HRAC Art Walk highlights local and regional artists for Prospect 3

Artistic display on wall

The piece “Trophy Wife” by Rebecca Burt was displayed as part of the downtown
art walk, which highlighted local and regional artists. 
The Lion's Roar / Megan Ferrando

The Hammond Regional Art Center’s monthly “First Friday Art Walk” took on a larger role as it also served as the opening for the P.3+ contemporary art exhibitions on Nov. 7. 

Local and regional artist were highlighted for P.3+, which is attached to the larger New Orleans International Contemporary Art Biennial, Prospect.3. 

“What it will do is it will put us on the map as a cultural destination—locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Mike Kilgore, director of the Hammond Regional Arts Center. “It will show off all of our creative talents in the City of Hammond and display that for the world, and allow our cultural resources to interact with all of those coming from all over the world.”

P.3 largely features international artists, so as an addition, P.3+ will be showing work from locals such as Southeastern art professor, John Valentino, New Orleans artist Drake Fuller and more. 

The P.3+ exhibits were spread around downtown Hammond, allowing for an addition to the “First Friday Art Walk,” which allows locals to stroll the streets and enjoy live music, gallery openings and more. 

“The art walks are good for giving the community more of an identity and giving a sense that there is more going on,” said Dale Newkirk, director of the Contemporary Art Gallery. “If you can stroll the streets and go to several galleries it gives the sense there is an art community in the city.”

Many locals came out to enjoy the art walk, visiting various locations such as Tope La Catering, The People’s Art Pop Up Gallery and TheOne06 Gallery. Many of the locations offered free hors d’oeuvre’s and music along with the displayed art. 

“You can just stroll casually and look at the art and it’s all really good. It’s stuff I would like to put in my home,” said Renae Perret, Hammond local who goes to many of the art events. “It’s one of the things I like about Hammond, being able to see the art. That’s why we live here. It’s an art-centered community. You got music, writers, the whole gamut of arts.”

The artists all had varying styles and types of art. Many of them shared the deep thought behind the pieces.

“I guess the inspiration is to basically connect with humans and show them how to save electricity,” said Fuller, photographer who’s work is featured at The Peoples Art Pop Up Gallery at 205 E. Thomas St. “I take photographs and put it on glass and that way it’s permanent for thousands of years.”

Valentino, whose work is presented at the Hammond Eastside Apartments, displayed his “Flight of the Wetlands” piece, which showed multiple metal fish trapped in metal boxes.

“The fish is a metaphor that I’ve been using for the last few years,” said Valentino. “It first started out as a little tongue and cheek. Fish swim in a school, and I teach at the university. Then I became interested in how fish swim in a school. They have this real fight or flight response and their response usually is flight.”

Valentino has been using fish in various ways, including his production of them at the Burning Man festival in Nevada recently. He continued to develop his representation of the fish for the P.3+ show.

“I thought there was one more show, one more representation of them in space,” said Valentino. “This is again a man in nature installation. You’ve got these fish swimming in a formation, swimming in the school. But where are they? They’re trapped within these metal cages. They’re constantly being interfered with, being managed by man. We’re managing the fish and they don’t survive without us and that’s not right.”

Despite visitors of the galleries seeing everything in completion, each piece went through a process to get to its finish.

“I’ve been watching this take shape in our garage which doubles as his studio,” said Ellen Steigman, wife of Valentino. “It’s exciting to see it all from the very beginning. The coolest thing is he’s constantly teaching himself things. If he sees something he wants to do, he just goes for it. He just throws himself right into it.”

The P.3+ exhibits will be open until Jan. 25 and the next “First Friday Art Walk” will be Dec. 5. 

Visit the Hammond Regional Art Center website for more information about P.3+ and an upcoming Hammond Excursion Weekend for P.3+ on Jan. 9-11.