Breland: Art shows up most anywhere, anytime

Published 11:56 am Friday, March 4, 2022

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If you were watching the MCCA Mardi Gras parade last Saturday, there was something going on that many may have missed. With all the noise and activity, crowds of people busy catching the colorful throws tossed through the air, who saw the art show?

If you missed it, there was definitely an art show on parade. It was there in the beautiful, colorful creative art designs of the costumes and the big gorgeous floats, many of both produced by talented local people.

It is definitely interesting for local artists when additional creative people move in and start producing beautiful things.

Benn and Debbie Thigpen Zaricor have been in Bogalusa for the past year and a half and have quickly caught the “Bogalusa spirit.” Debbie grew up here, but their continued interest in the local Mardi Gras events come from Debbie’s mother, the late Shanny Thigpen, who was the lovely second queen of MCCA.

Residents of Atlanta for a long time, Debbie came home to care for her mother. Since they like it here, they have become very involved locally. Debbie teaches third grade at Annunciation school and Benn is filling in teaching talented art at Central and Byrd Avenue schools to six different classes of gifted students.

Noted very soon as an artist, Benn was approached by locals to help with the design and production of a MCCA Mardi Gras float. They had seen works across the country by this creative man, who holds fine arts degrees from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and also owns a design business, Zaricor Original Designs and Murals USA.

His work includes murals, wall décor and paintings. Some noted productions are a giant parrot head mural at Margaritaville, a mural featuring the legendary “Mothman” at Point Pleasant, W.Va., and a 22-by-44-foot American flag mural near the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, as well as some others across the country, such as The Hangout, The Gulf and Picnic Beach.

He was excited about his first Mardi Gras float, the 40-foot “Pirates of Dionysus,” which was seen during the 42nd annual MCCA parade.

He painted a different design on each side of the float, which is usually done with one design repeated on both sides. He wanted to make it more interesting, but much more art work was required. The result as a beautiful giant piece of fine art … centered on pirates!

“This is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done,” he said, adding how much he enjoyed working with the Krewe of Dionysus.

He has other design ideas for bringing more to the community and is also interested in Mardi Gras designing for other areas as well. The outpouring of comments from everyone has been very exciting for both Benn and Debbie, but he wants the float and Bogalusa to get the attention.

One of the nicest things is they are enjoying living in Bogalusa and said there are so many wonderful people here and so many advantages to living in a small town.

Art is indeed central to making an area most appealing as we have seen in the past and even now as several art organizations are hard at work promoting art around the parish and surrounding areas.

In seeing the Dionysus float by her husband in the parade, Debbie said it would have been great if her mother could have seen it.

We always welcome art, and should look out for “art shows” of all types appearing around us. Art has so many different forms in so many directions, from fine art such as oil paintings to the big work of designing and painting floats, a larger than life business in Louisiana, due to Mardi Gras.

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at