Alvin Batiste, Stephanee Grosscup, Helen Cordero | Episode 710 | Art Rocks

Alvin Batiste, Stephanee Grosscup, Helen Cordero | Episode 710 | Art Rocks


PARISH PAINTER RECREATES HIS REGION’S RURAL ROOTS THROUGH FOLK ART. PUTTING A LIFE ON ICE. POTTERY SERVES AS A VESSEL FOR STORYTELLING. AND A CURIOUS FACT ABOUT A HISTORIC LAW OFFICE IN LAKE CHARLES. THAT’S ALL ABOUT TO HAPPEN ON “ART ROCKS.” ♪♪ ♪♪ “ART ROCKS” IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE FOUNDATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING. AND BY VIEWERS LIKE YOU. HELLO AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING “ART ROCKS” WITH ME, JAMES FOX SMITH, PUBLISHER OF “COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE.” LET’S GET STARTED IN THE ASCENSION PARISH RIVER TOWN AND ONE-TIME STATE CAPITAL DONALDSONVILLE, HOME TO RENOWNED FOLK ARTIST ALVIN BATISTE. FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS, PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO ALVIN’S EVOCATIVE SCENES CAPTURING RURAL LIFE, MUSIC, RELIGION, AND FOLKWAYS. ALONG THE WAY, ALVIN HAS WORKED ALONGSIDE A LOCAL FAMILY WHO HELP HIM MARKET HIS WORK. THIS LEAVES HIM PLENTY OF TIME FOR THE ALL-IMPORTANT PROCESS OF CREATION. HERE’S THAT STORY. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ I WAS LIKE 3 WHEN I FIRST STARTED SKETCHING WITH A PENCIL AND ALSO I USED TO DO LIKE LITTLE DRAWINGS WITH THE INK PENS OR COLORS. LIKE ON SATURDAY MORNINGS I USE TO CATCH THESE PAINTING SHOWS WITH BOB ROSS AND I LIKED HIS WORK AND SO I TOLD MOM I COULD DO THAT AND SHE SAID WELL WHY DON’T YOU? JUST GO GET YOUR STUFF? I JUST TAUGHT MYSELF AND I WATCHED HIM PAINT ON TV BUT I ALWAYS WAS DRAWING. WHEN I FIRST STARTEDSCE AND STUFF, MAMA SAID DID YOU DO THAT? SHE WOULD SAY, DID YOU TRACE IT? I SAID, NO I JUST DID IT OUT MY HEAD. AND SHE SAID, YOU DID IT GOOD. SHE JUST STARTED ENCOURAGING ME TO KEEP ON WITH IT. SHE SAID SOMEBODY IS GOING TO DISCOVER YOU ONE DAY. AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW MISS SANDRA SEEN ALVIN PAINTING IN HIS BACK YARD ONE DAY. SHE STOPPED AND SHE LIKED WHAT HE WAS PAINTING. SHE ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN HER SELLING HIS PAINTINGS IN HER ROSI’S FIVE AND DIME SHOP. SHE WENT BOUGHT THE SUPPLIES HE NEEDED AND HE PAINTED 10 PICTURES. SHE BROUGHT HIM INTO THE ROXI BUILDING AND SHE SOLD ALL TEN. I COULDN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE WOULD BUY MY WORK AND JUST PAY FOR MY WORK I WAS JUST SO EXCITED AND I COULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT WAS HAPPENING, IT WAS LIKE A DREAM COME TRUE. MISS SANDRA IMBRAGUGLIO SAID COULD YOU COME IN ON A SATURDAY, SO THE PEOPLE COULD KNOW YOU DONE THAT. AND SO I STARTED LIKE ON A SATURDAY. THEN, LIKE, TOURISTS STARTED COMING THERE. THEN SHE SAID, COULD YOU COME FOUR TO FIVE DAYS A WEEK. SO I STARTED COMING IN REGULARLY. PEOPLE WOULD JUST COME IN AND SEE MY WORK AND THEY WOULD SAY, I WANT TO BUY SOME OF YOUR WORK. 28 YEARS LATER, WE ARE HERE TODAY, DOING THE SAME THING, PROMOTING MR. ALVIN BATISTE AND IT HAS BEEN A JOY AND A PLEASURE EVERY DAY WORKING WITH ALVIN. HE IS A PRIMITIVE FOLK ARTIST KNOWN ALL AROUND THE WORLD. HE HAS A WEBSITE. ALVIN HAS CUSTOMERS ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE SHIP PAINTINGS TO RUSSIA, GERMANY. ALVIN PAINTS A LOT OF HIS ARTWORK FROM STORIES HIS MOTHER TOLD HIM. JUST ALL ABOUT LIFE. I JUST SORT OF GREW UP WITH THE FARM SCENES THAT I PAINT EACH PIECE HAS A SPECIAL STORY. AND ALVIN LOVES TO TELL HIS STORIES ABOUT HIS ARTWORK. SOMETIMES I JUST WANT TO DO MUSIC AND I WOULD DO LIKE BLUES, JAZZ, IT COULD BE ZYDECO, COUNTRY MUSIC. PEOPLE FROM NEW ORLEANS ARE GREAT CUSTOMERS. THAT IF — THEY LOVE HIS JAZZ AND WIRES AND BANDS. SOME LIKE THE CULTURE. SOME WANT DONE THINGS DONE BY COMMISSION, THEY BRING PICTURES IN AND HE PAINTS THE PICTURES. ♪♪ ♪♪ MAMA USE TO SAY WE GO TO THE RIVER TO GET BAPTIZED AND THEY WOULD ALL BE DRESSED IN THEIR LITTLE GOWNS AND A LITTLE PIECE ON THEIR HEAD AND THEN SHE SAID LIKE THE CHURCHES THEY USE TO BE SHOOTING IN CHURCH AND DANCING AND LIKE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SO THAT’S WHY I DO A LOT OF OR THE BIBLE VERSE I MIGHT DO, SOMETHING OUT OF REVELATION WITH JESUS. LIKE RIDING THE HORSE AND SAINTS. MY MOM WOULD BE LIKE CLEAN AND COOKIN’ OR SHE MIGHT BE OUT IN THE YARD DOING YARDWORK OR JUST WHATEVER. SOME DAYS MIGHT BE GOING A LITTLE SLOW OR WHATEVER. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING FUNNY. I MIGHT SIT UP THERE AND DO AN ALL-BATHROOM SCENE. IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING TAKING A BATH IN A NUMBER 3 TUB OR ON THE CHAMBERPOT OR THE OUTHOUSE, JUST PLENTY OF STUFF. PEOPLE ASK ME TO ILLUSTRATE TWO BOOKS, THE SWAMP CRITTERS DOWN AT THE BAYOU. HIM AND HIS LITTLE CARDINAL FRIENDS, SHE’S JUST LIKE LOOKING THROUGH TOWNS, AT THE BUILDINGS AND SOME OF THE WONDERFUL PLACES AND TOWNS. AND THAT ONE IS THE CRITTERS DOWN AT THE BAYOU. IT’S ABOUT LIKE LITTLE SWAMP CRITTERS. WHEN CUSTOMERS COME IN FOR FRAMING WITH — THEY USUALLY WALK OUT WITH A PAINTING FROM ALVIN BATISTE. WE SELL A LOT OF HIS PICTURES THROUGH OUR FRAMING CUSTOMERS. WE ALSO GET TO FRAME THE PAINTING IF THEY CHOOSE TO BE FRAMED. A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST HANG CANVASES ON THE WALL. HE NEVER HAS A BAD DAY. HE PRAYS FOR EVERYONE. HE PAINTS WITH PASSION. HE LOVES HIS ARTWORK. HE LOVES PEOPLE. HE LOVES THE WORLD. ♪♪ ♪♪ TV IS GREAT AND ALL. BUT NOT EVEN THE BEST CAMERAWORK CAN CONVEY THE EXPERIENCE O CONNECTING WITH ART AND THE ARTISTS WHO MAKE IT. SO HERE ARE A HANDFUL OF STANDOUT EXHIBITS COMING SOON TO A MUSEUM OR GALLERY NEAR YOU. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ FOR MORE ABOUT THESE AND MANY MORE EVENTS IN THE ARTS, SUBSCRIBE TO ARTS MONTHLY, THE NEW FREE E-NEWSLETTER FROM THE EDITORS AT LPB AND “COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE.” WHAT’S MORE, THE “ART ROCKS” WEBSITE FEATURES EVERY EPISODE OF THIS PROGRAM. SO TO SEE OR SHARE ANY EPISODE AGAIN, LOG ON TO LPB.ORG AND NAVIGATE TO “ART ROCKS.” YOU MIGHT THINK THAT AN ELITE ICE SKATER’S CAREER WOULD BE LIMITED TO A FEW SHORT YEARS AT THE TOP. BUT DON’T TELL THAT TO STEPHANEE GROSSCUP. THE SUN VALLEY, IDAHO-BASED PROFESSIONAL HAS BEEN CARVING UP THE ICE FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS. THESE DAYS, GROSSCUP USES HER EXPERIENCE AS A SKATER, A COACH, A CHOREOGRAPHER, AND A LOVER OF THE SPORT, AS A FORCE FOR INSPIRING OTHERS. HAVE A LOOK AT THIS. I THINK THE REASON THAT I AM DRIVEN TO SKATE AND THE REASON I’VE GOT SUCH GREAT PASSION FOR ICE SKATING IS THERE IS A FEELING THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE AN ICE SKATER AND YOU’VE ICE SKATED FOR SUCH A LONG TIME, THAT YOU ACTUALLY FEEL LIKE YOU’RE FLYING. ♪♪ ♪♪ MY NAME IS STEPHANEE GROSSCUP. I’M FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, AND MY OCCUPATION IS AN ICE SKATING CHOREOGRAPHER/SKATING INSTRUCTOR. ♪♪ ♪♪ I WAS 9 YEARS OLD WHEN I STARTED ICE SKATING. I HAD THE FORTUNATE EXPERIENCE THAT THE FIRST TIME I WAS EVER ON ICE WAS AT THE HISTORIC AND BEAUTIFUL OUTDOOR ICE RINK IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO. AND IT WAS IN THE SPRING AND TRULY, THERE IS WHERE I FELT THAT I WAS FREE AND I WAS FLYING, AND THAT I JUST KNEW WHAT I WANTED TO DO AT SUCH AN EARLY AGE. AS I WENT THROUGH THE COMPETITIVE YEARS WHICH ALL ICE SKATERS DO ONCE THEY START, I COMPETED FOR PROBABLY ABOUT EIGHT YEARS. BUT I HAD HAD SOME EXPERIENCES PROBABLY ABOUT THE TIME I WAS MAYBE 15-16 YEARS OLD IN THE SUN VALLEY ICE SKATING SHOWS IN THE SUMMER. AT THAT POINT, STARTED TO REALIZE THAT WHAT I WANTED THE MOST OUT OF ICE SKATING WAS TO BE IN SHOW BUSINESS, AND THAT I WANTED TO BE ABLE TO TOUR AMERICA AND VARIOUS OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD WITH BIG ICE SKATING SHOWS. SO I GOT OUT OF COMPETITIVE SKATING AND STARTED DOING A LITTLE BIT OF TEACHING PROBABLY AROUND THE TIME I WAS 19 YEARS OLD, AND BY THE TIME I WAS 20, I JOINED ICE FOLLIES HOLIDAY ON ICE AND NEVER LOOKED BACK. MY CAREER HAS SPANNED PROBABLY ABOUT A 30 TO 35-YEAR PERIOD OF BEING EITHER IN AN ICE SKATING SHOW, BEING A CHOREOGRAPHER FOR INDIVIDUALS, BEING A CHOREOGRAPHER FOR BIG ICE SKATING SHOWS, AND/OR JUST INSTRUCTING. IF I’M NOT DOING ANY KIND OF CHOREOGRAPHY, I’M USUALLY JUST TEACHING SOMEONE AND THAT WOULD BE I’M TEACHING ANYONE FROM THE SMALLEST BEGINNER, ALL THE WAY UP THROUGH AN ADULT WHO MIGHT BE IN THEIR 80S. IN ICE SKATING, THERE ARE SO MANY CAREER PATHS THAT A PERSON CAN TAKE. MOST PEOPLE THINK THAT IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN ICE SKATING, YOU EITHER HAVE TO BE A NATIONAL CHAMPION, A WORLD CHAMPION OR OLYMPIC CHAMPION. HOWEVER, THAT IS VERY UNTRUE. MOST SKATERS, IF THEY HAVE NOT BECOME A NATIONAL CHAMPION OR AN OLYMPIC CHAMPION OR WORLD CHAMPION, THEY WANT TO GO INTO SHOW BUSINESS. SO IF I MET A YOUNG FIVE-YEAR OLD, SIX-YEAR OLD, 10-YEAR OLD TEENAGER WHO HAD THIS GREAT LOVE AND JOY OF ICE SKATING, I WOULD SAY MY MAIN ADVICE TO YOU WOULD BE THIS. REALIZE THAT WHEN IT COMES TO THAT POINT WHERE LET’S SAY YOUR INITIAL DREAM WAS TO BECOME AN OLYMPIC CHAMPION AND THAT DREAM DOES NOT PAN OUT IN THE LONG RUN JUST KNOW THAT THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT ALL THE WORK AND ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE EFFORT AND THE SACRIFICE THAT YOU’VE MADE SINCE YOU WERE A SMALL CHILD AND NOW LET’S SAY YOU’RE A COLLEGE STUDENT WANTING TO DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR ICE SKATING, JUST KNOW THAT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT’S OVER. THAT YOU CAN GO ON IN ICE SKATING AND HAVE AN INCREDIBLE CAREER. AND IF YOU HAVE THAT JOY IN YOUR HEART THAT YOU REMEMBER THAT YOU HAD WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED ICE SKATING, IF YOU CAN ALWAYS KEEP THAT JOY AND THAT SPIRIT ALIVE INSIDE OF YOU THAT YOU HAD WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, YOU CAN TAKE THIS CAREER AS FAR AS YOU WANT TO TAKE IT. THERE’S SO MANY DIFFERENT CAREER PATHS AN ICE SKATER CAN TAKE IF THEY CHOOSE TO STAY IN SKATING AND TO ALLOW SKATING TO MORPH AND CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE YEARS THAT THEY WANT TO KEEP BEING AN ICE SKATER OR BEING INVOLVED IN THE SPORT. I MEAN, I’VE BEEN IN THE SPORT NOW FOR, OH, MY GOSH, THIS IS GOING ON ABOUT 46 YEARS AND IT JUST KEEPS CHANGING AND GROWING. I FIGURE AS LONG AS MY CAREER KEEPS CHANGING AND GROWING AND I CAN CONTINUE TO REINVENT MYSELF IN THIS SPORT ONE WAY, SHAPE OR ANOTHER, I’M GOING TO STAY IN IT AS LONG AS I POSSIBLY CAN. ♪♪ ♪♪ SOUTHWEST TO COCHITI PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO, IS WHERE YOU NEED TO GO TO GET YOUR HANDS ON THE EXTRAORDINARY FIGURINES MADE BY POTTER HELEN CORDERO. INSPIRED BY STORIES TOLD TO HER BY HER GRANDFATHER, CORDERO MAKES SCULPTURES THAT SHOWCASE HER CULTURE’S EMPHASIS ON ORAL TRADITION AND STORYTELLING. ♪♪ ♪♪ SHE PUT HER LIFE BREATH AND HER SOUL, HER SPIRIT INTO EVERY PIECE. YOU KNOW, IT GOES BACK TO, YOU KNOW, WORKING WITH THE CLAY AND BRINGING IT OUT FROM MOTHER EARTH. YOU KNOW, YOU OFFER THE CORNMEAL AND THEN WHEN YOU START TO WORK WITH THE CLAY, YOU PUT YOUR SPIRIT INTO IT BY BREATHING ON IT, AND YOU KNOW WORKING WITH IT AND PUTTING YOUR SOUL INTO THE — INTO THE PIECE. WHAT HELEN DID WAS SHE TAUGHT THE OUTSIDE WORLD, THE NON-COCHITI WORLD, THAT THESE FIGURES ALL HAD STORIES OR WOULD SAY NARRATIVES, AND BY TELLING US THAT STORY SHE PERSONALIZED POTTERY FOR THE NON-NATIVE WORLD. AND WHAT HELEN KEPT ALIVE THROUGHOUT HER LIFE, THROUGH HER SMILE AND HER WILLINGNESS TO TALK TO PEOPLE WAS THE STORY OF HER FAMILY AND HER LIFE IN COCHITI. SHE WAS ALMOST A HERO TO ME, A HEROINE TO ME. HELEN CORDERO WAS NOT ONLY A FAMOUS POTTER WHO INVENTED THE STORYTELLER, BUT SHE WAS, YOU KNOW, ALSO MY GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER TO A LOT OF OTHER KIDS IN THE PUEBLO. SHE CARED ABOUT FAMILY. SHE CARED ABOUT CULTURE. SHE WAS VERY BIG ON TRADITIONS. SHE CAN REMEMBER, YOU KNOW, SITTING AROUND WITH THE OTHER CHILDREN LISTENING TO HER GRANDFATHER TELL STORIES. ♪♪ ♪♪ NOT ONLY IS THE STORY BEING TOLD, YOU KNOW, FROM VISIONS, BUT THE CHILDREN ARE ALSO ENVISIONING THAT SAME STORY IN THEIR MIND AND THAT GOES HAND IN HAND WITH PUEBLO LIFE. WE DON’T WRITE DOWN OUR STORIES. THEY’RE TOLD, YOU KNOW, BY WORD OF MOUTH AND WE TEACH, YOU KNOW, VERBALLY AND YOU HAVE TO BE A GOOD LISTENER, IF YOU’RE GOING TO LEARN. I THINK HER BIGGEST STRUGGLE WAS THAT SHE STARTED SO LATE IN LIFE. SHE DIDN’T START UNTIL HER KIDS WERE GROWN AND THEY HAD KIDS OF THEIR OWN, AND SHE KIND OF HAD THAT FREE TIME OR THAT IDLE TIME SHE STARTED OFF WITH POTS, AND SHE JUST, YOU KNOW, SHE COULDN’T MAKE THEM SYMMETRICAL, AND IT DIDN’T WASN’T FLOWING FOR HER. IT WASN’T SOMETHING THAT SHE ENJOYED DOING, AND SHE MADE, I THINK, SOME ANIMALS AT FIRST AND SHE THOUGHT OF HER GRANDFATHER. SHE SAID, YOU KNOW, I’M GOING TO MAKE A PIECE FOR MY GRANDFATHER AND HE’LL BE TELLING THE STORY. WHEN WE CREATE THE FIGURINE, THE EYES ARE CLOSED, BECAUSE HE’S REALLY ENVISIONING THE STORY AS HE’S TELLING IT AND HIS MOUTH IS OPEN BECAUSE HE’S NARRATING THE STORY, AND SHE ALWAYS SAID, YOU KNOW, MAKE HIM — MAKE HIM HANDSOME OR “GUMA-TAWA” AND THE CHILDREN THAT ARE CLIMBING AROUND, YOU KNOW, SHE SAID, “LOOK, LOOK AT THE CHILDREN NOW AND SEE HOW THEY SIT OR SEE HOW THEY LAY, AND THAT’S HOW YOU PLACE THEM ON THE GRANDFATHER.” AND SHE ALWAYS SAID, AND MAKE THEM LOOK KIND OF CHUBBY, YOU KNOW. SHE LIKED TO SEE CHUBBY CHILDREN. THAT WAS HER IDEA OF HEALTHY, HEALTHY CHILDREN. SOCIAL COMMENTARY IN THE PUEBLO, THIS IS A LONG-STANDING TRADITION AND COCHITI IS WELL KNOWN FOR THAT, FOR THAT SOCIAL COMMENTARY THROUGH CLAY. THERE IS FIGURES AT THE LATTER PART OF THE 19th CENTURY, 1880s PERHAPS, 1890s OF CIRCUS FIGURES, OF SPANIARDS, OF ANGLOS. THEY APPEAR TO BE BUREAUCRATS AND OTHER OFFICIALS. ♪♪ ♪♪ HELEN GREW UP IN A WORLD THAT WAS QUIET OF OTHER INVENTIONS, OTHER PLACES, THAT SHE GREW UP FARMING AND TAKING CARE OF THE FAMILY, TAKING CARE OF THE TRADITIONS IN THE VILLAGE. FOLLOWING THAT PERIOD OF WORLD WAR II THERE WAS THIS RAPID INCREASE OF THINGS THAT HAPPENED. PART OF IT IS MAYBE RADIO OR TELEVISION THAT COMES TO THE VILLAGE. PART OF IT IS ELECTRICITY THAT COMES TO THE VILLAGE IN THE 1950s. SO HELEN IS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE BETWEEN THOSE ERAS. HELEN TELLING THE STORY OF HER GRANDFATHER IS REMINDING PEOPLE THAT, TO LISTEN TO THESE STORIES THAT YOUR ELDERS ARE TELLING YOU, THAT THEY STILL HAVE RELEVANCE EVEN IN THE DAY OF TVS, CARS, THE THINGS THAT HELEN ENJOYED HAVING AROUND HER, THAT THESE STORIES THAT HER GRANDFATHER TOLD HER STILL HAD A DAY-TO-DAY RELEVANCE TO HER. THEY WERE STILL IMPORTANT TO HER. WHEN SHE WAS CREATING, SHE WAS IN HER, YOU KNOW, HER HAPPY PLACE. THAT WAS HER JOY THAT WAS WHAT SHE REALLY LIKED TO DO. HELEN’S WORK IS LIKE ANY OTHER GREAT ESTHETICALLY MINDED PERSON. SOMEHOW, THEY ANTICIPATE THE COMING ERA AND PEOPLE’S APPRECIATION OF THINGS. SHE HAD THAT ABILITY TO SEE THE WORLD, UNDERSTAND THE WORLD, DIGEST IT AND PUT IT BACK IN FRONT OF US AND THROUGH HER CLAY. HER ABILITY AS A VISIONARY IS SEEING THE WORLD AND SHOWING US WHAT THE WORLD LOOKS LIKE. YOU KNOW, I’M PROUD OF HER. SHE REALLY, I WANT TO SAY, BROKE THE GROUND FOR EVERYBODY ELSE. ♪♪ ♪♪ WORKING ON THE STORYTELLER THAT WAS KIND OF A WAY FOR HER TO PUT A SPECIAL TIME IN HER LIFE WHEN SHE WAS GROWING UP INTO SOMETHING THAT SHE WAS CREATING. I THINK THAT’S, YOU KNOW, SO SPECIAL. WE’LL STEP BACK INTO THE BOOT FOR THIS WEEK’S LOUISIANA TREASURE. SLOW DOWN ON LAKE CHARLES’S BROAD STREET AND YOU’LL HAVE A CHANCE TO SPOT AN INTERESTING QUIRK OF THE CITY’S ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY. AT LEAST TWO HOMES HERE DATE FROM THE 1880s, BUT THEY’RE ALSO NOTABLE FOR BEING CREATIONS OF THE MICHIGAN MAN WHO BUILT THEM. THE HIGH-QUALITY WOODWORK OF EACH STRUCTURE WAS CLEARLY THE WORK OF A MASTER CRAFTSMAN, ONE WITH A THOROUGH APPRECIATION OF THE PROPERTIES OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF TIMBER. ATTORNEY MARK DELPHIN, WHO OWNS ONE OF THE MICHIGAN MAN HOMES, PICKS UP THE STORY. ♪♪ ♪♪ THE HOME WAS ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED BY A GENTLEMAN BY THE NAME OF JOHN WILLIAM RAMSEY. MR. RAMSEY IS KNOWN AS A MICHIGAN MAN, MEANING THAT HE CAME TO LOUISIANA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR WITH THE PURPOSE OF HARVESTING ALL OF THIS VIRGIN TIMBER. AND SO THEY STARTED IN THE ESTUARY AND STARTED HARVESTING THE CYPRESS TREES AND THEY HARVESTED THE CYPRESS TREES ALL THE WAY FROM CAMERON ALL THE WAY UP THE RIVER TO THE ENGLISH BAYOU GOING TOWARDS KINDER AND ONCE ALL THE CYPRESS TREES WERE REMOVED, THE NEXT THING THAT THEY TURNED THEIR ATTENTION TO IS WHAT WAS THEN CALLED YELLOW GOLD. AND BY THAT, THEY MEAN THE VIRGIN PINE FOREST. MR. RAMSEY OWNED FOUR LUMBER MILLS TOGETHER WITH OTHER PARTNERS. THE HOUSE WAS BUILT IN 1885 BY MR. RAMSEY. HE CONSTRUCTED THIS HOME AND THREE OTHERS. TWO OF THEM REMAIN ON BROAD STREET. THE STYLE OF THIS HOUSE AS I AM TOLD IS CALLED QUEEN ANNE VICTORIAN. THE HOUSE IN ITS CURRENT CONDITIONS, PRIOR TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HISTORIC DISTRICT, WAS RENOVATED IN AROUND THE 1940s AND THE EXTERIOR WAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY. I MEAN, YOU HAVE A PICTURE SHOWING THE ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION WITH THE SMALL SPINDLES AND THEN THE LATER, THE ADDITION OF WHAT’S CALLED THE LAKE CHARLES COLUMNS, WHICH ARE THESE ELONGATED COLUMNS THAT EXPAND FROM THE TOP OUTWARDS THAT IS REALLY UNIQUE TO LAKE CHARLES. THERE ARE SEVERAL HOUSES HERE THAT HAVE THEM. INTERESTING FEATURE OF THIS HOUSE IS THE STONE ARCH THAT’S ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE HOUSE THAT’S VERY UNUSUAL FOR THIS AREA, AS IS ALL OF THE WINDOWS IN THE HOME. THERE IS A CUPOLA ON THE THIRD FLOOR, WHICH IS ANOTHER INTERESTING PIECE OR ADDITION TO THE HOME, KIND OF GIVES IT THAT JULIET LOOK WHEN WE THINK OF ROMEO ENTREATING JULIET WHAT SHE’S HANGING OUT THE BALCONY. THERE IS A BALCONY THAT WOULD BE FITTING FOR THAT STORY. THE FLOORS ARE ALL ORIGINAL. YOU WANT TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE FLOORS, ESPECIALLY IN THE FOYER BECAUSE THE FOYER IS MADE OUT OF THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WOOD THAT IS INTERCONNECTED PIECE BY PIECE. IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO RE-CREATE THAT AGAIN IN THIS DAY AND TIME. YOU SEE THE FABULOUS WOODEN FLOORS THAT ARE MADE OF MAGNOLIA AND HOLLY AND ALL SORTS OF AMERICAN HARDWOODS THAT WERE MADE BECAUSE MR. RAMSEY COULD GET THOSE HARDWOODS AND USE THOSE HARDWOODS AND SHOW HOW SOPHISTICATED HE WAS IN THOSE VARIOUS PRODUCTS. THE WINDOWS AND THE DOORS SHOWED THE EXPERTISE OF THE PEOPLE THAT HE HIRED TO MAKE WINDOWS AND DOORS. HE WAS SORT OF VISUALLY SHOWING THE RICHNESS AND THE CAPABILITIES OF THE MILL THAT HE OPERATED. ♪♪ ♪♪ THERE ARE THREE SLIDING DOORS ALSO KNOWN AS POCKET DOORS IN THIS HOME. THERE’S TWO IN THIS ROOM THAT WE CURRENTLY ARE IN AND ONE IN WHAT WE CALL THE DUNGEON. THE OTHER FEATURE OF THE HOUSE THAT I THINK IS REALLY OUTSTANDING AND SIGNIFICANT IS THE CEILING IN THIS ROOM IN WHICH WE ARE IN. THE CEILING IN THE LIBRARY. AS YOU CAN SEE, SOME OF THE PINE IS THAT OLD TIGER STRIPE PINE WHICH YOU CANNOT GET ANYMORE. SO THAT CEILING IS IRREPLACEABLE. AND IT TOOK A MASTER CRAFTSMAN OR SERIES OF MASTER CRAFTSMEN TO BE ABLE TO CONSTRUCT THAT AS WELL AS THE FLOOR. THERE ARE LIKE 12 DISTINCT FIREPLACES THAT WAS AVAILABLE FOR USE BY THE FAMILY. ALL OF THE FIREPLACES ARE ORIGINAL AND THEY ARE ALL UNIQUE DEPENDING ON WHICH ROOM YOU GO IN. WHEN YOU GET A GOOD, CLOSE LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF THE ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION, IT WAS A COMPLETE WRAP-AROUND PORCH. WHEN THE GALES RENOVATED THE HOME IN THE 40s, THEY WANTED TO MAKE IT MORE LIVABLE AND SO THEY TOOK SOME OF THE PORCHES, NOT JUST ON THE FIRST FLOOR, BUT ALSO ON THE SECOND FLOOR, ADD ADDITIONAL ROOMS AS WELL AS TO MAKE BATHROOMS. MR. RAMSEY STAYED IN THIS LOCATION UNTIL ABOUT 1926. WHEN WE WERE BRINGING THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM UP TO CODE, IT WAS NECESSARY TO REMOVE SOME OF THE LUMBER OF THE THIRD FLOOR, AND THIS WAS ONE OF THE PIECES AND WE PRESERVED IT BECAUSE WE FOUND IT TO BE EXTREMELY INTERESTING. THE WRITING ON IT INDICATES THAT THIS PIECE OF WOOD WAS PRODUCED BY THE BRADLEY RAMSEY LUMBER COMPANY OF LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA. AND SO THIS IS FURTHER CONFIRMATION OF THE FACT THAT MR. RAMSEY WAS A PARTNER IN QUITE A FEW SAW MILLS. MR. RAMSEY SOLD THE HOUSE AND HIS HOLDINGS AND THEN MOVED TO GET AFTER THE REDWOOD TREES IN CALIFORNIA. WHEN OUR LAW PRACTICING DAYS ARE OVER, DEPENDENT UPON THE WHIMS OF MY CHILDREN, HOPEFULLY, WE CAN EITHER DONATE IT OR TRANSFER IT TO THE CITY OF LAKE CHARLES. I SEE THIS AS THEIR HOME. JOHN WILLIAM RAMSEY HELPED PUT LAKE CHARLES ON THE MAP BECAUSE BACK, FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WAR, THERE WAS MASSIVE UNEMPLOYMENT, PEOPLE NEEDED JOBS. HE PUT THEM TO WORK CHOPPING THOSE CYPRESS TREES AND WHEN THEY WERE DONE WITH THAT HE PUT THEM TO WORK CHOPPING THOSE VIRGIN PINE TREES. HE’S THE FATHER OF LAKE CHARLES. ♪♪ ♪♪ SO THAT WILL DO IT FOR ANOTHER EDITION OF “ART ROCKS.” BUT TO REMEMBER, TO FIND OR SHARE ANY EPISODE AGAIN, JUST VISIT LPB.ORG/ARTROCKS AND IF YOU WANT MORE REASONS TO EXPLORE OUR GREAT STATE, “COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE” MAKES A GREAT RESOURCE FOR LEARNING WHAT’S GOING ON IN ARTS AND CULTURE ALL ACROSS THE STATE. SO UNTIL NEXT WEEK, I’VE BEEN JAMES FOX-SMITH AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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