Check out the art gallery of John Avant, one of the most celebrated of Cajun artists. He captures the essence of the culture of which he is an intimate part.
John goes out into the swamps on a boat, then returns and paints what he sees and brings the beauty to those who appreciate the natural landscape of Louisiana. I met with him a few days ago to talk with him about his work.
Avant lives with his wife Cheryl in a small home near the University. It is filled with his paintings. The paintings are so fresh and filled with light they look as if one could step right into the frame and become lost as in a private inner landscape.
Avant says, “I just paint what I see and hope people appreciate it. I love nature and landscapes and enjoy bringing the culture of Louisiana to others.” He certainly does that from his living room to his fine gallery located near the downtown section of Lafayette. Art is central to Louisiana culture, and Avant is at the pinnacle of that culture.
Music of a different kind is paramount among the Cajuns. They have their own style of music, a little bit country, a little bit rock, and a whole lot of invention of their own strains and beats. Music becomes the very soul of these people who literally generate sparks when they dance. Cajun dancing is upbeat and lively, and one needs to be swift of foot to stay in line, literally.
The most famous restaurant – dance place is Mulattes, located in Breaux Bridge, where we lingered awhile just a few days ago, danced for awhile and at the some of the best crawfish and alligator dishes this side of New Orleans. This is the place talked about by the famous Mary Chapin Carpenter and where actors and actresses come and party with the locals on Saturday night. The food is great; the atmosphere authentic Cajun. We enjoyed an authentic Cajun band, primarily senior citizens, who sang lustily in a French patois.
Louisiana folks know that Louisiana is three states in one: that part from Shreveport to Alexandria, Cajun country south of Alexandria to New Orleans, and the Creole town of New Orleans. Lafayette, the capitol of the Cajuns, reveals how people made a city out of a swamp and transformed it into something wonderful.
This summer festivals are scheduled regularly across the Cajun landscape, filled with music, art, great food and cultural experience. Enjoy, as we did, the emotional ride that only the fun folk of the Cajuns can give so well. You might just meet John Avant at one of these fun times, and if you do, you'll appreciate the special touch of Louisiana that lights his paintings. You might also indulge in some of the best food you will ever eat in this great place where good times are the byword for social life.