Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flight - performance at the Rampart St. Community Center

Flight - Is it theatre? Is it art? oh no, is it * performance art *!?
Full disclosure, I am involved in this multimedia performance, which involves the talents of both Artspot Productions and Mondo Bizarro in the acting realm, the costumes of Susan Gisleson, the writing of Lisa D'Amour, music by Randels and LaRocca, video by me, directed by J Hammons, and, conceived and designed by Jeff Becker, whose amazing large scale moving sculptures form and define the set. (whew!)  The performance was reviewed by the theatre critic at the Gambit, and by the art critic for the Times-Picayune.  It's interesting to compare these pieces of writing for their underlying ideas about art and theatre and their intersections. I take issue with some of the assumptions about performance art espoused in each article; however, happenings or actions that get labeled as "performance art" are far between here, most often found in excellent, dance-heavy form at places like the SideArm Gallery.  Is this label only applied to work that can't otherwise be labeled? Does Wikipedia  help define the undefinable with statements like "Performance artists often challenge the audience to think in new and unconventional ways about theatre and performing, break conventions of traditional performing arts, and break down conventional ideas about "what art is"..."?  Performance art, with its academic origins in Dada, is a shape shifter whose spirit New Orleanians are intimate with every Fat Tuesday.  This spirit comes out locally in concealed forms as well - a recent short film called "Truth"  made by the local youth collective 2-Cent is a great document of a local performance art action.  Watch it on their website. 

BECA Gallery call for artists


For this exhibition, BECA gallery will be enlisting the input of art enthusiasts from around the world via ‘CURATE THIS!’, an online juried event which allows anyone from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and email access to select 10 artists from the compiled selection of submitted works. From June 18-21, 2008 art enthusiasts from around the world will view the works submitted by artists from all corners of the globe and will vote to choose the top 10 artists of 2008 working in 2D and 3D mediums including, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, mixed-media, drawing, printmaking, fiber, textiles and photography. The chosen top 10 artists will have their selected works featured at and in the upcoming 2008 edition of the publication titled, CURATE THIS!’.
From the top 10 artists chosen, the top 4 artists who have received the highest number of votes will have their works exhibited at ‘FOUR’, the gallery’s third international contemporary art exhibition opening August 2, 2008 at BECA gallery located at 527 Saint Joseph Street, New Orleans, LA, USA in the heart of the New Orleans warehouse arts district. The opening of the exhibit, ‘FOUR’, coincides with White Linen Night, the largest annual visual arts event in New Orleans.

Email submissions will be accepted according the guidelines listed through June 10, 2008. Physical submission receive deadline is June 12, 2008.
‘FOUR’ EXHIBITION DATES: August 2 – September 28, 2008. Complete guidelines and submission form may be downloaded from
BECA gallery
527 St. Joseph Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grey Ghost saga, con't. is chiming in on the Fred Radtke debate. If you don't know by now, Fred Radkte - aka the Grey Ghost - is New Orlean's self-appointed superhero painter-outer of that urban plague, graffiti. The writer of the article takes a stance that likens Radtke's work to the Ab Ex movement in visual art, therefore positioning Radtke right along side the grafitti artists whose work he seeks to grey out. Is he just another visual blight on the urban landscape, or an artist working within a "validated" artistic tradition? I am compelled to point out that this ironic approach to repositioning acts of graffiti removal has its precedent in a short film made in 2001 by Matt McCormick titled "The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal." Narrated by Miranda July, this beautifully- shot 16 mm film takes the same ironic, academic stance - graffiti removal as an artistic movement of its own merit within an accepted tradition - but in this case, the location is the urban wilds of Portland OR. How effective is this approach on the powers that be? Will Radtke start to think of his strokes as aesthetic gestures? Will he hold the paint roller slightly different now, contemplating the next move? Will Freeport MacMoran or the City start calling the money they donate to his project a "public art grant"? NOLAFugees has also chimed in with a slightly different approach in their "Fred Radtke is King" article. Whatever the result of this, the fact is that Radtke will take even non-graffit artists to court, if their work is nailed to light poles - see this NOLA Rising account of the trial ( the judge sounds surprisingly reasonable!) Beware, all you future public sphere artists of the subversive variety!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Whispering Bones - Race Relations and the Lakeview Neighborhood

On June 6, LakeviewS, HOME, New Orleans?, The VESTIGES Project, Truth Be Told, ArtSpot Productions, the Contemporary Arts Center & Lakeview Baptist Church present Whispering Bones, (an extension of last year’s LAKEVIEWS Sunset Bus Tour) featuring a reading of excerpts from Jan Villarrubia’s play The Turning of the Bones and Adella Gautier’s monologues FIVE DOLLARS A DAY AND CAR FARE and DAUGHTERS OF THE OCEAN followed by a story circle about race relations in the Lakeview neighborhood.
This event is free and open to the public and begins at 7:00 p.m., at Lakeview Baptist Church located at 6100 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124.
For more information, contact Jan Gilbert

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Elemore Morgan Jr passes away

see the article at the Ogden's website

Allison Stewart in New York

Closing today! It's your last chance to catch Allison Stewart's recent paintings in NYC at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts. This past February Stewart also curated "Close Up", an exhibit that included Raine Bedsole, Jacqueline Bishop, Kathleen Loe, Mary Jane Parker and Katharine White.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Authorless Content: The Whitney Biennial— Another Look

Closing in ten days, this year's Whitney Biennial offers Omer Fast's "The Casting" as its major highlight. In my mind, the issues engaged by this artwork connect to the way New Orleans is portrayed daily in popular news media. This work is about spin, and how bias in story telling says more about its producer than the supposed subject matter.

Especially in the year of a presidential election, Louisiana is unfortunately entertaining in its struggle, making it a prime emotional manipulator used in ads and spectacular news-gathering models. Mediated graphic reference of the Katrina disaster is frequent, and it is carefully crafted- often reflecting agendas that have little to do with people living in the Gulf Coast. Is whose favor is this regional history being co-opted?

Omer Fast's work asks many questions about authorship and the isolation of content. The subject matter in this artwork originates with an interview dialogue that is digested and recapitulated. Creating a meta-story of sorts, Fast develops this material to reveal how the story was constructed.

Physically, the space created by this installation separates origin and artifice. "The Casting" is a four-channel video displayed on two double-sided panels floating side-by-side inside the center of a darkened room. One pair of video panels portrays original interview footage with a US Army sergeant who recounts his experiences abroad at war in Iraq. The other side of these video panels shows a dramatized reenactment of these same events by actors and a camera crew. The audience surrounds the video projections as if they are on two opposing teams, and the installation is united by a singular sound track.

Audio in this piece carries the oral conversation between the army sergeant and the artist, but the mouths of actors don't move in Fast's dramatization. A rush of dislocation permeates the narrative's climax, as events on-screen hold visual logic, but are void of any causal sensibility. The audience's moments of suspended disbelief are exploited at the horrific points in each tale- as the artist subtly jump cuts, weaving together overlapping story arcs. The dialogue cycle of raw interview footage eventually breaks down and becomes a search for ultimate truths. Verbally negotiating this territory, Fast intentionally jumbles the delivery of information.

Modern media positioning similarly has the power to misguide its audience. Last month’s grandstand by John McCain in the Lower Ninth and the Ford Lincoln's commercial with Harry Connick Jr. are examples of maneuvering our aggravated sensations. Cues and segueways affect our understanding of content. Authorless stories and those serving as PR engines are truly frightening, especially with regard to Louisiana's future.

Artists Sessions @ Louisiana Artworks

click to expand and actually read announcement without magnifying glass

Oddest Fundraiser yet involving art (locally)?

for the City Park tennis courts
thank you Doug MacCash for capturing this:

Charity Hospital named endangered historical site

If you've never taken a close look at the amazing facade of Charity Hospital, now is the time. Enrique Alvarez's relief is an ode to the Louisiana worker of the 1930's. (I hear that Huey Long's infamous lost "deduct box," the box that contained an untold fortune in 10% deductions from all state employees' paychecks, is referenced in the relief with images of ducks - beware - I haven't confirmed this!) Since 2005 the state of LA has seemed happy to let workers in New Orleans fend for themselves, and they continue insisting that Charity should be torn down and a new multi-billion dollar complex built, taking over the whole neighborhood. Now Charity and the adjoining neighborhood has made it onto the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." BTW the history of a charity hospital in New Orleans dates back to 1735.
See Katy Reckdahl's article at

Monday, May 19, 2008

LAW Residency Application Deadline Extension

Need a studio? Louisiana ArtWorks needs more applicants. They have extended the deadline for Studio Residency Applications through Thursday, May 22. Applications must be submitted by 5 PM. Should you have any questions, please contact the Louisiana ArtWorks Office at (504) 571-7373.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

National Geographic Seed Grants for Film

Deadline June 13, 2008
Applications for the second 2008 round of the National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant program are being accepted. This program provides funding for film projects by and about indigenous and underrepresented minority-culture filmmakers from all reaches of the globe. Priority is given to those filmmakers who bring their lives and communities to light through first-person narratives. Up to sixteen awards ranging between $1,000 and $10,000 will be presented for use toward the development and production of a feature film, long or short documentary, short, animation, or music video. The next deadline is June 13, 2008. Remaining 2008 deadlines: September 15 and December 15
-- from the Arts Council of New Orleans "Artist Opportunities" mailing list.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Space available at BECA

Dear artists,

Between June '08 - Jan. '09 we will be making an exhibit space available to artists who do not currently have a public space or gallery in New Orleans in which to exhibit their work. Since BECA gallery will be creating several group exhibition opptys. for artists through Feb. 09 this is an alternative that will allow artists a small dedicated space in the gallery in which to exhibit their own work exclusively. This wouldn't be a good fit for an artist who already has exhibit opptys. here in New Orleans.

The dedicated space measures a total of approx. 30 linear feet of wall space and 72 square feet of space. For those of you who have not see our gallery space, there are high ceilings and multiple exposed metal rafters from which to install suspended work as well. If your work is video, film, performance please know that we do not have equipment on site but there is one electrical outlet dedicated to this space for your use. Please note that all work must be contained within this dedicated space so it may or may not work well for film or performance.
In lieu of our gallery's customary 50/50 split between artist/gallery, artists will retain 100% of their sales in exchange for a space rental fee of $400/mo. plus $30-$50 for one display of exhibit lettering. This fee covers your location across the street from the Contemporary Arts Center, climate controlled exhibit space, utilities, security, fine art insurance, public accessibility and gallery staffing Wed - Sun (11am - 4pm) and 6pm-9pm on first Sat's Art Walk night with reception including food and beverage, inclusion in gallery's print, web and email promotion. Only one artist may rent and exhibit at a time. If you wish to share the space for the month with another artist, you may do so with each of you exhibiting for 1/2 month each. There will be a $200 deposit due upon your space reservation. This is refundable once you leave the space in the condition in which you found it for the next artist.

New Orleans artists will be given first priority through May 15th for an appt. to review their work for this dedicated space. We will schedule appts. in the order in which we receive your email. We will let you know during that appt. whether or not we can allocate this space for your work and what months remain available. Beginning May 16th we will begin holding appts. with artists residing outside of New Orleans for whatever time slots remain available. The following months are currently available:

June 2008
July 2008
Sept. 2008

If you're are interested, please send us an email requesting an appt. time to review your work.

Best regards,
~ Melissa + Kurt

Friday, May 9, 2008

notes from the ninth: good children play with sculpture

I'm not sure what the title of the show is (i am a lazy reviewer), but malcolm has curated a group of LSU sculptors for the current show at Good Children in the ninth ward. Craft is secondary to the ideas in most of the work, but it is this very roughness that allows a playful pursuit of possibility. The piece i liked the most in the show was certainly the table with the spoon and the ball that chased each other around a table when two people sat down on the opposing chairs. I am a sucker for inanimate objects come to life and i appreciate the need to have not just one, but two people to make a complete circuit. If you go to the show solo, you will need to use your social skills of persuasion to bring about your aesthetic moment. another piece that relies on the gee whiz factor is the nearly full scale, talking politician. you can control the movements of the facial features with a game controller. the figure is creepy and fascinating like the animatronic figures at disney world. i hear the good children in the neighborhood love to play with it. also of interest to me was the ceramic ice cream scoops freshly fallen from their cone. the forms are sweet and sumptuously slick. my small quibble was that the shelf it was displayed on did not give the sculpture the room it deserves. many other interesting things in the show, like the hair chairs. the two pieces that used video were unfortunately either too obtuse for me to get, or too mundane for me to be interested. Hopefully you will be luckier than i. all in all another interesting show from a gallery unafraid to take some risks. go see it quick, before it comes down.
-ds, lazy writer of late reviews. i'm sure you could do much better than this.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Transforma Projects announces...

Transforma Projects announces the first round of the Creative Recovery Mini-Grant Program.

The program supports work existing at the intersection of art, social justice and recovery in New Orleans. Funds will be granted to the work of local independent artists, unincorporated groups, gathering spaces, publications and collectives that contribute to rebuilding. [501c3 non-profit organizations are not eligible.] Projects can include an exhibition, a public art project, an event or performance, the publication of writing directly related to the arts, an online project or publication, an artist residency, a screening, and more.

Please review the mini-grant guidelines and application for eligibility requirements and further information. The files are attached within the email and available for download at In addition paper copies will be available. If you have any further questions, please contact Jess Garz, Transforma Project Manager at

Round 1 Application due: June 2, 2008

If you are unable to apply at this time, there will be additional rounds in coming months.

About Transforma Projects:

Transforma Projects is a collective of artists and creative professionals formed after Hurricane Katrina as a means of supporting, nurturing and celebrating creative practices that impact the social and physical environment. The initiative explores how art-making can intersect with other sectors such as education, health, environment and community development. Transforma Projects works in partnership with the National Performance Network, an organization based in New Orleans.

Jess Garz

Transforma Projects
(215) 350 2700

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Twenty-one $25,000 Commissions Awarded

Big news! Thank you Joan Mitchell for kicking this into gear! This year probably marks the largest influx of public art into New Orleans since the WPA, with the Sculpture for New Orleans project and now this commission. Btw, here's a fascinating look at photos in the N.O. Public Library of the WPA artists at work, their artwork, and art classes for children, 1936-1942. Those were the days -- maybe these are the days? Partial press release below from the Arts Council of New Orleans:

New Orleans, LA-
The Arts Council of New Orleans and the Joan Mitchell Foundation are
pleased to announce the recipients of the 2008 New Orleans Art in Public
Places Commissions:

Frank Alessandrini
Barry Bailey
Ryan Ballard
Raine Bedsole
Lou Blackwell
Marcus Brown
Christopher Scott Brumfield
Catherine Burke
"Generic Art Solutions": Tony Campbell and Matt Vis
Eric Dallimore
Dawn DeDeaux
Paul Deo
Rashida Ferdinand
Mitchell Gaudet and Erika Larken
Shannon Landis Hansen
Sally Heller
Alex Podesta
Christopher Saucedo
Cynthia Scott and Damon Rosenzweig
Jim Sohr
Michel Varisco

In collaboration with the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and an independent
jury, the Arts Council selected twenty-one public art projects designed
specifically by local artists for the city of New Orleans. Artists will
receive $25,000 to create artwork to be placed in the public venue and
help with rebuilding their artistic careers.

Friday, May 2, 2008

notes from the ninth: words and images meet at antenna

the writing is on the wall, and it doesn't take a prophet to see it. The freshly painted room at Antenna, a new gallery in the ninth ward, has already been tagged. The inaugural show at the non-profit space pairs visual artists with word artists - painter Brad Benischek with writer Berman Black, and painter Shawn Hall with poet Brad Elliot- to interesting effect. Brad B and Mr. Black have constructed a subdued but stunning mural that withstands prolonged viewing at different distances. Race cars and building materials overlay large and small text that relate what seem to be personal stories of the rebuilding. It all comes together with conviction and necessity, remarkable esp considering the organic, improvisational process with no white-out to be seen.
Shawn and Brad E's wall is equally beautiful but with a different feel altogether. Though the words and images appear to have been created separately, their installation brings it together. The text is seductively rendered, belying the intent of the words. Shawn's small paintings of alchemically inspired imagery elude to possible connections rather than illuminating the text.
Antenna is a welcome addition to the burgeoning art activities in the ninth ward, and this show bodes well for future offerings. The show is up sat & sun, noon -5pm, until May 17th, and Brad Benischek and Shawn Hall will both be doing talks about the work at some point soon.
Antenna, 3161 Burgundy St.