Passing murals on both newly opened businesses like BR.cade or longstanding ones like the Louisiana Key Academy, one thing is immediately clear about Government Street and the surrounding areas: the spirit of Mid City is being transformed artistically.
Mid City Merchants, is celebrating this artistry in a unique way, showcasing chefs, musicians, performers, dancers, makers and more with the annual Hot Art Cool Nights event on Friday, May 6.
Between 6 and 10 p.m., over 40 businesses along the area from Jefferson Highway at Goodwood Boulevard to the intersection of Government and 14th streets will be filled with demonstrations, sales and galleries showcasing both amateur and professional art from the Mid City community.
“For the artists, this is a beneficial evening,” Garrett Kemp, President of Mid City Merchants, explains. “We have a lot of professional artists, where this isn’t their first rodeo. But at the same time, this is a great catalyst for new, amateur artists where their art might not be visible in a gallery.”
Kemp, who owns the Government Street antique shop Circa 1857, joined Mid City Merchants around 2017 in their mission to promote the artistic community of Mid City through both Hot Art Cool Nights and White Light Night, a similar event in the fall.
Outside of promoting the artistic development of the area, Kemp and the rest of Mid City Merchants seeks to bolster local businesses and to stimulate the growth of “Baton Rouge’s historic and culture hub,” their website reads.
Members include representatives from Redstick Reads Booksellers, Mid City Artisans, Red Stick Spice, as well as the various restaurants in the area. Working with these and other businesses, Kemp hopes Hot Art Cool Nights brings the art of Mid City to the attention of the public.
The event, an art festival at its core, seeks to allow artists to showcase what they make in a controlled setting where they can receive feedback, Kemp explains. It is a chance for musicians to get their music into the world, as well as for painters and sculptors to get their pieces in the hands of real customers.
“They’re getting tips and feedback on how to arrange your tent and how to display your artwork, so it is really a great learning exercise for all the artists,” he says. “It’s also just a good time for shoppers to go out and enjoy the evening, as well.”
The hope with an event like Hot Art Cool Nights is that people are compelled to walk the sidewalks from venue to venue or utilize newly renovated bike lanes to experience all of the art Mid City has to offer. Still, parking will be available for those who wish to check out their favorite spots during the festival.
At the end of the day, the biggest aspect of Hot Art Cool Nights, Kemp explains, is to bolster the community of Mid City and to promote the businesses in the area.
“Our goal is to represent (the businesses) and promote the ideas of art and keeping the community through art,” Kemp says. “We want to continue to get public art to where it is visible to people so that you know you are in an art and cultural district. You don’t have to wonder where you are.”
Learn more about Mid City Merchants and Hot Art Cool Nights at www.midcitymerchantsbr.org.