Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Brown-Green & Saratoga Collections at the Ogden

The Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection, one of the first major donations to the Ogden Museum after its inception, captures much of the spirit of New Orleans art from the sixties through the nineties. Many top artists were emerging when tech entrepreneur Michael Brown and his spouse, Linda Green, discovered them, and this expo offers a glimpse into their slow brew process of connoisseurship. It's also nostalgic. Few artists epitomize the wacky visionary side of Nola art more than the late Noel Rockmore, and the small sample here complements his haunting PRESERVATION HALL PORTRAITS mini-expo in the adjacent gallery. Then there is Peter Dean, whose carnivalesque expressionism was better received here than back home in New York. Also evident is the pervasive influence of Louisiana Imagist painters like Robert Warrens, whose I CRIED A RIVER OVER YOU manic-aquatic interior seascape, above right, compares with anything produced by the Chicago Imagists. Similarly, Fred Trenchard's quirky 1970s Imagist paintings neatly encapsulate the tenor of the times. While there is much interesting work on view, it was especially nostalgic to once again peruse the New American Scene paintings of Justin Forbes, who after a post-Katrina week in the Superdome landed in Denton, Texas, where he remains. His 1990s Nola hipster canvases like ROAD TRIP, pictured, are lushly executed evocations of the period, like a latter day Jack Kerouac worldview on canvas.

     The Saratoga Collection, curated by Terrence Sanders for Marcel Wisznia's Saratoga Building project, focuses on edgy and urbane imagery. The 41 mostly emerging artists are mostly associated with the St. Claude arts district and comprise a surprisingly cohesive mix ranging from Rex Dingler's red splattered "Somewhere in the City this Blood is Real" stenciled sign-painting to Generic Art Solutions' fluorescent "OK" wall sculpture. There are also a number of photographs, videos and some more painterly mixed media pieces and canvases such as Robin Durand's pop-baroque Tide piece above, but most works convey a graphic edge that is as passionately opinionated as the city that inspired them. ~Bookhardt 
Click Here for Interview: Michael Brown on Collecting 
The Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection, Through Jan. 2
The Saragoga Collection of 41 New Orleans Artists, Through Dec. 15
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600,