The works of more than 100 area artists will be on display for the celebration of a decade of Critical Mass! The yearly event is a professional critical review of local art and this year, will feature a retrospective of the nine Critical Mass winners. It is going to be an amazing event, that will kick off Friday, Feb. 4 at artspace, 708 Texas Street.
Here are the details, hot off the Shreveport Regional Arts Council presses-
Critical Mass 2022…a double-digit decade marking the determination, drive, and do it like it’s never been done before attitude that Shreveport Regional Arts Council puts into celebrating the best visual and literary art of more than 100 Northwest Louisiana artists. Critical Mass 10 brings professional critical review to encourage the artists of the region to “up their game,” awards a $2,000 commission to those artists named “Best” by nationally acclaimed critics, and features a never-before-seen retrospective of winners of the last nine years of Critical Mass. Experience art taken to the “nth” degree in Critical Mass 10, Friday, February 4. It’s free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:00 PM, announcement of awards at 5:30 PM, and public reception honoring the artists begins at 6:30 PM.
See a Sneak Peek of the art here! https://fb.watch/aOvcl30JI5/
Critical Mass is an annual, Open Invitational Exhibition and Critic Series begun in 2012 as a way to ensure that visiting National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) chairman Rocco Landesman “saw” the art of Northwest Louisiana artists. Ten years later it is one of the most high energy, vibrant reflections of the passion and talent of local artists. Critical Mass is designed to advance professionalism in the Arts in Northwest Louisiana through a system of formal critique for Artists across 10 parishes who have registered on the Northwest Louisiana Artists Directory. Nationally acclaimed critics are curated by Robert L. Pincus, Ph.D., who is a contributor to Art News, Art in America, and The Wall Street Journal. Each critic reviews performing, visual and literary art and names a “Best of Show” winner in each category. Each winner receives a $2,000 cash prize to support a solo Exhibition/Presentation produced in artspace several months later. In celebration of the decades-long Critic Series, Critical Mass 10 will feature the first-ever retrospective of past visual, literary and performance winners from 2011 to 2021 including Rachel Stuart Haas, Joshua Chambers, Katie Bickham, Taffie Garsee, Nadine Charity, Marilyn Couch, Brenda Wimberly, Devin Rachul, Ashley Mace Havird, PoeticX, Talbot Hopkins, David Bottoms, Katie Bickham, Michael Futreal, Carolyn Breedlove, Linda Dickson Moss, Joe Bluhm, Rashard Dennis, Mawiyah Bomani, Eric Francis, John Martin and Julie Kane.
“It’s remarkable to think that 10 years has passed since my visit from San Diego to Shreveport to review that first “Impromptu” exhibition hastily assembled to showcase the spectrum of art being made in Shreveport for Rocco Landesman,” says nationally acclaimed critic Robert Pincus. “Looking back, I think that Critical mass has created an atmosphere of constructive conversation between artists and critics. It is my sense that it has become a welcome ritual in the annual cycle of exhibitions and events at Artspace. SRAC and Shreveport have accomplished something unusual, something special with Critical Mass, by creating a platform in which critics from all disciplines offer a fresh slant on what is being made in Shreveport and giving recognition to it in talks and writings. Critical Mass has held up pretty well for a decade and has been broadened to champion the idea of collecting by local patrons—a truly praise-worthy addition to this ever-transcending program.”
As Pincus points out, SRAC’s Collector/Collectible Artist Series is important outgrowth of the Critical Mass initiative, and the part that drives success for the Artists and buy-in from the local Art patrons. The series is what connects the region’s most successful Artists with the most generous ARTS PATRONS who are destined to become ARTS COLLECTORS. Northwest Louisiana boasts rich artistic vision and talent, but to keep artists here they have to move beyond merely surviving to thriving, and that can only be done with patrons who purchase artworks, books and tickets to Arts event. Artists rely on support from the public through the sale of their work and Critical Mass 10 is one of the most visible way to showcase local artists’ work for sale.
The 2022 SRAC Collector/Collectible Artist Series will kick off Thursday, February 3, 5:00 to 7:45 PM with the Collectible Artist Exhibition and an opportunity for Collectors to meet this year’s NWLA Collectible Artists at Central ArtStation at 801 Common St. in downtown Shreveport. Immediately following that experience, the critics for this year’s Critical Mass 10 will participate in a panel discussion to talk about the importance of the Collectible Artists and the role of collecting and supporting an artist over a period of time. This year’s panel will be led by Lauren Smart, professor of Journalism and Critic at SMU in Dallas.
A procession of critics has participated in Critical Mass over the last ten years, and each has helped the artists of Northwest Louisiana gain new and truer insights into their work as well as helped to attract an appreciative audience. The 2022 critics include Visual Arts critic Emily Wilkerson, Literary Arts critic Leigh Camacho Rourks, and Performing Arts critic Martha Heimberg.
Emily Wilkerson, is originally from Shreveport and attended Caddo Magnet High School. She is currently the Writer and Editor for Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts and the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. Emily completed her Masters at the University of Southern California in Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere in 2012 and holds a B.A. from Louisiana State University Baton Rouge. She has contributed to publications including ArtForum.com, Art in America and Pelican Bomb. Emily’s ongoing research focuses on socially engaged art practices and the alternative educational strategies of international artist and curatorial residencies for which she was awarded the 2011-2012 Neely Macomber Travel Prize.
Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Cuban American author who lives and works in Central Florida where she is an Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Beacon College. She is the recipient of the St. Lawrence Book Award, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize. Her fiction, poems, and essays have appeared in a number of journals including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, TriQuarterly, December Magazine and Greensboro Review.
Martha Heimberg is a communications professional based in Dallas. She has worked as a reporter, magazine editor, theater critic, visual arts critic, and college educator for over 30 years. As a long time English professor, she has organized and launched literary festivals, creative writing projects, and poetry writing contests. She founded Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Poetry in Motion program that places poems on DART buses and trains. She is a founding member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum and is a long-time member of the American Theater Critics Association. Heimberg is currently covering theater for Onstage NTX, a new online venue with many writers from the recently discontinued Theater Jones site, and for Dallas Weekly, Dallas’ major black newspaper, produced in print and online.
Critical Mass 10 opens Friday, February 4 at 5 PM with the announcement of the “Best of Show” winners at 5:30 PM and a free public reception honoring the artists starting at 6:30 PM. The show remains up through March 18, 2022, at artspace at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport. The 2022 SRAC Collector/Collectible Artist Series kicks off with a meet and greet Thursday, February 3, 5:00 to 7:45 PM with a panel discussion, “Why Become an Art Collector” at 6:30 PM at 801 Common St. in downtown Shreveport. For more information, visit www.artspaceshreveport.com