Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gina Phillips: The Call of the Alluvial Empire at Delgado; Crime Scene Nola: New Crime Photographs at Antenna

You might call this a high concept show that celebrates the swampy lowlands of South Louisiana. “The Call of the Alluvial Empire” was the title of a pamphlet put out in 1919 to attract labor to the region. In fact, waves of immigrants had already arrived only to deal with the inundating waves of hurricanes as well as the meandering Mississippi and other rivers that until relatively recently had a bad habit of suddenly changing course. Gina Phillips' obsessively stitched fabric paintings make up an impressionistic slice of life in a region where the tides never rest. SALVAGE OPERATION depicts a cutaway view of the Mississippi with docks and bridges above as a deep-sea diver below pokes through a watery graveyard of junk and sunken ships, long lost houses and even the remains of formerly buried British casualties in the War of 1812 who were swept under when the river changed course. Other scenes such as ROGUE WAVE, top, and THE ARROW OF TIME IS A LIE, above left (detail), are more bucolic, but all comprise a series of narrative paintings skillfully cobbled from colored thread in a spate of flamboyant embroidery.

    CRIME SCENE NOLA features documentary images by local photographers Deborah Luster, Amanda Clifford, Jarrid Clinkenbeard, Michelle Kowalski and Jason Prowell. Of particular interest is the work of Deborah Luster, whose eerie, large format, circular photographs of murder sites take up most of the main gallery space. These relatively desolate interiors and exteriors were photographed some time after the stunned neighbors, bereaved relatives and of course the body of the victim, typically riddled with bullets, have all departed, leaving nothing but the mute emptiness that hangs over such places like a pall. A related monograph is forthcoming from Twin Palms Publishers. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit the production of the documentary "Murder Through the Eyes of a Child," which examines the violence faced by this city's young people on a daily basis. Scrub Brush Productions teamed up with seven local teens to document their lives and unique perspectives, to show a reality that is not widely known or understood by the general population, and to find ways to stop the violence. For more information contact Scrub Brush Productions at
THE CALL OF THE ALLUVIAL EMPIRE: New Fabric Art by Gina Phillips
Through September
Isaac Delgado Gallery, 615 City Park Ave., 361-6620;
CRIME SCENE NOLA: Photographs Reflecting Social Pathologies
Through October 3
Antenna Gallery, 3161 Burgundy St, 250-7975;