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Expressions of Place - The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape

Expressions of Place

The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape

By John R. Kemp
Hardcover : 9781496808257, 256 pages, 207 color illustrations, September 2016

Contemporary artists revealing the state’s urban landscapes, southwestern swamps, central prairies, verdant forests, and northern fields


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.


"This is a book to savor, and a potent reminder of what John R. Kemp taught me all those years ago: To live life deeply, it's important to look deeply, and learn."

- Danny Heitman, Sunday Advocate

"Each artist spotlight includes their story, residence, inspirations and art training, in addition to several examples of their work. I savored this book, entranced by its images, especially those utilizing water, studying Rhea Jones Cary’s colorful wetlands, Adrian Deckbar’s ethereal reflections and Melissa Bonin’s calm New Iberia bayous. It was almost a spiritual experience."

- Chere Coen, Lafayette Sunday Advertiser and Monroe News Star, January 2017

"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 R. 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

"John R. 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

"There is no more qualified author to examine the state of contemporary Louisiana landscape painting than John R. Kemp. He has spent a lifetime chronicling Louisiana art through the eyes of a journalist, a museum professional, an author, a consultant, and, most of all, an admirer of the deep tradition of the visual arts in Louisiana. 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