"The Ogden focused on rebuilding the culture of New Orleans and the region," says director Richard Gruber. "We presented more than 30 exhibitions, many of them were related to Katrina, architecture, design, photography. The museum became a gathering point and we hired more than 300 musicians for events."
Though last year's, Art for Arts' Sake was pre-empted, this year's event (Oct. 7) has rebounded with an extraordinary collection of shows, many reflecting how galleries and institutions have responded in the past year.
Exhibitions of photography by photojournalists, documentary and art photographers proliferated during the past year everywhere from Ogden to NOMA to Warehouse District galleries. In the French Quarter, gallery-owner and photographer Joshua Mann Pailet spent the days after the storm documenting the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. He recently took 50 of those images to Chicago for a solo show at Architrouve. While not displayed currently in A Gallery for Fine Photography, the images are posted on the Web site www.agallery.com. With the lack of foot traffic in the French Quarter, he was able to keep his gallery busy by working with longtime patrons.
"It's been a roller-coaster year," Pailet says. "Fortunately, being in business for 35 years, the reach of the gallery helped. A strong Web site also helped to reach out to collectors."
One of the opportunities that arose for him is the Art for Arts' Sake show of Diane Arbus photos, a rare and large collection of original prints. The show includes the portfolio Box of Ten which she produced just before her death.
A show of newer work by an accomplished popular artist includes both a special Katrina-related presentation and Colors for a Better World, a collection of more indirectly relevant paintings with naturalist themes by Peter Max. Angel King Gallery, formerly Hanson Gallery, will host the show, and at the reception, Max will present five portraits to individuals recognized for their work during or after Katrina. They include Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, veterinarian Dr. Missy Jackson, and CEO Les Hirsch and Dr. Kevin Jordan of Touro, who organized a helicopter evacuation of patients from the hospital. Max also created a poster to help raise funds for Katrina relief
The Contemporary Arts Center will unveil its pre-empted Louisiana Biennial show. Unable to host the juried showcase of Louisiana artists last year, the offset schedule resumes with this show.
After a year of shows more directly addressing Katrina-related art and exhibits, Ogden is focusing on regional artists in the coming year. It opens with shows by several, including George Dureau, Arnold Mesches and major American painter and Mississippi native William Dunlap. His Panorama of the American Landscape show includes a series of landscapes, many juxtaposing change and technological advances against expanses of hills and fields. One frame (pictured) depicts Walker hounds, a breed of hunting dog Dunlap's grandfather used to raise, trotting across fields as a distant nuclear power plant painted in ghostly white discharges steam. Dunlap will be at the opening and appear the following day at a panel hosted by Gruber, who has completed a book about the painter and his work.