Sunday, May 30, 2010

William Greiner and Warrington Colescott at NOMA


 It's been said that "the ordinary becomes extraordinary" in the color photographs of William Greiner, and that is both true and not. For while the places he photographs are fundamentally ordinary, his ironic vision reveals that there is really more to it than that. SPORT PALACE is a nocturnal view of a vaguely Deco Jefferson Highway eatery, but the crimson reflections of its neon sign in a puddle in the parking lot looks as eerie as a scene from a Raymond Chandler or Barry Gifford novel. Even so, most of these places simply are what they are--or maybe more so. For instance, MALTS is a jazzy, colorful composition featuring a faded fossil of fast food joint from the era of cars with big fins, while LONDON LODGE depicts a fabulous fifties motel rising like a mirage just past a huge sinkhole in the adjacent street like the gaping maw of an apocalyptic landscape. Here Greiner takes us down the lost highways of the American Dream to places that once embodied progress but over time became elegiac outposts and poetic reliquaries for the pop-cultural curiosities of the past.


     Although born in California and based in Wisconsin for nearly 40 years, Warrington Colescott’s Creole roots are showing in this SUITE LOUISIANA print series at NOMA. Indeed, the 89 year-old artist’s New Orleans lineage as is apparent in these flamboyantly colorful intaglio prints depicting scenes from Louisiana history. AUDUBON IN THE ATCHAFALAYA has the artist-naturalist spying on graceful egrets as Cajuns and raccoons scarf down crawfish along the bayous. THE CITY DEFEATED, OCCUPIED, WOMEN BEHAVE BADLY illustrates our Civil War era damsels mooning the Union troops, while other images depict epochal events like STORYVILLE--THE LAST SALON, above, and Huey Long’s assassination. Nearly as teeming with characters and sub-plots as HBO’s TREME TV series, they illustrate the bravura technique of a master printer who has a lot to say and doesn’t let his age get in his way.  ~Bookhardt
FALLEN PARADISE & LAND'S END: Photographs by William Greiner
SWEET SUITE LOUISIANA: Intaglio Prints by Warrington Colescott
Through July 11
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 658-4100; www.noma.org