GALLERY ONE ElllEVEN in Leesville will hold a reception Saturday for an art exhibit featuring imagery related to the now-closed Hodges Gardens State Park.
Hodges Gardens, located on 4,700 acres between Florien and Hornbeck, near the Toledo Bend Reservoir of the Sabine River in Sabine Parish, was permanently closed to the public in October 2017.
Constructed by A.J. Hodges and his wife, the gardens opened to the public in 1956, giving visitors a sense of unparalleled wonder for 60 years.
GALLERY ONE ElllEVEN patrons will be able to look back on memories made at a new exhibit titled “Remembering Hodges Gardens.”
The exhibit has been dedicated solely to showing the various sights and wonders that were available only through the gardens, giving visitors a small glimpse at what the park had to offer over the years.
Photographs lining the wall showcase several landmarks from the Hodges Gardens, while watercolors and artistic renderings capture the tranquility that greeted visitors upon entering the park.
The exhibit also includes original plans for the park. They provide a look at what went into constructing the gardens in the first place.
“There’s really nothing like it in all of Louisiana, maybe even in the South,” Rickie Smith said.
Smith helped curate the exhibit and contributed some of his photography to the collection.
“There are just hundreds of acres of gardens that were manicured to perfection with a variety of plants,” he said.
Smith expressed the importance of acknowledging the experiences that were had within the gardens themselves. “We’re hoping people will come and share their memories of Hodges Gardens,” he said. “These memories of Hodges Gardens, when you were a child and you went there for Easter Sunday; a child was had there, or you got married there.
“Those are memories and stories to share, and furthermore this exhibit serves to remind people that this place still exists. It’s not a lost cause yet. If it is in our minds, memories and conversation, we are more apt to do something about it.”
The exhibit’s opening reception will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 at GALLERY ONE ElllEVEN at 111 South Third St. in Leesville.