Sunday, December 27, 2009

Relle at Sibley, Traviesa at the Ogden Museum

We live in a special place and time. Of course, all places and times are special, but ours, for various reasons, may seem even more so. While this may be something we instinctively sense or feel, it is the artists among us who are often the best at explicating, or illustrating this sensibility. For photographer Frank Relle, it’s old houses, and while many have documented them, Relle’s nocturnal streetscapes may have come closer to capturing their soul. Taken with a mix of existing streetlights and an elaborate portable light system, Relle’s portraits of homes, large and small, reveal their poetic aura in this survey at the splendid new Sibley Gallery on Magazine Street. Among the older images are favorites like TELEMACHUS, top, in which only the ancient arches of a Victorian façade are visible under a canopy of jungle vines, or the crumbling brick and plaster walls of LIVAUDAIS, a two story Garden District carriage house that looks right out of Anne Rice but actually appeared in CAT PEOPLE years ago. His new work includes LEONA, below, among other images that feature softer, more naturalistic lighting and broader panoramas for a hauntingly cinematic effect--an impressive survey in an impressive new gallery.
For Jonathan Traviesa, it’s all about the soulful people who live in those densely textured old structures, and while some are visual artists, all are artists in the ad hoc collective performance that is everyday New Orleans life. A selection of these urban denizens such as ELLEN, below, in their native habitat is currently featured at the Ogden Museum, and if local folks themselves constitute a photographic subject as popular as the city’s architecture, Traviesa’s environmental portraits capture some vital aspect of the enduring creative soul of this place. In addition to the exhibitions and grants this series has garnered, a striking and timely new book from the UNO Press, PORTRAITS: PHOTOGRAPHS IN NEW ORLEANS 1998—2009, is now available. ~Bookhardt
Frank Relle: NIGHTSCAPES
Through Jan. 6
Sibley Gallery, 3427 Magazine St. 899-8182; www.sibleygallery.com
Jonathan Traviesa: PORTRAITS IN NEW ORLEANS, 1998-2009
Through Jan. 23
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600; www.ogdenmuseum.org
As seen in Gambit

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ZRADAB: A LEGEND UNEARTHED at Barrister's

As invitations go, this one from the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice was more intriguing than most. These recently unearthed artifacts from the lost civilization of Zradab include "inventive mechanical wonders, a Victorian parlor transported from a far away galaxy, invasive topiary species, mysterious fountains and glorified door knockers," a mélange that sounds a lot like New Orleans only more so. And any artist roster that includes Myrtle von Damitz, Kim and Scott Pteradactyl, Delaney Martin and Taylor Sheperd represents the more exotic fringe of the local art scene in an aggressively progressive way. The Pteradactyls and their extended clan are, after all, the creators of the famous exponentially expanding tree house at 1614 Esplanade, one of Nola’s newer wonders. Presumably the artists’ contribution was to restore these long lost antiquities, which all serendipitously bear a striking resemblance to the works for which they were already known in the first place. Touchingly, the show is dedicated to the late local sculptor, Jeffrey Cook, “whose sacrifice was of
the highest order.”

Actually, there is evidence that the Zradab culture practiced human sacrifice and that artists were often victims, a prospect that can be disconcerting considering the speculation that Zradab’s still secret location may be in an uncharted portion of Orleans Parish gerrymandered to include Third World territories. The artifacts themselves include a pre-digital percussion synthesizer by Taylor Sheperd reminiscent of early mechanical player piano technology, a metal, fabric and green mold fountain by Delaney Martin, a partially mummified alligator lamp by Nina Nichols, a large, weirdly globular “key to everything” by Jennifer Odem and Christian Repaal, and an excavated Zradab portrait, above, by Caron Geary. Because many of these artifacts are best observed at night—their creators were apparently part of a nocturnal and very musical culture—a free public performance of Zradabian entertainments scheduled for 9pm on January 3rd at Barrister’s Gallery may offer an optimal opportunity for viewing.  ~Eric Bookhardt


ZRADAB: A LEGEND UNEARTHED: Mixed Media Installations by Delany Martin 
and the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice
Through Jan. 3
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave., 710-4506;  www.barristersgallery.com 
As seen in Gambit

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sarah Wilson's "Blind Prom" at N.O. Photography Alliance; PhotoNola All Over

December used to be an almost sleepy time in local art, a month of group shows featuring “affordable” works suitable for Christmas presents. But that was before the tsunami known as PHOTONola suddenly appeared with dozens of photography exhibits and countless other photography related activities in a kind of imagistic frenzy attended by artists and collectors from all over. The first wave hit last Saturday, and there is indeed a lot to see, with additional expos cascading along as this is written. Since PHOTONola is the handiwork of the New Orleans Photography Alliance, it seems fair to start with its own gallery, where Sarah Wilson’s BLIND PROM is in full swing. As the name implies, this documentary series focuses on a high school prom at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin, an event for which Wilson has been the official photographer since 2005.
As a visual experience, it is both reassuring and disturbing. Perhaps because of the way photographers such as Diane Arbus have
conditioned us to observe impaired or unusual people from a coolly detached perspective, the first thing we notice in these teens is their difference. Beyond their blindness, some seem impaired in other ways, perhaps from Downs Syndrome, and many exhibit the unselfconscious expressions of those who have never clearly seen their reflection in a mirror. Viewed online, the images may evoke the ghost of Arbus, but in the gallery setting their unvarnished warmth and honesty is apparent as a unique collective presence. All in all, this is a show that makes us come to terms with the humanity of people who do not fit neatly into the blandly trendy self-image of middle class American life. Other first round recommendations would have to include Susan Burnstine’s poetic visions made with archaic Chinese cameras, below, at Canary, Jonathan Traviesa’s portraits at the Ogden Museum, Michele Varisco at Heriard Cimino, but you can really just go to photonola.org/photo-nola-2009 and click the EXHIBITIONS link--it’s hard to go wrong. ~Eric Bookhardt
Susan Burnstine at Canary Gallery
BLIND PROM: Photographs by Sarah Wilson
Through December
New Orleans Photo Alliance, 1111 St. Mary St., 975-4002; www.neworleansphotoalliance.org

PhotoNola Gallery and Museum Exhibitions: PhotoNola December Exhibitions
As seen in Gambit

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skylar Fein at NOMA

     Best known for his searingly evocative REMEMBER THE UPSTAIRS LOUNGE installation at the Prospect.1 Biennial last year, Skylar Fein turns his attention to punk rock in this YOUTH MANIFESTO show at NOMA. Again there are realistic trappings and graphic documentation, but the subjects couldn't be more different. The Upstairs Lounge was an obscure gay bar that caught fire under mysterious circumstances in 1971, killing at least 32 trapped patrons, whereas punk was an example of a cultural movement that began as a youthful rebellion and rapidly morphed into a marketing sensation of sorts. If the Upstairs Lounge was a colorful yet profoundly tragic place, punk rock became a postmodern echo chamber as it was subsumed into the culture that it once rebelled against, rendering it a mass mediated hall of mirrors--an electronic mirage rather than a fiery flameout. Consequently, where the UPSTAIRS LOUNGE exhibit was gut-wrenchingly elegiac, this YOUTH MANIFESTO show is ironically nostalgic.

Punk’s visual legacy is a wide array of memorabilia that Fein replicates in his artfully playful style, with iconic groups like the Clash, Adam and the Ants and Husker Du all turning up in outsized replicas of ticket stubs, posters and t-shirts. There’s even a Cyndy Lauper poster paired with a Cyndi Lauper bedsheet, above, amid sculptural recreations of 1980s boom boxes and guitar amps. The result is a recreation of the flip side of the Reagan era, an unusually taxonomic celebration of a familiar yet distant time. And if it lacks the searing punch of the Upstairs Lounge project, it does at least inject a new perspective into the eclectic mix of NOMA’s galleries, setting off such oddities as Henry Darger’s expressionistic child-world panorama, HURRY, IT’LL EXPLODE ANY MINUTE NOW, Allan McCollum’s 25 PERFECT VEHICLES display case of striped burial urns, and Mel Chin’s I DON’T WANT TO silver tray fringed with Mayan gods and Belizian flint ceremonial blades, all of which convey something of the eternal, prickly, underlying spirit of punk.  

YOUTH MANIFESTO: Graphics, Sculpture and Videos by Skylar Fein
Through Jan. 3
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 658-4100; www.noma.org 

As seen in Gambit

Another View of Miami Basel

Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick recently logged this pithy missive on why he doesn't do Miami Basel anymore. While we regard it as a great resource, we also regard this as a great contrarian personal commentary, a bit of bracing criticism from within the belly of the beast that is American art:

It is that time of year again.  Miami has allowed the circus of mental defectives that comprise the art world to pitch its tent on South-Beach.  Every mouth-breathing, social misfit in the country has strapped on the fake tits and spray-on tans and found the most outre-retard outfits to promenade down Collins Avenue and engage in the casual brutality of the art market.

Boo-yah.

I stopped going to these things a couple of years ago.  They are not much about art.  They are more about skin and money and the ambitions of a culture of squishy people who fancy themselves as “taste-makers.”  The parade of jerk-offs checking their Blackberries in full view of a gorgeous ocean makes one despair of the species.  The hookers, male and female, will make a killing, a gallerina or two will get shit-faced on free vodka and go skinny dipping in the pool at the Delano.  Art stars will be made and unmade as the dealers lie about how well sales are going in order to keep the one-ball juggling act known as the economy up in the air.

The art-world worker bees will man booths and realize hour after mundane hour that, in this end of the pool, this is all there is.  Success at an art-fair is at best a Pyrrhic victory.  The swells like you, and this doesn’t mean you’ve achieved anything like art.  In fact, it often means the opposite.  Not that there is no profit in being “fashionable”; there is a whole dearth of talent slaying cash right now.  Celebrity -types will wander the aisles with their dealers in tow, verbally fondling each other’s sacks and air-kissing up a storm.  It will be a daisy-chain amounting to nothing lasting.  A well-lit nowhere. Have a daiquiri for me and tip the fucking waiters, you cheap pricks. ~Tony Fitzpatrick, December 3, 2009
tonyfitzpatrick.wordpress.com

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keith Haring at Loyola

    He was a human Roman candle, a frenetic elfin graffiti artist who burst upon the New York scene in 1980 and quickly became one of the city’s most celebrated talents.   Serious about art since he was a kid in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Keith Haring insisted on making art accessible to all, and to that end he employed the walls along city streets and subway stations as his gallery. His deceptively simple visual language used bouncy stick figures to convey a wide array of situations and emotions, and the city and the world responded. In 1986 alone, his work appeared in over 40 solo and group exhibitions. Yet, even as he became an acclaimed painter and sculptor, his style still retained its original character, a breezy yet punchy lightness of line that is especially evident in these colorful silkscreen prints at Loyola. A representative survey of his brilliant but brief career, they were loaned by local collectors and Loyola alums, Stuart H. Smith and Barry J. Cooper.
    Perhaps because they really do convey something of the ephemeral immediacy that we associate with graffiti art, a trait he shares with acclaimed contemporary street artists such as Banksy and Katharina Grosse, his work still seems surprisingly current. His ANDY MOUSE portrait of his friend, Andy Warhol, as Mickey Mouse wearing sunglasses and standing on a pile of greenbacks, above, makes a point about contemporary art commercialism that could just as easily be applied to Jeff Koons and Richard Prince, our prevailing geniuses du jour. A few are more topical and dated, but much of his work touches on themes that are universal or ongoing, like his fascination with flying saucers, an obsession shared by many Americans today. His incandescent career abruptly ended with his 1990 death from AIDS-related complications, but his spirit lives on in fans like Smith and Cooper and a new wave of artists who continue to blur the boundaries between art and life as it is experienced on city streets.  ~Eric Bookhardt
KEITH HARING: A PRINT RETROSPECTIVE 1982--1990
Through Jan. 29
Collins Diboll Gallery, Loyola Univerity, 6363 St. Charles Ave, 861-5456; www.loyno.edu/dibollgallery

As seen in Gambit

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Long a local favorite for his diffusely atmospheric vistas of leafy old New Orleans neighborhoods, Phil Sandusky has of late taken us along a road less traveled--at least, for him. In this city it is not surprising to see a plein air painter working at an easel in front of a French Quarter or Uptown landmark, but to find one daubing away across from a CBD Walgreen's or chain hotel is another matter. Yet this show encompasses all of the above, and there is even a canvas featuring the WATERWORKS, above, on Claiborne Ave., which appears as a bucolic vista recalling the early days of industrialization in the South. While his pre-Katrina work mostly rendered genteel Uptown byways in a gauzily impressionistic style that was often lovely if almost predictably sweet, his work right after the storm rendered its ravages with the unflinching candor of a social realist. Here his flair for wreckage appears in DEMOLITION ON HILLARY ST., a site of mechanized
destruction rendered as if by a modern day Monet. But other intrusions of modernity into otherwise timeless vistas appear in works like FIG AND CARROLLTON, a view of urban desolation redeemed by balmy pastel light. MUSTANG ON PEARL STREET, above right, contrasts the pop contours of a car with the ancient cottage behind it as impressionistic brushwork evokes the humidity on a balmy day when the sun-baked pavement transforms the air into a dense presence with a shape-shifting life of its own. Here Sandusky reveals his flair as a poet of this city’s ambient phenomena that most of us take for granted.

Stylistic evolution appears as well in George Dunbar’s collages at Heriard- Cimino. Less lush but more playful than what we ordinarily expect from Nola’s dean of decorous minimalism, these artfully repetitious forms recall the hypnotic sequencing in some of Philip Glass’s electronic music compositions and reveal a lightness of touch unexpected in this most rigorous of local artists who, at 80-something, is still growing and going strong. ~Eric Bookhardt
 PLEIN AIR PORTRAITS OF NEW ORLEANS: New Work by Phil Sandusky
Through November
Cole Pratt Gallery, 3800 Magazine St., 891-6789; www.coleprattgallery.com

 MULTIPLES: New Work by George Dunbar Heriard-Cimino Gallery
Through Dec. 2
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525-7300; www.heriardcimino.com

As seen in Gambit

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sachs/Kretzer "Cone" at Botanical Garden New Orleans Curated and Produced by Life Is Art Foundation


For More Environmental Light Sculptures Click: Life Is Art Foundation Sculpture Exhibition at New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park

Soth and Colescott at Arthur Roger


                                       Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, by Alec Soth
Robert Colescott died last June at his home in Tucson. He was 83, and highly respected in the art world. The first black American to represent the U.S. in a solo show at the Venice Biennale, his work was in many major collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He had close ties to New Orleans, where his parents were born and raised. After serving in World War II, he made zany paintings that dealt with racial or social issues in a highly satirical manner. His remake of the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware replaced him with the black agricultural chemist, George Washington Carver, at the helm of a boat loaded with minstrels, cooks and maids. Painted in a zany, California Imagist style, the works on view continue in a similar vein.


In SUMMERTIME, right, a white blonde in a sagging bikini reclines under a sky filled with black crows circling an Afro Minnie Mouse with big boobs as a black guy approaches her with his tongue hanging out. Presumably a satire on racial preconceptions, its meaning is up to the viewer. As with much Colescott, we’re not always sure what we’re looking at, but always we know we’re looking at SOMETHING.

The adjacent gallery contains some large color photos by Alec Soth, a 40 year-old Minneapolis photographer who has been making waves with works such as this subtly atmospheric series exploring life along the Mississippi. ADELYN, ASH WEDNESDAY, NEW ORLEANS, above, depicts a tired, tattooed redhead with an ashen cross on her forehead. Asked what she was giving up for Lent, she hit Soth up for a beer, explaining that she wasn’t really Catholic and her cross was made from cigarette ash. JOSHUA, ANGOLA PRISON, depicts an angelic looking inmate who turned out to be serving a sentence for murder. Like a postmodern O. Henry, Soth provides many ironic insights in a highly evocative series where every picture really does tell a story. (Although both shows officially came down on Nov. 14, the work remains available for viewing during the following week.) ~Eric Bookhardt

Robert Colescott: TROUBLED GOODS
Alec Soth: SLEEPING BY THE MISSISSIPPI
Through Nov. 14
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999;
www.arthurrogergallery.com

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hot Up Here at the Contemporary Arts Center

     Organized by Contemporary Arts Center Visual Arts Director Dan Cameron, Hot Up Here picks up where the CAC’s Louisiana Open biennial series left off. Although the artists are drawn from galleries all over town, the tone is distinctly St. Claude Avenue, and while the experimental gallery scene there had been fermenting for some time, Cameron’s Prospect.1 was the jolt that brought a lot of the new spaces up to speed at this time last year. Consequently, it's hard to view Karoline Schleh's poetic collages and modified stereopticon images and not feel nostalgic for the superb group show that opened at the Universal building last autumn. Schleh's new work builds on that series. This Is You is a stereopticon view of a little girl whose head turns into a bird in the otherwise identical twin image, effectively transforming it into a 3-D souvenir view of a dreamlike parallel universe.
Generic Art Solutions — Tony Campbell and Matt Vis—are represented by their video screen portraits of themselves as roman emperors, ghostly white marble-like heads seemingly set in stone. But look closely: they blink. (A cautionary metaphor for empire?)  Another Good Children co-conspirator, Stephen Collier, has photo portraits of a biker and a businessman with heads covered with Silly String. Like much postmodernism, this is all about surface effects, “instantaneity” and mass media and, you know, stuff like that. Michelle Levine’s social realist paintings of McDonald’s Golden Arches ravaged by Katrina’s winds make a related point but with a more tragically meaningful twist. But Brad Benischek, of the Antenna gallery, gives us a vast, room-size installation of nasty childlike drawings with oddly Charles Bukowski-esque scrawled texts, above, all of which builds on his visceral Midwestern Expressionist rap sheet with notable verve. Like much of this, David Sullivan’s Sunset Refinery video had been previously shown on St. Claude, but it really does warrant multiple viewings. Not everything does, but if you’ve never seen any of it before, Hot might come as a revelation.  ~Eric Bookhardt
Sunset Refinery (still) by David Sullivan
HOT UP HERE: New Work by New Orleans Artists
Through December
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528.3805; www.cacno.org

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Peretti at Bienvenu through November


    "Intimate, beautiful, disturbing," such are the adjectives applied to the work of Sibylle Peretti, whose visions of children convey a quietly mysterious other world. Like a parallel universe, Peretti-world is part dream and part fairy tale, but it also resonates a certain reality that we sense without knowing exactly what it is, at least not at first. A native of Germany who resides most of the year in New Orleans but keeps an apartment in Cologne, Peretti has long been inspired by children who lived with circumstances that caused them to have to establish their own unique relationships with the world, especially the natural world of the “feral children” who inspired her current body of work. While the idea of children raised by wolves and wild creatures is hardly new, having served as the basis for much traditional mythology, Peretti’s approach is more psychological, invoking perhaps the prehistory of human consciousness, those deeply subconscious dreams or memories of a more mystical union with nature that latently reside within us all.
    The works on view are a mixture of freestanding porcelain sculptures, etched translucent wall panels, and glass raindrop-shaped wall sculptures, all depicting children seemingly in a state of suspended animation if not repose. Otherworldly and dreamlike, their presence is somnambulistic, charismatically quiescent as they relate to each other or to birds, vines and brambles, the flora and fauna of the natural landscape. Like her earlier series of “silent children,” inspired by the haunting expressions seen in photographs of youngsters in antique German medical texts, they explore the hidden side of childhood, a complex, contemplative world of dreams, imaginings and gestures. Of the earlier series, Peretti said "They represent innocence, but also a kind of knowing, yet they cannot really say what they know so they speak their own wordless language." Much the same might be said of these “feral children,” whose silence hints at the delicate relationship between human civilization and the remaining wildness that lingers around us, and within us. ~Eric Bookhardt
            
THE UNUSUAL KIND: Mixed Media Works by Sibylle Peretti
Through November
Gallery Bienvenu, 518 Julia St., 525-0518; www.gallerybienvenu.com

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seen on St. Claude

At Good Children Through November 8: 
Spontaneous Human Combustion by Srdjan Loncar  
Watch Your Step by Adrian Price 



View More: Seen on St. Claude

What Would a New Orleans Motorcycle Look Like?

The passing of former gov. Dave Treen was a poignant moment because he was a reminder of an earlier breed of Republicans--honorable men of traditional values and who mostly conducted themselves with dignity and circumspection.

But what I always found most interesting was his former family business: the Simplex Motorcycle company, which was based in New Orleans from 1925 until it folded in 1960, although you could still spot them occasionally into the 1980s. As the article below mentions, it was the only motorcycle made in the South.
Read More: What Would a New Orleans Motorcycle Look Like?

Seen at Antenna

Through November 8:
Deep. Down. Dirty: An Exploration of Southern Female Sexuality 
Curated by Robin Atkinson
Junk N' Juce by Helen Maurene Cooper
View More:  Seen at Antenna

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monica Zeringue at Heriard-Cimino, Saskia Ozols Eubanks at Christensen

Monica Zeringue has for some time intrigued art buffs with enigmatic, surreal and meticulous drawings of little girls wearing little more than their undies as they pursue dreamlike pastimes. Despite their tender age, their sensuality seemed almost adult or even suggestive—but of what? In her new show, the drawings are larger and on linen, yet just as precise, and her girls, now pubescent, are still in their undies. Zeringue says they are all images of herself—or selves—at that age, which sounds more ordinary than this stuff looks. Clearly, this is the twilight zone of child portraiture.
    In WARM, above, a girl is curled up on a mattress, snug as a bug in a cocoon of her own hair, wrapped around her and hanging over the side like a blanket. In ARC, top, several seem to float on top of each other in a human chain that forms an arch hovering over a mattress in what must be the most decorous out-of-body experience imaginable. Not content to defy ordinary expectations, they also defy most laws of physics. What does it all mean? The tone is Kafkaesque with hints of Bunuel, which is to say claustrophobic and surreal. There is also a distinct, if subliminal, Catholic girls school vibe. Here Zeringue probes the far regions of the subconscious imagination in meticulously crafted works that will resonate differently with different viewers. Wondrously obsessive, it’s kind of great, if profoundly eccentric, work.    
    Many of Saskia Ozols Eubanks’ classical yet gestural paintings are mysterious and mystical if not transformational. Inspired by Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES, their diffuse, poetic washes of paint depict crows, horses, heroes and even a birth of Venus with a post-Katrina waterline, all seemingly in a state of near mythic transition. Her still life paintings are smaller, deftly traditional, and typically gorgeous. Taken together, these contrasting series of paintings offer two approaches to the poetics of timelessness.
~Eric Bookhardt    
GATHERINGS: New Works by Monica Zeringue
Through October
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525.7300; www.heriard-cimino.com

METAMORPHOSES: Paintings by Saskia Ozols Eubanks
Through October
Soren Christensen Gallery, 400 Julia St. 569-9501; www.sorengallery.com

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Perelli at d.o.c.s., Schwab at CoLAB

Nature gives and nature takes away. Weather and wild animals have always caused people to seek shelter, and the botanical world has often provided it along with food and medicine. The "Leaves of Grass" references in the work of Whitman and the Bible refer to the common vulnerabilities of people and plants, and now some recent works by two New Orleans artists visually extend the metaphor. Keith Perelli is known for virtuoso painterly illusionism, but in this show he demonstrates admirable command of the notoriously fickle medium of monotypes as well as some larger and more elaborate collages. All feature the human form and found objects, especially leaves. In BROKEN, above, the noble head on a dude with braided hair tops off a body more like a husk of leaves, paint and litter. Bisected down the middle, his torso is stitched in a futile effort to make him whole again. In Y, right, a female nude with a Nefertiti profile and leafy limbs poses in a space that blurs the boundary between inside and outside, and here Perelli melds the patterning of the botanical and the human realms to suggest a healing elemental chrysalis. (Click to expand images.)

Ann Schwab has long explored the healing potential of the plant kingdom in her photography-based mixed media concoctions. Her delicate assemblages of wing-like maple seeds bound with thread to an encaustic base are visual parables of the tension between action and the quiescent repose of regeneration. It’s a theme that recurs in various works that pristinely pair broken limbs with verdant growth in a metaphor for trauma and regeneration in the plant kingdom. But Schwab takes a turn toward the wet and wild in her ULTRASOUND series of photographs of dramatically glowing jellyfish accompanied by a recorded sound loop of a child’s foetal heartbeat in the womb, a visual ode to the ocean as the amniotic sea from which earthly life was born. ~Eric Bookhardt
PURE: Photographic Mixed Media Works by Ann Schwab
Through October
CoLAB Projects, 527 St. Joseph St., 566.8999; www.colabprojects.com

MONOTYPES: Recent Work by Keith Perelli
Through Dec. 3
d.o.c.s. gallery, 709 Camp St., 524-3936; www.docsgallery.com

If True, this is, maybe, kind of, Great News:

"The plug was pulled, but life went on -- invigorating life. There might not be a new movement, per se, but there are radically adjusted mind-sets. Fear of form, color and physicality are diminishing. Previously forbidden methodologies are reemerging: pours, patterns, laminations, complex (even mystical) counting systems, obsessive mark-making and surface manipulation, suggestions of still life, digital motifs, even trompe l’oeil. Artists are --hallelujah! -- finally tiring of recycling Warhol and Richter and are instead investigating the handmade, and how irony and sincerity can coexist." Read More: A New Kind of Boom by Jerry Saltz


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tony Fitzpatrick at AMMO

He’s been called a “master printmaker," but he's also a poet, actor and inveterate gadabout. And when it comes to gallivanting, his favored stomping grounds are his old hometown of Chicago and his occasional home of New Orleans, where he attunes himself to the poetry of the streets, the scents of his favorite restaurants and the sounds of certain music clubs. A mystic of all things sensate, he poses a triple threat with notes about his collages as hypnotic as the graphics themselves. Then there are the poetic texts within the images, hieroglyphic arrangements of memories and observations, or deadpan analogies stacked like tombstones on the peripheries.
(Click on images for expanded view.)
THE DEVIL’S MUSIC, top, is one of a series of small collages dedicated to the arcane symbolism of the number nine, that digital talisman of eluded limits and lives lived on the edge. Here a tawny 9 shines in a nocturnal sea of symbols, of floating music notes and metallic deco diamonds, of the lassos of cardboard cowboys and dice coming up snake eyes. Vintage high-rise towers and ads for flapper-era cafes vie with the visual cacophony of the city as an unsettling message appears on the margin: “SHE HEARD; ROLLING PIANO JAZZ; AND THE DEVIL SAT DOWN AT HER TABLE.” His notes invoke the “greasy laugh” of an old friend who once warned: “Tread lightly brother, you and me are already on our 9th life…” But in CANNERY ROW SCARECROW, his tribute to Steinbeck, above, the verse in the margin reads: "HE SLEPT ON MONTEREY BEACH AND DREAMT OF DEVILFISH GLOWING IN BLACKWATER SCHOOLS OF SARDINES. HE DREAMT OF GIN AND PUSSY AND WATER POURING FROM THE STARS."

THE QUEEN OF PINK ACID, right, is more ominous: an ebony elephant sporting a golden crown and a party dress with crimson hearts over her breasts. An electric mauve No. 9 shimmers before her as bouquets of daisies and the detached arms of antebellum damsels float in an ether of skulls and diamonds. A disembodied text implores: “YES BABY, I BEEN TO THE RIVER. NOW TAKE ME TO THE DANCE.” And here we enter a cryptic realm where Charles Baudelaire meets Marie Laveau, and where the siren song beckons, but where only those with lives to spare dare tread.
~Eric Bookhardt

No. 9: AN ARTIST'S JOURNEY: New Work by Tony Fitzpatrick
Through Oct. 15
AMMO Gallery, 938 Royal St., 301-2584; www.ammoarts.com

Interview: Jessica Lange on Photography

An Interview with Jessica Lange
by D. Eric Bookhardt

“Up until about two or three years ago I didn’t show my photographs to anyone,” said Jessica Lange, revealing something of the reticence that is an essential if unlikely aspect of her persona. Poised and sleek at 60, she seems almost shy surrounded by her pictures at A Gallery for Fine Photography, as if still adjusting to her new role as an exhibited and published photographer. In some ways it harks to her early days as a fledgling documentary filmmaker in New York, where she did modeling jobs to pay the bills until she was discovered by veteran producer Dino de Laurentiis, who cast her as the female lead in his remake of KING KONG in 1976. Several decades and many acting credits and awards later, she seems a little disconcerted, as if it is she who is revealed in her moody, understated and often nocturnal images, and not simply her subjects. In fact, it is this unusually subtle, almost vulnerable quality that imbues her work with its poetic aura. How it all came about is a uniquely personal story that began in 1992 with a gift from her longtime partner, the noted playwright, actor and author, Sam Shepard. Read More: http://insideinsideart.blogspot.com/

Meghan McCain Uses Warhol as Foil for Self-Exposure

Filed Under "Threats" at Wonkette:

Read More, Click Link:
 The Concept Of “Meghan McCain” Reaches Its Natural And Necessary Conclusion

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bartlett at the Ogden Museum

If you haven't already seen Bo Bartlett's paintings at the Ogden Museum, by all means go. Even if you remain skeptical, as I did, it’s a show worth seeing simply on its merits as a visual spectacle. Bartlett’s vivid canvases are larger than life in almost every way. An occasional filmmaker who once produced a documentary about his mentor, Andrew Wyeth, he might also owe a debt to Cecil B. DeMille. Entering the Ogden’s fifth floor gallery is like going to a multiplex theater where dramatic, if stationary, narratives cover theater-size expanses of wall space. As with DeMille, not everything is convincing but his dramatic flair is never in doubt.
Born in Georgia, in 1955, Bartlett is a product of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Pennsylvania visual arts tradition in general, a largely realist legacy that harks to the epic 18th century history paintings of Benjamin West as well as the folksier Wyeth and varieties of magic realism. Elements of all three appear here. Some canvases from the 1980s suggest soft focus Wyeth, but in later works the light gets colder and more dramatic, etching down-home hunting and fishing scenes in the portentous luminosity of the northern renaissance.

Bartlett waxes mythic in works like LEVIATHAN, top, a beach scene where two guys slice open a whale to reveal a recumbent dude reminiscent of a Calvin Klein ad as two kids look on. Rendered in muted tones under a Nordic sky, this actually sort of works. But CIVIL WAR, below, is way over the top, a vast hallucinatory tableau with a zoned-out Southern Belle holding a dying black man in a renaissance-martyr pose in front of a copiously melting snowdrift. The figures suggest Hollywood Central Casting while the landscape suggests an Icelandic geological survey, and it’s all so zany it makes Salvador Dali look like a social realist. Yet even here, Bartlett gives us something weirdly remarkable to gawk at, such is his facility with the dramatic power of paint. ~Eric Bookhardt
Bo Bartlett: PAINTINGS: 1984--2000 (Click image for expanded view)
Through December
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600; www.ogdenmuseum.org
Email:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sandra Russell Clark at Loyola's Diboll Gallery

Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s big stuff and sometimes it’s not, but stuff always happens. As jarring as stuff can be, the tricky part may not even be what happened, but how we deal with it. In the art world, as in the rest of the city, recent history is divided into pre-K and post-K, and artists, like most folks, are still dealing with it. Sometimes we wonder if there will ever be an end to all the Katrina-related art exhibitions, but this may not really be the most pertinent question. The real issue, for artists and others alike is: where are we now, and how are we dealing with it?

Sandra Russell Clark has for ages been a photographer of trees and landscapes, sensually ethereal views of misty gardens and windswept Gulf Coast vistas that reflect her own impressionistic, neo-romantic approach. A New Orleans native and longtime Bay St. Louis resident, Clark endured the ultimate photographic nightmare when Katrina’s tidal surge claimed the negatives that were a large part of her life’s work. Her new digital photographs on view at Loyola are very different from anything she has done in the past. A colorful series of portraits of little dolls and figurines rescued from the storm rubble, there is little that suggests hurricanes—at first. Look again, and we see that while a Shoney’s BIG BOY figurine came through unscathed, a LONELY RANGER’s uniform, top, looks like he got into a fight with Smokey the Bear. And a SAMMI DOLL, above, in a blue chiffon gown appears to suffer the ravages of PTSD as she reclines in an unkempt daze. She looks like she might have benefited from the mental health services of that Adolescent Hospital the Jindal administration is moving to Mandeville. But maybe she should receive counseling from the pudgy good luck BUDDHA figurine dispensing advice over a telephone. When the state pulls the plug, a hot line to enlightenment may be just what the doctor ordered. ~Eric Bookhardt
JUJU: Recent Photographs by Sandra Russell Clark
Through Oct. 23
Collins Diboll Gallery, Loyola U., 6363 St. Charles Ave., 865-2186; www.loyno.edu/dibollgallery
Email:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Goldfinch at CoLAB

There are places, and not just in the Bible Belt regions of the Deep South and Midwest, where Jessica Goldfinch might be considered over the top. And it is also true that works like her statue of a visibly pregnant Virgin Mary are not likely to grace any local shrines anytime soon. Still, in a city where events like the Krewe du Vieux parade and Southern Decadence festival were hailed as proof that New Orleans had returned to “normal” after the floods of 2005, not much is considered shocking. And that’s a good thing, because it allows us to contemplate the deeper implications of her work rather than obsessing over superficialities.

Goldfinch’s HOLY CARD series is an exploration of religious, especially Roman Catholic, iconography rendered in Shrinky Dink media. Beyond saintly wonders, she also invokes modern scientific miracles in works like IMMACULATE OPEN HEART, a synthesis of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a modern surgical procedure. MOTHER OF SWORDS, above, is more Byzantine, a veiled Madonna with a Sacred Heart replete with connecting veins and arteries as well as six swords pressed to her breast all rendered like a colorful holy card, and it’s a tribute to the power of imagery that this looks more like an actual historical artifact than the speculative imaginings of a New Orleans artist. The hits keep on coming in another series that melds vintage fashion with anatomical infirmities. Here figures from a 1950s Vogue pattern book appear modified with leg or neck braces, even amputated limbs as seen in ENVY, and lest this be taken for some campy schadenfreude, it should be noted that Goldfinch herself endured a cardiac birth defect that went undiagnosed for 34 years despite frequent trips to the emergency room. Like the saints of yore, she relates to the suffering of others. Whether salvation is finally experienced in the form of divine or man-made miracles is ultimately a matter best left to the metaphysical proclivities of the beholder.

Jessica Goldfinch: HOLY CARDS AND OTHER VERSIONS OF MORTALITY
Through Sept. 27
CoLAB Projects, 527 St. Joseph St., 566-8999; www.colabprojects.com