John Alexander: Grand Illusions by Jane Livingston John Alexander is a painter whose ambitions have always been heroic, all encompassing. He has consciously taken a stance in a tradition of paint that at first we identify as expressionist, but that reaches back before revolutionary artists of the early twentieth century, to the narrative and religious…
Seattle is a low-key, convivial town, but when the Robert Colescott retrospective opens at the Seattle Art Museum next week, it may put some acid in the placid rain. In Cincinnati, a woman marched into the museum before the show opened and vociferously declared the artist’s work to be insulting to blacks.
Robert Colescott is a black artist, born in Oakland, Calif., in 1925, who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in drawing and painting, went on to study with Fernand Leger in Paris (1949-50) and in the 1960’s spent two years in Cairo, first as artist in residence at the American Research Center and later on the faculty of the American University.
Armed with nothing but a camera, Deborah Luster gained access in 1998 to the East Carroll Parish Prison Farm in Transylvania and spent the next three and a half years taking pictures of inmates there and in two other Louisiana state prisons.
Photography can do powerful things. Deborah Luster, for example, tells a story of how one of her photographs reunited a family: A mother, who had spent 15 years in an Louisana prison without seeing her children, requested that Luster take her portrait — thinking that if she sent the image to her children, it might “soften their hearts.” It did. A few months later, when Luster followed up, four of the woman’s children had come to see her.
Time is frozen behind the gate, even as one slide follows another on the screen.
There’s Gumby and Cornbread. No, that’s not Cornbread; his nickname is Padu. He lives in the Main Prison now.
Deborah Luster: One Big Self by The Kitchen Sisters, npr “My mom… It’s hard to talk about your mom. She was very glamorous but she never put on any airs. There was no saditty with her. She was infected with that southern ancestor worship thing, all into the arts of dress and manners and home…
I can’t really say that there’s a unifying theme,” says New Orleans-born sculptor Ersy about the works in her first exhibit in more than six years, now at the Arthur Roger Gallery.
For an artist, no event is more significant than a retrospective exhibition. As the word implies, a retrospective provides an occasion for looking back, for identifying themes, both stylistic and pictorial, that characterize a body of work. Usually, a retrospective inevitably entails reflection and reassessment. While everyone has such moments in life – a major anniversary or a birthday marking a decade – an artist is confronted with a tangible record that must be faced with prevarication or self-delusion. For an artist to “dry up” in his/her primary medium after a retrospective is not at all unusual. Often a painter or sculptor will work only in drawings or prints for a few weeks or months on the heels of this hiatus. For an artist to make a radical and prolonged change, not only in style but in medium as well, however, is indeed unusual. But that is exactly what Robert Gordy did after his 1981 retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Few people confronting Edward Whiteman’s “reconstructed” paper-and-canvas sculptures for the first time would suspect that they were inspired by New Orleans.
The stony-looking relief pieces are irregularly contoured collages, combining torn sheets of creased and stained paper with fragments of rumpled canvas, also stained and in addition painted with bold hieroglyphic markings, usually in red. What connections could these venerable even archeological-locking sculptures possibly have with New Orleans?