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August 9th, 2012

Crabs! and Art! and Beer! Area creators of all things crab come together with local art and music



n many countries around the world, crabmeat is considered a delicacy, as it is here in SWLA. Our blue crab is considered to be the king of the royal court of Louisiana seafood. The attributes of the Gulf of Mexico’s famous crustacean will be celebrated at the third annual Arts and Crabs Fest on Aug. 18, from 4-8 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

You and your taste buds are in for a special treat. Within the time span of four hours, you can sample crab dishes from 10 different chefs and stroll through the booths of area artists while sipping craft beer and listening to Louisiana music. Yes! It’s a celebration of the blue crab, and I for one am looking forward to it! (I’ve been known to sit for hours picking out that sweet meat from a crab. Now we all can enjoy the delectable crabmeat without the picking!)

Crabmeat connoisseurs will be delighted to taste the sampling of personal chef David Janca, who plans to present “Lac des Allemandes Crab Stew.” This savory stew has a tomato base and all the key elements that every good Cajun expects: onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, lots of crabmeat, Worcestershire sauce, roasted red peppers, and a little bit of his secret ingredients. Certainly makes my mouth water!

Janca, like many, left Louisiana for several years where he honed his skills as an culinary artist. Of note, he created food dishes for Commodore Cruise Lines in San Francisco.

According to Janca, “Anyone can cook, but it takes passion and dedication to make a dish sing.” His “singing” skills haven’t gone unnoticed. Most recently, he was part of the team that created a sumptuous meal for Governor Jindal and his guests.

Having tasted several of Janca’s creations myself, I know that all of us are in for a special treat at the Crab Fest. In fact, his food may just inspire you to bring home one of the beautiful creations offered by fine artist and potter Julie Dallas, since Janca’s food creations seem all the more exquisite when presented on one of her plates.

For Dallas, a Lake Charles artist and Sulphur native, “creating has to happen. There is no choice.” But it took a few years of working and living as a computer analyst before that lesson was learned. “I was about as far away from art as you can get,” she recalls. When life yielded her the opportunity to alter her course, she seized it and entered McNeese for an arts education degree.

While pursuing her degree she sort of “bumped” into ceramics. Immediately Dallas became captivated. Here it is! She had found her true calling. She found art she could create totally with her hands.

Since childhood, she had always wanted to work hands-on, eager to be with her Dad and brothers as they worked on all sorts of mechanical problems around the house. She just liked using the tools and making things happen. Looking back, she realized that while her Dad shooed her away from mechanics, she never lost her desire to work with her hands. Clay is the perfect medium. There is nothing in all of art creation that is as much hands-on. It is no wonder she has found her stride and is producing beautiful work.

There is a simple ease and grace in Dallas that comes through in her creations that is not only pleasing to the eye, but seems to call out for the touch from another. Her unique method of firing her pottery is of special interest. There is a mystery to the work because of the unusual process of “baking” or firing, known as Raku. This system doesn’t allow for complete control; therefore, the creator never really knows what the final outcome will be. Each pot or plate is indeed a work of art and of course, quite useful. Stop by her booth and allow yourself to view the treasures she has created. I think you will be glad you did.

Last year’s event drew 700 participants, with over a thousand participants expected this year. The Arts and Crabs Fest has all of the necessary components to become a full-fledged festival that can encompass a whole weekend. Imagine, a fine art festival featuring the blue crab of Louisiana. Perhaps in due time we will see this. For now, whoever thought of combining arts and crabs was spot on!

The Third Annual Arts and Crabs Fest is presented by the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA in partnership with the SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau. It will be held Sat., Aug. 18, 2012 from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center Exhibition Hall. A $25 wristband is required to enter the festival and can be purchased in advance at For more information, please call the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA at (337) 439-ARTS (2787) or email

by: Monica Hebert

Why an arts column in SWLA?

After all, this is the home of crawfish boils, tailgate parties and rodeos. But these events each have their own distinct “art.” There are crawfish outdoor flags, football team memorabilia rodeo banners, and so on. Artists are the creators of all those images.

Consider this: Day in and day out, we use products with packaging or labels that are created by graphic artists, and drive by business signs, road signs, and billboards designed by unknown creators. Every day, these talented people impact us all in some way.

We are also impacted by fine art. It surrounds us: the art in a doctor’s office, bank, or house of worship is conceived in the mind of an artist and brought to bear for the public’s pleasure.

SWLA is home to a hundred or more fine artists. Who are these people, and where is the art? Yes, it’s time for a column on fine art, the artists and the business of art in SWLA.

What is it about art that causes some to raise their eyebrows, and others to battle close friends at auction for the very same piece? Why do some people feel compelled to make fine art while others want to buy it and place it in their homes and offices?

Personally, I am fascinated with the reasons people are drawn to art, whether it is appreciating it or making it. Being an artist myself, I find the answers to these questions intriguing and inspiring.

In this column, it’s not likely art will be discussed from an academic perspective. Instead, I hope to explore the aforementioned questions with a keen interest upon the effects of art to our community and the artists among us, as I introduce the artists of SWLA.

It is my pleasure to present Lyd Farquhar, who has developed a distinct style for conveying an emotion without alarming the viewer. Her colors are subtle interactions that come together to create a form, which is the vehicle of a particular emotion. As an abstract painter, Farquhar invites the viewer into another world, and provides a moment of awareness within the viewer’s mind: an “Aha!” moment generated by a painting. A connection is made. Visit with any artist for a moment and you will learn this is a top priority: to create a connection between the artist and the viewer.

Farquhar told me that she desired to make beautiful things since was around six years old. But since she was in a household that simply did not allow her to pursue her desire, she put it all away. She basically stuffed her own sense of self away, just to get along with others. How many of us—artist and non-artist alike—did this? It’s no wonder her works have a deep emotional appeal as well as an aesthetic one. As she grows into herself, her art grows. And her connection with others grows as well.

Originally from Philadelphia, Farquhar was not raised around fishing. She was unfamiliar with the gear, the fish, the boats—the whole enchilada. Upon moving to SWLA with her husband, she found the fishing lures in his tackle box most alluring. The curious little things seem to call out to her with their bold colors. Perhaps they could be used as jewelry, she thought.

Her musings over fishing lures have now turned into a new series of art. Working in oils on canvas, she has created several stunning images showing the beauty in a simple fishing lure. Choosing to use bright and vivid colors, she has created art that connects to Louisiana, in a unique and bold fashion. Her originals works and some prints will be presented during the Arts and Crabs Fest hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council on August 18 at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

Never one to sit around and wait for gallery opportunities, Farquhar has joined Art du Lac, a local group of professional artists whose primary mission is to host group shows and events. To learn more about Farquhar’s work, go to her Facebook page at To find out more about Art du Lac, go to or email

For more information about the Arts and Crabs Fest, call (337) 439-2787 or email projects@artsandhumanities.

Another artist whose work is emerging is Erin Barker. A graduate of LSU with a Fine Art degree, Barker creates canvasses that portray gentle images of animals in nature. While creating art on a daily basis is her passion, she also makes time for young people with challenges. This summer, she will be teaching autistic children how to make art. Classes will be held July 23-July 26, from 9 a.m.-noon, and the group will have their own art show at Stellar Beans Coffee House. For details, email Barker at

There are many opportunities to enjoy fine art in Lake Charles: Gallery by the Lake at 106 W. Pryce St., Historic City Hall at 1911 Ryan St. and the Art Associates Gallery located in Central School Arts and Humanities Center at 809 Kirby St. Go often and enjoy the new exhibits; watch for openings in the “Jambalaya Jam” section of this publication.

Take some time to soak in the creativity of our artists. Fine art has an allure that mystifies everyone; and yes—there are treasures to be found.