Suzanne and Pat Juneau have been in the thick of Lafayette’s art scene for over forty years.
Suzanne lived on Duclos Street in the 1970s, making jewelry and sometimes catching George Rodrigue painting on the glassed-in porch of his house down the block. It was in this period that Rodrigue would join a group of Lafayette artists on the first Open Studio tour, which gave the community an opportunity to see creative spaces in action.
“It was fascinating to see the different spaces,” says Suzanne.
This weekend, the Juneaus will invite the community to see what they create out of their home studios in Scott on the 2023 Open Studio Acadiana Tour. Ceramicists, painters, woodworkers, photographers, and other artists will also participate in the tour this year, spanning Opelousas to Crowley — and all other points in the region.
Over the years, the Juneaus have been heavily involved in the Acadiana arts community. In 1996 Suzanne was a founding member of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, a juried organization of craftsmen who promote artists’ affairs across Louisiana and the South. The Guild also curates major artisan events, like Festivals Acadiens et Créoles. Andre Juneau — Pat and Suzanne’s son — now serves as the board’s president.
In 2016, Louisiana Crafts Guild board member Burnell Lemoine brought Open Studio Acadiana back after a long hiatus.
“After it had been going on for a few years in the early days, eventually people lost interest,” says Pat. “Burnell wanted to bring it back because he’s really interested in the education of the public.”
Today, the studio tour recruits 50+ artists spanning the “705” zip code, offering studio-goers the opportunity to road trip across Acadiana to visit the diverse range of artists working here. Open Studio Acadiana is now a key part of the Guild’s mission to make art, and artists, more public.
That’s also the mission of the Juneau family. When the Guild’s gallery was located in the Sans Souci building on East Vermilion Street, Pat and Andre created the colorful girls that swing from the lampposts in Parc Sans Souci. Andre is an established artist in his own right, working with Pat out of the Juneau Metalworks studio in Scott to create new pieces, like a playful metal bench that will soon adorn the grounds of the Children’s Museum of Acadiana.
“Kids just get it,” says Pat, speaking on how children react to exposure to the arts. “On the tour we’ve had young people and old people, but kids really love it. They’re absolutely fascinated and understand what’s going on, as well or better than adults.”
Suzanne also loves to connect kids to the arts through her jewelry. When children visit her studio, just a few yards from Pat and Andre’s larger-scale metalworking space, she shows them how metal can be heated and manipulated to create a spoon with a copper disk for the vessel and a man reaching for the stars as a handle. Her rings, hair pieces, and other adornments are displayed throughout the studio, with little separation between the finished products and the raw materials that she works to create wearable art.
The exposure is great for kids. But it can leave a lasting impression on anyone.
“People never forget going to your studio,” says Pat. “Years later they come to one of your shows, and they remember your studio. It’s kind of a life changing event, to see someone work and do what they do.”