Artists, builders featured in Jazzfest demonstrations

Photo provided by Rachael DePauw -- New Orleans potter Rachael DePauw will shape and carve her pieces in the contemporary crafts area during the first weekend of Jazz Fest.
Photo provided by Rachael DePauw -- New Orleans potter Rachael DePauw will shape and carve her pieces in the contemporary crafts area during the first weekend of Jazz Fest.

For fabric collage artist Linc Bennett, of Atlanta, demonstrating his work in front of a live audience in the Louisiana Jazz & Heritage Festival’s Congo Square area provides an opportunity to share an intricate process that usually goes on behind closed doors.

“You kind of have to see the process to appreciate how it works,” Bennett said. “In a way, it’s like magic.”

People seeing his collages for the first time often do a double-take, Bennett said.

“It looks like a painting, but when you look closer, you see that something else is going on.”

While the music stages at the New Orleans Jazz Fest draw 50,000 or more, crafts demonstrations provide artistic performances of a more intimate nature. The demonstrations are intended to be educational and deepen the appreciation for the effort and talent that go into creating crafts, organizers said.

Bennett will be demonstrating his two- and three-dimensional fabric collage work during the second weekend of Jazzfest at Congo Square Tent D, in 20-minute sessions beginning at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.

For craft demonstrations, the Jazz Festival looks for artists who can highlight the unique aspects of their craft while demonstrating their work to the public, organizers said. Demonstrations help to inform the public about the artist and their craft, presenting a wide variety of media and techniques.

The festival plans eight demonstrators each in Contemporary Crafts and Congo Square, four each weekend, about 20 each weekend in Folklife Village and 12 in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, organizers said.

Darrin Butler, of New Orleans, will be demonstrating assembly of his metal wall sculptures during the first weekend of Jazz Fest in the Congo Square area.

Butler’s work in other media is likely familiar to Louisianians. In 2001, his painted coffee tables were awarded first place in the Jazz Fest’s “most unique” category. In 2008, he won a statewide contest to create a lottery ticket background, “Let the Good Times Roll.”

In the past four years, however, he has built on his experience painting automobiles to move into metal sculpture. Many of the tools he uses to create the sculptures would be safety hazards at the crowded Fair Grounds, but he plans to bring examples of the galvanized metal that is his primary raw material, along with samples that show how the appearance of the metal changes with grinding, painting and clear-coating.

Butler’s first-weekend demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Congo Square Tent D.

Spectators who want to try their hand at a craft technique may have that opportunity during the first weekend when Rachael DePauw, of New Orleans, demonstrates her work in ceramics.

With help from her husband, William, DePauw will use a kick wheel to shape ceramic pieces that are then decorated using the technique of sgrafitto, in which a thin layer of black, liquid clay is painted onto a pre-fired vessel “the consistency of cheddar cheese,” then carved away with a small tool to reveal the white porcelain beneath.

This will be the second year the DePauws will demonstrate their ceramic work at Jazz Fest. Last year, “we would do the throwing and we would have the audience do a lot of the carving,” DePauw said. “A lot of the time it’s a lot more labor-intensive than they realize.”

The DePauws will be throwing and scratching in the demo tent in the contemporary crafts area during the first weekend of Jazz Fest, for about 20 minutes an hour.

Also, demonstrations of the culinary arts are through both weekends at the Food Heritage Stage inside the grandstand and at the Cajun Cabin Stage. The arts of cooking and storytelling will be brought together Friday, when Adella Gautier makes sweet potato cookies while spinning her tales at the Food Heritage stage at 11:30 a.m.