As is Natchitoches tradition, the unveiling of the year’s official Christmas poster is a harbinger of the holiday season. The 39th annual Christmas Festival Poster will be unveiled Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Dickens and Company, introducing artist Matthew Yerby.
Yerby is a Louisiana native base in Hollywood, Calif. Once a Winnfield Tiger and a Northwestern State University baseball player, Yerby is now a self-trained artist and filmmaker.
Upon graduating NSU in 2011 with a bachelors degree in psychology, he began painting and writing screenplays while he applied for jobs to make a living. When the job searching became bleak, he dove further into the arts seeking mentors to better each craft. He found employment at Painting With A Twist and instructed classes for five years. Eventually, he went from canvas to murals, painting a 9×15 scene of Natchitoches Front Street, located inside of Rhodes Properties and Development. Matthew has since painted 11 murals, four of which were painted on the ceiling while lying on his back.
During this time, Yerby was a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) actor that received credits in “End of the Road,” “Trent’s War” and “Saltz.”
In 2016, he produced an Oscar qualifying short film, “The Stand,” and is in the preproduction stage of directing his first feature film in Natchitoches, “Runaround Sue.”
“My inspiration for this painting simply came from the beautiful memories I have of this town,” said Yerby. “I have painted Natchitoches from so many different angles and each time I realize I cannot capture all of its splendor in one canvas. In the memories that I personally have at the Christmas Festival, I’ve watched many elder couples dancing with joy, witnessed the beginning to a lifelong commitment between a man and his wife and I’ve been the little boy standing in awe of the magic show in the sky.”
Numbered prints of the 39th Natchitoches Christmas Poster will be available for sale to the public after the unveiling. Earnings from poster sales are used to fund an art scholarship at NSU and to sponsor art camps and projects in the community. “It is our goal to sell as many posters as possible so that we can expand our donations to additional art endeavors. We believe that art is a vital part of our culture here in Natchitoches as well as a creative outlet for all to enjoy” said Karen Terrell of the Natchitoches Arts Council.
The price for all available posters is $35 each. This includes one mini poster. Extra mini posters can be purchased for $3. Posters may be purchased at the Natchitoches Arts Council office.