Traveling Leesville exhibit returning home

Published 10:15 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

The globe-trotting exhibition “Four Artists from the Neutral Strip” is returning home to Leesville this weekend.

The show opens on Saturday, Sept. 9 and will be available for viewing until Oct. 21 at Gallery One Eleven, 111 S. 3rd St. This is the last stop for the exhibit after being featured in Le Grau du Roi, France, the Alexandria Museum of Art and the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center.

The featured artists are Joey Governale, Isabelle Massart-Bursh, Tony McDonald and Rickie Smith. Together, they have a combined 160 years of art experience, said McDonald. The pieces range from art to photography to mixed-media installations.

This show will be an abridged version of what was shown in France, but still representative of their work, he said.

“Four Artists from the Neutral Strip: Coming Home” shows the range of art that was born in the Neutral Strip – the western border of Louisiana that was disputed territory between the United States and Spain after the Louisiana Purchase.

This area of Louisiana became a “haven for outlaw, pioneers and diverse cultural groups,” he said. The vast cultures in the Neutral Strip weaved a multi-cultural tapestry that included Native Americans, African Americans, Scot-Irish settlers and Spaniards. Following the establishment of Fort Johnson, numerous other nationalities were integrated into the community.

The range of cultures that settled in the area resulted in diverse, dynamic art. This history is what the artists in the exhibition wanted to represent.

He said that over the past year, the exhibit has been “both a labor of love and a labor of real work.”

“From rounding up support for the cost of holding an exhibit in the South of France, to dealing with French customs and then to have the show appear at two major museums, it has been a real journey.”

They are happy to be home at Gallery Onew Eleven.

“Those that have supported us over the years, and could not make the other showings, can come celebrate this exhibit with us.”

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 9 the Gallery will be hosting a reception to celebrate the exhibition’s homecoming. The reception is free and open to the public.