Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Different Stories

Carl Joe Williams, multimedia artist and musician is from New Orleans where he finds inspiration and subjects. His works can be viewed in galleries like The Front on Saint-Claude or around town for his public art. His latest exhibition at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi Shades of Perception occupies the African American gallery where colors and music greet the visitor. The artist's musical compositions, part of an installation made of painted totems and speakers fill the air, the rhythm translated in patterns of bright colors on the poles.
The  surrounding paintings on the walls are narrative figurative compositions. Williams paints on  abandoned objects like doors, wood shutters, bathroom mirrors, crutches... and gives his version of Americana through works inspired by artists like Grant Wood or Norman Rockwell. In American Shotgun, 2012, the couple (father and daughter in Wood's painting) assumes the same pose but the farmer's pitchfork from American Gothic, 1930, is replaced by a musician's trumpet. Rockwell's No Swimming, 1921, a playful adventure, turns into an unlawful act in No Trespassing, 2012 and Prom Dress,1949, becomes Paulette, 2012, a young prostitute choosing a dress for work. The shift is subtle and can fool us, but the titles do not lie. The portrait of a girl blowing a dry thistle, a butterfly flying away, carrying her dreams, symbols so sweet, so fresh, contrast with the harsh design of the Calliope Project profiled on the right corner in Calliope Dream, 2012. Haloes surrounding faces and backgrounds reminiscent of stain-glass give a quasi-religious aura to Williams's paintings and looking at A Moment of Silence, 2012 or Family Value, 2012, I can hear Gospel music.
An emotional message from the artist.

photographs courtesy Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art:

American Shotgun, 2012
 Mixed media on found door, 72” x 35”

 Hearing the Voice of God, featuring   Jeremy “Mojo” Phipps, 2012
Mixed media on found wood pallet, 31” x 24”

No comments: