Friday, June 29, 2012

L.A.'s MOCA Fires Schimmel: A Coup by Modern Borgia Eli Broad to Benefit His Own Rival Broad Museum?

"If Moca is downsized into a celebrity circus, it will give the blue chip Broad Museum (left) across the street more Gravitas. And then of course when MOCA is broke yet again -- who will save MOCA by buying the best paintings in the collection because the museum is more concerned with event programming? The Broad Museum, of course." More>>

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Deris & Schleh at Staple Goods; Stokes at Parse

Once, not long ago, visual art was mostly seen but not heard, while performances were much louder and occurred on a stage. Now visual art may include performances, although two shows about town take different approaches to that end. Karoline Schleh and Christopher Deris' Bobbery expo looks very domestic, with a dining room table set for dinner and Chippendale cabinets bristling with curiosities including lots of Schleh's drawings and modified Victorian graphics and such. All are very quiet until a  crank or switch is flipped, and then they suddenly whirl and pirouette like a mechanical version of the Mad Hatter's tea party, all of which is aptly described by the title, Bobbery, a Victorian synonym for “hubbub.” Deris' gear and pulley mechanisms also look Victorian, animated perhaps by the ghost of Rube Goldberg, as they compel even the most quiescent of media to perform for us.

Quiet is far from the case at Parse, where Wesley Stokes' Caligula paintings and videos appear on the walls, while on the floor some little broken busts and concrete shards suggest a mini-imperial ruin. A series of sound performances by Philip Kruse, Philippe Andre Landry, Justin Benoit and Michael Jeffrey Lee, as well as a performance by Chicago artist Elija Burgher about occult symbolism, rounded out the schedule. Using the crazy and cruelly decadent legacy of Roman emperor Caligula as a foil, Stokes suggests multiple connections between the classical world and the present in stark abstract canvases rendered in asphalt that suggest scorched earth while harking to Rauschenberg's black paintings and Brassai's graffiti photographs. Curated by John Otte, Caligula employs dusky videos of dive bars, sinister figures and eerie soundtracks to round out an intermingling of the raw and the refined in an installation that slowly reveals its Plutonic essence while suggesting the power of decadence as well as the decadence of power.~Bookhardt

Bobbery: Mixed Media Sculpture by Christopher Deris and Karoline Schleh, Saturdays and Sundays through July 8, Staple Goods Gallery, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331

Caligula: Paintings and Mixed Media works by Wesley Stokes, Wednesday--Saturday Through June 29, Parse Gallery, 134 Carondelet St.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Two Faces of Andy Warhol

At last someone noticed. There is a huge difference between the Warhol of the 1960s--the great visual poet of pop--and the post-1960s shallow huckster Warhol who set the tone for Richard Prince, Jeff Koons and all that is wrong with so much of the money-obsessed contemporary art world.

16 Jackies, 1964
 "...Since his death, critics and curators have revealed more and more that is impressive about Warhol. He really did, at his best, have an extraordinary vision of modern life. But the Warhol redemption has reached saturation point. You can feel that in the current Hayward Gallery exhibition, Invisible, in which the weakest (works) just seem glib. Even... by the end of the 60s, Warhol is churning out print runs that recreate his early Campbell's soup paintings. The sweet pedantry of the originals is replaced by glossy production values and easy money. The desire to exploit his own fame is not even concealed. Here we start to see Bad Andy, the source of so much that is cynical and empty in the art of today."  More>>

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Blindsided"--CAC Crisis Foretold, Part of Pattern

In her article Blindsided? CAC New Orleans and Organizational Crises in the Art World that appeared in the Texas art blog Glasstire two days ago, Claire Ruud reflected on an article she had written last year that raised warning flags about the CAC's financial straits. In Blindsided she says: "...among all nine of the organizations I considered, CAC New Orleans stood out for the dangerous picture painted by its financial data. At the time, I wrote that the CAC’s numbers 'freak me out....' So, there were no surprises regarding the CAC’s particularly troubling financial situation when artists removed their work to protest an exhibition’s temporary closure for rental purposes and the director resigned, prompting Gambit’s thorough coverage of the signs of mismanagement that have been visible at the CAC over the past couple of years..." More>> Newspaper Killer Ricky Mathews' Latest and Most Outrageous Falsehood:

“About 20 percent of adults in this market don’t get their news and information from our website,” Mathews told the crowd. “Everybody else does. Number One website in New Orleans. Number One news and information site in the state of Louisiana.”

It is disturbing when newspaper publishers, even newly minted ones, say things that are obviously untrue. Does anyone seriously believe that 80% of the population of New Orleans gets its news from the clunkiest and least coherent big city newspaper web site in the nation? Is Ricky Mathews really delusional or something worse? Read the full story by Kevin Allman: Here>> (Read it and weep--but be sure to read the comments.) More background: Here>>

Almost lost amid the T-P hoopla earlier this month was Greg Palast's great piece on how Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's old firm, shares responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout in the Gulf. The mentality behind the BP and T-P fiascoes is the same: addiction to short term profits inevitably leads to long term disasters. Read all about it: Here>>

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"You Beautiful Bitch" & Others at the Front

Lately if feels as if the dog days of summer are upon us. In the art world, summer means group shows, so the Front's You Beautiful Bitch expo in which eight female artists celebrate their animal partners seems only apropos. Women and their pets is a complicated theme, but here we see some new views of the  archetypal essence of dogness. Lee Deigaard's Bitch, You Confound features a head shot of a mutt in an electric moment of epiphany, as if the secret inner meaning of bone burying and crotch sniffing had just been revealed in a flash of canine enlightenment. Natalie McLaurin's video, He Needs Me, depicts the artist, head and shoulders partially buried in her yard, as her dog circumnambulates her torso in a chthonic dramatization the deeper meanings of love and dirt. Mythic riffs abound in Monica Zeringue's eerily bejeweled wolverine head piece, even as Kathy High's trans-species wall projection of Cat's Eyes beamed through a fish bowl reminds us that felines can be bitchy too. But hey, that's what pets are for: to console us and make us crazy.

In the next gallery, Claire Rau's Permission installation features apocryphal furniture parts leaning inexplicably against a wall. Replacing  Duchamp's “readymades” with improbable hand made objects, Rau quietly yet provocatively questions the meaning of art, craft and aesthetics itself. In Nicole Jean Hill's Artifacts and Incidents landscape photographs, some sculpturally bullet-riddled beer cans--and the skin of a gutted deer seemingly deep in sleep--slyly undermine on our preconceptions of truth and beauty. But Jan Gilbert's 30 Years wall documentation of her own public art projects is a compendium of graphic art about her public art, a visual archive in which a room becomes a monumental resume', a time capsule of an epoch. Meanwhile, in the back yard, Gilbert and Babette Beaullieu's flapping “Cajun” prayer flags seem to celebrate the passing of life's (hurricane) seasons. ~Bookhardt


You Beautiful Bitch: Group Show Curated by Lee Diegaard; Works by Claire Rau and Nicole Jean Hill, Jan Gilbert and Babette Beaullieu Saturdays and Sundays through July 8, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980

Dan Tague Gets Tagged by The West Collection

New Orleans artist Dan Tague's Live Free or Die was  chosen out of over 2,500 international artists's works for the West Collection's "West Collects Artists of 2012," and will be featured in their fall exhibition in Oaks, PA. His reaction to the West acquisition was surprise. “I was so excited...” More>>

Friday, June 15, 2012

Texas Critic: St. Claude's Stephen Kwok "Sincere"

A thoughtful review by Carrie Schneider via Glasstire

"...In Focus, in which Kwok takes a walk about, hammer in hand, camera focused on hammer. The ground blurs past in repeated concrete patterns, cracks, sediment, pebbles -- all become a kind of white noise, at times transcendentally lovely. I watched “Focus” through more than twice, and after twenty minutes I had some real dissociating moments with that hammer, the way when you repeat a word over and over again it becomes unfamiliar. I kept thinking “If all you have is hammer every problem looks like a nail.” I can’t tell if Kwok is deliberately working with clichéd sayings in his videos in the same way he uses clichéd materials in his sculptures and clichéd images in his prints, but I couldn’t get them out of my head..."  More>>

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ArtPlace awards $1.5 Million in Grants to St. Claude and Treme Arts Non-Profits

ArtPlace, which supports neighborhood revitalization projects driven by arts and cultural initiatives, has given $1.5 million dollars in a recent round of grants. The St. Claude Main Street and Civic Center has received $275,000 in order to “develop unused warehouse spaces into studio homes for artists,” as well as funding projects that bring together artists and local residents and to promote area galleries. Meanwhile, $250,000 has been directed to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, which will use the funding to renovate a nineteenth-century building in Treme into a center for indigenous arts. Finally, the nonprofit developer Artspace received $1 million to convert an unused school campus into a site for education and the arts. The new building will include seventy-three units of live-work space for low-income artist families. More>>

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Newhouse to New Orleans: Get Lost!

Simulated laughing simian Steve Newhouse, New Orleans' Public Enemy Number One, lays it on the line: “We have no intention of selling no matter how much noise there is out there.” Of course he's not going to sell, the longtime Newhouse vassal press known as the Times-Picayune has always been a cash cow. It is  profitable still, just not as profitable as it once was. To Staten Island based Newhouse, who obviously hates New Orleans, the message is clear: gut its great news department, print it only on its three most profitable days, and make it  subservient to the nation's worst newspaper web site,, a wart on the world wide web. Never mind that the city and its business leaders made it clear that the TP must be published daily or be sold to a publisher who will. To laughing Steve, the city that has lined his pockets forever doesn't count. Nice. Off with his... More>> 

The Times Picayune reports on being butchered alive by its criminally insane owner as stunned staffers and citizens watch in horror: More>>

"Ricky Go Home! Print the Picayune every day or sell it to somebody who will." New website aims to run Newhouse hired gun publisher Ricky Mathews out of town on a rail: More>>

A great Atlantic piece on the Newhouse plot to destroy the T-P: Here

A polite showdown on PBS NewsHour pits T-P editor Jim Amoss against NY Times' media correspondent David Carr: Here

New Orleans civic and business leaders slam T-P cutbacks: More>> 

Three Day Times-Pic "Unsustainable"--Warren Buffett--More>>

Save the Times-Picayune: Sign the petition at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cubans at Octavia, Identity at Heriard-Cimino

It is tempting to say that Cuba is a state of mind. Although much divides that nation's citizens from the expatriate community in this country, there is a certain sensibility that pervades Cuban art regardless of where it was made--a surreal quality that harks to the Caribbean cultural milieu melded with a Cuban dash drama, as we see in this Inside/Outside expo. Havana painter Reuben Rodriguez Martinez, top, is the biggest surprise. Although his abstract and earth toned nudes hark in some ways to Miro and Picasso, they also reflect a Caribbean sensibility that melds surrealism and the spirit realm into a distinctly Cuban visual milieu. Spirits of a more concrete sort are suggested in Victoria Montoro Zamorano's photographs of moldering old buildings in Havana, where the antique baroque architecture leavened with centuries of decay yields some decidedly ghostly vistas. Throw in some amazingly colorful people and a sense of time traveling street theater is pervasive. The varied, if  decorous, works of Ruben Alpizar, Jose Choy and Luisa Mesa round out this exotic grab bag of a show.

The Identity expo at Heriard-Cimino features a multinational mixed menu of work including the large photographs of Carlos Betancourt, above, a Miami artist of Cuban ancestry. Here psychedelic images of exotic men and women in the throes of bizarre shamanic rites--a conceptual cocktail of psychotropic flights of fancy--cast a spell that is spooky yet intriguing, and a colorful contrast to the solitary example of Cuban expatriate painter Jose Bedia's more austere Santeria inspired work. But the paintings of Mexican artist Carlos Villasante explore the inner recesses of the “identity” theme even as Nola painter  Sharon Jacques' canvases take us across the globe to the strangest encounter of all: Islamic traditions and pop culture, below. All of these works suggest  how some things remain the same even in an age of perpetual change. ~Bookhardt

Inside/Outside: Contemporary Cuban Art by Luisa Mesa, Victoria Montoro Zamorano, Jose Antonio Choy and Ruben Rodriguez Martinez, Through June 30, Octavia Art Gallery, 4532 Magazine St., 309-4249; ; Identity: Works by Carlos Betancourt, Sharon Jacques and Carlos Villasante, Through June 30, Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525-7300 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ray Bradbury (1920--2012) Had Our Number Long Before I-Phones, Facebook or Digital TVs

Farenheit 451, directed by Francois Truffaut, 1966

"Most of all, Ray Bradbury knew how the future would feel: louder, faster, stupider, meaner, increasingly inane and violent. Collective cultural amnesia, anhedonia, isolation. Teenagers killing one another for kicks. Grown-ups reading comic books. A postliterate populace. 'I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths,' says the fire captain in Fahrenheit 451 (a line that long presaged Advance/Newhouse's newspaper cultural genocide), written in 1953. 'No one wanted them back. No one missed them.' Civilization was drowned out and obliterated by electronic chatter... They were almost toys, to be played with, but the people got too involved, went too far, and got wrapped up in a pattern of social behavior and couldn’t get out, couldn’t admit they were in, even..."  More Here or Here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Secrets of the CAC Revealed, Sort of...

"Turmoil at the Contemporary Arts Center:  High-profile departures, membership woes and New Orleans artists in open revolt..." 

The headline spells out a double dose of trouble in boldface type. And it's hard to dispute because Gambit staff writer Charles Maldonado got most of it nailed down like a well made scaffold. So is it the whole story? Of course not, but according to Maldonado it was as much as the notoriously secretive art center would allow. The bigger picture is that under the leadership of board president Robyn Dunn Schwarz the CAC is actively addressing the deficiencies, and more from her and Strategic Plan director Allen Eskew might have painted a more positive portrait, but it does perform the useful task of itemizing what needs to be addressed, and that is always the first step toward putting any person or institution on the road to recovery. All in all, it's an oddly intriguing piece. Read all about it: Here

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Patricia Cronin at the Newcomb Gallery

It is not what you might expect from a "feminist" art show. Patricia Cronin's All Is Not Lost expo at the Newcomb gallery is in many ways like stepping into the past. All of the watercolors on the walls depict  mysterious classical sculptures that might have appeared in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Marble Fawn, but are in fact renderings of the neoclassical works of Harriet Hosmer, a successful 19th century sculptor from Massachusetts. Hosmer's legacy was overlooked by art historians perhaps because she was part of a reportedly Sapphic coterie of lady artists in Rome whose proclivities might have been too hot for earlier art historians to handle. Amounting to catalogue raisonné, or inventory of her work, Cronin's images, if sometimes ghostly, are so evocatively and deftly rendered that some almost seem to breathe, as we see in Medusa, left, whose stony gaze under serpentine locks evokes cool marble statuary even as her pert torso suggests softer and warmer stuff. The contemplative figure of the tragic nymph Oenone comes across as one of those female archetypes of unapproachable perfection, but The Fountain of Siren is a more baroque confection, with a sassy seductress above, cavorting fauns below.

The most powerful piece in the show is an actual sculpture, her slightly larger than life, white marble Memorial to a Marriage. A Hosmer-esque depiction of Cronin and her partner, Deborah Kass, embracing in bed, nude under their Carrara marble sheets, it is a full size, three quarter ton replica of the one they had installed in the Cronin-Kass plot in New York's Woodlawn Cemetery. Of course they are not remotely dead yet, but beyond making a statement about same sex couples, it also romantically affirms the finality of marriage as expressed in the line “in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Although marriage might have seemed only a remote possibility in 2002 when the original sculpture was made, Cronin and Kass were officially married in the state of New York in 2011. ~Bookhardt

Patricia Cronin: All Is Not Lost, Through June 30, Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, 865-5328;

Friday, June 1, 2012

"That Passes Between Us" at Good Children Gallery

Since it’s completion in 1979, "D-0 ARK" (acronym stands for ‘atomska ratna komanda’  – atomic war command), it was one of the largest underground facilities built in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to protect up to 350 individuals in the case of nuclear warfare. Buried deep in the side of a mountain in the town of Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has been kept untouched and functioning. Last year the bunker opened its doors to the public in an event that was announced  as  the first biennial of Contemporary Art in Bosnia and Herzegovina:  D-0 ARK Underground, No Network, curated by Branislav Dimitrijević.

That Passes Between Us revisits this ambitious curatorial project selecting some of the work exhibited in Konjic, expanding with projects that deal with reality and past of Bosnia and Herzegovina and bringing them into a dialogue with works that share mutual concerns of exploring a contemporaneity braced over the triple edge of failed political projects, utopian fictions and strategies of tomorrow. Borrowing from the bunkers pre-apocalyptic mood this exhibition focuses on terrors of military prowess – from Cold War tensions, Balkan massacres, violence, revolutions and the societies these events leave in their wake. More>>

Three Day Times-Pic "Unsustainable"--Warren Buffett

Billionaire Warren Buffett is questioning the wisdom of changes the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper plans to make this fall. Last week the Times-Picayune and three major Alabama dailies owned by the Newhouse family's Advance Publications announced plans to cut back to three printed issues a week. The newspapers will shift their focus to online news. Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway just bought 63 newspapers from Media General for $142 million, said he was surprised by the New Orleans announcement. "It seems to me that three days a week is simply unsustainable over the longer term. Either a publication is a newspaper or a periodical and I think three days a week crosses the line," Buffett said in his letter. More>>

Read Kevin Allman's in-depth coverage of Times-Picayune fiasco and its Staten Island-based owner's heinous crime against the city of New Orleans: Here