Although there is plenty to celebrate in the 30th anniversary of the showcase event for the contemporary art gallery scene, Art for Art's Sake, there is added excitement this year as many galleries and museums anticipate the November debut of Prospect 1, the New Orleans international art biennial.
"Everybody's got a full plate right now," says gallery owner Arthur Roger. "Everybody is energized."
Roger is splitting his approach. Because of the interruptions of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, he has extended through mid-October the show of glass works by Dale Chihuly at his Julia Street gallery. A show of Robert Colescott's work is being pushed back to January. In his annex space in the Renaissance Arts Hotel, he is opening a show of Hurricane Katrina-related works by local and international artists that will stay up through Prospect 1.
The Contemporary Arts Center, which hosts the evening's afterparty, runs its current shows " works by Peter Sarkisian, and City Stage, featuring works by Jeffrey Cook, Adrian Price, Colin Miller and others through Sunday and then debuts new shows for Prospect 1, created and organized by the CAC's director of visual art Dan Cameron, who has organized previous international biennials in Istanbul and Taipei. The New Orleans biennial is expected to draw art enthusiasts from around the globe during its three-month run. The show features New Orleans artists like Willie Birch and more than 60 artists from around the world, many of whom are creating site-specific art installations.
While international travelers are journeying here, the University of New Orleans' first recipient of a Master of Fine Arts degree is creating an installation in London at the Tate Modern museum. New Orleanians can see an overview Margaret Evangline's work at the Ogden Museum starting at Art for Art's Sake.
The Ogden opens two other shows as well, all three in the works before Prospect 1 was created. Lisa Silvestri has created portraits of students in the cosmetology program and marching band at John McDonogh High School. Silvestri is a local artist whose Gentilly home was lost to the flooding following Katrina.
Finally, Ogden opens a show of renowned photographer Sally Mann's work concerning mortality. The photographs have not been shown extensively, says curator David Houston, who selected the works with Mann. The fourth-floor show will unfold like her book, What Remains, from which many of the works developed, he adds.
During Prospect 1, Ogden will stage smaller shows of Louisiana painter Douglas Bourgeois and sculptor Martin Payton, and a show of Benny Andrews' work from the museum's permanent collection.
The next several months should offer an interesting perspective on how local and international art intersect. Art for Art's Sake is the first big preview and will mix in other local culture as well. The party at the CAC features Bonerama. There will be art performances and food and drink booths set up on Julia Street during gallery openings.