The Making of an Argument: Photography by Gordon Parks, through Jan. 5, New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 658-4100.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
What is it about painting anyway? For ages, self-styled prognosticators have pronounced painting dead, and for ages painting has not just survived but thrived, often dominating the art world. According to Artprice.com, paintings accounted for 65% of art sales in the last 12 months, more than all other media combined. Part of its appeal must surely be the versatility of this most fluid and immediate of all media. Just as our stone age ancestors used cave paintings to attune themselves to the forces of nature, today's artists use paint to explore the perplexing new realities that surround us in a digital world that is ever more connected but also more ephemeral, or even illusory. Jessica Bizer's new paintings explore what she calls "atmospheres" created by the way digital technology blurs the line between "ordinary and fantastical experience," qualities she has neatly, if ironically, evoked by the use of distinctly analog air brush techniques in conjunction with with her usual acrylic pigments. The results can range from pristinely buoyant works like Hey You, to somewhat darker realms like We're Having a Party, above, where rich wine and paisley tones hover like otherworldly life forms in search of some hedonistic fourth dimensional utopia.
The Homeland We've Never Seen: Paintings by Jessica Bizer, through Oct. 6, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427; Virtuous Reality: Paintings by Bonnie Maygarden; In the Beginning, There Was No Beginning: Installation by Carl Joe Williams, through Oct. 6, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Now in its 17th year, the annual No Dead Artists show at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery once again gives us a lot to think about. Inaugurated in 1995 for the purpose of providing an alternative open platform for artists who would prefer to be better known in their own lifetime, NDA has over the years become something of an uncanny indicator of the prevailing mood of the creative unconscious, a sampling of fresh perspectives from underexposed talents who occasionally go on to make a name for themselves with work placed in important public or private collections. This year's exhibition attracted approximately 2500 artworks submitted by over 500 artists, of which some 72 works by twenty-four artists from around the country were selected by jurors Lawrence Benenson, who serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum for African Art; Megan Koza Young, the Director of the Dishman Art Museum, and Jordana Zeldin, the Director and Curator at ArtBridge.
The Quaker by Eugene Campbell
Their 72 selections are an eclectic lot to say the least, yet if the diversity can seem a little startling at first glance, the show as whole is held together by some pervasive common threads of introspection and invention, and perhaps an incipient sense of new beginnings, as if the entire question of what constitutes visual art in the 21st century were a riddle still in the process of being unravelled.
The City Suburb in the Dark by Wenxin ZhangAnd this is probably as it should be. In an age when many of the world's most highly touted artists are increasingly perceived as the pet poodles of the one percent, and when once promising big names like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Damien Hirst are today seen as little more than toy makers for the established Wall Street and London financial elites, it may well be time to return to the basics of what makes art magical or, at least, meaningful. Considering that we are emerging from a time when critical theory had morphed into just another marketing ploy, and too many programmatic prefab concepts had made too much art too tediously predictable, perhaps the most refreshing thing about this years' NDA expo is its pervasive sense of artists going their own way, unswayed by the prevailing isms of the recent past. By taking pluralism to a new level, the show itself becomes like an enigmatic installation in its own right, one that each viewer must use her or his own intuition to decipher. Click for More>>
Sunday, September 8, 2013
It was high school marching bands that Bruce Davenport missed most after the storm, and he responded by creating vivid color marker drawings of them (see below) surrounded by mobs of spectators, a series he began when many schools were still closed. The works seen here are simple yet obsessive, as what initially resemble experimental abstractions appear as neighborhood street scenes on closer inspection. But Gene Koss's nearby sculptures remind us of the way this city links the largely northern European populace of the upper Midwest to the rest of the world via the Mississippi River and the Gulf. Glass sculptor Koss grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and the verdant, if frosty, qualities of home state inform his vision even now, as we see in Sunrise, above, which somehow distills the contours of the land, the light and the hand of man in a work that Koss says reflects, "the people who work the land and look up a valley at the Wisconsin ridges and hills as they toil.” ~D Eric Bookhardt
Bruce Jr. Does the Parades: Color Marker Drawings by Bruce Davenport Jr., Sunrise: Glass Sculpture by Gene Koss, Through Sept. 14, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999. (Left: Drawing by Bruce Davenport.)
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Living in New Orleans it is easy to forget how different this city is from, not just the rest of America, but also from the rest of the South. This Ogden show, featuring three ascendant Southern Photographers from that curiously alien region known as the Southeast, highlights those differences. Atlantan Laura Noel's Smoke Break series focuses on that persecuted minority known as cigarette smokers--those harried souls who, once glamorized in movies and pop culture, now find themselves ghettoized into the increasingly rare gulags where they can indulge their habit without censure. Perhaps because Atlanta is such a relatively hustling, or even mechanistic place, many indeed seem furtive, but with an occasional thread of whimsy. The languidly apprehensive looking young lady in Whitney Behind Her Job, above, suggests a modern service industry functionary with an old time cinematic inner life, and a sense of the cigarette's use as a magic wand for creating a veil of mystery. Some of the others look lost in their stolen moments of dream time, while some just exhibit the haunted look of transgressors wary of being seen--a far cry from the devil may care, Tom Waitsian insouciance of local Nola street life.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600. Left: Waterproof, Louisiana, photograph by Joshua Dudley Greer