The 2014 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con will feature Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Jon Bernthal and Michael Rooker — stars of AMC's The Walking Dead — as well as Robert Englund (aka Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street), Marvel publisher Stan Lee, Terminator's Linda Hamilton, Cheers star John Ratzenberger, Henry Winkler, Dean Cain, Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) and Pam Grier, among dozens others at the event celebrating pop culture and comics.
The event is Feb. 7-9 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The three days of events include celebrity Q&A sessions, costume contests, film screenings, dozens of vendors (from vintage toys and rare movies to collectibles, comics and costumes), as well as dozens of comic artists — including Spider-Man and Punisher's Mike Zeck and Hellboy's Mike Mignola, among the more than 50 others.
Show hours are 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. Single-day tickets are $40-$50, and weekend passes are $75. Tickets are available online.
How are people like places? Most obviously, both have arteries. Urban electrical networks mimic our nervous systems and traffic travels down roads like blood flowing through veins. Such parallels are poetically explored in Nikki Rosato’s graphical works via her precisely sliced and diced road maps reconstituted into fanciful interpretations of human connectedness. In Connections No. 3, male and female figures comprised of streets face each other while traceries of interstate highways project from head and heart like stray thoughts and emotions. Rosato’s Self Portrait is an intricate network of dissected paper-map roadways cobbled into a 3-D bust like a ghostly shroud, a lacy nervous system shorn of flesh and preserved for posterity like a maze of cellular memories.
Curator Nina Schwanse named her unusual group show, The Solar Anus, after an essay by surrealist bad boy Georges Bataille. A seminarian turned librarian, Bataille was a philosopher/poet who was as visceral as other surrealists were cerebral. Shunned in his own time, his lurid explorations of the intersections of mysticism and sadomasochism eventually proved prophetic and set the stage for cultural phenomena ranging from film noir and punk rock to Lou Reed and Thelma and Louise. Here his day job as a librarian is commemorated in Kyle Eyre Clyd’s installation emphasizing the fetishistic nature of the white cotton gloves used to handle rare books. A nearby video projection by Matt Savitsky features a naked man wearing a bouquet of flowers as a mask getting pelted with apples, and Jesse Greenberg’s sculptures are creepy for no apparent reason. From the ceiling, Mary Morgan’s shiny black coils of (pre-digital porn) videotape dangle like decorative rococo excreta, while in the back gallery, David Hassell’s sleek, working UV tanning table sports a custom finish like curdled skin. As with Bataille, our senses recoil even as morbid fascination lingers.
Through Nov. 30
Cut: Mixed-media graphics by Nikki Rosato
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., (504) 522-5471
Through Dec. 8
The Solar Anus: Mixed media group exhibition curated by Nina Schwanse
Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., (504) 616-7427
Before World War II, the Polish city of Lodz had a population of more than 600,000. Approximately one-third of its citizens were Jews, and most of them did not survive Nazi occupation. Today, even the memory of their once vital neighborhoods has mostly faded. One who survived remembered buying balloons during strolls with her father before the war. Her daughter, New Orleans artist/curator Robin Levy, was inspired by such memories to invite contemporary artists in Lodz to share their impressions of the meaning of memory in a collaborative expo with local artists Courtney Egan, Anita Yesho and Deborah Luster. Egan and Yesho’s profusely documented history of the Antenna Gallery building and the land on which it sits amounts to a colorful social history of the St. Claude neighborhood itself. Deborah Luster’s well-known photographic portraits of local murder scenes reveal sites where lives were suddenly reduced to memories that poignantly linger among the living.
Adam Klimczak’s 161 Photographs With Lodzia (pictured), offers the starkest reprise of the past in a slide show of photos set within the ID numbers of a blowup of a young Lodz woman interned in a labor camp. Inspired by Klimczak’s mother, this spans the full spectrum of human emotions. Piotr Szczepanski’s video employs a narrative history of places in a former Jewish neighborhood to articulate a psychic history of 20th-century Lodz itself, and Marta Madejska shares a friend’s more recent, yet pointed, childhood memories. Justyna Wencel’s video employs elegant dreamlike images as symbols of the tensions that arise between mother and daughter as societal values shift over time. Agnieszka Chojnacka’s makeshift cavern of old quilts contains a video exploration of the psychic violence of childhood symbolized by a wand with a tinfoil star puncturing soap bubbles — a reminder that the lives and dreams we take for granted are often far more delicate than we realize. Levy deployed balloons in a poignantly eloquent allusion to her mother’s own fragile, yet enduring, memories of Lodz.
Through Dec. 8
Memory Project: Mixed-media works by Polish and American artists
Antenna Gallery, 3718 Saint Claude Ave., 504-250-7975
Gina Phillips’ retrospective exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is almost a tale of two places. Taking up most of the museum’s top floor, it is divided between works inspired by her native rural Kentucky and works dating from her move to New Orleans in the mid-1990s. Phillips bridges the difference between her old Kentucky home and the Lower 9th Ward where she now resides, in storytelling scenes typically crafted from colored thread and paint and installed on the walls like irregularly shaped throw rugs. An exception is her vast, gallery-dominating tapestry Fort Dirt Hole. More than 27 feet wide by 13 feet tall, it’s a flashback to a childhood spent with friends in a hillside pit they dug as a stage for mock battles and science fiction escapades. Rural Kentucky and her guitar-strumming father also star in this monumental collage tapestry, yet her narrative views of her Lower 9th Ward neighborhood and other local environs are linked by her almost literally homespun stories in fabric, paint and occasional found objects. Fats Got Out is emblematic. Here her fellow 9th Warder, Fats Domino, arises like a beatific vision over the troubled waters of the Industrial Canal in a classic Phillips masterpiece of virtuoso needlework.
The Mythology of Florida photography expo, featuring some classic vintage works by Marion Post Wolcott and Joseph Steinmetz among others, provides an intimate yet sweeping and bizarrely insightful view of Florida’s evolution as America’s tropical escapist fantasy. But the adjacent show of Annie Collinge’s documentary photos of the lady mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs extends the sideshow flavor of Florida’s past into the present. Here freakish finned ladies swim like sadly gorgeous deep sea specimens under glass, or else incongruously greet visitors in anonymous lobbies where the soft white underbelly of the American Dream evokes uncanny comparisons with the more grotesque visions of Hieronymus Bosch.
Through Jan. 5
I Was Trying Hard to Think About Sweet Things: Mixed media by Gina Phillips
The Mythology of Florida: Photography group exhibition
The Underwater Mermaid Theater: Photographs by Annie Collinge
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 504-539-9600
ARTDOCS (Artists Receiving Treatment Doctors Offering Crucial Services) is a local program that provides medical and dental visits for visual and performing artists and musicians. Its annual fundraiser is at The Art Club (519 Elysian Fields Ave.) Thursday, Nov. 7. The event features an art auction and drinks from New Orleans Rum and Abita Brewing Co. The auction includes work by Douglas Bourgeois, Skylar Fein, James Michalopoulos, Justin Forbes, Steve Martin, Jennifer Odem, Michael Pajon, Dan Tague, Charlie Varley, David Greber and others. Auction items can be viewed at www.jonathanferraragallery.com. Admission is $10. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
ARTDOCS was founded in 1999 by artist and gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara and Dr. Vincent Morelli. The program has provided more than 3,000 doctor visits, and 400 dentist visits since 2011 when dental services were added. Many services are provided at Daughters of Charity clinics. Counseling services are partially covered and provided by Family Service of Greater New Orleans.
Handelsman agreed to join The Advocate over the weekend, after attending Sunday’s New Orleans Saints game with the newspaper’s owners, John and Dathel Georges, General Manager Dan Shea and Editor Peter Kovacs.
“A few years ago at a Tulane art fair, I purchased a brass skeleton key on a chain created by talented local artist and close family friend, Juliet Meeks*,” Handelsman said. “I’m not much of a jewelry-wearing guy, but I’ve worn that key under my shirt every single day as a personal reminder to someday unlock the door and get back home.”
Though visually spare, this New Orleans Museum of Art exposition goes straight to the heart of the paradoxes that define coastal Louisiana. French artist and Venice Biennale award-winner Camille Henrot uses videos and symbolic objects to portray Louisiana’s receding coast and the people it supports. By implicitly comparing it to Brittany’s mythic city of Ys — which was lost to the sea after the devil seduced the king’s daughter into giving him the key to the dike that protected it — Henrot evokes Louisiana’s Faustian bargain with the oil industry, which over decades ravaged vast expanses of marshes that once protected our cities, indirectly causing them to flood. Her subplot is the plight of the Houma Indians, the modest yet resilient inhabitants of Louisiana’s coast whose own Faustian bargain involved adopting the language of their Cajun neighbors, with whom they sometimes intermarried. Their flair for cultural camouflage enabled them to blend in effectively, but it also caused the federal government to routinely deny their appeals for official tribal status. Henrot records the Houma’s travails as they try to deal with modern America and the powerful oil industry (pictured) as their ancestral lands continue to wash out from under them.
Issues involving identity are illustrated in Emory Douglas’ classic poster graphics at the McKenna Museum of African American Art. As the Black Panther Party’s Minister of Culture during its 1960s and 1970s heyday, Douglas produced many posters illustrating its concerns. Its Louisiana ties (beyond Baton Rouge-born co-founder Huey Newton) are most poignantly illustrated in his Free All the Angola 3 poster focused on three Black Panther activists imprisoned at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, who spent decades in solitary confinement for murdering a guard in a case so flawed that even the guard’s widow said they were innocent. In October, one of them, Herman Wallace, was freed only to die days later of liver cancer. Their concerns clearly live on today.
Through Feb. 23
Cities of Ys: Mixed media by Camille Henrot
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, 504-658-4100
Through Nov. 23
The Classic Works of Emory Douglas: Black Panther and civil rights posters
McKenna Museum of African American Art, 2003 Carondelet St., 504-586-7432
A native of Avery Island, Lisa Osborn recently returned to Louisiana after a long sojourn in Boston and presents this weird sculpture show. Strange in an interesting way, Osborn’s mostly human-size clay figures radiate pathos, but their meaning is up to us. Many suggest tragic figures from the dark fantasy realms of Mary Shelley or Edgar Allan Poe, and indeed Shelley’s Frankenstein has nothing on Osborn’s Old Man. A hulking, dejected figure like a long-retired linebacker, the old man’s ample forearms hang haplessly from metal rods reminiscent of meat hooks as his hairless head appears lost in unknown ruminations. That contemplative aura links him to the all-too-human heroes and deities of the great myths, some of which appear here. Prometheus, who was bound by Zeus for gifting humanity with fire, is chained by his wrists and ankles to a constraining iron wheel that encircles him as a humanoid owl stands guard. Poor Thoth, the ibis-headed god of ancient Egypt (pictured), suffers a similar fate. No longer the master of the Nile, he is confined to the lower levels of oblivion today. Osborn’s female figures seem more hopeful, but we are still confronted with echoes of an earlier age — those pagan times when men and gods were not so very different, eons before new technologies stole their thunder and left mere mortals to wander adrift in today’s electronic wilderness.
Human aspiration, technology and the imagination appear in uneasy relationships in Christopher Deris’ kinetic sculpture expo at Antenna Gallery. Here mixed-media body parts are animated by improbable concoctions of gears, rods and pulleys that according to Deris “act as surrogates or metaphors for humanity.” In these works, man and machine are intimately, if messily, united, but unlike today’s digital technologies we can at least see the forces that move them, even as it remains unclear who is in control.
Through Nov. 3
Wheels, Figures, Choices: Ceramic sculpture by Lisa Osborn
Barrister’s Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 504-710-4506
The Soul Silently Fidgets: Kinetic sculpture by Christopher Deris
Antenna Gallery, 3718 Saint Claude Ave., 504-298-3161
In south Louisiana, we know a thing or two about water. We not only are surrounded by it, the air we breathe is often permeated with it, so our relationship with water is intimate. But intimate relationships often have elements of surprise, and while Edward Burtynsky’s photographs, which occupy two floors of gallery space at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), are often too spectacular to be truly intimate, they do pack a tsunami of surprises. His sweeping amphibious landscapes, whether all natural or shaped by human intervention, can be startlingly abstract, and if the proliferation of large-scale photographs in recent years has already shown us how painterly such images can be, many of Burtynsky’s works bear a striking resemblance to abstract canvases.
Others reflect a more predictable documentary perspective, but even these can be boldly graphic. A view of water blasting from the massive concrete fastnesses of a Chinese dam is as extravagantly dramatic as any 19th-century romantic vision of Niagara Falls, only much more monumental. Similarly, Stepwell #4, a look into an excavation pit in India, suggests an inverted ziggurat, or maybe a maddening M.C. Escher drawing of staircases looping infinitely back upon themselves. Such ground-level vistas are far outnumbered by aerial shots like Navajo Reservation/Suburb, a bird’s eye view of the meandering sprawl of a Phoenix, Ariz., suburb divided from a vast empty desert at the fringe of the Navajo nation by an infinitely long, straight border. Pivot Irrigation #1, High Plains, Texas looks strikingly like an early 1930s graphics experiment by the proto-modernist German Bauhaus group, and Thjorsa River #1, Iceland (pictured), suggests an especially gorgeous Dorothea Tanning surrealist painting. Organized by New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) photography curator Russell Lord, Water is a collaborative production of NOMA and the CAC. Similar Burtynsky works can be seen in a separate exhibition at the Arthur Roger Gallery.
Through Jan. 19
Water: Large-scale aerial photographs by Edward Burtynsky
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 504-528-3805
Through Nov. 23
Water: Large-scale aerial photographs by Edward Burtynsky
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 504-522-1999
Always highly regarded for his fluid imagination and polished craftsmanship, David Borgerding brings his sculptural vision more clearly into focus in this show at Callan Contemporary. Maybe it’s those silky bronze surfaces, but these works seem more self explanatory than ever before, even if those explanations do not exist in words. Visual art speaks directly to the inner world of the psyche, and the forms that comprise these sculptures may evoke bones, stones or biological forms, but no specific associations are necessary because the pieces all sing in tune. Emblematic works like Pume (pictured front left) or Varudur, a more vertical work with similar free-form rectangles and rods, articulate a fluid progression of silent music that resonates in the secret recesses of the mind even if we have no idea why. It’s a brilliant, breakthrough exhibition.
Jennifer Odem’s works at Tulane Univerity’s Carroll Gallery explore universal forms, but here the details of their construction sometimes resonate tensions having to do with gender or technology. Inspired by geological formations and domestic handicrafts, many of her sculptures evoke white lace somehow calcified into stone over the ages. Flora Pearlinious suggests a hut on stilts encrusted with barnacle-like filigree, a home, perhaps, for wayward sea sprites. Continental Riser, is far darker. Inspired by a deep sea-dwelling worm, it sprouts flowers from its black lace surfaces while suggesting a flirtatious mutant life form, perhaps a legacy of the BP oil disaster. But Sister, which suggests an elaborate lacy, white-on-white crater, resonates contradictory notions of hard and soft, a strategy replicated in reverse by the similarly geological looking, but bulbously rounded Bounce, which evokes an oversized Victorian bustle with a zipper down the middle. Here Odem puts high and pop culture, ancient and contemporary forms, through a blender in a show that improbably, yet slyly, spans time and space.
Through Oct. 30
Recent Sculpture: Bronze sculpture by David Borgerding
Callan Contemporary, 518 Julia St., 504-525-0518
Through Oct. 25
Interpretations: House and Universe: Mixed-media sculpture and drawings by Jennifer Odem
Tulane University, Carroll Gallery, 504-314-2228
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