Art And Authors in West St. Tammany
This side of Lake Pontchartrain, in proportion to its population, is amazingly blessed with talented, artistic people. Perhaps, when you think about it, there's a totally explainable and expected reason for this blessing of ours, the natural desire of the creative mind to seek a peaceful and relaxed environment where his body and soul are as free as possible from stress and tension. Thus, they escape from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans and come to live with us in the sweet, ozone-scented piney woods.
We have many well known "recognized" artists - oh, such a wide variety that it scares this writer to start naming names knowing that the required length of this article will permit her to mention but a few. Please be assured, therefore, that it's the writer's ignorance that can be blamed for any oversight, and her omissions can, and will, be quickly rectified in the subsequent issues of "Covington."
In the painting field we have such artists as Gene Culbertson, a local sign painter turned artist - a man who has never had a lesson in his life but whose paintings of ducks, fish and wildlife in general are nothing short of amazing in their reality. He also carves and paints duck decoys that have to be felt to convince the observer that they are not real.
Jack Akers is another local painter to whom we can point with pride. We have watched his reputation spread out from Covington into New Orleans and
beyond, where his beautifully realistic paintings of nature are more and more frequently to be found hanging in art galleries.
Florence Chesnutt, another local artist, uses her talent with pen and brush in many different directions. Her ink sketches of local houses have been reproduced on note paper and calendars, and her paintings in water color hang in prominent places in many local people's houses.
Marilyn Carter Rougelot is getting better and better known in the area for her life-like and life-size acrylic portraits on canvas. She is also highly commissioned for her expressions in murals.
Ray Buck is an oil painter and is well-known for his limited edition etchings.
The appeal of Dale Hauck's art work lies in the fresh approach he takes with his media in depicting the further dimensions of the world of nature. He works in wood, acrylic and watercolors.
A bust of Walker Percy in the Covington Branch Library
In the writing department, we have Walker Percy and his books which have gotten national recognition.
John Kemp, a newspaper writer, has recently written a fine book on New Orleans which has had great sales in the area.
Carol Saunders Jahncke, owner of a local bookstore, on realizing there was no book available on Covington's history went over the old St. Tammany Farmer newspapers starting in 1878 and came up with Mr. Kentzel's Covington.
Hot off the press is now a more detailed history of the area titled St. Tammany Parish, L'Autre Cote du Lac written by Judge Fredrick Ellis, the result of many years of work and research.
And these are just "published" writers. In this year, a local poetry anthology will be published by Covington Press which will allow "closet poets" (of which there are many) to share and air their talents. This book, entitled Boque Falaya Anthology, will be illustrated by local artists.
In the sculpture field we have Bill Binnings who was described as knowing this art form "from A to Z", so to speak. Whereas he is extremely versatile, he primarily works in bronze to create his aesthetically pleasing, very serious pieces in natural forms and shapes. His subjects range from horses to the human body to almost surrealism-like works.
Jack Brown, who owns an arabian horse farm, is a unique sculptor of rare talent. He "sculpts" miniature horses out of wax to make a mold and then casts them in 14 Kt. gold and silver. They are truly exquisite in every tiny detail and the pride and joy of the ladies who wear them either on a chain or as a pin.
Susan Carver concentrates on hand painted, botanically correct flower metal sculptures such as iris and other local wild flowers. Each piece is perfect in its color and craftsmanship.
Then there are the jewelry makers of the area which must be mentioned in any article on artists. Ann O'Brien expresses her personality through her ability to transform 14 Kt. gold wire into magnificent jewelry designs.
Sam Alfano, a newcomer to our area, provides the old world art of custom hand engraving. He specializes in firearms, but also lends his unusual talent to custom, hand-crafted jewelry.
Drawing upon nature as his inspiration, Rene Chapotel expresses his love of flora and fauna into gold and silver. His interpretation of God's handiwork becomes a piece of finely handcrafted jewelry in the form of a spider web, dragonfly or wild flowers; truly unique works of art.
Yes - this side of "The Lake" is truly a mecca for artists and we are very proud of each and every one of them!