64 Parishes

Shreveport Regional Arts Council

Critical Mass 8

Cultivating creativity and community

Published: December 1, 2019
Last Updated: June 6, 2023

Critical Mass 8

Casey Jones

Linda Dickson Moss, Matrilineal, 2018. Acrylic and fiber.

Arts, culture, and creativity have reached critical mass in Northwest Louisiana, exploding into an arts ecosystem that builds deepening relationships between arts, artists, and audiences and cultivates a creative community for discovering unprecedented, unexpected, unabashed arts experiences.

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) has been presenting the annual open invitational exhibition and critic series Critical Mass since 2011. Nationally acclaimed critics use formal critique to review the exhibited works of the region’s most talented visual, literary, and performance artists and to name a “Best of Show” in each category.

Robert L. Pincus, PhD, former critic for the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Tribune, has been a part of Critical Mass from the outset. Pincus said, “The rich interaction with critics and artists through SRAC’s Critical Mass and its reviews and reactions can be akin to pebbles tossed into a proverbial pool, producing a ripple effect. Criticism or critique, whether written or verbal, can be a form of validation for an artist and a catalyst for expanding the experience of the arts throughout a community.”

Critical Mass has certainly been key to transforming the arts in Northwest Louisiana and nurturing an arts ecosystem that begins with the K–12 ArtBreak Festival and expands to many other innovative programs, including Artists’ Studio Tours across ten parishes, the new Kallenberg Artist Tower Writer’s Residency, and a unique group of seventy-five working artists creating in the region. Another that has garnered national attention is a world-renowned artists-in-residence program that has included soundsuit artist and International Medal of Arts Honoree Nick Cave and the FriendsWithYou artist collective of Samuel Albert Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III. A Collectors and Collectible Artists Series evolved from Critical Mass that reflects the community’s deep commitment to collecting local artists. The annual Collectors’ Homes Tour takes place this year on February 16. The Critical Mass Solo exhibition, presentation, and performance showcases are the high point for the artists named Best of Show each year during the annual open invitational exhibition and critic series.

The Best of Show Visual Artist for last year’s Critical Mass is Linda Dickson Moss. Professional critic Ann Hackett said Moss’s Matrilineal demanded her attention as soon as she walked into the exhibition space. The piece is a multi-media creation using acrylic paint and fiber in brilliant colors of blue and purple to tell Moss’s story of searching for her biological family. Arrows move through the piece representing waves of Moss’s ancestors moving across a new country. X’s represent the X chromosome passed from mother to daughter. Moss premieres her solo exhibition, The Shaken Foundation, on January 25 at artspace.

Literary art critic David Ulin praised 2019 Best of Show literary artist Carolyn Breedlove’s Pacific for her acute attention to detail that allows the reader to feel and recognize the experience of the character. Breedlove’s excerpt tells of her main character’s pre-dawn flight, on foot, along a dark highway. Memories of her brother, missing in action in Vietnam some years before, go with her every step. The words of the novel, as well as music and memorabilia expressing periods and settings from Cajun Louisiana to the Los Angeles punk scene, will comprise the backdrop for her solo literary show on January 25.

Manny Mendoza and Lauren Smart oversaw the critique of the Critical Mass 7 performing arts showcase and chose musician and instrument maker Michael Futreal as Best of Show Performance Artist. Mendoza said Futreal “finds a beautiful balance between melody and jazzy excursions fueled by his feelings of the moment.” Futreal played an improvisational piece called “Hiddenite” on a fretless dulcimer. It is a good example of the instrumental “rural space music” that Futreal seeks to create using instruments that he hand-builds from gourd, bamboo, and scrap wood—chromatic dulcimers, mountain dulcimers, and flutes. Futreal’s performance “Rural Space Music and Other Anomalies” will be played with the instrumental trio Twang Darkly on January 23, at the Central ARTSTATION.

Critical Mass Solo Visual and Literary Shows open January 25, and the Performance Show takes place January 23. Entries for Critical Mass 8 will be due to SRAC in mid-February and the exhibition will open on Friday, March 13. Visit www.shrevearts.org for more information.