Sunday, December 16, 2012

PhotoNOLA at the Ogden Museum, the Octavia Gallery and the Staple Goods Gallery

PhotoNOLA is the New Orleans Photo Alliance's big annual event, and although its official festivities only last for a few days, many of its over 50 photography exhibitions extend through December, some  through January. (See for the list.) It's too much for most people to see, but an exhibit of prints by Photo Alliance members at the Ogden Museum provides a useful  sampler. Most of the work is consistently interesting, but the edgy, art history inspired collaborative pieces by Epaul Julien and Elizabeth Kleinveld can be startling. Their emblematic Ode to Van Eyck's Arnolfini Marriage, above left, is mostly true to the renaissance original but with a modern multicultural twist. While you're there be sure to check out the splendiferously sprawling Louviere + Vanessa retrospective, including such fantastical works as Mare Nubium, below.

 A different interplay of past and present appears in the Octavia Gallery's Contemporary Antiques expo where local masters of archaic photographic techniques such as Debbie Fleming Caffery, David Halliday, Josephine Sacabo and Euphus Ruth share space with literally hundreds of Instagram photos arranged salon style, covering the walls. These works offer a contrast between the instant gratification of digital technology and the aura of depth and presence associated with the much slower and more labor intensive photo techniques of the past, as we see in David Halliday's Cicada:

Photography was originally seen as an alternative to painting, which the soft focus lenses of the 19th century often suggested, but in more modern times paintings became much sharper, sometimes abstract or photographic. Lake Newton's Painter's Choice series of abstract photographs at Staple Goods blurs the boundaries between the brush and the lens. Photographs with minimal titles like Baltimore, Palermo or Memphis often possess the mysterious presence of cyphers that playfully link photographic immediacy to the legacies of modernist painters in a circular continuum of influence. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Contemporary Antiques: Curated by Franke Relle, Through Jan. 5, Octavia Art Gallery, 4532 Magazine St., 309-4249;  Currents: Group Exhbition by New Orleans Photo Alliance members, Through Jan. 6, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600, ; Painters' Choice: Photographs by Lake Newton, Saturdays, Sundays Through Jan. 6, Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331.
(Left: Baltimore by Lake Newton)