Art

Monday, January 4, 2016

"Total War Puppets" demilitarize the Mudlark Theater

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
  • Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
In the years I've been acquainted with the woman known as Nyx, she has been not only a very solid poet, artist and anarchist-feminist theorist but an outspoken and unstinting critic of what she perceives as weak or regressive creative endeavors here in New Orleans.

After a sojourn abroad, she and her new collaborator Ben Bornstein are returning to town Jan. 9, 10, 12 and 13 with their project Total War Puppets, in a production at the Mudlark Theatre titled "Fire with Fire."

I spoke to Nyx and Ben about their puppet show, its ideological underpinnings, and what Nyx finds lacking in the New Orleans DIY art scene. One of the most principled and least cowardly New Orleans artists I know is back with a vengeance, and I couldn't be happier about it.



What's the origin of "Total War Puppets?"

NYX:
I left New Orleans to go to Bread & Puppet in Brattleboro, Vermont for an apprenticeship. I met Ben there and we had more political affinity than I had with most of those people. I'd had the idea for a show about militarism and its connection to my family. A few months later I was working on little scenes, and I had enough to make a show. Ben joined me and we spent a month doing nothing except building the puppet show. We both wrote different scenes and then heavily co-edited them.

BEN: The name of our troupe addresses how a militaristic culture isn't relegated to statist violence like the police. Total War is the current doctrine of war, including citizen non-combatants — Total War throws you into the context of war simply by being alive.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Cheryl Gerber on why she photographs New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 4:51 PM

"St. Roch Market" by Cheryl Gerber, as seen in her book New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy.
  • "St. Roch Market" by Cheryl Gerber, as seen in her book New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy.


In this week's cover story, longtime
Gambit photographer Cheryl Gerber shares images from her new book, New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy. Here she talks about how she got started as a New Orleans photographer, and the changes she's seen in the city since. — Ed.

I started photographing New Orleans in 1990, right after I was laid off from my job at New Orleans Magazine where I worked as an editorial assistant. It was my first job in New Orleans after college.

I had studied journalism at Southeastern Louisiana University and already worked on two Louisiana newspapers as a reporter when it became evident that my fate as a reporter was doomed. My editor at the St. Tammany News Banner handed me a camera one day to take photos to go along with the story I was assigned. He ran the photo extra large and cut most of my story. Each week the photos got bigger and the stories got smaller so I took that as an indication that perhaps I might be better at telling stories through photographs. I was devastated after being laid off my first real job so I applied to The Times-Picayune for a photography position. They nearly laughed me out of the door but I guess that worked out for the best.

So I kept searching for avenues to make photography happen. That's when I discovered the amazing work of Michael P. Smith. I called him several times to make myself available to work for him for free but each time I called he couldn't remember who I was. After the fifth call, he finally agreed to meet me and I assisted him on a couple of jobs, but he was frank and told me that he didn't know what I could do for him besides carry his bags on some rare commercial jobs.

With no more options at making a living at that point, I took a position in Honduras teaching English. I sublet my apartment, packed my bags and move to Siguatepeque, Honduras. While I was there I took Mike Smith's advice and photographed as much as I could. Still not sure what I was going to do and how I was going to make a living in photography, I just kept photographing everything I saw.

Then one day after walking three miles to the post office, which I walked to every day to find nothing waiting in the mailbox, there was a postcard from Mike saying that he thought of something I could do for him when I got back. I returned at the beginning of 1992 and he let me stay in his studio. I began printing for Mike and trying to sell his work around town. Working with Mike opened up a whole new world for me. My family moved to a rural corner of the Northshore, so I wasn't exposed to the side of New Orleans that Mike documented so well. Not only did he teach me how to expose film and print in the darkroom, he taught me how to behave on the streets of New Orleans, how to respect Mardi Gras Indians when photographing them and how to duck when things get tense and guns were drawn.

I soon realized that I wanted to get serious about photography and started trying to get work. But it was so hard to find work as a photographer during that time. With no real work experience, I started trying to sell stories, written with photographs.

I got my first big break in 1994 when I wrote a story about the gutter punks in New Orleans. Everyone was up in arms about these new visitors to the city, hanging out on Decatur Street, so I followed them around for a couple of months and wrote a story and took pictures, then brought my package to Gambit. The story was a big hit and I have been working at Gambit ever since. I'll never forget the day that I walked into the then-PJs on Frenchmen Street and saw a policeman reading the story in Gambit. He looked at me, not knowing that it was my story, and said, "This is the best thing I've seen in a long time."

From that moment I wanted to tell stories about people in New Orleans.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Food photography exhibit opens Sept. 12 at Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 11:43 AM



The Photography of Modernist Cuisine exhibit opens Sept. 12 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. - COURTESY MODERNIST CUISINE
  • COURTESY MODERNIST CUISINE
  • The Photography of Modernist Cuisine exhibit opens Sept. 12 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.


The Photography of Modernist Cuisine opens Sept. 12 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504- 569-0405).

The collection includes more than 50 photographs taken by Nathan Myhrvold and the team behind the popular Modernist Cuisine books, which highlight the scientific process behind cooking. Myhrvold culled an archive of more than 500,000 images taken during the publication of the books when selecting shots for the exhibit.

“The exhibition and book are in many ways a culmination of my lifelong interest in photography, in much the same way that Modernist Cuisine was a milestone in my interest in food,” Myhrvold said in a prepared statement.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Monday "Katrina at 10" panel: How did local culture fare?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 2:07 PM

The Hot 8 Brass Band. Founder Bennie Pete will be on an Aug. 24 panel discussing changes in the city's cultural scene since the storm and the flood. - SHAWN COLIN
  • SHAWN COLIN
  • The Hot 8 Brass Band. Founder Bennie Pete will be on an Aug. 24 panel discussing changes in the city's cultural scene since the storm and the flood.


Many, if not most, people assume that New Orleans’ rich culture survived Hurricane Katrina more or less intact, perhaps because local music clubs and other cultural institutions have returned. But the torchbearers of local culture themselves — the musicians, artists, Mardi Gras Indians and others — often tell a different story.

The Crescent City Cultural Continuity Conservancy (C5) will present a two-hour panel discussion Monday, Aug. 24, on the state (and future) of New Orleans culture 10 years after Katrina. “Ten Years After: the State of New Orleans Music and Culture” starts at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Basin Street Station, 501 Basin St.

The announcement from C5 is under the jump.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Joan Mitchell Center open house Aug. 22 previews campus, artist residencies

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 5:35 PM



A new, modern 8,000 square foot building houses 10 artist studios at the Joan Mitchell Center. - WILL COVIELLO
  • WILL COVIELLO
  • A new, modern 8,000 square foot building houses 10 artist studios at the Joan Mitchell Center.

The Joan Mitchell Center (2275 Bayou Road, 504-940-2500) holds an open house from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, and New Orleanians can meet foundation executives, staff and local artist recipients of emerging artist grants and tour the two-acre campus, which features 8,000 square feet of new, modern studio space, artist residences and a renovated community space in the corner building that once housed the restaurant Indigo. The center is about to welcome 10 artists to the first iteration of its full-scale residency program, expanding on a 2013 pilot program. 

"An artists in residence program is central to our idea of what artists need," says Joan Mitchell Foundation executive director Christa Blatchford.

The open house also features projections of work by incoming artists, a film about Joan Mitchell and light refreshments.

The New York-based Joan Mitchell Foundation follows the vision of its namesake, abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), to support contemporary artists around the world. The foundation also lends the artist's paintings to museums and institutions and houses her archives.

Immediately following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, the Joan Mitchell Foundation started assisting New Orleans artists in need. It continued that assistance for three years and in 2010 bought property on Bayou Road to open its first satellite location, Blatchford says.

"We recognize New Orleans as a creative community that supports artists," Blatchford says. "We saw a tide of artists coming to New Orleans and out of New Orleans. That was inspirational to us."

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Lightfall/For Display Only and Modern Swamp

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 4:03 PM

Marie Antoinette and her Executioner by Susan Bowers.
  • Marie Antoinette and her Executioner by Susan Bowers.


Most modern art galleries are tidy, well-lighted spaces. Sometimes referred to as "white cubes," they show art in orderly arrangements that contrast with the messy processes that occur in the studios where artwork is made. But in the experimental galleries on St. Claude Avenue, where artists often hang their own shows, the lines between studio and gallery are sometimes blurred. At The Front, Maria Levitsky's large black-and-white prints of architectural subjects are pristinely presented at the outset, but the next room can be disconcerting as similar subject matter appears in strategically cluttered arrangements that evoke the contents of an obsessive photographer's attic, or maybe afterimages stashed in the back of the brain. Most compositions are boldly abstract, sometimes featuring montages that highlight the underlying geometry of urban environments in ironic ways, but some are presented like oversize snapshots with serrated edges, or interspersed with boxes of old camera parts and other ephemera that highlight the nature of photographs as ongoing processes of perception rather than as static, or precious, objects.


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Monday, August 3, 2015

Y@ Speak: One Twitter, That's It... Er

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM


Let us reflect on a week in which Morris Bart and Sidney Torries capture the nation's attention, people try not to spill wine or sweat over some art, and Gov. Bobby Jindal declares he has the powers of The Internet.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

YAYA's new Arts Center offers views and much-needed space

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 5:28 PM

The balcony at the new YAYA Arts Center, with a viewing window (left) that looks down onto a glass studio. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • The balcony at the new YAYA Arts Center, with a viewing window (left) that looks down onto a glass studio.

In its 26 years as an arts education program, YAYA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists) has grown from a single-school operation to one that serves New Orleans youth across the city.

On June 30, after breaking ground last September, YAYA got its first, official, custom-built home on Lasalle Street in Central City. Harmony Neighborhood Development, Bild Design and Landis Construction Company all helped build the two-story arts center, which is complete with classrooms and glass and ceramics studios.

“I'm most excited about a new phase in programming that has more of a community impact,” YAYA operations coordinator Lesley McBride told Gambit. “This is the first time that we've been in a purely residential neighborhood. Previously we were on Barronne Street downtown, and then off Conti and Carrollton in Mid-City. So this is the first time that we've been in a true neighborhood where we can service the people that are directly at our doorstep.”

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Monday, June 22, 2015

YAYA Arts Center to open June 30

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 5:49 PM

Volunteers break ground on the New YAYA Arts Center last September. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • Volunteers break ground on the New YAYA Arts Center last September.

After breaking ground on a new space last September, the arts education program YAYA is ready to open its doors for a grand opening Tuesday, June 30.

The 27 year-old nonprofit provides free arts education and entrepreneurship programming to New Orleans youth ages 13 to 25, and the new arts center at 3322 LaSalle St. puts all of the program's amenities under one roof. There are classrooms and gallery space, in addition to a glass studio and ceramics studio which can both be rented out for public use.

The studio is located within walking distance of 10 schools, making it accessible to kids who want to learn how to paint, draw, sculpt and more. 

"We see the Arts Center as another example of the vital role arts and culture plays in New Orleans, and the development of our young people," YAYA CEO Gene Meneray said in a statement. "We're especially excited to be located on LaSalle St, an area steeped in unique New Orleans music and Mardi Gras Indian culture. We've seen how art transforms communities, we also believe communities transform art, and believe this Arts Center is another step in growing our city's justly celebrated artistic expression."

The grand opening, which starts at 10 a.m., will feature remarks from New Orleans City Councilmembers LaToya Cantrell, Jason Williams and other city officials. 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Katrina Andry's Initiating Cause and Effect at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 1:49 PM

When I Grow Up: The Ascribed Black American Dream, by Katrina Andry
  • When I Grow Up: The Ascribed Black American Dream, by Katrina Andry

The great jazz musician Sun Ra claimed to have come from Saturn to lead black people to their true home on another planet. He was still earthbound when he died in 1993, but his belief — that black folk might as well be from another planet as far as many Americans are concerned — still resonates today.

Superficial stereotypes distort everyone's perceptions of each other, but for African-Americans the ghetto casts a long shadow no matter who they are. Lately many black artists have created their own caricatures of those negative cliches as a way of critiquing the critiques — a strategy that pervaded last year's 30 Americans expo of leading black artists at the Contemporary Arts Center. So much emphasis on one approach risks appearing redundant, but New Orleans native Katrina Andry's unusually large, briskly acerbic yet startlingly original woodblock prints are in a class by themselves.

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