PONCHATOULA, La (WGNO) — Mandy Poche has been painting her whole life and owns an art gallery off of the main drag of Pine Street in the quaint town of Ponchatoula.

“The looseness of it, that’s just kind of my style. I like being impressionistic. There’s just something so very unique about our swamp area, our wildlife, and the city of New Orleans. We have the best of everything here in Louisiana,” says Poche.

While Mandy Poche’s vast array of styles seems endless, her home state of Louisiana is her favorite subject matter, from the architecture of churches to the toothy charm of alligators.

Her artwork adorns many of the local businesses in town, but her artwork wasn’t always so visible. Four years ago, her husband decided it was time for the world to know about how awesome her artwork was.

“He signed me up for an Art and Wine Stroll behind my back. He knew I could paint, but nobody else really did. The Art and Wine Stroll was here in Ponchatoula. My art took off that night,” recalls Mandy Poche.

Three months after that event, the married couple opened up Mandy’s first space and four years later, she continues to paint in her own private art gallery. Last year, during an exhibit, she unveiled a dress she hand-painted to match her artwork. The dress went viral and further made her well-known throughout the country.

Her story is that of a fairy tale, about an undiscovered artist, but it’s true, as Mandy Poche says, “it’s been crazy! I still look around at my work and I don’t think it’s me sometimes. I ask, who did this?”

Last year, one of her pieces was used for the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival booklets. This year, however, her poster design was chosen as the official poster for the 51st Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

Mandy says, she has always wanted to be the official poster artist and will try again next year. She explains the concept of her art saying, “One of my favorite things about the festival, is the Strawberry Festival Pageant. In my painting I gave the pelican a crown, to represent the fun pageant side of things and then I included little statements that helped to tell our story of Ponchatoula.”

You can catch the Ponchatoula Strawberry Fest, sponsored by WGNO on Friday, April 14 beginning at 12 p.m. The event runs through Sunday.

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