“High Flying and Living Large: The Paintings of James Michalopoulos” opens in the historic town hall in Lake Charles – Orange Leader

A new exhibition of the works of New Orleans’ best-known living artist opens on Thursday, September 23rd at the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center. “High Flying and Living Large: The Paintings of James Michalopoulos” shows fifty colorful and energetic compositions that span the artist’s career. The exhibition includes landscapes, architecture, animals, sunflowers, and cityscapes. It hangs in the gallery on the third floor until Saturday, November 27th.

Born in Pennsylvania, Michalopoulos was drawn to New Orleans in 1981 as the last bastion of hippie-bohemian culture in America. He began sketching artists and musicians, houses and street corners. Fascinated by the duality of beauty and decay, the city’s architecture became his muse. A unique style was created through his portraits of shotgun houses and Creole cottages. Capturing the spirit and essence of his subject layer by layer with thick impasto paint, a portrait of the city appeared full of color and energy.

In the early 1990s he ran a studio in Lausanne, Switzerland, and exhibited there as well as in Geneva, London and Berlin. Today he spends his time between New Orleans and Burgundy, France. The French landscape with its stone houses from Roman times and green fields has become a major focus of his work.

Michalopoulos explains his creative methodology: “My process is not literal or linear. I’m looking for the place where people dance. In search of reality, a force – or something essential that enlivens. In a way, life and vibrancy are the most important things about art and have the courage to honor and share what shows up. It is my duty to be open to the poetic, to penetrate to the urgency. I allow myself to follow and communicate what beauty I find in what I see and hope that it evokes the same in someone else. “

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival honored him six times as an official artist, more than any other artist in the history of the festival. In the early years, his studio printed the posters using a remarkable hand-drawn 36-screen process.

His artwork continues to be shown extensively in the United States and abroad. His paintings are in numerous public and corporate collections including: Universal Studios, Chrysler Corporation, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Dallas Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Chevrolet Motor Corporation, and Northwest Airlines; as well as in the collections of Bruce Willis, Jackson Browne, John Goodman, Linda Hamilton, Tony Curtis, Bonnie Raitt, Sharon Stone, Aaron Neville, Emmylou Harris and many others.

“We have looked forward to hosting this exhibition for over two years,” said Matt Young, cultural director for the City of Lake Charles. “We are very excited to present the work of an artist of the caliber of Mr. Michalopoulous in southwest Louisiana. We had originally planned the exhibition for 2020, but had to postpone it due to Hurricane Laura. However, this particular collection of works is definitely worth the wait. “

When visiting the center, be sure to see “Melanin in the Canvas” by Lloyd G. Wade at the Black Heritage Gallery and “Rising Above” for Gallery by the Lake. Both exhibitions close on Saturday, September 25th. Also on the second floor, Gallery by the Lake presents the online group exhibition “Hit Me with your Best Shot!”. This is a national competition and exhibition of photographs of birds found in the United States. The photos can be seen until Saturday, October 16.

Historic City Hall is located at 1001 Ryan Street and has resumed normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm. Admission is free. As per Louisiana’s COVID-19 guidelines, visitors are encouraged to wear masks and use hand sanitizer, which is found throughout the property. The Charlestown Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Bilbo Street, behind the center. For more information, please call 491-9147 or visit www.cityoflakecharles.com.

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