Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cold Drink Print Invitational at Du Mois

Who can resist a high art event sponsored by a beer company? Print making is an ancient and noble endeavor going back to at least the 5th century if not before, but the Du Mois Gallery is located in a converted shotgun house on Freret Street, far from the Julia, St. Claude or Magazine Street art districts, and that's a good thing. Artists and galleries are probably the most effective tools for urban renewal known to man, and anything that can make the Freret corridor seem hip and happening is welcome indeed. And if Abita Beer flows at the opening, so much the better. The show itself is a grab bag appropriate to a space with a democratic persona, and if there is no unifying theme, there are at least some intriguing, sometimes thought provoking, works to be seen. Aaron McNamee's  GAGA RIG print, above, of a sultry looking Lady Gaga juxtaposed with an offshore oil platform raises questions, like, what's the connection? Beyond the fact that the pop diva's CDs are made from plastic, a petroleum derivative, what this points to is not just the commodification of sex appeal but also the sex appeal of high profit commodities like oil, a big time commodity fetish. A retort of sorts is seen in Julia Samuels' IOWA HAS IT FIGURED OUT, a nearly 8 foot wide relief print like a German expressionist vision of a wind farm replete with spiky turbines and high tension towers amid a spidery web of wires. Techno-pop symbology also appears in Don Maitland's print pastiche of engraved acoustic musical instruments and archaic audio devices punctuated by planes, rockets and razzmatazz in a hieroglyphic scroll of jazz era alchemy, above right (detail). The party continues in Amanda Turpen's SUNDAY DINNER, below left, relief print of some well dressed alligators feasting on a cow carcass in a setting reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury group in London. And while Freret is in no danger of becoming Bloomsbury anytime soon, the Du Mois Gallery is a step in the right direction. ~Bookhardt 
COLD DRINK: Printmaking Invitational Group Exhibition
Through August 6, Du Mois Gallery, 4921 Freret St., 504-818-6032