AOC’s demise spelled doom for a community art project.
When the Acadiana Outreach Center collapsed in a heap of financial mismanagement last year and downsized its operations, it left behind a collection of historic buildings at the edge of downtown. But the center also left behind a tangible reminder of its restorative mission: colorful mosaic murals of glass, mirror and tile decorating walls of the main building, known as The Well, and an adjacent structure. The murals were a collaborative, community-art project erected in late 2005 by clients of AOC along with art education students and professors from UL’s Building Institute.
But in January of this year as its financial woes became insurmountable, AOC sold the downtown property to the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, the state-sanctioned nonprofit created in 1979 and tasked with reversing urban decay, facilitating affordable housing and a host of other interests. By spring the group, under the direction of the Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation, began renovating the buildings in an effort to restore them to their early 20th-century character.
The colorful murals were unceremoniously scraped away.
“No one involved with AOC or the campus contacted me at all after the sale about anything, and they left quite a bit of materials and stuff there,” says LPTFA Chairman John Arceneaux. “And after attempts to have AOC finalize everything and remove anything they wanted including their signage, we went ahead and started hauling away approximately five or six dumpsters of stuff left in the warehouses...”
One of the warehouses is already on its way to becoming artists lofts, and Arceneaux says the former Well building will likely become LPTFA’s new administrative office. (The group currently has no brick-and-mortar office.)
Arceneaux says The Well building especially was layer upon layer of shoddy construction and unsafe conditions requiring a lot of rehab, but he also admits that he didn’t realize during the renovation that the mosaic murals might have some community significance. “I really just considered that part of the signage,” he says. “I know now it had some sentimental meaning, but it wasn’t historic and nobody from AOC or any other stakeholders tried to contact me to deal with it or preserve it.”
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.