A. Hays Town and the Architectural Image of Louisiana
Jun 15, 2018 — Dec 29, 2018
Guest Curated by Dr. Carol McMichael Reese
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original Art Center of Southwestern Louisiana, the Hilliard Museum is pleased to present an exhibition that marks the legacy of its designer, famed Louisiana architect A. Hays Town. The exhibition will be guest curated by architectural historian, Dr. Carol McMichael Reese, Professor in the School of Architecture at Tulane University, where Town studied. A highly collaborative project, the exhibition brings together faculty and students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Tulane University in New Orleans, and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, providing an opportunity for students to gain experience in exhibition research, design, and production.
The focus of the exhibition will be Town’s residential architecture, for which he gained national renown. It will also showcase the evolution of Town’s work over more than 70 years of practice, from the Modernist designs of his earlier commercial and civic buildings to his later iconic residences, which were inspired by the historic architecture of the American South. A rich assemblage of drawings, furnishings, photographs, architectural models, and archival records will introduce visitors to his design approach, as well as his impressive career.
In his single-family houses, Town integrated historic motifs from a variety of cultural traditions, drawing upon French, Spanish, and Caribbean building techniques and details. He achieved sensuous patinas of age through his use of recovered materials from demolished buildings—including cedar beams, heart-pine flooring, and imported marbles—as well as antique furnishings and decorative fixtures. He arranged principal rooms to emphasize views toward the landscape and often worked with clients to design their gardens. His beloved and often imitated homes are evocative of the archetypal residential architecture of Creole Louisiana, indeed, a Louisiana Style.
A defining aspect of Town’s practice was his attention to long-term, intimate, and trusting relationships with his clients, who came to consider him a member of their extended families. The exhibition will emphasize the important social element of his work through video-taped oral histories, not only with Town’s original clients but also with second-generation owners of Town’s houses, who take pride in caring for his legacy.
The Hilliard University Art Museum wishes to express its gratitude for the donors who made this exhibition possible: Eskew Dumez & Ripple; Paul and Madlyn Hilliard; Dr. Beverly Gladney and Mr. Neil Buckingham; Country Roads Magazine; Louisiana Digital Reproductions; Dr. Donald Voorhies; Jeffrey and Kathryn Scurlock; Bevelo Gas and Electric Lights; Leslie Gladley, Burns and Co., Realtors; Tulane University School of Architecture Dean’s Fund for Excellence; Bouligny Family in memory of Jackie & Dan Bouligny; Michael and Melanie McKenzie; Thomas and Celia Foard.