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Artist Robert Dafford’s paintings installed on Pinhook Bridge

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 25, 2022

LAFAYETTE, La. – Lafayette Consolidated Government celebrated renowned artist and Lafayette native Robert Dafford’s Cajun- and Creole-inspired works of art that were installed on the Pinhook Bridge on Sunday morning.

The bridge plays a significant role in the history of Lafayette, long before the city was Vermilionville, according to a statement from LCG.

“Near the bridge was a trading post for Native Americans," Mayor-President Josh Guillory stated. "Later, it served as a stopping point for Europeans who began to explore the area. The area of the Pinhook Bridge was the early beginnings of our community.”

The 44-feet-wide and 8-feet-high panels sit on either side of the bridge. Painted on one side, “Bienvenue à Lafayette” (Welcome to Lafayette) flanked by people of different ethnicities dancing and playing instruments and “Allons à Lafayette” (Let’s Go to Lafayette) on the other side surrounded by dancing, music, and food.

“I scribbled and sketched, and I came up with this idea of a lineup of characters,” Dafford said. “I was thinking of it as a sort of gateway welcome sign coming in from the Broussard of town.” The back side of one panel depicts a selection of instruments and the back side of the other reflects an old-time market. “I wanted to have a parade of characters playing music, dancing and cooking, which is what tourists come here for.”

Dafford, who is traveling and designing and painting works in other parts of the country, was unavailable to attend the ribbon cutting but said in keeping with the 40-year-effort to revive the French language and attract American and global tourists, it was important to use those French words “Bienvenue” and “Allons.” Allons à Lafayette signifies, “When leaving town, come back and dance with us again.”

In line with that, it was just as important to represent a myriad of ethnicities. “I determined we needed a show of cultural heritage. We don’t want to forget we are French, Spanish, African, Creole, Native, as well as Europeans,” he explained.

Of Dafford’s work, President and CEO of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission Ben Berthelot said, “I’m really excited we are able to honor Robert Dafford. A lot of work is being done to promote and preserve the French language through Le Centre, CODOFIL, and our office, so to the verbiage Bienvenue à Lafayette (Welcome to Lafayette) and Allons à Lafayette (Let’s go to Lafayette) ties into the messaging that we’re doing at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Our billboards on I-10 all say Allons à Lafayette. Our Visitor’s Guide that comes out every two months is called “Allons,” so a lot of consistency there as we continue to not only welcome but also invite people to come experience the heart of Cajun and Creole Country.”

Dafford has painted 500 murals in 25 cities and five countries.

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