Louisiana Folk, Flora & Fauna: Exhibit by Lance ‘Varg’ Vargas now on display at Historic City Hall

Published 1:42 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

The “Louisiana Folk, Flora & Fauna” has opened at Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center, 1001 Ryan St.

Nineteen mixed-media pieces created by New Orleans artist Lance “Varg” Vargas will be showcased in the second-floor gallery in the Historic City Hall until May 18.

He uses reclaimed wood and found objects as his materials, and colors his pieces with spray paint.

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“I like to grab old wood that is being thrown out during renovations. I love the smell of cypress and heart pine.”

Amanda Donaldson, director of cultural affairs, Historic City Hall, explained that Vargas was chosen because of his “pure passion and artistry” and Louisiana heritage.

“Everything he creates holds a special place in his heart, and we are thankful enough to get to enjoy that. Lance is also a vibrant and dynamic New Orleans soul, and I love trying to bring a little bit of the ‘Big Easy’ lifestyle and mindset to our Lake Area community. We also receive dozens of international visitors during our exhibitions, so I know this exhibit is true reflection of how resilient our Louisiana communities and citizens are.”

Vargas began creating art in his backyard shed in 2007. He told The American Press that he has “always had muses within” him that motivated creation. These muses led him to write poetry and short stories, and eventually become a journalist. As a hobby (a new creative outlet), he began experimenting with salvaged wood.

In his artist biography, he said that “heart pine grains and grooves” of the hardwood floors he refinished in his home.

“I bought a house and had room to tinker. The universe responded and folks bought what I was creating. I got the opportunity to do art for a living full-time and have made 10,000 or so pieces since then,” he told The American Press.

He started to sell his pieces in Jackson Square in 2008, and opened Deurty Boys Gallery at Chartes and Dumaine St. in the French Quarter in 2016.

His pieces in the exhibit tell the story of Louisiana through the people, plants and animals that inhabit it, he said. They are made to “conjure the Louisiana that exists” in the imaginations of both natives and visitors who have only been exposed to that state through films or music.

“I traveled the world last year and everyone I talked to knew New Orleans. They said, “The place with the music.” I loved that.”

Louisiana had the same hypnotic effect on him when he was young.

“Even though I wasn’t born here, my mom and dad brought me here to visit from a young age and it captured a piece of my soul even then. I was drawing fleur de lis on my notebooks at school while not paying attention in class.”

Vargas credits New Orleans’ commitment to investing in the arts as a vital part of the City’s culture for the success of his artistic career. He continued by stating that this same passion is present in Lake Charles, and “Louisiana Folk, Flora & Fauna” wouldn’t have been possible without that fire.

“I believe this and am living proof.”

He will speak at the reception from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at the opening reception. Donaldson said that he will do a deep dive into a large 9 ft. by 5 ft. piece created with a salvaged door.

The salvaged door is a new piece of work that is very near and dear to Lance. He is known for using items salvaged collected from waterways and decaying communities in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina and most recently Ida.”

This piece will be on view for the evening during the reception.

Luna’s Bar and Grill is home to a few of Vargas’ pieces. In celebration of his coming to town, the restaurant will be providing complimentary hors d’oeuvres for the reception.

Long-time Lake Charles musician Sean Hager will perform live music during the reception.

This event is free and open to the public.

The Historic City Hall is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is always free.