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District Art Teachers Chosen for Community Project

Posted Date: 02/27/2019

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Herons on the Bayou is a public sculpture project coordinated by Brooke Foy, in partnership with the City of West Monroe, Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau, and University of Louisiana at Monroe. These unique sculptures will be 6-7 feet tall herons and will stand in front of businesses, local hot spots, and other areas throughout the community.  Over 100 local artists submitted more than 200 designs that were put on display so that the 50 participating sponsors could choose one to represent their business.  Each heron will be hand-painted by the artists and will include a plaque dedicated to the sponsoring business or organization.  The herons will be revealed to the public in June 2019.

          Congratulations to five of our Ouachita Parish Art teachers who were chosen to participate in this project that will bring 50 of these colorful, larger-than-life herons to our community.  Their information and photos of their designs follow:


Gretchen Lengefeld - West Monroe High School

Subject - Art                

School Responsibilities - Art Instructor, Art Club Assistant Sponsor, Theater Set Painter and Prop Builder

Heron Title - "An Affinity for Architecture"

Heron Sponsor - Floorworks - West Monroe

I designed my heron with the architecture of some of the area's older restored buildings in mind. I love that these old buildings are being rejuvenated and restored to their original beauty. They're becoming offices, restaurants, bakeries, apartments, hotels, and reception spaces. To watch the transformation from old and run-down to fresh and new makes me think of the scripture in Revelation 21:5 that says, "Behold, I make all things new." I also love the history and stories that these old buildings tell. I imagine the lives of those who have passed through these places before us. Each one has their own story. It is a connection to the past and hope for the future. This inspires me and was the inspiration for my design.

Picture of Gretchen Lengefeld with Heron model  Left view of Lengefeld design for Heron  Right view of Lengefeld design


Michele Olinde - West Ouachita High School

Subjects - Advanced Art, Talented Art 1-4/5 and Digital Graphics

School Responsibilities - Art Instructor, Prom and Homecoming Sponsor, Framing Dept., and Graduation Committee member.

Heron #1- "Flaming Heron"

Heron Sponsor - Dixie Homes and Storage. This heron will be on top of a building so it can be seen from the interstate.

Heron #2- "Louisiana Mystic"

Heron Sponsor - Vantage and Affinity Healthcare

I am presently in my 26th year of teaching (2 years part-time faculty at ULM before teaching high school, Masur Museum in the summer, and ran the Art Dept. at Michaels and Helens.) With 25 ULM Jr/Sr show participation certificates, WOHS has participated in every show since the high school show started 25 years ago. I am very excited to have had TWO heron designs chosen by local businesses!

Michelle Olinde with heron model  Olinde Flaming Heron design  Olinde Louisiana Mystic design


Anne Gilbert – Ouachita Parish High, Pinecrest School, Woodlawn Middle, Woodlawn Elementary, Swayze Elementary and Kiroli Elementary 

Subject - Talented Art

Heron Title - "Seeking Refuge"

Heron Sponsor - Homeland Bank, West Monroe

When the Arts Council offered area artists the chance to decorate heron sculptures, I was interested. I have seen painted animals during my travels and am always impressed by them. When I was walking at Kiroli Park one day, I was thinking that I needed to go around town and take some pictures for inspiration for the heron project. It suddenly dawned on me that I was already at the place that inspires me the most - the park! I did not have to go anywhere else!  Many people enjoy Kiroli Park because there is something for everyone! Animals seek refuge there, too, thus the title "Seeking Refuge". I enjoyed creating the design and was delighted to hear that mine was selected by a sponsor.

Anne Gilbert with designs    Top view of Gilbert design  Side view of Gilbert design


Christy Dunn - West Monroe High School

Subject - Art

School Responsibilities - Art Instructor, Theater Set Painter and Prop Builder

Heron Title - "Warhawk Heron"

Heron Sponsor - Homeland Bank, Monroe

I originally submitted 3 designs for Herons on the Bayou: a bayou scene with cypress trees and moss, an oceanic design with fish scales and waves, and a maroon and gold feathered heron with the ULM logo on each side. My ULM themed Heron was chosen by Homeland Bank and I almost didn't even submit this design! I'm so glad I decided to do that 3rd submission because it is an honor to be a part of this project! 

Christy Dunn with heron designs  View of Dunn designs  


Lissy Compton - West Ridge Middle, Good Hope Middle, Claiborne Elementary, Drew Elementary and George Welch Elementary

Subject - Talented Art

Heron Title - "Bloomin' Bayou"

Heron Sponsor - Chick fil A

My students discussed and voted on the idea to cover their Heron in Louisiana swamp flowers and plants. They began painting it this week. I’m also excited to have been chosen to personally create a second heron for "Herons with Heart" where five herons were gifted to five non-profits in our area! My Heron Non-Profit is for Chennault Aviation Museum. I don't have a design finalized with the museum yet, but he will have on a classic bomber jacket.

Lissy Compton Art Students  Compton students with heron model  Compton Bloomin Bayou Heron design