Pat Louviere and Erick Jessen present the Contraband Days poster that is a tribute to late artist Elton Louviere, who created four Contraband Days posters in the past and is shown in the poster. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 11:02 AMThis year’s edition of the Contraband Days poster is helping to preserve the legacy of one of Southwest Louisiana’s greatest artists, painter Elton Louviere.
Erik Jessen created this year’s poster, which shows Louviere working on a painting and features an element from each of the four Contraband posters created by Louviere, who passed away earlier this year.
Jessen was asked to honor Louviere by the festival.
“I was very familiar with his work already,” Jessen said. “He was very talented at capturing Louisiana nature and wildlife. He was a tremendous talent. The Contraband board had an initial idea. I gave them a rendition that I thought would tell a story and show Elton Louviere as he was, as an artist. I showed them what they requested and this new, conceptual idea. They ended up liking the latter.”
Jessen studied the posters Louviere created for the festival in 1987, 1993, 2004 and 2011
“Taking those, I just thought of a mix, putting these paintings together,” Jessen said. “I found an old picture of Elton painting. I used that as reference to do like a pencil drawing on top of that. All of the color of the piece is coming from his artwork. He is there in spirt, he is a shadow. What he was creating was becoming colorful, coming to life.
“I used pieces of all four of his paintings to kind of create a collage. One had a treasure chest and a small boat. I used an egret from one of his other paintings. His latest one was a view of Lake Charles with a view of the I-10 bridge with a pirate ship. I used that one as the one he is working on. The background is from another painting.”
Jessen said the project was challenging.
“Generally when an artist gets this opportunity, it is free reign, you can do whatever you want,” he said. “There was a lot on my shoulders to pay tribute to such a great artist. Pat, his wife, was always at the forefront of my mind. I wanted her to love this piece. I wanted it to be a gift to her, to have her blessing. We kept her in the loop, we wanted to have her input.”
Jessen said he was inspired by studying Louviere’s work.
“His style is a mastery style,” he said.
“The level of detail he can get in his paintings comes from years and years of training and painting. I am not at that point yet. My style is a bit abstract, but also realistic. Not as realistic as he could capture. I could tell he came from a fine painter’s background, which is basically what we have now as graphic designers, which is what I do. I related a lot to one of his first posters. Seeing his posters throughout the years, you could tell his skills got better as the years went by. I am at the stage where his first poster is. I am taking that advice from studying his work. I know with more practice and pushing that there is no limit to skill, you can go as far as you want.”
Jessen works an instructor and interim program coordinator at Sowela. Pat said Elton enjoyed teaching and helping young artists.
“Whenever anyone needed something, or had a child who was talented and needed advice, he was generous and patient with children and young adults,” she said. “He did not mind sharing, he had no secrets. He did not mind sharing the talent or the know-how. He would answer every question they had. Those are the people that remember him so well.”
She said she was flattered that the festival chose to honor Elton this year and pleased with Jessen’s poster.
“I was thrilled and honored, that was the nicest thing they could have done,” she said. “He loved making the posters because landscapes were interesting to him, and the water and all of the history behind it. They e-mailed the image Jessen had done and it brought a lot of feelings, it is a neat poster. I was so surprised to see Elton’s face in it, but it was appropriate. He did a great job using all four posters and the fact that Elton is in black and white is dramatic. I love it and know Elton would have been thrilled.”
Warren Arceneaux writes a weekly column on interesting people in Southwest Louisiana each Monday. Have a story idea about someone in Southwest Louisiana? Call him weekdays at 494-4087. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.