Fly through the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport these days, and take in the work of Louisiana artists, thanks to a new program spearheaded by Baton Rouge Gallery. It’s one of the many ways BRG president and CEO Jason Andreasen has aimed to demystify the sometimes stuffy reputation of art galleries and make the works of local artists and creatives more accessible.
“One of the things we’ve been hoping to do is to start meeting people where they are, as opposed to always asking them to come and meet us,” Andreasen says. “More and more, we’re hoping to go out and meet Baton Rouge where Baton Rouge is.”
The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport project, called [email protected], provided an opportunity to breathe new life into a defunct space, Andreasen says. The former B Concourse smokers’ lounge was retooled as an art gallery, while the A and B Concourses now also include original art installations.
The program was in the works before the COVID-19 shutdown, but just opened officially in November 2021. It currently features the works of about two dozen Louisiana artists, which will rotate with others from BRG’s roster of 70 member artists. It reflects a nationwide trend in which more airports are housing pieces by local artists to showcase regional character and identity, while improving the visual experience for travelers.
Andreasen isn’t a stranger to pushing for innovative and attention-grabbing programming. Throughout his 14-year tenure with the gallery, he has helped it become a lively, interactive space where art appreciators can opt in to all sorts of experiences, from listening to an artist talk or attending a free monthly opening, to wearing a zany costume at the annual Surreal Salon or watching a silent film set to live music on the gallery’s lawn. Situated in BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park, Baton Rouge Gallery has become an inviting hub that makes people feel comfortable while coaxing the local art scene in exciting new directions.
While COVID put a damper on BRG’s events, the gallery found new ways to connect with the community, including launching a collection of cloth masks printed with the works of more than 60 of its artist members.
Andreasen says he’s encouraged about the community’s long-term commitment to the arts.
“I think when the pandemic took a lot of these kinds of experiences away from us, people recognized the value that art adds to the city, and to their lives personally,” Andreasen says. “I see people making sure that places like this, which are special to them, will thrive.”
Look for regular in-person programming to resume full-throttle in 2022, including the return of the costumed Surreal Salon this month. batonrougegallery.org
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This article was originally published in the January 2022 issue of 225 magazine.