Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Hispanic Convergence" at the Mexican Consulate; Charles Beau von Hoffacker at Barrister's

This Hispanic Convergence expo at the Mexican Consulate is a local first. With work by over 20 Mexican, Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Colombian and Cuban artists, Convergence is ultra-eclectic yet noteworthy both for the trans-national leadership displayed by the Mexican Consulate, and for its timing, coinciding with an opportunistically anti-Hispanic and trash-talking politician's insurgent presidential bid. But culture trumps trash talk and this show features many of the psychological, surreal and whimsical qualities long associated with Hispanic art. Standouts include Alana, left, by Ana Gaby Alanis, in which a rapturous woman evokes an unlikely sort of saint--perhaps Our Lady of Lower Life Forms--as frogs, spiders, snakes and scorpions cling to her. Also provocative are Cristina Molina's and Fred Husserl's photographs, Vanessa Centeno's colorful mixed media creations and Jackie Cerise's paintings of nudes and Sacred Hearts. Works by artists on the consulate staff include Belinda Shinshillas' color-field paintings like Cuenca Basin, left, and Aura Maury's photographs -- but perhaps most striking of all is the buoyant and robust cultural leadership displayed by the Mexican consulate itself.

Equally surprising are white New Orleans Police officer Charles Beau von Hoffacker's paintings of young black men whose distressed lives, and violent deaths, define our most troubled neighborhoods. Working with acrylic paints infused with his own formula of pulverized copper, brass and gunpowder, Hoffacker bases his works on social media photos, chosen by his subjects, that reveal a broad spectrum of innocence and menace. Despite occasional gangsta posturing, all reflect a striking degree of objectivity and empathy, and it's clear that Hoffacker is the rare artist--or cop--who tries to relate to the underlying humanity of this volatile subculture. This stark yet compelling exhibition challenges the rest of us to try to better understand the lives of the less advantaged among us. ~Bookhardt / Hispanic Convergence in New Orleans: Group Exhibition by Artists of the Americas, Through Oct. 10th, Consulate of Mexico Art Gallery, 901 Convention Center Blvd, Suite 118, 528-3722; Pitch This, Ya' Heard me?: Mixed-Media Paintings by Charles Beau von Hoffacker, Through Oct. 3, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506.