Sunday, September 25, 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Like Louisiana—but very unlike “normal” places such as Colorado or Vermont—Florida is a multi-layered environment, a quality epitomized by a wall size photo-mural of palm fronds studded with smaller images of ferns that come across like botanical family portraits on a wall of foliage. What lies beyond the fronds can range from crazed real estate hucksters to small town psychics, misfit mermaids and renegade taxidermists in a landscape that mixes rampant invasive species, Confederate artifacts and prolific tourism promotions—which the artists lampooned via their own satiric tourist booth.
The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980;
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Is identity-based pop art getting to be old hat? Yes and no. While graduate schools and galleries have long contributed to a glut of such work, gender and race perceptions remain the wild cards that fuel many of the social tensions we still face today. At a time when we may possibly elect our first female president, the startlingly misogynistic corporate culture recently exposed at a major TV network—amid a no less startling uptick in toxic rhetoric epitomized by a rival presidential campaign whose CEO* runs an online "news" site notorious for racism, sexism and bigotry -- suggests a throwback to a dark and sinister past. Most of us never imagined living in a time defined by such starkly divergent tendencies and trends.
Gallery X's 2 Freaky 2 Friday was inspired by Freaky Friday, a 1976 mother-daughter role reversal film later reprised by Lindsay Lohan. It focuses on how “women’s public images are created, presented, and consumed.” It coincidentally illustrates the endless complications surrounding the way identity issues are perceived. In that vein, some accompanying texts helpfully reveal that Tameka Norris' hip-hop video, Screening Room, harks to how she felt as a black girl at Yale, and that the soul sister vocals on Hanna Black's My Bodies video, above, accompany a mythic journey through an all too material and polarized world. Starting out with floating head shots of white business dudes like a vertiginous PTSD nightmare of scary CNBC flashbacks, it segues into hip mythoetic riffs reminiscent of the Egyptian Book of the Dead with an R&B soundtrack, making it one of the more persuasive works in this often cryptic exhibition.
Gallery X, 1612 O.C. Haley Blvd., 252-0136. *Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon is Chairman, director and co-owner of Breitbart News
Sunday, September 4, 2016
|Prisoner in Isolation by Veronica Compton|
Looking back at Nina Schwanse’s 2013 exhibition at Good Children Gallery in which she assumed the identity of serial killer accomplice Veronica Compton, Amy Mackie talks to the real Veronica Compton about life after prison, the Hillside Strangler and the terror of having your identity taken away.
In 2013, I interviewed (for Pelican Bomb) Los Angeles-based artist Nina Schwanse, who was then living in New Orleans, about her exhibition Hold It Against Me: The Veronica Compton Archive at Good Children Gallery. The show wove together fact and fiction in an unconventional archive based on the life of Veronica Compton. It included photographs and a video in which Schwanse bears a strong resemblance to Compton, re-creations of Compton’s letters to and from serial killer Kenneth Bianchi, a mock version of her play The Mutilated Cutter, and drawings made in her style. It was an imagined version of Compton’s experiences and history, and it is not a stretch to say that, at the time, Schwanse was attempting to channel Compton, creating work as her. For that reason, when I interviewed Schwanse for Pelican Bomb, I did so twice—once in the artist’s voice and, as an extension of the exhibition, once in the voice of her subject-cum-alter-ego.
Years later, Compton (now Compton Wallace) discovered Schwanse’s project and the two interviews and reached out to Pelican Bomb. Shortly after, she agreed to an interview with me. A writer, artist, and musician who also lives and works in Los Angeles, Compton Wallace was convicted of attempted murder and incarcerated in 1981 as a result of her relationship with Kenneth Bianchi, a.k.a. the “Hillside Strangler.” She served a 22-year sentence in Bellingham, Washington. Since Compton came into the public sphere before the Internet, a quick Google search readily brings up Schwanse’s likeness, often before Compton Wallace’s own, a disorienting consequence of image construction in the digital age.
This series of interviews reveals multiple viewpoints and the layers of history and perspectives of one woman’s life—and challenges the way her history is and has been written, told, altered, and edited. I am grateful to Compton Wallace for sharing her story and to Schwanse for bringing it to my attention. —Amy Mackie
Amy Mackie: Was it upsetting for you to discover that Nina Schwanse made a body of work inspired by your personal history? More>>
|Da Blues Too by Bunny Matthews|
Before and After at Arthur Roger features Bunny Matthews’ instantly recognizable cartoons spanning the last 34 years. Meticulously rendered in pen and ink and sometimes colored pencil, the cartoons are drawn in what has been described as his “traditional post-psychedelic baroque caricature style.” In 1982, Bunny Matthews created the emblematic characters, Vic and Nat’ly Broussard for the Times-Picayune’s Dixie magazine. For decades, Vic and Natly’s commentaries have amused, and often provoked. Observing life in the Creole City from his exurban Abita Springs redoubt, Matthews has said that he holds high standards for New Orleans, where he believes most people are too accepting and forgiving. His outspoken style often prompts controversy, yet he remains unapologetic. He believes that lines are meant to be crossed and through his work, he aims to educate and enlighten his audience, forcing them to react, to think and to change. Due to a recent illness that limited his ability to produce new work, this show is a retrospective of sorts. He's one of a kind, and he's Naturally New Awlins--we wish him the best! More Here & Here