J. Aubrey Bolen III has joined River Oaks Square Arts Center as artistic director, bringing a unique perspective to one of Alexandria’s most beloved arts organizations. Bolen, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from Louisiana College, is himself an accomplished artist, known for his use and mixture of color, love for natural landscapes, and surreal humor. He continues to paint and participate in gallery shows.
The Alexandria native comes to River Oaks via his own business, an antique restoration business in Lecompte, which he has owned and operated for the past eight years after working as an apprentice under master antique restorer Mike Armand. “River Oaks, to me, is somewhat of life coming around full circle. I’ve grown up in Alexandria and looked at the Bolton House many times as one of the awesome buildings in Downtown Alexandria. Later, I’ve visited River Oaks many times, browsing the different exhibits and studios. For the last couple of years, I’ve even been fortunate enough to be involved with the Summer Arts Camp as an instructor. So I felt very honored to be chosen for the position.”
Bolen will be instrumental in exhibit and artist selection, and also be heavily involved in the daily activities at the center. “We stay very busy all year ‘round,” says Rachael Dauzat, Executive Director at River Oaks. “Not only do we have ongoing classes and exhibits, we are in the middle of preparations for our Van Gogh Fundraiser. Aubrey’s experience in the arts and local roots will definitely come in handy, but he will have to hit the ground running.” The Van Gogh Gala, one of River Oaks’ two major fundraisers, has been set for October 27th this year. With over 500 attendees and several dozen star artists, this year’s gala is expected to be bigger than ever. Star artists are community leaders that have been paired with accomplished local and regional artists to create their own unique artworks that are auctioned off during the event.
Aubrey, along with wife Nicole and daughters, Jenevieve and Lorelei, expects to be part of River Oaks for the long haul. “It feels like home here – the artists, the creative environment, the inspiration and innovation in the air – sometimes I wake up and wonder if I’m dreaming or if they really pay me to be here. I love this place”, says Bolen with a boyish grin. River Oaks has gained an artistic director and a friend for life!