Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: EN MAS': Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 10:24 AM

From Marlon Griffith's Positions + Power.
  • From Marlon Griffith's Positions + Power.

Have you ever had a dream in which you came home and everything was in its usual place, but all the furnishings, even the clothes in the closet and the food in the refrigerator, were totally unfamiliar? This EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean show at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) may induce a similar sense of disorientation. Featuring performance art staged in six Caribbean and Caribbean-influenced countries during the 2014 Carnival celebrations, EN MAS’ explores new Caribbean art incorporating social or political content mingled with the familiar Carnival masked revelry. Even the title is a play on the familiar phrase “en masse,” substituting “Mas,” the Caribbean slang term for Carnival.

Conceived by New Orleans-based, Guadeloupe-born curator Claire Tancons, EN MAS’ initially was inspired by an unusual synthesis of Carnival and modern art that arose in Trinidad, where artists such as Marlon Griffith became famous for issue-based performance art like his Positions + Power installation (pictured) at the CAC. Based on the domestic spying apparatus of the modern surveillance state, and augmented by sinister props, the installation’s eerie video projections suggest Afro-futurist science fiction. A local, Krewe du Vieux take on a similar topic would probably seem more nihilisitic if not obscene, but here Griffith conveys a sleekly creepy vision of a techno-futurist dystopia.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Avant-garde musician "Timeghost" on performance, hypnosis and industrial Louisiana

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 4:08 PM

The most memorable live show I attended in 2014 was by a band called Timeghost, a one-person act who took over the room with a mix of sound, mood, virtuosity and spectacle. Even by the standards of a town renowned for immersive musical performances, Timeghost was intense.

The show had elements that, if described, might sound alienating, but which within the context of the performance brought the audience and the performer closer, evoking empathy rather than horror. This special dynamic hinged on the earnestness with which Timeghost set about its work and an extraordinary otherworldly atmosphere created over the course of the set.

Afterwards I felt exhilarated and strangely emptied, as if purged of something. It was, I think, what undergoing brainwashing might be like. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. You really, really, really ought to see Timeghost when it returns here on Tuesday, April 28.

I "spoke" with Timeghost electronically about music, altered states, and New Orleans.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Music Box returns with "Roving Village" music and events series

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 2:40 PM

The Music Box village on Piety Street in Bywater featured playable musical structures built by artists and musicians. Swoon's Dithyrambalina, left, inspired the village. - CHERYL GERBER
  • The Music Box village on Piety Street in Bywater featured playable musical structures built by artists and musicians. Swoon's Dithyrambalina, left, inspired the village.

New Orleans Airlift
, the group of artists behind The Music Box musical architecture installation, will take those musical structures to sites throughout New Orleans for performances, artist talks, workshops and other events. "The Roving Village Residencies" will feature all new musical houses from April 3 through May 10.

The first residency, "The Music Box Roving Village: City Park Presented by The Helis Foundation," will feature an opening performance from free jazz artist William Parker, Alex Ebert of the Magnetic Zeros, Quintron, Leyla McCalla, Rob Cambre, Marion Tortorich of Sweet Crude, and Cooper Moore. The performances are 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. April 3-4.

The Music Box village opened in 2011 as sprawling shantytown of musical architecture, from a wooden floorboard "piano" (Ranjit Bhatnagar's floorboard piano "Noise Floor" inside "Nightingale House" by Serra Victoria Bothwell Felsand) to Quintron's weather-controlled theremin, "The Singing House." The site hosted performances from Quintron (and his "Shantytown Orchestra"), Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Andrew W.K., Helen Gillet, Aurora Nealand, and the late bounce artist Nicky Da B (whose mural now adorns the fence at the site's previous home on Piety Street), among many others, who utilized the unique instruments built into the structures to create elaborate, ambient arrangements.

New Orleans Airlift was founded by Delaney Martin and Jay Pennington (aka DJ Rusty Lazer), and the Roving Village's artist-builders include works from Martin as well as celebrated street artist Swoon, Taylor Lee Shepherd, Nina Nichols, Darryl Reeves, Andrew Schrock, Klass Hubener, Michael Glenboski, Ross Harmon, Frank Pahl, Matthew Ostrowski, Rick Snow, Lindsey Karty, Jonah Emerson-Bell, Rainger Pinney, George Long, and Justin Rabideau.

Public open hours at the "Roving Village" sites will be from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 10 at City Park. There will be closing performances at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. May 8-9.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: Palimpsest

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 5:46 PM


Hindsight has a way of offering a new view of human experience. Life in the moment can be a hustle, sometimes exhilarating but often oscillating between frantic and boring. Collage artists enjoy an Olympian perspective that enables them to utilize the symbols and icons of the past for their own purposes, and Michael Pajon excels at mining rich veins of vintage pop culture for any transcendent epiphanies they might contain. Like his Chicago mentor, Tony Fitzpatrick, Pajon is big on vintage Americana fraught with euphemistic irony, but his mystical Hispanic DNA seems well adapted to the swampy voodoo vibe of his adopted hometown. In this aptly named Palimpsest series, his collage drawings explore how myths represented in vintage pop culture live on in the present.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eight cheap dates for Valentine's Gras

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 5:11 PM

Maybe you and your partner share financial goals beyond steak dinners for two. Maybe your sweetheart’s personal style is more Mardi Gras beads than precious metal. Or maybe you just started dating recently, and the idea of making reservations sounds like overkill.

Fear not: here are eight ideas for romantic plans this weekend that are cheap or practically free. Since it’s Mardi Gras, I’ll assume you’re buying drinks anyway.


Krewe of Endymion
Even if you’re not buying your sweetie a Valentine's gift, you can catch one at Endymion. The krewe’s 2015 theme is “Fantastic Voyages,” but the throws are all about love: plush teddy bears, light-up roses, heart-shaped medallions and plastic rings. The parade rolls from Mid-City and circles the CBD and Warehouse District on its way to the Superdome, offering plenty of vantage points. Just make sure to give yourself enough time for all 35 floats.
Where: 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Mid-City and the CBD (see Rex Duke’s Mardi Gras Guide).
How much: Free, especially if you BYOB.

Saturday's Krewe of Endymion parade — cheap entertainment for all. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Saturday's Krewe of Endymion parade — cheap entertainment for all.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Y@ Speak: kicked out

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 12:58 PM

Last week saw the passage of a smoke-free ordinance banning smoking and vaping in bars and casinos and Rita Benson LeBlanc's firing from the Benson Empire. Elsewhere, Gov. Bobby Jindal could use a spelling refresher and a "spiritual revival," Exhibit Be holds its grand finale, and your neighbors are blowing leaves around out of spite.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Prospect.3: Andrea Fraser, Hew Locke and Ebony G. Patterson

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Mosquito Hall by Hew Locke.
  • Mosquito Hall by Hew Locke.

It’s like a parallel universe: Visiting the Newcomb Gallery can be like coming home and finding similar but unfamiliar furnishings in place of your own. Hew Locke, a London-based artist from Guyana, is inspired by his South American homeland’s Caribbean Carnival processions, events celebrated in cities that are often situated below sea level and surrounded by swamps and old plantations, or along marshy coasts that are rapidly washing away. The first piece I saw, Mosquito Hall (pictured), looks so startlingly like a bayou country fishing camp from my childhood, I had to look twice to see the psychedelic swamp spirit hovering over it. In fact, the abandoned structure is a relic of Hew Locke’s childhood memories of Guyana, now immortalized in paint. Gallery walls are covered with his linear Baroque flourishes, line drawings rendered in black rope and beads depicting the march of history as a fantastical Carnival procession with mythic gods, beasts and bizarre creatures brandishing assault rifles. It’s a uniquely compelling installation created during Locke’s first visit to New Orleans, when he was surprised to find so much that seemed so familiar, including Carnival beads dangling from the trees.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A two-day conference inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat comes to the Ogden next week

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Jean-Michel Basquiat, King Zulu, 1986 - OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, King Zulu, 1986

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art
's exhibit Basquiat on the Bayou has been one of the most celebrated shows of P3: Notes for Now, and beginning next Thursday, a conference inspired by the artist will take place over two days.

On Thursday, Dec. 11 and Friday, Dec. 12, more than two dozen panelists will discuss the significance of Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy by the celebrated art historian Robert Farris Thompson. The book, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, influenced the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work is rife with Afro-Carribean allegory and allusions to the American South, and its themes have seeped into both academic and popular discourse on the subject of African and Afro-American art. Thompson himself will be a keynote speaker on Friday. 

The conference is being curated by C. Daniel Dawson of Columbia University and will include comments from Franklin Sirmans, artistic director of Prospect 3, William Andrews, executive director of the Ogden and Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director of Prospect 3. 

The event will run from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. both days and is free and open to the public with registration. You can register by emailing Click here for a full schedule of events and details on the panelists. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Draw-a-thon is at Michalopoulas Studios Nov. 29-30

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Participants create artwork based on planets at the 2013 Draw-a-Thon.
  • Participants create artwork based on planets at the 2013 Draw-a-Thon.

Press Street’s 2014 Draw­-a-thon kicks off Saturday at Michalopoulos Studios (527 Elysian Fields Ave.). The 24­hour event is free and all art supplies are provided.

“[Draw­A­Thon] is not a spectator sport, it is participatory,” says organizer Susan Gisleson. “The sole purpose of the event is to bring people together to make a mark, to get lost in the process of creation.”

This year’s theme is “Menagerie,” and it highlights the eclectic nature of Draw­-a-thon. “A collection of things,” Gisleson says. “Each artist interprets that differently.” Draw-a-thon workshops include “You Break the Cage by Walking” and “Beast in the Jungle.” Draw­-a-thon collaborated with Community Print Shop and Big Class, an after­school writing program on St. Claude Avenue, for the event. Students were asked to write descriptions of “un­drawable creatures” and participants with be asked to draw them on Saturday.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: The Gasperi Collection: Self-Taught, Outsider and Visionary Art

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM

The Throne of God by Sister Gertrude Morgan.
  • The Throne of God by Sister Gertrude Morgan.

Once folk art was just folk art. Somewhere, up in the hills, resourceful matrons gathered to make quilts and gossip, or retired small town cops carved duck decoys and other, less identifiable things, but it was all normal, good, clean fun. In the 1970s, another kind of folk art became fashionable. It was variously dubbed “visionary” or “outsider” art, terms that were code for art by people who sometimes heard or saw things, often very strange things. Some were just oddballs and others said they were on a mission from God to save souls with their religious paintings. Local collector Richard Gasperi assembled more than 500 such works, much of it on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where it makes for a great prelude to the Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings upstairs, with which the work has much in common.

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