Heralded South Louisiana landscape artist Melissa Bonin is the new lease holder at the small side gallery space in Gordon Square on Vermilion Street Downtown — the space formerly home to artist Nicole Touchet, whose lease expired just a couple of weeks after building management demanded that she cover a collection of nude portraits, sparking widespread condemnation and the Nude ArtWalk theme for this Saturday’s ArtWalk by more than a half dozen galleries.
A New Iberia native, Bonin lives in Lafayette and maintains a gallery on Magazine Street in New Orleans where she was driving when we spoke briefly Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve signed the lease and I’m in,” Bonin says, explaining that after reading the article Friday about Touchet in The IND, she “realized the space was available and I jumped on it.” She adds that she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to participate in Saturday’s ArtWalk since she just signed the lease. “I’m going to do everything I can to do it, but this happened so last-minute, so I don’t know.”
Bonin says she was unaware of the Nude ArtWalk theme — it’s unofficial; Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, the agency that facilitates ArtWalk, is totally hands-off when it comes to nipples — for Saturday. And besides, she says, South Louisiana landscapes and color studies are her artistic raison d’être.
“Well, I’d have to get busy making a lot of nudes by Saturday,” she jokes. “It’s not really my thing.”
Bonin was one of ABiz’s 2014 Women Who Mean Business honorees. Read more about her here.