As far back as 1857, flambeau carriers have been at the front of New Orleans Mardi Gras nighttime parades, lighting the way for the rest of the revelers. Today, there's a brand new kind of light shining in the Big Easy. It's also called "Flambeau" and it's a brilliant collection of interior lighting that combines functional art and design, courtesy of renowned New Orleans designers Paul GrÃ¼er and Elaine Gleason as well as Baton Rouge designer Benjamin Burts.
Flambeau unites sophisticated shapes and silhouettes with distressed finishes of gold and silver to create 21st Century antique lighting. These jewel-like lamps, chandeliers and sconces will add a touch of intrigue to any room.
Artists of Flambeau Lighting - Benjamin Burts Bio
There is a life force palpable in every piece Baton Rouge artist Benjamin Burts creates. From a genesis of cold clay evolve collections of art that exude an almost-human warmth and texture. Burts says he doesn't put it in his collections; it's just there.
"I work with clay in a very free, spontaneous way, allowing it to become what it wants to become," says Burts. "I start with an idea, but an idea is just a reason to get up and begin. After that it is up to me and the clay to work together to see what it is supposed to be."
Faces and spiritual forms rise ethereally to the surface in many of Burts' lighting designs. Kiln firing further allows the personality of the clay to emerge, and what life the fire takes out, Burts restores through a unique surfacing technique and the application of gold and silver coloring.
"These are the colors the clay wants. They're natural to the surface, the shape and the form."
Burts' neo-classic pieces are the basis of a new collection of lamps and accessories from Flambeau Lighting. While Burts' collection is markedly different from the Paul Gruer collection, it is not a departure from Flambeau's concept of "lighting New Orleans style."
"You might say that I'm more in the spirit of New Orleans' Garden District, while Paul is more in the nature of the unique French Quarter," says Burts. "While different, both are quintessentially New Orleans."
Burts' work has been exhibited in fine galleries across the United States, but he feels that Flambeau's blending of his art with a practical application in lighting will allow greater exposure and appreciation of art for its own sake.