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Photograph: Flyer about the presentation on Angela Gregory to air on LPB on August 22, 2022.

Have you ever entered the St. Landry Parish Courthouse from Court Street? If so, did you notice the beautiful artwork adorning that entry? That artwork is gorgeous and something we should know about and appreciate. The artwork was created by an internationally known woman artist over eighty years ago. Her name is Angela Gregory, and she is a notable 20th century American sculptor.

In the late part of the 1930s, when plans were drawn for the new St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas, the project architect decided to have sculptures done on the building’s façade. Since Angela Gregory was well known for her artwork at that time and had a relative living in Opelousas, he called on her to do the job.

Gregory accepted the job offer and began working on the sculptures at her studio on Pine Street in New Orleans. She themed the large one piece over the entrance “Louisiana receiving products of St. Landry Parish – sugar cane, cotton, corn, dairy products and the state flower, Magnolia.” The two other smaller sculptures on each side of the entrance represent an Acadian woman with her spinning wheel and stylized cotton, and a hunter in the rice fields. When Angela completed the sculptures, they were shipped to Opelousas and installed on the building just in time for the grand opening in March of 1940.

Angela Gregory was among the first women sculptors to gain international fame. Her artwork can be seen all over Louisiana, but also in other areas of the US and Europe. Exhibitions of her work have been hosted by such major venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Salon des Tuileries in Paris, France, and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Angela Gregory died on February 13, 1990, in her native New Orleans. She is characterized as “a most important figure in the world of art.” And today some of her beautiful art can be seen right here in downtown Opelousas. What a treasure we have in our mist, a gem that most who live in Opelousas, or visit the town, do not realize. Next time you visit the courthouse, look at that art and appreciate how special it is not just to the town, but also to the state and beyond.

To learn more about Angela Gregory, a book about the artist and the woman, published in 2017 is available. Written by Angela Gregory with author Nancy L. Penrose, A Dream and A Chisel (The University of South Carolina Press) details her life in Paris from 1925-1928. It is a memoir based on Penrose’s oral history interviews with Gregory, as well as letters and diaries compiled before Gregory’s death in 1990.

Also look for a presentation about Angela Gregory on the Louisiana Public Broadcasting network, to be premiered on Monday, August 22, 2022. St. Landry Now will have more about this presentation in a future article.

Angela Gregory completing his work for the St. Landry Parish Courthouse at her New Orleans studio in 1939.