Monday, March 28, 2016

"Arthur Kern: The Surreal World of a Reclusive Sculptor" opens at Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 11:22 AM

Kern's ghostly sculptures depict horses with phantom riders and other strange creatures.
  • Kern's ghostly sculptures depict horses with phantom riders and other strange creatures.

At the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, “Arthur Kern: The Surreal World of a Reclusive Sculptor” opened last weekend. The artist has a colorful biography: a retired Tulane University fine arts professor, he has rarely shown or sold any of his work. In 1992 he was awarded a $1 million judgment after an auto accident when he said nerve damage to his right hand destroyed his ability to sculpt. (The judgment was later reversed.)

According to a press release, the artist's sculptures have been accumulating on tabletops and in cabinets in his Uptown home for the past four decades. It’s only being shown now at the encouragement of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil author John Berendt, who curated the show. With its equestrian and anatomical motifs, the work’s austere colors and melting shapes evoke phantasmagoria and decay. 

There’s an opening reception for the show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31. 

Correction: an earlier version of this post which mentioned the lawsuit failed to state its ultimate resolution. 

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Legendary Japanese band Hijokaidan to unleash audio assault on New Orleans

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 4:39 PM

Hijokaidan. L-R: Toshiji Mikawa, JUNKO, JOJO Hiroshige
  • Hijokaidan. L-R: Toshiji Mikawa, JUNKO, JOJO Hiroshige
In the age of piecework, freelancing and independent contractors, it's hard to imagine doing the same thing for thirty-seven years— but that's how long the Osakan band Hijokaidan has been making extreme noise music. After a globe-spanning and decade-spanning career of sonic violence, Hijokaidan is preparing to play their first ever New Orleans show on Wednesday, March 30th, along with a daunting lineup of other improvisational and experimental Japanese acts.

Before I began attending local noise shows, I assumed "noise music" was just clattering Einstürzende Neubauten outtakes— cacophony for its own sake. I was startled by how wrong I was, and remain continually impressed by the breadth of approaches to noise within even our smallish city's smallish scene. Almost any adjective or adjectival combo you can stick in front of the word noise exists. There is silly noise, harsh noise, rhythmic noise, ambient noise, gay Southern witch noise — bands that sound like dance music, bands that sound like guided meditation, bands that sound like those Halloween cassettes from the dollar store. Every noise act seems to inhabit its own subgenre.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prospect.4 art triennial dates announced

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 4:40 PM

Prospect.3 featured work by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
  • Prospect.3 featured work by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Prospect New Orleans announced dates for its fourth installment, Prospect.4. The contemporary art expo opens Nov. 11, 2017 and runs through February 25, 2018.

The artistic director for P.4 is Trevor Schoonmaker, who is the Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at Duke University's Nasher Art Museum. 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: New work at 5 Press Gallery and UNO St. Claude Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 2:35 PM

Andi's Permaculture Garden, Miro Hoffman.
  • Andi's Permaculture Garden, Miro Hoffman.

Landscapes are an ancient genre dating back to Europe's stone age cave paintings, but Miro Hoffman's canvases reflect more current and local concerns. Referencing both urban farming and art history, they suggest that what we call “sense of place” results from a fusion of aspiration, aesthetics and nature. For instance, Veggi Farms III depicts a community garden designed to provide work for the Vietnamese residents of New Orleans East affected by the BP oil spill. Sparkling with crisp forms and colors, it whimsically exudes the aspirations of the garden's creators. Similar qualities appear in Press Street Gardens, where students learn to grow produce to be sold to local restaurants. Andi's Permaculture Garden, pictured, a view of the artist's father's backyard, is more personal, but the scientifically and socially innovative tone of all of these scenes makes them very different from traditional landscapes. A recent artist in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center, Hoffman is a deft colorist who uses a kind of abstract shorthand to create quasi-realistic landscapes that reflect the post-Katrina movement toward community oriented visual art.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Krewe of Vaporwave's virtual Mardi Gras parade

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM

A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
  • A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
Last night the first annual Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave rolled. Theirs was a virtual parade, viewed via popular streaming service Twitch. To be clear, the parade, a series of video/music collaborations by pseudonymous artists, was entirely online.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a symptom of alienation, but watching it was the opposite of alienating. So many of us do already consume so much of life through screens, whether we're streaming ParadeCam, a small bright rectangle of noise and spectacle in the corner of our workstation at some geographically remote office, or scrolling numbly through Carnival-soaked social media, the documentation of other people's good times. The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave positioned itself as a joke about this tendency — “This is something to be experienced alone on your computer in the dark,” the Krewe's founder, Merely Synecdoche, told Michael Patrick Welch — but functioned as both a critical commentary on it and, by bringing viewers together at a set time to watch it, even a partial remedy.

Whereas some react to the malign influences of digital technology on our daily lives by mindlessly celebrating technology, fetishizing it, or hailing it as a magical force that can rescue us from our problems, Synecdoche says Vaporwave is about "the loneliness and pointlessness of the Internet."

Vaporwave as a genre is internationally influenced, built of broken pieces of the past, born of a sense of loss, and according to Synecdoche, "on the Internet it’s already been declared dead many times over,” making it a good genre fit for 2016 New Orleans. This first year's theme was "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave." So: elegiac, fatalistic and unshakably fixated on itself... any of these characteristics sound familiar?

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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?"

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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