If you haven’t had the opportunity to go by and see The Gallery at Andress, this weekend is your chance. The gallery is featuring the vibrant, colorful paintings of Martin Welch (see Welch’s story below).

Photo by Nimzo Longstratt

The space on the ground floor of the beautiful Andress Artist and Entrepreneur Center was filled over the grand opening weekend with a variety of art lovers soaking in the paintings of wildlife, fish, and uniquely Southern and Louisiana themes.

Photo by Nimzo Longstratt

Gallery manager Hillary George says the space will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from noon- 4 pm, and by appointment.

Photo by Nimzo Longstratt

While at the Gallery at Andress, go see the work of the resident artists in the artist work/studio space. Their spaces are also open on Saturday from noon-4 pm. Check the Andress FB page for additional events and special opportunities.

The gallery is just the latest in downtown’s arts and culture renaissance that includes Artspace, Central ARTstation, the artist spaces at Andress, ArtiFact and C&C Mercantile and Lighting, The Agora Borealis, Big Sun Studios, Bailey Gallery, the Southern University Museum – Shreveport, the Marlene Yu Museum, High Gravity Glassworks, Sanctuary Glass Studio, the gallery at The Lot, J & R Performance Gallery, Minicine?, and downtown’s variety of public art that range from murals to sculptural pieces.

Read more about the history of the Andress Building here.

Read more about Martin Welch, below.

Story posted March 9, 2022

Something big is happening behind these covered windows!

The windows at Andress Artist and Entrepreneur Center are covered now, blocking the view of the action happening inside. That action will come to light this weekend, and you are invited to be a part of the new era of this beautiful historic building.

On Saturday, March 12 from 7-11 pm is the public opening of the new Martin Welch Art Gallery. It is a use envisioned for the beautiful space from the beginning… it just took a little time for Andress owner Jim Malsch to find the perfect art ‘partner’ to inhabit it.

Jim Malsch (left) and artist Martin Welch.

Artist Martin Welch is familiar with Shreveport/Bossier. For six or so years, he was a visiting artist at the Red River Revel, and he also has some family ties to the area.

One of Welch’s Revel works.

At the most recent Revel, Welch struck up a conversation that eventually led him to the space at the Andress Artist and Entrepreneur Center on downtown’s Crockett Street. The building is owned by Jim Malsch who saved the old car dealership and has turned it into a place filled with business, artists, activity and networking. Most of the space in the building has been long since taken, save the ground floor gallery that was just waiting for the right tenant. Welch wanted to see the space, and one day walked from the Revel to Andress. The clean lines, historic bones, and fine rehab hit all the right marks.

The Andress, illuminated at night. Who could resist it?

The Covid pandemic was rough on retail and tough on Welch. It forced the closure of his French Quarter gallery after 6 and 1/2 years. He still has gallery space in Mississippi and on Magazine Street in NOLA, but came to realize that having his main gallery in north Louisiana made sense. He is hopeful to have not only the gallery showing and selling his works, but a working studio at the Andress, as well.

Works at Andress waiting to be hung.

Welch didn’t come to art late, but it didn’t come early, either. He was in jewelry and watch repair before enlisting in the U.S. Navy, where he focused on communications. During that period, a close friend passed away, which focused Martin on the fragility of life and the understanding that none of us gets a do-over. He decided to pursue his dream, and when he got out of the Navy, he enrolled in Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and earned an art degree. By 1998, he was painting full time. Dreams can be hard work, and this was. For more than 7 years, Welch spent three weeks of every month on the road on the art show/art festival circuit. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

A little over six years ago, he opened his own French Quarter gallery. He remembers the strong warnings he got from the art community in New Orleans that he wouldn’t make a profit for five years. He was successful from the moment the doors opened.

The space at 717 is a fresh take for Welch, after the dark days of Covid and the even darker days following the loss of his partner just five months ago. “I feel that it is a cycle, I am circling around,” he says. “It’s a whole new beginning.”

Welch with his favorite work, ‘Swamp Land’. He says this piece was ever-changing and took seven years to complete.

When you come into the gallery, the first thing you will see is vibrant color. Welch paints what he knows, and he says he knows fish and food and iconic Southern fixtures; swamps, crows, animals. He paints in acrylics, gel medium, and metallic paints, and sometimes dabbles in oils.

When he’s painting, he says ‘it just comes’- he never has the exact scene or color planned out. “I guess I’m a coloristic impressionist if there is such a word,” he laughs. “I love primary colors and I paint my emotions. I love to paint, I feel relaxed when I do it…I just love to paint.”

There is a lot about Welch’s paintings to love.  You will be able to see his local collection of works and you may just fall in love with one, too.

Come by on Saturday to see Welch’s works and to meet the artist.