Audio producer Sarah Holtz, writer and educator Folwell Dunbar, and I all loaded into a 1997 Toyota Tercel on a sunny Saturday morning. Our journey would take us to Slidell, and more specifically to the home and studio of artist George Dunbar.
As we bumped and wound down the streets lined with unkempt grasses and dotted with reconstructed houses, Folwell retold stories of growing up on the land that his father, George, not only bought but constructed himself in the sixties. Dredging, digging canals, building bulkheads, leveling the land, and planting all the trees–George did it all. “This street is named after my dog,” Folwell told us as we turned and got closer to George’s home. “I like to tease my dad and ask him, ‘So how come the dog got a street named after it, but I didn’t?'” Folwell said, as he pointed us down a gravel pathway where a massive gate and a golden dog by the name of Buddy greeted us.
Although his name is not on a street sign, Folwell’s memories and presence were as ubiquitous as the greenery on George’s lush estate, which sits between Bayou Bonfouca and Bayou Liberty. Being a lover of aesthetics, George takes every detail of his home, studio, and surrounding land into artistic consideration. “The idea was a small house but with a grand scale,” he explained. Even more grand than the floor to ceiling windows that lookout on the bayou and offer an inimitable sunset is the art and stories that fill the walls of George’s home and studio. George and Folwell, along with George’s longtime partner, Louisette Brown, walked us through those stories.
George Dunbar’s art work–including mixed-media paintings and sculptures, all of which incorporate palladium, range from 1999 to the present, and encompass the artist’s work in relief, hard-edge abstraction, and figuration–will be on exhibit March 9, 2017 at Callan Contemporary (518 Julia Street).