place in my heart because it jump-starts my creativity for the year. Being accepted is a great confidence boost, and it’s an amazing honor to have work hung next to artists from across the world. My favorite thing about this exhibition is that it’s international,” adds Tates, “and I get to see how the theme is interpreted by other artists with influences outside of my own.”

The Norton staff feels equally grateful to the artists. “Each piece of artwork has its own story to tell. Whether it’s a piece inspired by a cultural celebration like the Day of the Dead, a watercolor inspired by a loved one, or the story of the piece traveling over 8,000 miles to get to Shreveport,” Emily notes, “each piece is unique and special in its own way. BLOOM! has not only exposed the community to new artists, but also the staff at The Norton. We have purchased several works from past BLOOM! exhibitions and added them to the permanent collection.”

The artist’s works are for sale, but only through the artist. The Norton does not handle the sale of any works or receive any commission for such sales. “We have also worked with previous BLOOM! artists on other exhibitions like Sketchy Business, our Christmas exhibition and more,” Emily adds.

“Narcissist Crown” by Whitney Tates.

Many hours go into creating an exhibit like this for the community. As Emily emphasizes, “The Norton is one big team, especially when it comes to exhibitions. We could not do what we do without every single person involved. From painting the exhibition walls to coordinating the shipping of works, from hanging the exhibition to printing the text panels, the Norton staff comes together to create a beautiful exhibition for the community to enjoy.”

The opening reception for BLOOM! will be Thursday, March 28, 5–7 p.m. The exhibition will run through May 12. The museum and grounds are free and open to the public.

The R. W. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Ave. in Shreveport. The museum hours are Thursday–Sunday, 1–5 p.m., with the building closed for federal holidays, and the garden hours are Wednesday–Sunday sunrise to sunset. No photography is allowed. The museum can be contacted at rwnaf.org, on Facebook at R.W. Norton Art Gallery, on Instagram @rwnortonartgallery and by phone at 318-865-4201. No reservations are necessary for the gardens or the museum.


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