Owners of Benoit Gallery and the Black Element, Shannon Onezone (far left), Joey Benoit (center) and Bryant Benoit(right), are participating at this year’s Window Wonderland.
Photo: Brooklyn Fields-Meaux
By Brooklyn Fields-Meaux
Allowing artists and small businesses to display their works, Downtown Lafayette is hosting a Window Wonderland from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21.
Window Wonderland is an event where small businesses and local artists partner up to create fine art displays along Jefferson Street and other participating businesses in downtown Lafayette.
Phanat Xanamane, creator and facilitator of Window Wonderland, said this idea was sparked while living in New York.
“I was mesmerized by the displays along Fifth Avenue. As a creative person from a small town like New Iberia, I was looking for projects to reinvigorate cities like my own,” Xanamane said. He started Window Wonderland in his hometown five years ago.
With his background in urban design, he said that he chose to devote 10 years to investing into revitalizing New Iberia. Xanamane was contacted by his friend and Director of Downtown Unlimited, Maureen Dugas Foster.
Foster said her goal for all of Downtown Christmas is to cultivate a family-friendly atmosphere and also remind Lafayette citizens and visitors that this is a new downtown that is rising and is a place to be.
While Xanamane and Foster were working out details of the event, they expressed the desire of showcasing the talent of Lafayette artists. The event gives businesses the option to hire local artists, recommended by Xanamane, to create their displays and compete for the $1,000 prize.
Xanamane also mentioned that some businesses are also forming teams to create their displays and others are allowing their employees to showcase their artistic abilities.
Cayla Zeek, owner of Mattea Studio, is a local artist and downtown business owner participating in Window Wonderland. As a local artist, she hopes for a beautiful turn out and thinks the overall idea of the event is beneficial to both businesses and artists.
“It’s a good opportunity for sure. I’d like to see in the future for businesses to not display artists but also pay them for their work and definitely make it a tradition of showcasing them,” Zeek said.
Bryant Benoit, owner of Benoit Gallery, also said he believes that Window Wonderland is a good opportunity for local artists like himself. He sat with his wife, Joey Benoit, and contemplated on the endless options he could create in front of his downtown gallery.
“I think I’ll do a painting—a little nativity with a black Jesus or a painting of a Christmas scene,” Benoit said. “It’s going to be our artistic interpretation of our culture. We’re bringing an indigenous and cultural aspect to the holidays.”
According to Foster, businesses like Gordon Hotel, Hub City Cycles, Rêve Coffee Roasters and most businesses along Jefferson Street are also participating in this event. She also stated that Downtown Unlimited is working on a Window Wonderland passport as a guide for visitors.
Xanamane described Window Wonderland as a celebration of civic pride that displays the best parts of Lafayette community—not only the physical beauty but how they work with one another to show that we care about this place.
Participating businesses will be installing holiday displays during Thanksgiving weekend. Window Wonderland will begin on Nov. 29. Visitors are able to vote online for best displays until Dec. 21.