Monday, August 4, 2014

White Linen Night

Saturday, August 2, I was at White Linen Night. It was a success considering the number of attendees. I did not see art, just got a whiff of it making my way through the crowd. For the 20th anniversary, I noticed more colors on Julia. This is not Saint-Patrick's day, a touch of white won't do, white should be worn from head to toes.

For a start, I visited the Ogden Museum of Southern Art which presents Rolland Golden's works in an exhibition aimed at highlighting his style of "Magical Realism" or as he calls it "Borderline-Surrealism". Born in New Orleans, raised in the South from Mississippi to Alabama to Louisiana, taught by the regionalist painter John McCrady and the owner of a studio/gallery in the French Quarter for a decade, Golden possesses all the needed qualifications to be called a Southern artist. Nevertheless, I had difficulty finding the South in his compositions combining realist and surrealist styles. Figurative, bathing in Fauvist colors, usually built with a quiet landscape in the background and the narrative in the foreground, the repetitive technique brings boredom. French countryside, bridge in Paris, church, southern landscapes are all looking soulless and empty, lacking the mystery and the suspense felt in Magritte's paintings, the Surrealist master Golden refers to in one of his works. There are no surprises while going through the seventy oil paintings, watercolors and drawings.

Encased in a dark room, Shawn Hall's Pastoral Universe is an experience for the senses. Immersed in the cosmic composition, the visitor walks around a central island bubbling like magma, spewing oval sparks of light on the floor and the walls. The installation includes "one mirrored terrain, two suspended projectors and one channel video loop with sound" and the well hidden machinery creates a world of reflections on the walls, through mirrors and projection of images. The meditative piece is spoiled by the number of visitors, chattering and taking selfies. This is not the best time to savor the work.
On the top floor, Shawn Hall is also represented by a diptych for Louisiana Contemporary, the annual statewide-juried exhibition assembling Louisiana artists. Two works from Bonnie Maygarden are prominently displayed at the entrance. Desert of the Real and Greyscale both pieces made in 2014 are evidence of her commitment to the world of "virtual reality" or hyperreality. One can also find a piece from Cynthia Scott, Punditry, 2014, a great satire with punchy images. There is art for every taste, figurative, abstract, sculptures and a walk through takes some time to discover all the artists.
Across the street at the Contemporary Arts Center, more female artists from New Orleans are featured for the exhibition Mark of the Feminine. The themes are enduring and treated through different media, like at the entrance, a work from Vanessa Centeno made with canvas, polyfill, glitter, LED lights, a psychedelic rendition with a provocative title Keep It Up which  made me think of a white version from Yayoi Kusama, 1962, Accumulation #1. Farther, Cristina Molina's  Saber, Sabor, Savor, 2011, is a gallant stereoscopic installation in which she relates twenty five sites with a meal, a romantic text with courtship in mind. From video like the untitled piece from Ariya Martin to sculptures like Annoint, 2014, from Kristin Meyers, all media is represented and no subject is taboo.
My wandering along Julia to visit the galleries was cut short when I got bogged down in the crowd...
an evening to enjoy the company, the food and have a drink like everybody else.

photographs by the author:

view of Julia Street
"Startled by Magritte", 1991, Rolland Golden
"Pastoral Universe", Shawn Hall
"Keep It Up", 2014, Vanessa Centeno

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