Julio Naudin’s art gallery exhibit opens May 16 at B. Gatewood Gallery
Julio Naudin may not be the most likely of artists to do a series of paintings inspired by small-town Mississippi. However, that’s exactly what he’s done. Originally from Mexico, Naudin grew up in El Paso, Texas. In 1993, he married Jan Risher whose deep Mississippi roots have inspired many visits for Naudin to the state and his wife’s hometown, Forest.
The exhibit called “The Town” will launch with an opening reception from 2 to 5 p.m. May 16 at B. Gatewood Gallery, 121 Front Street, in Forest. The general public is invited to attend to view Naudin’s new original works in oil in “The Town” series, as well as other oil and collage pieces. Additionally, the show will have limited prints of selected pieces (including prints of “The Town,” the legendary old Forest movie theater and other local points of interest).
“This series is a study on the metamorphosis of a community,” said Naudin. “I understand how some of the places I’ve painted, in particular the old Town Theater which has been gone for almost 30 years, are simply a part of the local lexicon. For certain generations of people, these places are iconic — some of life’s biggest moments happened there.”
Mayor Nancy Chambers and many other Forest residents are looking forward to seeing artistic interpretations of the town they know well.
“The City of Forest is very excited about the upcoming exhibit, “The Town,” by Julio Naudin,” Chambers said. “While those of us who are long-time residents of Forest know and appreciate the beauty of growing up and living in a small town, we are thrilled to be able to experience Naudin’s perception of life in Forest.”
Naudin says that he has heard stories about happenings in Forest years ago, especially about the many nights spent with friends at The Town theater — and the mild trauma caused after the movies when folks from the jail across the street habitually yelled down at all the kids who were waiting for their parents to pick them up.
“I grew up in a much larger city in the middle of the desert, but I understand how important centers of community like this little theater and other iconic images from a small town are to the communities they served,” Naudin said. “The theater, for example, provided more than a glimpse into the outside world. It was vital to the social lives of many.”
Images of buildings like the small-town Mississippi ones Naudin has captured connect people with their past and with one another, according to Michelle Weaver Jones, architectural historical based in Starkville, but originally from Sebastopol.
“These common monuments provide a sense of stability and a tangible common link with the past that both residents and visitors can experience and share,” Jones said. “Historic buildings keep communities beautiful, vibrant and livable. They give people a common point of reference.”
Naudin, a full-time artist, has lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, since 2001. He painted his way through college at University of Texas El Paso in addition to being a graphic artist for the El Paso Times and The El Paso Herald Post. Upon graduation, he joined corporate America for 34 years, working in marketing in the publishing industry.
“B. Gatewood Gallery is honored to bring the very talented artist, Julio Naudin, to Forest,” Barbara Gatewood said. “Julio’s strong connection to Forest and understanding of the region is evident in the work he has created for this show.”
Naudin frequently draws on his Mexican heritage for inspiration, as well as other places he’s lived and worked, including Northern Nevada, Washington, D.C., Louisiana — and now his wife’s deep Mississippi roots. Naudin creates portraits, landscapes, collages and the occasional mixed-media piece.