Norton Art Gallery is about to get colorful with BLOOM! Exhibition

A few years ago, artist Whitney Tates submitted one of her paintings for the Norton Art Gallery’s BLOOM! Exhibition juried show. When it was not accepted, she was so hurt she could not bear to go to the opening reception, “In the moment, when you get that rejection letter it’s absolutely devastating.”

But that did not prevent her from entering again and then again. She has entered five times since she first learned about the show and has had four painting excepted, “I’ve gotten advice from professional artists, and they always say you have to go through a lot of ‘Nos’ to get to the ‘Yes.’”

Tates is a full time artist in Shreveport and it’s her primary income, “I can’t afford to give up after getting that ‘not invited’ email.” But moving past that sting of rejection was the price paid for the joy of bigger successes.

In 2023, her painting ‘Late Bloomer’ was accepted, and was used for promotional purposes. A large poster of it was made with ‘Bloom!’ written above it and hung on the front of the building. It commanded attention through its size, bright colors and interesting subject matter, “it’s an incredibly special painting to me as it marks a transition in my art style and my art career,” recalled Tate.

BLOOM! started eight years ago when Micah Stewart, the Norton’s former education director, wanted to celebrate the beauty of the botanical gardens with a concurrent event inside the museum walls. “Our whole staff really comes together to make this a special exhibition not only for the artists but for the community as well,” said Emily Feazel, Designer of Exhibits and Special Events at the Norton.

This year the Norton received 435 submissions from 25 states and 12 countries. Normally 50 pieces of art are selected but the total climbed to 60. “With the amount of submissions this year, we wanted to add more to showcase as many of these talented artists as possible,” said Feazel.

About half of the submissions are from local artist, “It just shows what an incredibly talented and vibrant art scene we enjoy here in Shreveport-Bossier.”

This year, Tates entered two pieces, one she worked on for a long time and another as a backup. It was that one, titled ‘Narcissist’s Crown’, that was accepted, “Turns out, that was the stronger piece and it’s gotten a great reception and has already been collected.”

Tates now enters her pieces with confidence and starts preparing at the beginning of the year, “Bloom has become a staple opportunity for me and I use the call to jump-start my creativity for the year.”

Bloom! will show at the Norton from March 28th until 12 May 12th with the opening exhibit on Thursday, March 28, 2024, from 5-7 p.m.

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