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SOLO Exhibition Opening & Critical Review – SEE the Exhibitions and HEAR the Critics review the works.
A quadruple whammy of CRITICAL MASS’ 9 AND 10 SOLO SHOWS is the perfect way to boost the Northwest Louisiana Art Community after Covid-19 cancelled the 2020 Solo Show exhibition of the Critical Mass 9 Critic’s Choices.
Join us Friday, September 16 at 5:00 p.m. at artspace at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport to see and hear the spectacular creativity of visual and literary artists Eric Francis, Julie Kane, Debra Roberson and Genaro Ky Ly Smith.
In 2012, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) launched one of the most high energy, vibrant reflections of the passion and talent of local visual, literary and performance artists with CRITICAL MASS, an annual showcase of Northwest Louisiana Art and Artists and critical review by renowned Critics from across the United States including Robert Pincus, Lauren Smart, Gabriel Shaffer, Greg Bownderville, Emily Wilkerson and Leigh Camacho Rourks. Those whom the critics select as “Best of Show” visual and literary Artists each receive a $2,000 commission to plan and execute a solo show exhibited in artspace in downtown Shreveport. The solo shows are then reviewed by nationally known Critics. In 2020, Covid-19 sent a shock wave through the SRAC’s tradition of exhibiting the solo shows of the top Artists of Northwest Louisiana and cancelled the Critical Mass 9 Solo exhibition. On September 16th, two years of Critical Mass Critics’ Choice Awards Solo Shows will open at artspace in an incredible exhibition of regional visual and literary talent.
Critical Mass 9 Visual Artist Eric Francis’ visual solo exhibition, “Into the Imagination,” invites the viewer to journey into the mind of an artist to see the images that exist in his imagination. Professional Critic and New Orleans Artist Gabriel Shaffer described Francis’ winning piece, “Song of Songs 1:5” as a total joy. “Francis’ rendering of his subject emits power, pride, self-awareness and a regal aura. The balance of gold and black abstractions with attention to subtle touches in the portrait, demonstrates a broad range of sensitivity,” says Shaffer. Francis says he is honored to have been named Critical Mass 9 Visual Artist Critic’s Choice. “The solo exhibition represents a milestone I’ve been working towards for many years now. I’m looking forward to seeing my artwork hung in the same space I’ve seen so many great exhibitions,” says Francis.
Critical Mass 9 Literary Artist Julie Kane’s solo exhibition, “I Will Not Write A Pandemic Poem,” (the same name as her winning piece) is a 19-minute-long video based on twenty of her pandemic duplex poems. Kane says, “Visual images from my poems will dance across the screen as my voice can be heard reading the poems in the background. I am eager to see how people will react.” Professional Critic, Poet, and SMU Professor Greg Brownderville chose Kane’s work as Best of Show and quickly recognized her use of the duplex form of poetry popularized by 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning Jericho Brown (also from Shreveport) Brownderville appreciated her delightful wit with lines like, “Cruising the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly is the new unsafe sex, versus curbside pickup.” The Critic says, “The blend of humor, grief, and terror that Kane uses brings out the blues-like resonances of the duplex form. I can’t help thinking Brown would be delighted to see a form of his making handled so beautifully by a Northwest Louisiana poet.” Kane says, “It meant a great deal to me to have my work selected by Greg Brownderville, a poet and journal editor whom I respect greatly. I was also happy to join the company of fine writers who have won this award in the past.”
Critical Mass 10 Visual Artist Debra Roberson’s solo exhibition, “Cane River Chronicles: Unveiled,” asks viewers to join her on a journey around Cane River of Natchitoches to explore and compare life as a sharecropper on a plantation in the 1900s with life today in the 21st century for Black, Indigenous and people of color. Roberson says, “This exhibition is my stamp on the history of my ancestors. Being named Critical mass 10’s Critic’s Choice Visual Artist gives validation to my art. I love landscape photography and telling stories through my photography. My favorites photographers were Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks. They captured important times in history and that’s what I aim to do.“ New Orleans Professional Critic and Author, Emily Wilkerson, said that Roberson’s entry of the Highland Hospital hallway to the cancer wing “beckoned her back numerous times, bringing to mind Clyde Connell’s approach to capturing the human condition. ‘A Votré Santé’ was the most captivating work in Critical Mass 10, from its alluring composition to the sobering subject matter. Whether you approach this black and white photograph with curiosity or caution, the rhythm of the columns flanking the hallway captured in this work is likely to ignite deep emotion, be they feelings of joy, suffering, or wonder,” said Wilkerson.
Critical Mass 10 Literary Artist Genaro Ky Ly Smith’s solo exhibition, “A Napalm Lullaby” will be a study in paradoxes. Large canvas photos showing his family’s life in Vietnam from 1967-1971 depict happiness and love as a stark contrast to the words on his pages telling the horrific, terrible aspects of war through poetry and fiction. Cuban American author, professor and St. Lawrence Book Award recipient, Leigh Camacho Rourks, reviewed the first chapter of Smith’s work, “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born,” from his novel in progress, Napalm Lullaby. “Smith’s work gnawed at me, forcing me to return to it repeatedly,” said Rourks. “Smith leaves no movement unrealized and no sentence unchiseled. Every narrative moment shows care and craft. I truly believe the novel which emerges from this piece is destined to be snapped up, destined to make Critical Mass proud.” Rourks went on to say that she was thrilled that SRAC nurtured such creative bravery. Smith says, “Being named Critical Mass 10’s Literary Best of Show is a validation of the dream I have had of being a writer since I was eight years old. Critical Mass is giving many, many artists in Northwest Louisiana exposure and recognition and displaying the impressive quality of the Arts in this region. I am hopeful that my daughters will be inspired by the art on display and realize that they are not limited by their race (White, Black. and Asian) but can aspire to be anything they choose.”