POSTED: Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 7:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 5:58pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — The state's best artists have converged on Baton Rouge today. And you can go see their work for free.
When Art Melt began, it fit inside a small room, and a couple dozen Baton Rouge artists were invited to show their work. This year, 400 people from around Louisiana submitted more than 600 pieces for a spot in the juried competition.
"We have over 68 pieces of work here representing more than 25 different parishes," said Rebecca Alexander, the event's chairwoman.
"It's just truly impressive," said Paul Forbes, whose wife earned a place in the show. "And it's great to see this sort of talent in Louisiana."
With events like Art Melt and gallery hops in Mid City , there is a growing number of opportunities for local artists to showcase their work.
"It's good in terms of exposure for the talent of this community," Alexander mentioned, "and I think it's also good for the artists, as individuals."
Forbes believes that, because of increased access from events like Art Melt, art in Louisiana has "gotten better. The quality of the artists, the quality of the work, the diversity of the work."
While the items in Art Melt are collector pieces, there will be a special discussion panel tomorrow about public art, featuring gallery owners and leaders of the local art community. Public art is becoming more and more popular around town, including projects such as BR Walls  and the Museum of Public Art .
Some people think there are more important things individuals, or the city, should spend their money on. Others love it.
"Money well spent," Forbes claimed. "I think it helps, very much, creating an atmosphere in the city, supporting the arts. And I think it's just something that people enjoy seeing."
Another argument against public art is that it hurts artists. By making works of art available for free, people do not need to go to galleries and buy items of their own. Alexander disagrees.
"I actually think that it is...making that average person that otherwise would never visit a gallery look at art and say, 'where can I see more of that,'" she argued.
Art Melt held a preview party Friday night, in which the winners of the competition were announced and patrons were allowed to buy the works. The main show begins tonight at 5:00 p.m., and features two stages of music and performance art, in addition to the gallery.