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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: April 5, 2000



Louisiana Student Artists Selected for "Imaging the Gulf" Exhibit

Randy Leblanc and fish sculptureLAFAYETTE, LA. - Works by five Louisiana student artists have been selected for "Imaging the Gulf," a juried art exhibit that opened last week and will run through May 6 at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Museum of Science in Mobile, Ala.

Louisiana entrants from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are Randy Leblanc, Lafayette; Nicole Morvant, Atlanta, Ga.; and Barbara Maughmer, Abbeville. Also participating are Charlie Huang, McNeese State University, Lake Charles; and Yvonne James, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux.

Gaye Farris, U.S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, chaired the Gulf of Mexico Program communications committee that sponsored the competition. She said, "Much credit for the success of this exhibit goes to Herman Mhire, University of Louisiana at Lafayette art professor. He not only helped us put together the rules of the competition, but he found all the major players and places for the exhibit."

"They include Beth Turnage, museum consultant from Birmingham, Ala., competition manager; former Lafayette resident Rene Paul Barilleaux, chief curator of the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, competition juror; Joseph Schenk, Director of the Mobile Museum of Art, who supervised the installation of the exhibit; and the staff of the Exploreum, where the event is being held."

Show juror Barilleaux chose "Mysterious Oaks" by Judy Castleberry, William Carey College on the Coast, Gulfport, Miss., as best of show. Her winning entry is a naturalistic ceramic vase, 21 inches by 17 inches. Castleberry will receive $1,500 in prize money that will be given to her April 11, during the Imaging the Gulf art auction.

The exhibit features 40 works from university students from the five Gulf Coast states. Works range from oil paintings, etchings, limestone carvings and ceramics to art incorporating found objects like a painted and etched French door as well as wood, glass and metal sculptures.

Although the works will remain on display until May 6, they will be auctioned at a special reception April 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Symposium 2000 being held at the nearby Mobile Convention Center.

Tickets for the auction will entitle patrons to "An Evening at the Exploreum," which will include a buffet, viewing of the IMAX® film "Dolphins," and access to the Exploreum's exhibits. Tickets are $22 and are available before April 7 by calling the symposium office at 888-770-GULF (4853). Tickets will also be on sale at the symposium in the conference center April 10, until noon.

The exhibit is being held in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico 2000 Symposium, a major national meeting offering more than 200 presentations April 9-12 and featuring Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, popular Pulitzer Prize winning author of "On Human Nature" and "The Ants."

The exhibit is a joint venture of the Gulf of Mexico Program, the Exploreum and the Mobile Museum of Art. The Gulf of Mexico Program is a partnership of private citizens, business, and government agencies dedicated to protecting and preserving the Gulf of Mexico and its resources.

The exhibit will be open daily, except Easter, and is free to the public. The Exploreum, a museum for all ages, features hands-on exhibits and an IMAX® Dome Theater. It is in downtown Mobile at the corner of Government and Water Streets, directly across from the Mobile Convention Center.

Along with the fine art at the Exploreum, there will be 19 graphic art logos on display at the Convention Center, where symposium participants will vote for a logo that can be used Gulf-wide. The creator of the winning logo will also receive $1,500. The winning logo will be announced the night of the auction, and some logos and their use will also be auctioned.

Dr. Larry McKinney, deputy director, Texas Parks and Wildlife, will be the auctioneer. Tom Ballou, of Reynolds Metals, Co., Corpus Christi, Texas, representing business on the communication committee, promised that McKinney, a respected biologist and natural resource planner, will bring dry wit and enthusiasm to the auction.

Ballou said, "Private citizens are interested in this event because it has been an important way to mobilize some of our most talented young people to help spark interest in Gulf issues and celebrate its resources. The artwork produced for the contest and auction is really amazing in both variety and creativity. Some of these artists are going to become well known and this may be an unusual opportunity for people to buy and own their early work."

Ballou is a member of the Gulf of Mexico Coalition, a consortium of business interests in the Gulf region. The coalition is donating the $3,000 in prize money for the fine arts and logo competitions.

The auction is sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a non-profit group. Proceeds will go to the artist and to the foundation for future artistic and communication projects related to promoting the Gulf of Mexico.

Susan Childs, Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, and a member of both the foundation and the communication committee, said, "The Gulf of Mexico Foundation is committed to making the Gulf a top priority of private citizens as well as public organizations. Being involved in "Imaging the Gulf" is a great opportunity to provide education, information and leadership toward a common goal by all who care about the sustainability of the Gulf."

Farris said, "The contest grew out of our desire to have a logo that was not associated with a government agency, but would represent the Gulf Coast itself, across five states. What better way to find fresh ideas than to go to our young artists along the coast? The idea evolved into both a fine arts and logo competition and then into an auction."

She added that much help has been given by the Exploreum's Eleanor Kulin, marketing manager, and Sydney Betbeze, public relations officer, who coordinated the use of the Exploreum. In addition to Farris, Ballou, and Childs, other communications committee members were Terry Hines Smith, Gulf of Mexico Program, Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Jennifer Griffin, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Jackson, Miss.

Other artists represented in the fine arts and logo contests are, from Florida, Taryn Sabia, St. Petersburg; Kathy Jennings, Plantation; Karen Esteves, Boca Raton; Thomas Rockwell, Fort Lauderdale; and Timothy Eichner, West Palm Beach.

Students from Alabama are Amanda Hicks, Mulga; Stephen C. Hill, Pleasant Grove; Tarin Lambright and Algie LaFan, Birmingham; Patrick Mack and Timothy Freeman, Hueytown; Benji Dyson, McCalla; Dori Upton, Hoover; Waynette Bonham, Bessemer; and Haley Hill, Montevallo.

From Mississippi are Elisa O'Neal, Perkinston; Elizabeth Extine, Hattiesburg; Valerie Corkren, Gulfport; Corrie Ladner, Sumrall; Joely Corban, Sadako Lewis, Long Beach, and Laura Pypass, Long Beach.

Participating from Texas are Sandra Nedimyer, Abilene, Hardin Simmons University and Elizabeth Halpain, Jacksonville.

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