Fire & Water is a local arts festival in Arnaudville that I went to on Saturday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day: low humidity, sunny, about 72 degrees. It’s put on by NUNU Arts & Culture Collective, which was started about 10 years ago by the painter George Marks, when he moved back to Arnaudville from Baton Rouge. It’s a small town, I don’t think there’s even 1,500 residents, and it had been slowly sliding away since the 1960s. But if you go there now, there are galleries and studios and a couple of really good restaurants and the Bayou Teche Brewery. You can buy some art or watch a demo or even take a class.
I really enjoyed the show and seeing what other artists in my area are up to. There was a little bit of everything: painting, pottery, quilting, mosaics, poetry and short stories. And photography; John Slaughter had a table, and there was someone doing tintype portraits (which I had done a few years ago). I bought a copy of John’s new book, a collection of photos of Catahoula hounds, the Louisiana state dog. They are some gorgeous photos, I really admire people who can photograph animals. He was nice enough to sign it for me, too.
I picked up some information about joining; I let my membership to NOPA lapse a couple of years ago because I just felt like I wasn’t getting anything out if it. I live too far away from New Orleans to really be involved in that arts community, which took me a while to come to terms with because I do love the city and it has given me some amazing photos that I am truly proud of. However, I have no desire to live there full-time; I’m just not a city person and I never was. The planning meetings for NOPA were always on weeknights, and even though the workshops were usually on a Saturday I rarely went because I’d have to get up at like 5:00 in the morning to be there on time.
So long story short, I’ve been looking for a more local arts community to join. NOPA had the advantage of being focused entirely on photography, but it was just too far away. Lafayette has a similar group, but their website says their focus is specifically on digital photography, which doesn’t make me feel like I’d be welcome. I’m not going to decide anything until the new year, but an artist’s membership is just $25 annually, so it does seem like I could try it and not be out too much if it doesn’t work out for me.