It is tempting to call Monroe “an artist’s artist,” one who has a great deal of integrity and makes use of skills that are often unappreciated by non-artists. But that would be a mistake. While the integrity is there, Monroe’s work is appreciated by the public every bit as much as it is by her peers.
Monroe’s latest collection of paintings and drawings, “Doll-E-Monroe - Silhouettes, Circles, and Stories,” will be on display at The Gallery during the month of March, with the show’s opening gala scheduled for Saturday, March 2.
Monroe describes the show as “really two shows,” encompassing both abstract and realistic paintings and drawings that share the commonality of allowing viewers to create their own “stories” about the works.
Because Monroe is primarily a performance artist and dancer, her paintings and drawings tend to be naturally infused with movement.
The “first part” of the show will include a series of abstract paintings based on different dance styles such as ballet and jazz, as well as New Orleans burlesque. Monroe is quick to point out, however, that burlesque is not a striptease; rather, it is a bawdy caricature more properly classified as theater than dance.
Although the work is abstract, Monroe says it nevertheless gives viewers enough to imagine the stories of the dancers.
The flip side of the show, a product of Monroe’s desire to connect academics to fine arts, realistically depicts the heritage of African-Americans living in the deep South through a series of multi-media portraits.
Through her research into the history of “juke joints,” the only places rural Southern sharecroppers could find entertainment, and basically where the musical genre known as “the blues” was born, she had the opportunity to travel to “Po’ Monkey’s,” a juke joint out in the middle of a field in the Mississippi Delta.
“Po’ Monkey,” himself a sharecropper, lived in one-half of the building and, after working in the fields all day, operated the juke joint out of the other half by night.
There is, of course, a portrait of “Po’ Monkey” included in Monroe’s show.
The portrait works will be comprised of a variety of media including color pencil drawings, paintings and shadowboxes. They will depict people and places both real and produced by Monroe’s endless imagination.
One particular piece of interest will be a color pencil drawing of the “Crowley Hot Band,” an African-American group that once played at the opera house.
Again, Monroe invites viewers to imagine the stories underlying the portraits and the details of the lives of the characters depicted.
Monroe, who was born and raised in Crowley and graduated from Crowley High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Houston.
Monroe’s show will run at The Gallery throughout the month of March. The Gallery is located at 220 N. Parkerson Ave. in Crowley. For more information call (337) 783-3747.