Monday, May 7, 2012

CAC Opening, Missing Artists

The opening of NOLA NOW Part II: Abstraction in Louisiana at the Contemporary Art Center is crowded. The first floor is filled with works  from Louisiana artists, most of them well known in New Orleans, many of them represented by galleries just one block away. The exhibition is one chapter of a project started in October 2011, the first part composed of installations was located on the third floor of the building. This time, the space is tight and the artists represented (more than sixty) are mostly painters and a few sculptors, creating abstract works. The evening is a great occasion to meet the artists.

In contrast, the second floor dedicated to another exhibition titled Spaces: Antenna, The Front, Good Children Gallery feels empty: blank walls scarred with nails, left over tape, few pieces of art, silent computers, dismembered installations and a few pamphlets left over. The artists withdrew their works to manifest their disagreement with the CAC's administration. The third and fourth floor of the building are empty.

Walking down the ramp allowed me to discover the installation from Morgana King starting with a flower-like composition or a new planet floating in the air surrounded by the sculpture from Martin Payton. From above, I caught a great view of the "oval room" with its ceiling looking like a beehive. Downstairs, the visitor plunges in a cave with stalactites hanging low, decorated with a few objects constructed to match. Like a process often seen in nature, the artist used an accumulation of units to build the structure and created a magical world where size is relative.
 Upon leaving, I took a last look at Cynthia Scott's installation, in sync with the site and the preoccupations of the city. Photographs from  previous disasters (Love Canal, Three Miles Island, Exxon Valdez, BP Deepwater Horizon... the list is too long) are printed on fabric and installed hanging from the ceiling on inverted broken umbrellas. The result is a soaring colorful composition climbing the four stories of the building. The height of the ceiling creates a cathedral effect which is inspiring and each print is like a page of history, ecological disasters fading in our memory, a reminder that we do not learn.

Missing are all the artists who withdrew from the exhibition of the second floor. The triangle artist, artwork and viewer needs a place to thrive. Art viewers are always ready to discover another artist and will go where it happens in the city.

photographs by the author
"The Spiders From Mars Are Not Amused", Cynthia Scott
"Pointless: Not to capture a fleeting moment but to create one" Morgana King


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