Exhibit spotlights past Art Melt ‘Best of Shows’

Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK  Ralph Bourque's 'Swarm' is on exhibit at the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge.
Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK Ralph Bourque's 'Swarm' is on exhibit at the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge.

Ralph Bourque was in Seattle the last time he installed “Swarm,” where the bird-shaped wires rose three stories in the public sphere.

Now this grouping is in the LSU Museum of Art, occupying an entire wall.

Some may see a tornado rising from floor to ceiling, while for others it may evoke the flock of birds that filled Alfred Hitchcock’s movie frames.

“So, it’s a piece that’s site specific,” museum curator Natalie Mault said.

Bourque installed his own piece, but Mault oversaw the installation of the rest of the pieces, all of which make up The 10th Anniversary Art Melt Invitational exhibit.

The show runs through Monday, Sept. 8, and coincides with Forum 35’s annual Art Melt juried art exhibition, which opens Saturday, July 20, at the Louisiana State Museum’s Capitol Park Museum. The LSU Museum of Art’s exhibit celebrates 10 years of Art Melt by featuring “Best In Show” winners from the past nine competitions.

“We have the winning piece from 2005 by Elise Toups,” said Fairleigh Cook Jackson, noting other artists are showing recent pieces.

“It’s representative of what they’re doing, and they talk about what Art Melt has meant to them in their artist’s statements,” Jackson said.

“Ralph Bourque called and said he would be bringing a lot of people with him to the opening. He said Art Melt means a lot to him, because it was a launching point for his career. It made me feel good to hear him say that.”

Jackson, director of museum advancement, began volunteering for Forum 35 in 2007 to help coordinate the exhibit.

“That was the fourth year for the exhibit,” she said. “I was excited about the show’s fifth year and coordinated a fifth anniversary exhibit in what was then Brunner Gallery in the Shaw Center.”

Brunner Gallery is now the Manship Gallery and has served as home to Art Melt in past years.

The Capitol Park Museum also is a consistent location for the show.

But this will be the first year the LSU Museum of Art has connected to the exhibit.

Bourque was the 2009 “Best In Show” winner in the competition’s sixth year. And his installation swarms in the gallery.

“The shadows are important in this piece,” Mault said. “We haven’t arranged the lighting yet, but you’ll be able to see the shadows when the exhibit opens.”

Shadows of birds. Or insects. Or maybe a tornado.

The viewer gets to decide.