Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Goddess Revisited & The Nature of Now

Blink and you might miss it, but look up and you might see a goddess--or many goddesses, at a two story wall sculpture rendered in laser cut aluminum in the CBD. Like a Fellini vision of a multicultural Mount Olympus above the Singha Thai Cafe, this makes sense in the only city where classical deities like Iris and Athena are still widely venerated--every Mardi Gras! Featuring the ancient full figured fertility deity, the Venus of Willendorf, in blue plexiglass flanked by old and new goddesses like Ishtar, Kali, Lady Liberty, Wonder Woman, Frida Kahlo and the voodoo spirit La Sirene, it was organized by gallerist Angela King and created by artists including Katrina Andry, Janet Walker Baus, Elizabeth Conway, Sus Corez, Elizabeth Eckman, Carolina Gallup, Nancy Gonsalves, Elena Reeves, Steph Smith, Diana Souza and Heidi Tullman. Originally a P.3+ project that drew Mayor Mitch Landrieu and voodoo priestess Sallie Ann Glassman to its opening, it remains up through February.

A related approach appeared in the recently departed P.3+ expo, The Nature of Now. According to curator Pamala Bishop, this assortment of sensual and organic mixed media works reflected ideas like "eco-erotic feminism," a term coined by participating artist Shana Robbins to describe her femme-centric form of earth-based shamanism. A parallel sensibility appeared in a magical labyrinth that New York-Norwegian artist Anne Senstad created in a sugarcane field and transposed it to the show, where it was neatly complemented by Heather Hansen's large chandelier elaborately hand crafted from sugar cubes. A mix of visual and performance art set the tone in works like Angel Chen's optical illusionist installation of Siamese fighting fish that symbolized destructive life-destroying egos, and Marion Spencer and Ellery Burton's dance- based nature ruminations, or Brandon Balengee's mixed-media ju-jitsu inversions of BP oil spill propaganda among other environmentally based works. Here nature appears as a vulnerable object of desire pillaged by money-grubbing riffraff out for a quick buck. Under the vaulted ceilings of an old disused theater, these works radiated a sensibility suggesting that human healing will ultimately only occur when we finally manage to heal the earth Herself. ~Bookhardt  The Goddess Revisited: Willendorf to Trucker Mudflaps Collaborative Mural, Through February, 826 Gravier St.; The Nature of Now: Group Exhibition Curated by Pamala Bishop.