How well do you remember the last days of August 10 years ago? …The three major visual arts venues in the city — the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center — have all timed exhibitions of living artists to coincide with the anniversary. Each show is distinct in its approach, its tone, and its way of visualizing the role of art and the idea of memorialization itself.
United States Artists (USA) is pleased to announce the 34 new USA Fellows for 2014. Each artist or collaborative will receive an award of $50,000 to support his or her practice and professional development, opening up exciting creative possibilities through the transformative power of unrestricted financial support.
While it may be best known for its vibrant music scene, New Orleans’ history of visual artists—painters, photographers, sculptors, video artists, and beyond—rivals that of any other city packed with sleek galleries and slick collectors. Though the local art community has lost some of its greatest inspirations in recent months—including George Dureau and George Rodrigue—the fierce passion of the city’s established and emerging artists continues to evolve and make NOLA a hotbed of creative activity. Here are 20 New Orleans Artists You Should Know.
“Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans” by Matt Sakakeeny with artwork by Willie Birch. Special offer from Duke University Press: Save 30%.
In the 70-year journey that has taken him from the New Orleans housing project where he grew up to having his work exhibited in some of the more hallowed halls of the New York art world and back to New Orleans again, Willie Birch has always been outspoken. Even so, his current Arthur Roger Gallery show can seem very quiet. Unlike his earlier 7th Ward street scenes, there are no second lines, stoop sitters or funerals in these big black-and-white works on paper, only stark, empty vistas where ragged buildings and rickety fences initially suggest a social realist view of his hardscrabble neighborhood. But like a back street Pompeii, these scarred, unpopulated vistas have their own tales to tell, and if they lack local charm in the usual sense, they are not without dignity. Rendered with eloquent simplicity, they reveal through their subtle luminosity a resonant depth of presence. “It is what it is,” they seem to say, but like the area’s residents, there is clearly more to them than what is seen on the surface.
New Orleans area art fans flocked in to the Arthur Roger Gallery for the opening this weekend of “Southern Gothic: An Insider’s View by Willie Birch and Paintings, Drawings” and an exhibit of paintings, drawings and photographs by George Dureau.
Birch moved back to the Crescent City in the early 90s after receiving a Guggenheim grant to produce a body of work based on growing up in New Orleans. He bought and gutted a property on N. Villere Street, which eventually became his studio space. The old stomping grounds of Mardi Gras Indian Chief Tootie Montana and jazz legend “Jelly Roll” Morton, Birch couldn’t have felt more at home. He began compiling life-sized color portraits of African Americans, but his work has since evolved into black and white through use of acrylic and charcoal on canvas.
Join artist Willie Birch at the New Orleans Museum of Art for a tour of HARD TRUTHS: THE ART OF THORNTON DIAL, Friday, April 20, 5pm to 9pm.
Exit Art announces its final exhibition EVERY EXIT IS AN ENTRANCE: 30 YEARS OF EXIT ART. Founded in 1982 by Executive Director Jeanette Ingberman and Artistic Director Papo Colo, Exit Art has grown from a pioneering alternative art space into an innovative cultural center. We have supported and fostered a vibrant, interdisciplinary artistic community in New York, organizing over 200 exhibitions, events, festivals and programs featuring more than 2,500 artists. Consistently challenging social, political, aesthetic and curatorial norms, Exit Art has organized historical exhibitions; presented the work of young, emerging, under-recognized and mid-career artists; produced experimental theater and performance works; and organized national and international film and video programs. Committed early on to experimenting with the intersections of film, video, performance, music, publications, design and visual art, Exit Art remained steadfast in its mission to provide new possibilities and opportunities for both artists and audiences alike.
Artist Willie Birch was born in New Orleans in 1942. After earning his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he moved to New York and established a successful career as an artist, exhibiting throughout the U.S. and internationally. He now lives in New Orleans, where he depicts the unique culture of his native city in large-scale black-and-white drawings.