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An Extended Weekend Exploring a BTR Art Scene

An Extended Weekend Exploring a BTR Art Scene

In the Baton Rouge art community, I uncovered a refreshing truth: here, art is local. Explore a weekend of art that thrives in our neighborhoods, streets, and everyday lives.

Wendy Daniels, President & CEO of Beechwood Residential, Art Wanderer
An Extended Weekend Exploring a BTR Art Scene

Much like the saying “politics is local,” I've discovered that my passion for art follows a similar principle. While my appreciation for art began in my youth, I initially felt intimidated by what I perceived as an exclusive art scene dominated by stuffy galleries catering to the wealthy elite or art historians. However, as I delved deeper into the local art community, I uncovered a refreshing truth: here, art is local. 

I uncovered a refreshing truth: here, art is local. 

In Baton Rouge, art isn't confined to lofty galleries or distant institutions; it thrives in our neighborhoods, streets, and everyday lives. It's a vibrant expression of our collective creativity, diversity, and identity. Embracing this local perspective has enriched my artistic journey and connected me with a community of fellow enthusiasts who share my passion for making art accessible, inclusive, and meaningful to everyone.

My motto is, work hard, ART harder. Journey with me through five days of art in Baton Rouge. 

Wednesday First Wednesdays at Baton Rouge Gallery

Every first Wednesday, you'll find me at Baton Rouge Gallery, a diverse gathering where friendships form over art and food. The atmosphere is vibrant, spilling indoors and outdoors, with delectable food, free entry, and four talented artists sharing their works and mingling with the crowd. What truly sets this event apart is its diversity. Here, you'll encounter a kaleidoscope of people—of different ages, genders, and races—coming together to celebrate art in all its forms. Thanks to Jason Andreasen, Gwen Palagi, and the Baton Rouge Gallery team, this amazing gem exists.

Two women hugging and smiling at an art gallery, with colorful paintings in the background. One is wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a sleeveless olive green dress, and the other is in a multicolored dress.
Wendy and friend enjoy the exhibits at the Baton Rouge Gallery.
Thursday MidCity Makers Market First Thursdays

One of the first people I met when I moved back to Baton Rouge was Madeline Ellis, founder of Mimosa Handcrafted and one of the co-founders of MidCity Makers Market. I casually mentioned to her I had just moved into the neighborhood and the next day had the sweetest, most heartfelt gesture – a basket filled with her favorite local treasures. I knew we would be lifelong friends. Art is local.

Madeline's role as a co-founder of MidCity Makers Market, an outdoor block party celebrating local artists and makers, feels like a natural extension of her spirit. Here, amidst the lively atmosphere, you'll find all the best aspects of our city—perfect weather, music, food, and amazing people. Join us every first Thursday of the month.

View from behind a musician playing red conga drums, looking out at a casual outdoor gathering where people are seated and chatting under tents, with a tuba player in the foreground.
Music, art, shopping, and community combine at the monthly MidCity Makers Market.
Friday Coffee & Art Galleries

Kick your weekend off with coffee at Garden District Coffee. Relax under the pergola and enjoy the outdoors. It offers the perfect setting for people-watching while engaging in meaningful dialogue with other community members.

It offers the perfect setting for people-watching while engaging in meaningful dialogue with other community members.

Friday afternoons are the perfect time to visit the Arts Council and explore the local art exhibits. Jonathan Grimes, the Interim President and CEO, and I became fast friends when we were classmates in the 2023 Leadership Baton Rouge class. In our group chat, he keeps my class updated on all the happenings related to art. 

Three women smiling and posing closely together indoors, with one in the center wearing glasses. They're in front of an indoor plant and a textured decorative piece.
Wendy and friends explore the art exhibits at the Arts Council.

Next, take a walk from the Arts Council to Cocha for dinner. If the weather is nice, request a seat outside and ask if the owner is in. As a world-trained Sommelier, she is always happy to share the background of the restaurant’s unique name and its wine-tasting experiences, which can be found on their social media channels.

Saturday – Art Walks, Hidden Gems, & Great Food

Start your Saturday off with breakfast at Simple Joe Café. There is no better shrimp and grits you will ever taste than at Simple Joe, where Gerri Hobdy and I generally meet up for our typical robust conversation about Baton Rouge’s art scene. I consider Gerri one of the city’s Fairy-Art-Godmothers. She’s held positions at the Arts Council, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Office of Cultural Development. She’s held appointments on the state tourism and film boards, Louisiana State Arts Council, Baton Rouge Gallery, and Mid City Merchants. If there is anything you want to know about art, ask Gerri. 

Next, enjoy a private art class in Capital Heights. Keep your ear to the ground; local artists usually advertise classes like this on their social media channels. I'm currently immersed in a delightful 4-week art class in a charming private art studio nestled in someone's backyard in Capital Heights. This studio provides a cozy and welcoming space for local artists to share their skills with the public, embodying the notion that art is local. During these classes, I've also had the pleasure of meeting a cool yoga instructor who teaches at Red Shoe. Inspired by her, I've also started joining her Wednesday morning yoga classes. Community is everywhere in Baton Rouge.

A person working on a pottery wheel in a studio, shaping clay with focus and attention, with crafting tools and inspiration images around them.
Private pottery class held in Capital Heights.

After all that art, you’re bound to be hungry again. Grab lunch at BLDG 5 and relish in their outdoor patio's lively atmosphere, music, and delicious food. Order the Chicken Karage and Smoked Gouda Jalapeno Vasi, and thank me later.

What’s a Saturday evening without more art? There’s a hidden gem on Southern University’s campus in the art gallery of Frank Hayden Hall. Frank Hayden is one of Louisiana’s preeminent sculptors. He is best known for his public commissions, many of which are concentrated in and around Baton Rouge and often reflect his deep spiritual and humanistic concerns. In 1962, he joined the faculty of Southern University, where he taught sculpture and drawing for 27 years. The art gallery named in his honor does justice to his legacy. Explore his amazing works.

A young child in a pink coat looking up at a large, illustrative piece of artwork featuring a figure with speech bubbles, in a gallery setting.
Wendy's daughter, Kyle, exploring art at Southern University.
Sunday – Good Music. Even Better Views.

What better combination than a delicious Juban’s brunch and one of Baton Rouge’s most beloved bands, The Michael Foster Project? Don't forget to stop by the photo booth tucked away in the back for an original version of what we now know as the selfie. 

A collage of photo booth pictures showing a group of people making various expressions, labeled with the location "Jubans."
Wendy and friends make funny faces for the photo booth.

Next, mosey over to the LSU Museum of Art for a relaxing and immersive stroll. The last time I attended, I was shocked and excited when I realized there was a current exhibit featuring national artists I have long admired. This revelation prompted me to include the museum in my quarterly art rotation, given its ever-changing exhibits and its over 10,000 square feet of art to take in. 

Don’t miss the breathtaking beauty of a Baton Rouge sunset over the Mississippi River.

As the day draws close, don’t miss the breathtaking beauty of a Baton Rouge sunset over the Mississippi River. My husband and I enjoy the perfect view from the Tsunami rooftop. The sight never fails to leave me in a state of awe, reaffirming my appreciation for this city's natural splendor.

A panoramic view of the Mississippi River at dusk with a vibrant pink and orange sky, lights reflecting on the water, and a bridge in the distance, taken from a high vantage point overlooking a cityscape.
View from the Tsunami rooftop of sunset on the Mississippi River.

Things to do,  places to be.

Explore weekend iteneraries from real Baton Rouge residents.

An Extended Weekend Exploring a BTR Art Scene
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An Extended Weekend Exploring a BTR Art Scene
Arts & Culture
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The Night Owl's Guide to Baton Rouge
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A Weekend of Family Fun in Baton Rouge
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