If you’re from Baton Rouge, you know what the Friday before Thanksgiving means: White Light Night in midcity. One of two annual arts hops (the other is in the spring) held in the area, the event brings together artists, art lovers, musicians, music lovers, businesses and their customers that results in a happy mix of shopping and entertainment.
This year’ edition — 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 — is the 15th consecutive event held in the area roughly bounded by Laurel Street on the north, Goodwood Boulevard on the south, Jefferson Highway on the east and Interstate 110 on the west. Most of the participating businesses — everything from art galleries to pizza restaurants to bars and more — cluster along Jefferson Highway and Government Street. Liz Walker, chairman of the Mid City Merchants White Light Night and Arts District, said the event grows every year, although attendance is hard to measure.
“But we identify that we have easily 15,000 people that come out to this event in the fall,” Walker said.
That’s perhaps because Walker and other organizers of the event are not content to rest on past success. They add new things every year.
“We have expanded on our theme of White Light Night being an art festival, to an arts and music festival. Twenty of the 48 businesses participating will be hosting live music. That’s kind of a twist, and every year it seems to go up a little more. And of course they not only cater to local artists but we cater to local musicians,” Walker said. “Probably by the time the event happens, we will have other of the venues that will have live music — they just didn’t make it into the booklet.”
Free music, free food and great art — that’s what draws the crowd. The business owners love it, and not just because of the increased foot traffic.
“It’s really great to be able to be both an artist and a business owner, but it’s the community and that is so wonderful. I grew up in Baton Rouge and it used to be small, but it’s not small anymore,” Jessica Tregre said. She’s the owner of The Sanctuary Day Spa and Spiritual Retreat, but she’s also an artist who shows her work during the White Light Night art hop.
“It’s one of those last remaining places where you can find a sense of community and where the businesses are locally owned and you can park and walk around and meet people, make friends. It’s a really great event,” Tregre said.
This year her Government Street business will have three artists: Tregre, a photographer and a jewelry artist too. She’ll have live music as well.
“The main reason that I wanted to start doing it is just to be more involved in the community. I really do like the idea of local businesses supporting other local businesses and the community coming together,” Shana Gueno said. She is co-owner of Fleur de Lis Pizza, a Baton Rouge institution. Like Tregre, Gueno is also an artist who will be showing some of her mixed media creations.
It’s all free, including a shuttle to carry visitors from their parking spots and back.
“We again have the shuttles. We have added one more shuttle,” Walker said. “A person can find a parking place somewhere along the street.” Walker said lots at Piggly Wiggly, Westmoreland Shopping Center, Government Street Hardware, Westdale, Dufroc School, Calandro’s and many other convenient sites will be open.
“Many of the schools have open parking,” Walker said. “The shuttles provide the opportunity to get around a little easier.” Police will man crossings where there is heavy foot traffic, she said. “We don’t want people to be concerned about that.”
Along with the free music, there will be free food and libations, Walker said.
“All the merchants who are participating, part of the program is to have free refreshments. Some are serving alcohol and some aren’t. Serving alcohol is not mandatory. It’s not really encouraged. We want this to be more about the arts than about the party atmosphere,” she said. And don’t worry about the weather, she said. “It’s going on rain or shine.”
As good as the event is, there are some snags that the groups is still trying to get straight, Walker said.
“In recent years we have had some young people in strollers who have come to us (with complaints) — and we acknowledge it that strollers and wheelchairs are a bit (difficult) … it (the event) doesn’t seem to be as friendly to people in wheelchairs and with baby strollers.
“The live music kinda helps give people that can’t get in to a place because of the crowds an opportunity to still enjoy the event in one way. We found a lot of young parents, they adapt pretty quickly. When they come to an event with a stroller, one stands outside listening to music while the other one comes in and then they swap out. I don’t want to discourage young people with children in strollers from coming. I don’t want to I think that they can’t come, because where there’s a will there’s a way. I think the music portion of this event kind of helps that,” Walker said. “And then of course I always want to make sure that people that live their lives in a wheelchair are more than welcome to come before the event starts, most all the art and things are up by 4 to 5 o’clock in the afternoon. If a person wants to come early and avoid the crowd and get themselves in and out without undue stress, that really works out beneficially to them. I really want to stress that this is an inclusive opportunity for people to see the arts.”
The earlier hours are also good if you don’t want to stay out after dark, Walker said.
“We really focus on showcasing the artists’ talent,” Walker said. “We’ve got a lot of good artists and the prices are reasonable.”
What more could a shopper want? Walker has one last hook to set: “Original art is sales tax free in the Mid City Art and Design Cultural District.”WHITE LIGHT NIGHT PARTICIPANTS (BUSINESS, ARTISTS AND BANDS): Abat-Jour Interiors, LLC (225) 929-9620, 545 S. Foster Drive, Michael Avant, sculptor, William Evans, paintings, Norma Kilgore, acrylic and graphic paintings; Aladdin’s Lamp Antiques, (225) 336-0969, 2648 Government St., Katherine Martin, jewelry, Ginger Ford, mixed media, Douglas L. Villien Sr., Cajun historian/author; Artists Inside Circa 1857, (225) 235-1504, 1857 Government St., Tracy Guillory, oils, Barbara Fornias, acrylics, Leah McLain, collages, live music, Pedro Huff, cello; Artvark, Ltd., (225) 778-5160, 672 Jefferson Highway, Alan Laurie, oil on canvas — 2012 works, live music, Ben Bell & the Stardust Boys; Atomic Pop Shop, (225) 771-8455, 2963 Government St., Kerry Beary, paintings, Allie Stevens, photography, Kirstin Laire, mixed media, George Ufford, mobiles, live music, Ryan Harris & Company; Bistro Byronz, (225) 218-1433, 5412 Government St., Jennifer Richard, stained glass, Emily Koro, jewelry, live music, Durham Jazz Band taught by John Gray; Brew Ha Ha!, (225) 923-1923, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 2A, Amy Rikoff, mixed media, live music, The Upper 2; Caffery Gallery, (225) 388-9397, 4016 Government St., LSU Lab School International Baccalaureate Program Students, “Stories About Art”, and their mentor, Therese Knowles, “Transitions”— mixed media, ceramics, acrylics, live music, Smithfield Fair; Cajun Electric & Lighting, (225) 927-3358, 1500 Government St., Liz Pou, Jennifer Carwile, Aimee Summers; Carco Awards, (225) 929-6026, 6633 Government St., Elizabeth Neely, watercolor, acrylics, oils, latex, Phyllis Nola, mixed media, Brittany Desota, jewelry; Chef Don Bergeron Enterprises & Mid City Market, (225) 927-3998, 714 Jefferson Highway, Sharon Furrate, acrylics and mixed media, Jody Kaiser, mixed media, Joy Petty, oils, acrylic and modeling paste; Corks N Canvas, (225) 927-7077, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 3A, Becky Hess, Alexis Castillo, Beth Gold, Marketa Gautreaux, Jennifer Cupit, Priscilla Simpson, Jenna Holmes, mixed media, jewelry, handcrafted soaps, photography; Custom Audio Video, (225) 291-0060, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 1B, Madeline Hicks; Denicola’s Furniture and Upholstery, (225) 357-0370, 2931 Government St., Mimosa by Madeline Ellis, Andrew Moran, Mid City Handmade, Olive Ray; Elizabethan Gallery, (225) 924-6437, 680 Jefferson Highway, Carol Hallock, MarianneB van der Haar, Kay Lusk, Danni Shobe, Keith “Cartoonman” Douglas, Darryl Alello; Krista Roche, April Hammock, live music, Ben Bell & the Stardust Boys; Fleur de Lis Pizza, (225) 924-2904, 5655 Government St., David Miller, Madison O’Rourke, Shaynna Gueno, mixed media; Fourrier Agency, (225) 383-0682, 4275 Government St., Laura Fourrier, Marilyn Ehr, John Blake, yard art and furniture; Gallery Bohemia, (225) 333-2055, 3774 Government St., Colin Corso, Erick Fields, Tate Tullier, Kevin Duffy, Patrick Tiek, Christa Sims, Jill Mulkey, jewelry by Collignon Designs, Latte E Miele, live music, Nil & the Prophet; Government True Value Hardware, (225) 343-8705, 2882 Government St., Stephanie Causey, oil on canvas, Carolyn Rodrigue; Interior Design Associates, (225) 336-1560, 4343 Government St., Andre Savoie, Earl Savoie, paintings, Douglas Walsh, mixed media, Creshawn Garrett, paintings and pottery; La Carreta Mexican Cuisine, (225) 334-9940, 4065 Government St., Tevoran Tabor, pencil and ink, Raven Patterson, acrylics, live music, The Cuban Duo; Laurin Maier State Farm, (225) 926-5744, 672C Jefferson Highway, Lisa Rainwater, oils, Elaina Manuel, charcoal, pen and ink, graphite; LES Federal Credit Union, (225) 342-8628, Ogden Market Center @ Government, Javon Jenkins; Little Beaux Feet (225) 778-7491, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 1A, Maggie Marsh, photography; Match Point Tennis & Fitness Boutique, (225) 247-9252, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 1C, Carolyn Fox, acrylic paintings, Kelly Lachney, jewelry, Brooke Bramlett, oil paintings; Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, (225) 346-1000, Ogden Market Center @ Government St., Javon Jenkins, mixed media, LSU School of Architecture-Mid City Studio; Miller and Hampton Law Firm (225) 343-2205, 3960 Government St., Samantha Prather, painting, sculpture and jewelry, live music, Michael and Sarah McDowell; MJ’s Café, (225) 933-5569, 672 Jefferson Highway, Lisa Orman, oils, acrylics, watercolors, live music, Ben Bell and the Stardust Boys; Monjunis Italian Café & Grocery, (225) 231-1595, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 4A, Linda Robinson, stained glass, Travis Kern, capric soaps, Jason Breaux, paintings, Vivien Vitolo, photography, live music, Kirk Holder; Mosaic Garden, (225) 389-0068, 1857 Government St., Lisa Toth, Tammy Ross, jewelry, Dina Leon, Lisa Passman, Meredith English, mixed media, Pam Steinsiek, Barry and Teri Galloway, pottery, live music, Speak Easy; My Louise, (225) 448-2093, 1857 Government St., 2nd Floor, David Smith, mixed media; Piggly Wiggly, (225) 925-1522, 5355 Government St., Linda Butler, hats, Ellen Feehan, mixed media, Tina Vaughn, acrylic, Saundra Myles, acrylic, live music, BRCC Jazz Band; Pretty in Rouge, (225) 384-0711, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 7, Jenny Mills, watercolor; Radio Bar, (225) 803-5528, 3079 Government St., Artistic cocktails for an Artistic Evening; Ragusa’s Automotive, (225) 344-2736, 2714 Government St., Tammy Frazier, oil on canvas, antique car show; Reginelli’s Pizzeria, (225) 231-1313, 684 Jefferson Highway, Azita Arasteh, acrylic; Rotolo’s Pizzeria, (225) 930-7555, 5050 Government St., Andrew Robertson, live painting, Shannon Foster, Kayleigh Foster, photography, live music, The Stage Coach Bandits; Rue Cou Cou, (225) 343-9722, 1857 Government St., Denise Greenwood, hand built ceramic sculpture, live music, Speak Easy; Sabai Jewelry Gallery, (225) 926-7980, 711 Jefferson Highway, Suite 9, Randell Henry, Lizi Beard-Ward, mixed media, Tina Ufford, ceramics, JoAnne McMullen, jewelry, John Gallagher, photography, live music, Matt Lanius; Sally’s Circa 1857, (225) 387-8667, 1857 Government St., Joseph Jilbert, large metal sculpture, Oscar Quesada, paintings, Nathan Logsdon, metalsmith, live music, Speak Easy; Shavarsh K Jewelry Design Shop, (225) 928-4661, 711 Jefferson Highway, suite 2B, Karla King, “Louisiana Charm” jewelry; Studio C, (225) 381-8111, 3786 Government St., Rachel Calandro; Superior Grill, (225) 927-2022, 5435 Government St., Cathy McLaurin, acrylics, Scott Wilson, abstracts, live music, The GutterSharks; The Sanctuary Day Spa and Spiritual Retreat, (225) 278-9187; 5557 Government St. (behind Underwater Adventures), Jessica Tregre, acrylic, Megan Buccere, acrylic, pottery, Morgan Dupre, photography, Misty Taylor, NOLA Metals; Time Warp Boutique, (225) 377-8550, 3001 Government St., Brennon Braud, wood burning antique cypress and apparel; Tipton Associates, (225) 387-0101, 449 Westmoreland Drive, Erin Baker, oil and acrylic paintings, live music, The John Madere Trio; VanGuard Gallery @ Stephen Wilson Stained Glass, (225) 343-2211, 1469 Laurel St., group show benefiting Bethany Centre Primary School in Uganda, various mediums, live music, Zydeco Mike; Victoria’s Toy Station, (225) 924-3632, 5466 Government St., River Road Recipes cookbook authors and cooking; Wooden Haven Furniture Company, (225) 454-6477, 4173 Government St., Michael Klung, abstracts; Yvette Marie’s Café, (225) 383-0388, 1857 Government St., Connie Vincent, Sherryl Forbes Nye, paintings, live music venues.SPONSORS OF WHITE LIGHT NIGHT: City Of Baton Rouge, Goodwood Village, Ogden Market, Downtown Duplicating, Coca-Cola, Gerry Lane Chevrolet, Agame Yoga and Mediation Center, Clear Channel, Country Roads and Town Favorites.