Art and history

Wayne Talbot, director of fine arts for East Baton Rouge Parish schools, encouraged his students to enter competitions when he was a classroom teacher.

Though teachers have less time to devote to contests now, Talbot said, he thinks competition and public exhibits of student art work are important.

Talbot teamed with the Mid-City Historical Cemeteries Coalition to design a contest for public and private school students.

There is a reception at the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board office, 1050 S. Foster Drive from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for students who entered the competition. The reception is open to the public.

The public is invited to view the exhibit of the students’ work in art and photography in the lobby through December.

“I love the Lutheran Cemetery,” said Tim Coles, 14, a ninth-grader at The Dunham School, who won best in show in photography.

Coles has visited the city’s old cemeteries with his grandfather, Chet Coles.

“He thinks it’s important to know our history,” Tim Coles said.

Mary Kay Bertaut, president of the downtown historic cemeteries coalition, hopes the art and photography contest will introduce students to Highland Cemetery, 4243 Oxford Ave.; National Cemetery, Florida and 19th Streets; Magnolia, 422 N. 19th St.; Sweet Olive Cemetery, 100-200 S. 22nd St.; St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery, 1500 Main; and Jewish Cemetery, 1400 block of North Street, and Roselawn Memorial Park, 4045 North St.

Kyrin Dotson, 7, a second-grader at Forest Heights Academy of Excellence, drew inspiration for his second-place painting from the monument to the Crenshaw children in Magnolia Cemetery. Two of the children died in the Baton Rouge yellow fever epidemic of 1858.

The cemetery was the scene of fighting in the Civil War as soldiers took cover behind trees, monuments and the cemetery’s fences.

National Cemetery was established in 1867 across Florida Street from Magnolia Cemetery.

“I felt sorry for the children,” Dotson said.

The children in Dotson’s painting wear modern clothing.

“I wasn’t used to the clothes in the Civil War,” the second-grader said, “so I used the clothes we wear now.”

Dotson is the son of Latoya Dotson and Kylid Coates.

Alexander Garrett, 13, a seventh-grader at McKinley Middle and son of Heather and Kyle Finke, took best in show in artwork with a drawing of tombs in a New Orleans cemetery.

Coles, son of Preston and Sara Coles, took best in show in photography with a shot of graves in Lutheran Cemetery, 1735 Eddie Robinson Drive, near McKinley Middle and Brooks Park.

The cemeteries coalition uses Faye Phillips’ book, “Baton Rouge Cemeteries,” to encourage walking, cycling and car tours of the city’s historic cemeteries.

Lutheran Cemetery may take its name from the Male and Female Lutheran Benevolent Society, a group formed by slaves in New Orleans in 1822 though that’s speculation, Phillips writes.

The earliest graves in the Baton Rouge Lutheran Cemetery may be those of slaves from nearby Richland Plantation, according to Phillips.

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