John Kemp

Saturday, November 5, 5:30 - 8pm

In conjunction with the Opening Reception for
Martyn Lucas and Bill Seeman photography

Expressions of Place embarks on a journey across the rural and urban landscapes of Louisiana via the talents of thirty-seven artists located all around the state. Many are acclaimed professionals whose paintings are included in major private and public collections regionally and nationally. Others have found their followings closer to home. All, however, strive to express impressions of the land with artistic styles that range from traditional to the symbolic and almost totally abstract. Such a variety of interpretation becomes possible in a landscape that changes from dark cypress-shrouded bayous, trembling earth, grassy prairies, the gritty streets of inner city New Orleans to vast wind-swept coastal marshes and the piney hills of north and central Louisiana.

Rather than stand as an encyclopedia, catalog, or history of the visual arts in Louisiana, Kemp’s book is instead a celebration of the state’s evocative landscape in the work of accomplished contemporary artists. It includes an introductory essay, which places these creators and their works in historical context. Expressions of Place provides readers with individual essays and biographical sketches in which the artists, in their own words, give insight as to what they paint, how they paint, where they paint, and why they are drawn to the Louisiana landscape. Particularly inspiring, the artists discuss their interpretations of that landscape directly with the viewing audience.

Expressions of Place remains as much about the landscape of the artists’ imaginations as it is about the land itself. With each painting, they have created visual poetry of a land and environment that has become a defining part of their lives.

About the Author

John R. Kemp, a former staff writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, has written hundreds of articles about Louisiana and Southern artists for numerous regional, national and international magazines, including ARTnews, American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, and Louisiana Life. The New Orleans native covers the New Orleans art scene for WYES Public Television’s weekly show, Steppin’ Out. He also has written, edited and contributed chapters to seventeen books about Louisiana art and history. Expressions of Place, published in October by the University Press of Mississippi, is his most recent book. 

“John Kemp presents us with a timely and much-needed survey of thirty-seven currently active Louisiana landscape painters—a welcome endeavor in this cyber-hyped age. Kemp presents serious working artists who still work from life, or ‘plein air’ as it is called.

“Following an incisive and informative first course, we are treated to a banquet of visual delights, ranging from the ‘symbolic’ to the ‘ideal,’ as varied interpretations of our unique natural inheritance. Included are biographical sketches along with individual artists’ aesthetic exegeses.”

Auseklis Ozols, founder and director of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts


“Among Louisiana’s many unique aspects is its flat, humid landscape of bayous, marshes, and swamps and an extraordinary group of artists who have depicted it for more than a century and a half. No one is more knowledgeable about contemporary art in Louisiana than John Kemp, and he has now written a wonderful book on the best landscape painters working today. His rich and varied selection offers many surprises. For while there are artists here both familiar and famous, there are many who are new and fresh. Together they present a visually compelling and complex view of the Louisiana landscape.”

E. John Bullard, director emeritus, New Orleans Museum of Art

“Looking through this lens of a lifetime, Kemp has chosen to focus on thirty-seven contemporary Louisiana landscape painters to examine their work not only through his expert eyes but through their own words as well. This book is far more than a survey but rather an attempt to mine the souls of these artists to bring the reader inside them for a greater understanding of their work and the sense of place, Louisiana, that each brings to all of us through their painting.

“This is an important and enjoyable book whose time has come.”

Roger H. Ogden, New Orleans art collector and founder of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art