One of the best ways to discover New Orleans is through Prospect New Orleans and its third project Prospect 3: Notes for Now, a three month long, international, biennial contemporary art exhibit ending on Sunday, January 25th. The art is placed in various destinations throughout the city, some remote, others not, and the theme is based on our city, culture and region as interpreted by globally acclaimed contemporary artists.
Prospect began in 2008 with the goal to create a well-respected contemporary art festival for New Orleans. The first one was a success, the second was affected by the economic crisis, and the third has hit a home run. P.3’s Curator, Franklin Sirmans, has recently been named one of the top curators in the world, and Prospect.3. has several of the most exciting Contemporary artists of 2014, as named by Artnet News.
Per the recommendation of New Orleans photographer and P.3 exhibitor, Sophie Lvoff, Mr. Sirmans turned to Walker Percy’s only novel, Moviegoer, for inspiration in curating the exhibit. Themes include: The New Orleans Experience, Seeing Oneself in the Other, The South, Crime and Punishment, Movie going, The Carnivalesque, Abstraction, Visual Sound, and seamlessly ties together the largesse of the show through commissions by several artists under the moniker, All Together Now. For exhibit-goers, Mr. Sirmans poses the question, “By looking at the other, what do you find in yourself?” He describes it more poetically here:
“Prospect.3 is an exhibition in restless search, guided by a constellation of a singular artistic and literary works, sounds, and visions, a the apes of which is Walker Percy’s singular novel, The Moviegoer. Set in New Orleans in the early 1960s – the time of heightened social awareness in the first half of that decade’s movement for civil rights – The Moviegoer wades through the depths of existentialism in a world where people were legally segregated from each other and therefor prohibited from truly comprehending their selves.
New Orleans is situated at a specific and intense crossroads – a point of convergence for national conversations and a point of departure for the world’s horizon. The city, as Percy perceived, is truly “Somewhere and not Anywhere”; it is “the South,” holding its place at the edge of the United States; it is ‘the northernmost Caribbean city’; it is ‘Africa on the Mississippi; it is the ‘most European American city’; and less lovingly it is the home of Plessy v. Ferguson. It is a truly vital vantage point from which to consider our social condition – an illuminating source of philosophical inquiry for the here and present, which often seems not so distant from the there and past.
It is hoped that this exhibition will provide entry into the ageless and possibly limitless quest to define the self and interpret the other. While this exhibition attempts to seize on conversations of supposed universality, it is a thesis built to wilt and even fail in some instances. Let us consider the circumstances of where and how we are encountering these works, and each other, reflecting on the privilege of our position. Prospect 3: Notes for Now presents visual arts as a lens through which to view both the everydayness and the strangeness of the world around us, to bridge fissures in the past-present, and to imagine the possibilities of an interconnected future, ‘Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?’”
On Sunday, I visited Crevasse 22, Newcomb Art Gallery, Longue Vue House and Gardens, New Orleans Museum of Art, the UNO Art Gallery, the Joan Mitchell Gallery, the Contemporary Art Center, and the Ogden. The Ogden is home to the star of the show, Basquiat and the Bayou. I could never do the exhibit justice, so I suggest you read about it. Let’s just say a man who had a very short life, shadowed Andy Warhol, only visited New Orleans once right before his death, depicted the culture so well through his art, and he now has paintings worth $60 million dollars.
It was a fun-filled, long day with great friends, and we only skimmed the surface of half of the exhibits. There is so much to learn about cultures around the world, and mostly our own. There is even an artist who depicts the sissy-bounce, so there is something for all! Take my word and absorb it for the next two weeks! Download the P.3 app and ask questions at the gallery! Often times, there are many artists lurking around who can help you understand the true meaning of this wonderful show.You can also read this great write up on NOLA.com for a further explanation.
NEWCOMB ART GALLERY
Monir Farmanfarmaian, an Iranian born in 1924, who is a sculpture using mirrors as her medium. Simply stunning.
Ebony Patterson and her interpretation of Jamaican Carnival. You will clearly see resemblances to our very own Carnival. As she says, “In Jamaica, everything is overdone.” Clearly New Orleans shares the same mindset.
UNO ST. CLAUDE ART GALLERY
The Propeller Group with Christopher Myers portrays the similarity of the second line celebration for the dead to the Vietnamese celebration for the dead. Brass instruments prevail, but beware of snakes too (in the video!).
Crevasse 22, located in Poydras, Louisiana, is actually a P.3 plus exhibit – meaning not an official designation, but part of the celebration – is worth seeing because the site is stunning and the exhibit showcases Louisiana-based sculptural artists.
Here you will also see, Land-Scapes, an inaugural exhibition at a new art space, the River House, in St. Bernard Parish, with works by regional artists that reflect the uniquely beautiful and threatened environment of metropolitan New Orleans where millions live despite repeated cataclysms.
The tear drop shaped lake viewed from the house was created by a natural crevasse or breach in the Mississippi River Levee in 1922 that flooded surrounding homes, farms, and businesses. It widened Bayou Terre aux Boeufs, now a site made available by the Torres | Burns Trust for a sculptural garden and art space.
Pictured above is the Art House, inspirational inside, as well as Mitchell Gaudet’s Crevasse Clouche Collection made of glass and tells the story of the eco-system. In the glass bowl featured on the right, an ant house has developed within it. Finger Pointing by Christopher Saucedo is branded inkjet prints on wood of the area of the Crevasse.
As you can see, there is a vast amount to cover (I never write blogs this long!) Plan to end your trip at the Joan Mitchell Gallery on Rampart, so you can relax with dinner and drinks at Meauxbar, conveniently located next door. Prospect.3 closes on January 25th, so your time is running out to see this one-of-a-kind show. (The next one will not occur until 2018, coinciding with the 300th birthday of New Orleans.) P.3 is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 am – 4 pm. Grab a P.3 Passport from the Contemporary Arts Center and set out on your journey. If you obtain a stamp from each venue, it entitles you to a P.3 T-shirt or Totebag. The ladies T-Shirt is definitely one that I would sport around town. Tres Chic!
TELL THEM SCOUT SENT YOU!
P.S. I am planning to visit a P.3 + exhibit this weekend, ExhibitBE, organized by local artist Brandon Odums. ExhibitBE explores the relationship of street artists to a specific site, the abandoned Charles DeGaulle Manor housing complex in Algiers. If you would like to go, respond here, I would love for you to join me!