Summer Fun and Cool Art


Two things come to mind when we think about summer at River Oaks, and one of them is, of course, our summer camp—our “Summer Arts Studio” as we call it. Every summer for over twenty years, creative youngsters have gathered to learn about making art and have fun in the process—some of the former students have even returned as volunteers or staff. The camp has grown to be the area’s largest visual summer art camp for kids, working with over 150 students each year during the months of June and July.


With a staff of over twenty, including many art instructors and para-professionals, Summer Arts Studio allows kids in age groups of 5 to 7, 8 to 10, and 11 to 13 to be creative and, ultimately, be featured in a real exhibition when River Oaks hosts a culmination exhibition in its main gallery following Summer Art Studio. Over 100 works from these talented students are featured in our gallery during August.  Every student has at least one item on display in this presentation, chosen by the instructors and based on artistic merit.


Spots always fill up fast, and at this time, the only camp still open for enrollment is Session 3: July 10th through July 21st, titled “The American Heartland” (Midwest). As we journey through the Gateway Arch into America’s Heartland, campers will create mixed media pieces inspired by Thomas Hart Benton’s “Cradling Wheat” and portrait-like paintings motivated by Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”.  We will celebrate a region abound with sculptures of presidents and warriors carved into mountains and the birthplace of the Regionalist Art Movement. To enroll, call (318) 473-2670.


You may wonder what else is happening at River Oaks as we’re entering the summer months, and that’s where the cool art comes in. With exhibitions featuring artists Carl Block, Billy Ray Mangham, Maria Manemann and Samantha Young.


Carl Block and Billy Ray Mangham are teaming up in a show in the Bolton-Davis Gallery. Carl Block is a potter from Waxahachie, Texas who has taken the Southern tradition of face jugs and added lots of contemporary color, imagination and attitude to come up with his own interpretation. He is joined by Billy Ray Mangham who has been working in clay for over 40 years and loves the exploration of the human figure. Director of the Eye of the Dog Art Center since 2007, he provides studio space for eight resident and 12 part-time clay artists.  Additionally, he presents workshops featuring local, national, and international artists.


Resident Artist Maria Manemann’s exhibition takes place in the Galerie des Amis, and her style can be described as impressionistic. There is always a central subject in her paintings, but it is used as the starting place—colors bold and primary, blended straight on the canvas and brush strokes full of energy and expression ensue. Subjects are drawn from nature and mythology, from stories that are used to explain or grasp something beyond words—ideas, beliefs, feelings.


Samantha Young, exhibiting in the Stokes-Harris Gallery, is a local talent who has made a name for herself in the realm of photography. Her travels and underwater images introduce the viewer to a unique world that isn’t ordinarily visible without scuba gear. The colorful world so foreign to the casual, non-aquatic observer teems with wonder and Young makes it come to life in vibrant images.


Also coming June 6th through 8th, “How to be a YaYa”, with local artist Morgan Lasyone.  Participants will explore both the painting and literary world of the YaYa’s, helping any Southerner bring out their true charm.  The cost is $125 per student.


Summer Art Studio Sponsors:  River Oaks Board of Directors, R.D. Jackson DDS, Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry, Tammi & Bryon Salazar,  Drs. Shawn & Gregory Dowd, & Rapides Regional Medical Center. Exhibition & Workshop Sponsors:  GAEDA, Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry, Louisiana Division of the Arts.  For more info or to register, contact us at (318) 473-2670.   Follow us on Facebook and Instagram or check us out on the web at