Art Runneth Over
Dirty South Cup puts ceramics front and center in Alexandria
Eight years ago, River Oaks Square Arts Center, a multipurpose contemporary visual and fine arts hub in Alexandria, wanted to put on a national art show to both elevate the Center on a national level and to discover a wide variety of American artists they could pull from for future exhibits. River Oaks received a grant to create what became the Dirty South Cup Call & Competition, a national juried exhibition of traditional and non-traditional ceramic vessels. More than 250 artists submitted works — everything from whimsical cups to artistic non-drinkable clay vessels — that first year, with a guest juror choosing winners and leading a two-day workshop.
The Dirty South Cup show has now become an annual event and one of River Oaks’ most popular exhibits. Plus, the show delivered on organizers’ original intent.
“It’s really placed us on the national scale with some really nationally renowned artists,” said Rachael L. Dauzat, River Oaks executive director. “So much talent has come through here, simply because it’s on a national level.”
This year’s show is April 8 through May 28 at the Center located in downtown Alexandria. The 2022 guest juror is Renee LoPresti of Texas, who will conduct a ceramic workshop April 6-7.
“These are typically hands-on workshops,” Dauzat said. “They are discounted for students at very reduced rates because of the grants.”
The idea for the Dirty South Cup show came about when two professors were visiting Alexandria from the University of Monticello and they related a similar exhibit by students. Dauzat thought, “Everybody has room for a cup,” and started the ball rolling. The first guest juror was Tom Coleman, the “king of pottery,” Dauzat said. “He had his own following and that helped tremendously.”
The only requirement for Dirty South is that the ceramic vessel must have the similarities of a cup.
“It can be anything that encompasses a vessel,” Dauzat said.
Most entries are available for sale, so visitors to the exhibit may bring a Dirty South Cup home.
Now in its eighth year, the show includes a digital component, put into place in 2020 because of COVID lockdown happening at the same time. It’s become an ongoing feature.
“The artists get to show their work to a wider audience,” Dauzat said of the digital complement. “We love it. Everyone gets to see the work.”
IF YOU GO
STAY A stay at the Hotel Bentley not only places visitors in the heart of downtown Alexandria and its Cultural District, but offers a trip back in time. A mini museum explains Alexandria’s role in World War II, when Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton resided at the Hotel Bentley planning the Louisiana Maneuvers, training about a half a million troops for combat. Downstairs from the lobby is the Mirror Room Tapas Lounge, long a meeting place for Cenla residents and visitors.
EAT Within walking distance from the hotel are several restaurants, from the fine dining Diamond Grill, once a high-end jewelry store, to the eclectic Tamp & Grind Coffee shop.
DO Downtown Alexandria’s Cultural District also includes the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center and the Hearn Stage at the Kress Theater. Other artistic events include Art Walks by the Arts Council of Central Louisiana, the Rapides Symphony Orchestra concerts.