If the paintings, sculptures, dolls and ephemera at the newly opened La Madama Bazarre gallery (910 Royal St., 504-236-5076) look ready to rock, there's a reason for that. The gallery owner and many of its artists are also rock musicians.
"I met [all these artists] in the New Orleans music scene around '94, '95," says owner Jennifer Kirtlan, a bassist who played with Hazard County Girls. "We could never play in a rock band together, because three of us play bass, so this is something fun we could do together."
Kirtlan's roster of artists includes Sean Yseult, a White Zombie alum who now plays with Star & Dagger; Molly McGuire, a bassist who has recorded with Frank Black, Queens of the Stone Age and others; Christy Kane, a singer/guitarist with Hazard County Girls; Jimmy Descant, a tour manager, guitar tech and sound engineer; and Johnny Brashear, who has played with Rock City Morgue.
"The style of music we have all participated in evokes visuals," Kirtlan says. "Sean's music was always very visual. Whether it was White Zombie or Rock City Morgue, it was always on the horror side of things. A lot of times music and visual art do go together — it's like you're doing a soundtrack for the mood you want to create."
Molly McGuire agrees. A touring musician for 18 years, she changed her focus to visual art because she wanted more artistic autonomy and a different lifestyle. She got her start selling circus banners out of a van in 2008, to finance travels. Now she slings them at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival and for American Horror Story, which centers around a freak show for its upcoming season.
"A lot of people who have musical talent have a sense of visual talent as well, the ability to understand musical notes as well as color and shape," McGuire says. "I think it all comes from the same part of the brain."
Kirtlan says that with all her projects, she has tried to create an experience. "Whether that means going to a rock 'n' roll show and playing powerful music or walking into a gallery and being transported into another reality," she says.
At La Madama Bazarre, Kirtlan aims to create a "princess-parlor vibe with a bit of wickedness thrown in," she says. She describes the art as a "celebration of the never-ending, strange beauty of Louisiana." Artists Lateefah Wright, Jason London Hawkins, Christopher Morrison Slave, Patti Meagher, Althea Holden and Darla Teagarden also have works on display.
The gallery is open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, August 9 for Dirty Linen Night. "We will have libations and tons of eye candy," Kirtlan says, laughing.