Archive | September, 2010

Baton Rouge, Louisiana – LSU – Allen Hall Murals

25 Sep

18 ft by 15 ft Fresco Mural Painted in the Late 1930s by Carol Brown Dietrich Under the Direction of Conrad Albrizio. It is Located Under the Northeast Portico of Allen Hall at LSU in Baton Rouge.

LSU has a beautiful campus.  Aside from the million cars trying to park, there is art and history and architecture and natural wonders all over the campus.  It is a joy to pass under the large oaks around campus and to witness the flowering dogwoods and the many azaleas.  Of course thousands upon thousands  visit Tiger Stadium and the Assembly Center and of course Mike the Tiger.  The quadrangle offers a park like setting in right in the middle of the main part of the campus and many students enjoy that environment between classes or just to sit a spell and relax and talk.  When students head into the buildings around the quadrangle the thoughts get more serious and classes become top importance.  When walking to and from classes it is hard to notice and to appreciate some of the great art work that is exhibited to students on a daily basis.  Allen Hall at LSU has some of the best fresco murals that can be found and I must have walked by these murals a hundred times without really taking notice.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s the late Conrad Albrizio, LSU’s first professor of painting and an internationally known fresco painter, guided 5 undergraduate art students as they painted history onto the walls of Allen Hall.  Sue Brown Dietrich, Jean Birkland McCandless, and the late Roy Henderson, Ben Porter Watkins and Anne Woolfolk White painted panels for an interior mural at the east end of Allen Hall.  The restoration of the interior murals and another exterior mural was undertaken to celebrate the university’s 75th Campus Jubilee in 2001, which commemorated the 75 years LSU has been located at its present site.  The exterior mural was also painted on the wall outside the northeast portico of Allen Hall but it was painted over in the 1960s.  Well, that explains why I never noticed the one outside because it was after that I attended LSU.

A Section of the LSU Allen Hall Murals. Cotton and Hand Labor were Important Parts of the States Economy When the Murals were Painted.

Sue Brown Dietrich painted the fresco under the portico. The mural was Dietrich’s master’s thesis project.  Approximately 18 feet wide by 15 feet high, the mural represents the importance of both education and hard work. It depicts two men, one smaller crouching under the arm of another larger man, and a large red-headed woman embracing a child. A huge wheel, representing industry, forms the backdrop.  It took Deitrich eight hours a day for a month to paint the mural.

My photos do not capture the beauty or the work entailed in the murals nor the scope of their size.  They truly are works of art and then some.  They have to be seen in person to be appreciated and everyone that I know, that has seen them, has been fascinated.  It is best to visit on a weekend since the press of the students makes it hard to sit and contemplate as one “reads” the mural.  I can’t remember why I passed through Allen Hall just a couple of years ago and really noticed the murals for the first time.  After viewing them for a long while I then stepped outside through the northeast portico and gasped at what I saw.  Great works of art for all to see and appreciate at LSU in Baton Rouge.  If you are on campus it would well be worth your time to see the wonderful murals in Allen Hall.

Timber and Waterways and Fishing are Integral Parts of Louisiana's Economy and Culture.

Albrizio was an international known fresco painter and was a perfectionist for fine work. He used the same techniques as the Italian fresco masters in the 15th and 16th centuries. The LSU murals compare very well to the highest quality frescos in Italy.  Also there are more murals in Allen Hall awaiting restoration.

Jackson, Louisiana – Old Centenary College

14 Sep

The West Wing Dormitory of Old Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana.

The towns of Jackson, Clinton, and St. Francisville no longer reflect their past glory but still there are many clues to that heritage that can be found in both East and West Feliciana Parishes.  Thankfully the residents of these small towns have pride in their heritage and have taken the lead to preserve those elements that have linked each generation of people who have lived there.

One of the most enduring structures is the west wing dormitory of Old Centenary College  in Jackson, Louisiana.  Many that grew up in the recent past near Jackson may remember this structure as an old ghostly looking building.  It was the old spooky building out by the baseball fields.  Today it has been restored to its 1837 condition.

The west wing dormitory is all that survives of the original 3 room educational complex  There was an east wing dormitory and a magnificent center building in which classes were held.

The main or center building and the east wing dormitory have been lost to time.  The remaining west wing dormitory is two stories high and one room deep with a free-standing colonnade encompassing the long south front and east and west ends.  The second story rooms are reached by means of a continuous balcony with three sets of exterior stars along the front.

The college first began as the College of Louisiana in 1937 but it came into the hands of a Methodist College in 1845.  Centenary College, previously located in Mississippi, moved to the grounds in 1845.  Centenary had been founded in Mississippi in 1839 on the 100th anniversary (or centenary) of the founding of the Methodist society by John Wesley.

Centenary grew rapidly and reached its peak enrollment of 260 just prior to the Civil War. The war not only took all of the students but it also took a toll on the buildings and grounds.  After the war Centenary was in constant repair and the student body did not regain its previous numbers. Jackson could not regain its former vitality. The college survived until 1900 when at that time a new home was sought.  A 40 acre site in Shreveport was offered and in 1906 Centenary moved to its present location.

After the college’s departure, the campus sat unused for fifteen years. In the mid 1920s it was used as a tuberculosis hospital. But by 1935, the campus was in a state of extreme disrepair, and on the brink of condemnation. The three buildings had three different owners, two of whom chose to sell the rights for demolition. The East Wing and Center Building were both demolished, and the salvageable materials from them sold for scrap. There were many buildings constructed in that time from Jackson to New Orleans whose materials included those of the Main Academic Building.

The West Wing remained standing because its owners had come up with a way to make it far more lucrative than just knocking it down. From 1938 to 1965, the West Wing Dormitory was low-income housing. The campus itself was used as a trailer park. To this day, there are visible remnants of the residences that were there during that time.

In the 1970s, the only use the campus saw was a baseball field, which happened to be on the site of the College’s baseball field more than 80 years earlier. In 1977, not long before it was to be demolished, the West Wing was saved due to the efforts of many influential citizens in and around Jackson. The State of Louisiana purchased and restored the West Wing, Professor’s Cottage, and surrounding 43 acres. The West Wing was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and Centenary State Historic Site was born.

New Orleans, Louisiana – In A Different Light

10 Sep

Royal Street During a Light Rain

New Orleans is probably one of Americas most photographed cities.  It certainly makes up a great number of my images.  One of the most difficult things that I encounter is ending up with a bunch of images that rarely captures the beauty and excitement of the French Quarter Streets or Canal Street – the River you name it.  In this series of images, taken at different times, I decided to pump up the saturation, chroma and whatever else I could manipulate in order to make the mood different.  I have overdone it in some of the images but again the colors make me feel good about the picture.  It helps me to see what is there and not to concentrate on what is not there.

The image above was taken on Royal Street after a light rain had started falling.  It was a nice image but just sort of gray.  So I decided to play around with the sliders in Photoshop and in Capture NX.  I liked the result.  The Royal Street image and all the ones that follow are simply produced by adjusting the saturation and chroma of the images.

Late Afternoon Lights on Canal Street

The image above was snapped on Canal Street and I was lucky enough for two streetcars to show up.  As luck would have it I was already soaking wet and just after taking this picture I walked over to the Walgreens at Baronne and Canal and bought a much-needed bottle of water.  Upon exiting the store I stepped into a crater on Baronne Street and fell.  I broke my fall but not that of my camera.  The lens hit the street and broke into a number of pieces.  I also soaked up all the water and essence that Baronne had to over.  This year I will go back and get some of the pictures that I intended to take that night.

An Image Taken From A Small Boat in the Mississippi River

This too was a gray toned image in the original image.  After pumping up the saturation a little the tones in the buildings started matching those found in the water.  A small ship is passing New Orleans headed downriver early in the morning.

The colors in this image turned out completely different.  At first it appeared to me that the image was taken at about the same time as the other but as it was we were running up and down the river quite a bit that day.  This does show how much lighting and colors can change dramatically while one is out and about taking images.

Adding saturation and playing with the color added a lot of drama to the clouds.  The off set was the color of the water that resulted.  I guess I could change it if I wanted to but all in all I enjoy looking at the image as it is.  The colors and the clouds gives the image a “depth” that it would lack otherwise.

Well, after any photo excursion it might be better to look at some pictures and to see what you can do with them.  When I first saw these I was disappointed but after a year it was fun to play with them and see what resulted.  They indeed give one an opportunity to see the same old stuff in a new light.

Clinton, Louisiana – St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church – “Carpenter Gothic”

7 Sep

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (1871) is a Good Expample of a "Carpenter Gothic" Church in Louisiana

When one passes through Clinton, Louisiana, it is easy to miss the many historical and architectural jewels that this town has to offer. There is the historic courthouse in the center of town that catches everyone’s attention and other buildings that can be seen along the traveled highways through town.  It only takes a few minutes to get off the beaten path and to turn up some sights that one would never expect to see.

The Marston House, churches, old schools, Sillman Institute, The Confederate Cemetery and other places are there for those that do a little exploring.  One unique church has been providing “atmosphere” in Clinton since 1871.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church sits atop a small hill. Although it is in a small built up area St. Andrews commands the view and gives the impression of an isolated rural church.  The church even retains the original stained glass.  It is very beautiful in its rural setting with blooming trees and flowering bushes and tall pines dotting the grounds.

St. Andrew’s can best be described as an example of “Carpenter Gothic.”  “Carpenter Gothic” was popular in America, especially for rural churches in the middle of the 19th century. Popular is a relative term in that the style was not used that much in Louisiana.  Perhaps there are a half dozen examples in the whole state.

St. Andrew’s Church expresses itself quietly and beautifully in its setting.  Completely made of wood,  its light members and vertical proportions, in addition to being Gothic, are considered to be in keeping with wood construction..  The structure presents itself in the proper proportions and in no way does it suggest a massive and heavy style.

A visit to the grounds of this church is a “spiritual” experience.  Not spiritual in the religious sense but in the sense that the mind and heart are indeed brought to a higher level and all it takes is to roam around the grounds – one doesn’t even have to think about things – which is a hard thing to do when you visit here.

Rosedale, Louisiana – Church of the Nativity – Syrup Mill – Homes

3 Sep

Church of the Nativity - Episcopal Church - Rosedale, Louisiana

Rosedale is just one of those places.  You find yourself there and are not really sure why you are there nor how you got there.  Thus it is with many places in Louisiana.  They are just off the beaten path so to speak.

Although Rosedale is a small place there are some things around that make one think that the place at one time was much more active than it is today.  I mean active in a community sense.  Rosedale is situated on the banks of Bayou Grosse Tete and that has to count for something. The bayou served as the main artery of transportation before highways were established. Still this place is interesting.  There are older homes and businesses along the bayou.  Some of these are being claimed by the vegetation along the bayou but many nice and interesting homes and churches and structures exist as one explores up and down the bayou.

Built in 1859 a Civil War Skirmish was Fought on the Grounds in 1864

One of those interesting places is The Church of the Nativity.  It is a small Gothic style Chapel that was built in 1859.  It must have been a place of some note as Bishop Leonidas Polk consecrated the small Episcopal Church on April 22, 1860.  Some remember the fighting Bishop from Louisiana during the War Between the States.  He was killed in 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign – and I have seen his bust on the Confederate Memorial in Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans.  It was also in 1864 that a skirmish was fought in Rosedale.  In fact it was fought on the grounds of the church.  It is hard to envision that happening as today the church reminds me of a land of fairies. It is just such a calm, comfortable and beautiful setting.

Home in Rosedale On Bayou Grosse Tete

Homes of all types can be found along the bayou near Rosedale and I have included some photos of a couple.  On my last visit I also spotted an old smoke stack along the bayou and as of yet I have not tried to find out why it is there.  It just seems that it belongs there so no big deal.

Shotgun Type Home More Commonly Found Around Rosedale

Now one place that I stumbled upon was an old syrup mill.  When I look at the photo I can smell the smoke and taste the syrup. I can also envision that hundreds of cans of syrup must have been produced here every year – in the not so distant past.  I can imagine the cane carts and wagons that must have been around this place during the cool and wet winter days.  The sucrose content of the cane goes up in cooler weather.  A frost can really help to make the cane sweeter as long as it doesn’t kill the stalks.  I bet the roads were busy then too.  In my mind I can see the bustle associated with Rosedale in the past.  It is mostly a “sleepy” place now but the bayou and the church and the houses and other things around there can sure stir up the imagination.  That makes a visit to this place worthwhile.

Abandoned Syrup Mill in Rosedale Along the Banks of Bayou Grosse Tete