Tagged: Good Children Gallery

Brian Guidry in “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery

Brian Guidry

“Thorn”

Acrylic and Oil on Canvas

33″ x 40.5′

2011

on view in the exhibition “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery, St. Claude Arts District, 4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117 until December 4, 2011 when the exhibition will be “refreshed” with new curation and altered installation

*** Author’s note:  In order to read a full review of “Hit Refresh,” please see the earlier post titled “‘Hit Refresh’ at Good Children Gallery: Too Much of a ‘Good’ Thing” on this site.

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Srdjan Loncar in “Hit Refesh” at Good Children Gallery

Srdjan Loncar

“Fix-A-Thing (Wall) – Marfa, Texas

Archival Inkjet Print

20″ x 28″

2011

Srdjan Loncar

“Fix-A-Thing (Pothole) – Marfa, Texas”

Archival Inkjet Print

20″ x 28″

2011

on view in the exhibition “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery, St. Claude Arts District, 4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117 until December 4, 2011 when the exhibition will be “refreshed” with new curation and altered installation

*** Author’s note:  In order to read a full review of “Hit Refresh,” please see the earlier post titled “‘Hit Refresh’ at Good Children Gallery: Too Much of a ‘Good’ Thing” on this site.

Stephen Collier in “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery

Stephen Collier

“Helter Skelter,” ink and acrylic on fiberglass and resin, 30″ x 80″, 2011

“Dream Catcher,” mixed media on found dream catcher, 19″ x 42″, 2011

“Dream Catcher,” mixed media on found dream catcher, 9″ x 30″, 2011

“Dream Catcher,” mixed media on found dream catcher, 9″ x 28″, 2011

“Dream Catcher,” mixed media on found dream catcher, 9″ x 28″, 2011

“Purification Club,” glaze on ceramic, 3″ x 3.5″ 14.5″, 2011

“Composition,” patchouli on carboard, 118.5″ x 131″, 2011

on view in the exhibition “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery, St. Claude Arts District, 4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117 until December 4, 2011 when the exhibition will be “refreshed” with new curation and altered installation

*** Author’s note:  In order to read a full review of “Hit Refresh,” please see the earlier post titled “‘Hit Refresh’ at Good Children Gallery: Too Much of a ‘Good’ Thing” on this site.

 

Lala Rascic, ” A Load from the Inside – Reviewed”

Lala Rascic

“A Load from the Inside – Reviewed”

two channel video installation, lettering

11 min, BW/mute

video by: Ivan Slipcevic

on view in the exhibition “Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery, St. Claude Arts District, 4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117 until December 4, 2011 when the exhibition will be “refreshed” with new curation and altered installation

*** Author’s note:  In order to read a full review of “Hit Refresh,” please see the earlier post titled “‘Hit Refresh’ at Good Children Gallery: Too Much of a ‘Good’ Thing” on this site.

“Hit Refresh” at Good Children Gallery: Too Much of a “Good” Thing

by Reggie Michael Rodrigue

At this moment in time, the galleries in St. Claude Arts District in New Orleans are leading the charge for new art in the city.  This movement has reinvigorated the  art  scene in the Crescent City which was  sorely in need of a rush of new blood, ideas and perspective after decades of concerted efforts on the part of a few artists, curators, galleries, museums and arts organizations that laid the foundation for the art scene as a whole but, nevertheless, lead to stagnation.  I have always attributed this stagnation to the fact that New Orleans was first and foremost a city in love with its music rather than its art.  Also, the concentration of real art collectors, lovers and financial backers in the New Orleans has always been small as compared to art capitals such as New York City or Houston.

Yet, post-Katrina, the city astonishingly received an influx of artists and creative people who were attracted to the opportunity to live in this new wasteland/wild west frontier/cultureplex with the locals who stayed and rebuild the art scene with a two pronged approach: remake the scene in their own image while respecting New Orleans’ past and its present.

The Good Children Gallery is the product of the post-Katrina experiment which was spearheaded from its home neighborhood in the St. Claude Arts District.  As with most of the art spaces in the district, it gathers its strength from numbers.  It is a co-op gallery run by artist members with a DIY ethos.   The gallery began its life as a scrappy, upstart alternative space.  Fast forward to 2011, and practically every member of the co-op has a thriving career which involves exhibiting at the more tony spaces on Julia St. as well as spaces across the country.  Many of them have also been involved in the Prospect New Orleans 1 Biennial and its place-holder spawn Prospsect 1.5.  This year has finally brought Prospect New Orleans 2 to the city, and this time around, The Good Children Gallery has been designated by Prospect founder and curator Dan Cameron (who played an integral part in the reinvention of the city as an art destination) as a Prospect 2 Satellite space.

To commemorate this occasion,  the members of the gallery decided to install a group exhibition, titled “Hit Refresh” highlighting their current work and practices individually.  The job of curation was given to Nick Stillman.  There’s no nod to a general theme or train of thought, although you could argue  that the phrase “alive and kicking” would serve the exhibition well.  The exhibition does have a twist, however.  After December 4, 2011, the exhibition will be altered, and a new curator, Cameron Shaw, will be at the helm, hence, the exhibition title.

Walking into the gallery on the public opening night of Propsect 2 was like walking into an art minefield.  The gallery was packed with people and art rubbing against one another.  There were pieces hunkering down on the floor, pieces hanging from the ceiling, pieces occupying entire walls including the floor adjacent to the walls, and smaller pieces scattered around the rest of the space.  It was a Good Children smorgasbord replete with an endless supply of well-wishers, connoisseurs, glitterati and gawkers as well as the artists themselves, and it was a little too much.

The “pack ’em in” aesthetic of the show didn’t exactly work well for each piece, especially considering the size of the space:  the gallery itself only holds two rooms, neither of which one would call sizable.   Personally, when it comes to group exhibitions, I’m of the opinion that one needs to give individual works in a group show the space to breathe and/or a substantial reason to be there, unless the overriding consensus is for the individual works to be subsumed by one another into an art melt of Borg-like proportions such as what’s going on at The Pearl now not far from Good Children.  It’s evident that this wasn’t the idea for “Hit Refresh,” and the show suffers a bit for this.  Add to this the fact there were no exhibition stickers anywhere in sight to clue viewers into what they were viewing and who it was from, (only an exhibition list  with no corresponding numbers on the wall that I obtained after viewing everything), and  Good Children and its curators missed the mark on the whole.  I was left feeling what I term the “underwhelmingness of the overwhelmingness” of the exhibition.   I felt a little withered.

However, it is a little difficult for me to pan the exhibition due to a few caveats.  One being the fact that the exhibition itself is a co-op member group show.  Exhibitions such as these are sometimes a necessary evil, in that every artist who is a member of the gallery should be represented by at least one work.  The idea is to show off the vitality of the group as a whole.  This makes for a difficult puzzle for any curator to solve, however.  It involves piecing together work that doesn’t necessarily belong together in close quarters and is only being shown together because of the artists’ membership in the co-op.  Despite what I felt that night (and I’m sure the zoo of viewers only amplified this), a mixed bag is the nature of this beast.  Therefore, it is a little hard to slag this show for being true to its roots.

Also, there were some really standout pieces in the exhibition, .     Lala Rascic delivered what I considered to be the best work in the exhibition, a split screen video of herself performing a jerky slapstick with her doppelganger in the midst of a cluttered yet elegant room.  It was revealed to me that the “room” was actually a photograph of renowned psychologist and father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud’s  study which Rascic pasted herself into.   It’s quite an impressive feat and a funny nod to the subject of dreams, which Freud was quite fond of, as well as the comedy of Charlie Chaplain.  I also got a sense that Rascic, an Eastern European emigre’ to NOLA, was poking fun at the stuffiness and turmoil of Eastern European culture and history.

Stephen Collier also presented a psycho-orgasm of an installation that has grown in my mind ever since I laid eyes on it.   It involved pasting a wall with cardboard and dousing the whole thing with liquid patchouli incense (the bottle remained on a shelf in the installation).  The artist then hung Native American Dream Catchers  over the cardboard wall.  He then placed a hot pink door with barely coherent scribbling in black over one side of the wall.  I could make out something about Good Children and “helter skelter” on it.   The whole shambolic thing was ugly and goofy.  But looking back on it, it keeps becoming more incredible and exciting to me.  The piece has sort of become a time bomb in my mind.   Considering the punk rage coupled with the hippie hopes that are driving one half of current discourse over the state of affairs in America, Collier’s installation may be a perfect snapshot for our times and it deserves a second look.

Srdjan Loncar’s installation “Fix-A-Thing” is a deadpan serious installation about the absurd notion that you can fix broken things with photography.  Loncar presents photographs of his fine art, fix-it man interventions, such as a wall patched with a photograph of the wall intact or a pothole covered up with photographs of asphalt.  It’s all pretty laughable until one thinks about how often this ruse takes place in our politics and our culture.  New Orleans as a city is a constant crumbling mess, riddled with urban blight, abandoned homes and horrible roads.  Much of America’s infrastructure is in disrepair.  Yet issues like these constantly are addressed with band-aid fixes if they are addressed at all.  Loncar’s installation provocatively points a finger at our desire to make things (both the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual by extrapolation) look good without addressing the underlying cause of disrepair.

General Art Solutions’ diptych of holographic-like police officers in what I thought was riot gear (they’re really black and hard to see) definitely bring all that’s ominous about the police state to bear on the exhibition.   These images reminded me of the “Ring Wraiths” from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.   They are images of ruthless oppression and horror, despite the frame of LED lights around them which give the images a strip club marquee feel.  I’d say the strangeness of the lights actually ups the horror ante of these policemen, adding a whiff of seduction to the proceedings.   As any horror aficionado knows,  horror and seduction go hand in hand.

Also of note was a hard-edged geometric abstract painting by Brian Guidry in greens, yellows and browns.  The precision and prismatic force of this painting make it a visual work horse, and it overcomes the dull yawn of years of this stuff coming down the pike from other artists.   One interesting aside about Guidry’s work is that his paintings such as this one are actually landscapes of sorts.  Guidry creates colors for his paintings en plein air, sampling the colors of his surroundings.  He then returns to his studio, makes larger batches and uses these paints for his work.

In conclusion, the work in “Hit Refresh” is a mix of good and great.  However, these works don’t exactly play nice with one another.  Hopping from one to the other, often negated the experience I had with the previous piece, rather than continuing the story.  It would be nice to see what the exhibition would have been like with a little bit more breathing room or to see an exhibition in which all of these artists were making a concerted effort to produce a piece or several pieces of art together.  Yet, it is what it is, a co-op group show, and on some level that’s “good’ as well.   Considering that these artists are still in the game, still making good art, and even making waves locally and nationally, these guys deserve badges of honor simply for surviving and thriving, despite the mediocrity of the ever treacherous, co-op group show!

The exhibition “Hit Refresh” is at Good Children Gallery, St. Claude Arts District, 4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117 until December 4, 2011 when the exhibition will be “refreshed” with new curation and altered installation.

Prospect New Orleans 2: Digging for Gold in the Crescent City (Part 2)

by Reggie Michael Rodrigue

Author’s note:  Please see the earlier post “Prospect New Orleans 2: Digging for Gold in the Crescent City (Part 1)”  on this site for the beginning of this story

Our visit to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art was complete, and the afternoon was turning into the evening.   Time was not our friend at the moment.  My wife and I made a b-line for Julia Street which is the main thoroughfare through the traditional Arts District in NOLA where most of the blue-chip galleries are.  The promise of Arthur Roger Gallery, Gallery Bienvenu and the Heriard-Cimino Gallery dangled in front of my nose.  I especially wanted to see what was inside Arthur Roger Gallery:  An exhibition of photography and sculpture by famed film-provocateur John Waters and the multi-media art of rising New Orleans art star Dave Greber who has his roots in the St. Claude Arts District as a member of the Front Gallery.  Alas, we got to Julia Street and every gallery was closed.  All we could do is look through the windows and doors of the darkened and vacant spaces and sigh.

Throughout all of this, my wife was becoming increasingly hungrier and suffering from a headache.  To be honest, I was dealing with one too, but I was medicating myself with regular doses of ibuprofen, regardless of whether I had food in my stomach or not.   I’m stupid that way.  In my jacked-up mode of thinking, art takes precedence over the well-being of my stomach lining.  Anyway, I love my wife unconditionally, but she has a tendency to not take care of herself when the time is right, which would have been in the lull between arriving in NOLA and waiting for entrance into our hostel.  We were in a dilemma.  I figured the only easy way to obtain food for us was to sit down at a restaurant in the area we were in or somewhere in the French Quarter because the next destination was the St. Claude Arts District, and I’ve heard that it’s a notoriously difficult place to find a meal, especially since I was unfamiliar with the area.  However, we also had to find a way to get down to the Prospect New Orleans 2 Visitors Center quick so that we could get onto a shuttle to St. Claude.  For some reason, I felt that with every minute that passed, the chances of getting a map and a shuttle from the center seemed to dwindle.

We decided to hail a cab from Julia St. to Rampart and Esplanade.   $10 later, we arrived only to find that the Prospect New Orleans Visitors Center had just closed ten minutes earlier.  A couple from Houston was stranded there as well.  They were talking to some guy who I thought was a volunteer.  He was on the phone with somebody, telling them about our predicament.   That’s when we learned that we could have boarded a shuttle from the W Hotel in the Arts District – the f*#king district we just left!  Thanks CAC volunteers!!!

Just as I was about to blow a gasket, Stephanie Patton and Brian Guidry drive by and spot us.  Both are artists who divide there time between NOLA and Lafayette.  Both of them are also close friends to my wife and myself.  They end up making the block and picking my wife and I up to whisk us to St. Claude.  Patton and Guidry both had openings at their respective galleries on St. Claude that night.  I felt really bad about leaving the Houston couple behind, but all of a sudden, time and space began to bend.  We were in warp speed and couldn’t quibble about the misfortune of strangers.

We arrived at Stephanie Patton’s gallery, the Front, which is a co-op run by a handful of NOLA artists.  Most of the galleries in the St. Claude Arts district operate in the same way with member artists taking on the duties of being the galerist and curator for the exhibitions as well as producing the art.   On display in the gallery was Patton’s solo exhibition “General Hospital.”  The exhibition is a poignant and funny visual exploration of the healing process which necessarily needs to take place after tragedy strikes.  Inside the gallery, viewers are treated to some of the most well-crafted objects on display at P.2.  Pills, a door, a pair of angel wings, a large curvilinear spiral and handmade lettering which spells out “Friends Forever” are hung exquisitely on the walls.  Each object is made from either mattress covering or white, vinyl leather that has been upholstered.  However, the centerpiece of the exhibition is Patton’s 1 hour and 50 minute long video of the artist squeezing lemons, making lemonade and then stuffing the used rinds with cotton batting and sewing them up so as to make them “whole” again.  The whole video is based on the colloquialism “making lemons into lemonade” or turning tragedy into triumph, and it is riveting.  As far as exhibitions go as a whole, “General Hospital” was the best/most well thought-out one I saw on my trip to P.2.  The proof came in the fact that Patton had sold four pieces from the exhibition.  Two now belonged to gallerist Arthur Roger and a well-respected collector from Los Angeles.

Also on view at the Front, was a strange group project from the co-op members that staked it’s claim on the back yard.  They called it “The Crave”: a combination of the words cave and rave.  It was a hastily built geodesic dome made of PVC pipe, visqueen, and god knows what else that housed an air conditioner, some really DIY sculpture that looked like refuse turned into a vase of flowers and a ring of stalagmites, and a watery video projection.  Musical accompaniment was provided by a DJ right outside of it.   The first thing that came to my mind was  the phrase “underground disco oil spill.”   I found out that this was the second version of  “The  Crave.”  The Front members had actually built another one that had been destroyed by 40 mph winds the week before.  The whole thing was ridiculous, but well appreciated.

Next up, we heard that a local BBQ entrepreneur had set up shop in front of the Good Children Gallery across the street.  It was definitely time to eat!  My wife and I made our way over there like white lightning.  The food was looking good, but he didn’t have anything to drink, so while my wife waited on our BBQ, I made my way to a local convenience store to buy some water.  I got a little bourbon while I was there, too!  *** For future reference, if any of you ever want to impress this critic, giving me bourbon is a great place to start.***  So I returned to the sidewalk before the gallery just in time for the BBQ to be ready!  My wife and I found a spot next door on a stoop to eat, and we tore into our food like rabid wolves!  It was like BBQ from Heaven!

After our stoop BBQ, I noticed that there was something going on right beside us between the stoop and the gallery next door.  Surprise!  A pop-up gallery had just popped-up in the garage right by us while we were eating!  It was the Rusty Pelican Gallery, owned and operated by the couple who owned the stoop we were just sitting on.  I walked into the garage-come-gallery to find a wonderland of mechanical and light sculptures made from old rusty metal, incandescent lights, doll parts, and other assorted detritus.  There were also some really good paintings and drawings inside.  My wife and I were so impressed, we bought 2 really cool, metal scull, refrigerator magnets to remember the place.

Next, we entered the Good Children Gallery.  It was a zoo inside!  St. Claude had hit its stride by this point, and the place was filled with people.  This made it really difficult to document the work there, but I managed for the most part.  Each individual piece from the Good Children co-op members was good, but they could have stood to have more breathing room for the disparate works on display.  The exhibition seemed cramped and disjointed.  That’s the ever-present problem with group shows in small spaces.  I’m sure the amount of people packed intot he place didn’t help either.  But there were some pieces that stood out for me.  Artist Lala Rancik takes top honors for her comic black and white, split-screen video of herself doing slapstick in an antique domestic setting.  Srdjan Loncar provided a funny piece about a fictitious business which “fixes” broken things by covering them with photographs to make them look fixed.   The artist duo Generic Art Solutions displayed two of their light boxes which incorporate somewhat holographic pictures of policemen in what I thought was riot gear.  These images reminded me of the Ring Wraiths in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  They pack a punch and are unbelievably menacing, despite having a strip club marquee feel to them as well.  Brian Guidry’s lone painting in the show was an abstract, hard-edged, precisionist master stroke as well, which separated it from the pack.

After our visit to Good Children, my wife and I took a trip with Brian Guidry and artist Emee Morgan to the Pearl, a home/speak easy that had been converted to an art venue as well.   We arrived at the intersection that the Pearl is located on, and Brian said jokingly while pointing to various residences, “It’s not this mansion, or this one, or this one!   It’s this place with all the junk and the weeds!”  Indeed it was, Brian!  Indeed it was!  We walked up a set of old wooden stairs into an ante-chamber overflowing with art and junk.  It was dark and it was hard to distinguish one from the other.  Occasionally, I would find an exhibition card that announced that what I was looking at was art.  Once, I got further into the Pearl, the things that stood out from the miasma of it all were the videos which were all over the place.  It felt like the house/speak easy/gallery was somewhere between dead and alive.  It was dreamy and unreal, yet so in-your-face!  Most of the place was only lit by ambient light coming from colored lights and the video projections.  The place seemed to be an endless maze of sights and sounds, some comforting some creepy, some downright gut-wrenching.  It was everything I needed from the biennial but I didn’t know I needed.  The work was crammed into this space, lost among all the domesticity and the junk, but it didn’t matter because it worked as a whole.   You could even get a drink there and order some food from fully stocked kitchen!  It was amazing!  It said everything one needs to know about New Orleans in the 21st century, and I loved it!  I was so impressed with it, that a took a video of the whole spectacle from the front door to the back yard, and I’ll be posting it soon!  Some of the highlights for me were Coutney Egan’s film projection of flowers in bloom in the bath tub inside the bathroom, Brian Guidry’s edited video of an episode of “Wild Kingdom,” Dave Greber’s video of ridiculously happy cult members on the beach after the oil spill, Lee Deigaard’s peekaboo videos in the central hallway, a video of a white South African artist making himself vulnerable to the black South Africans who congregate around him on the streets of what I think is Johannesburg, Anastasia Pelias’ devilishly clever three channel video that turns the consoling words and rhythms of her favorite oyster shucker into a psychotic, post-oil spill rant and a weird little installation in the middle of the Pearl that involves some kind of monster sculpture behind a window – I think!?!  No matter, in THIS cramped space, it all worked and became a seamless gesamtkunstwerk that is a triumph, and a credit to all involved.  I left the pearl with my mind blown wide open, which is good because it made me ready for what happened next.

As we pulled up to St. Claude St on our way back to Good Children, we saw IT … and IT was like vision, a dream within a dream.  The minute we saw IT, we stopped in the middle of the intersection, and abandoned our vehicle.  IT was a black truck being pulled by a team of people down St. Claude Avenue, emerging out of the darkness into the surrounding light from the street lamps and neon signs.   I’ve never seen anything like IT.  This was artist William Pope.L’s “Blink.”  As it moved by us, I could barely take a breath.  Once the truck was past, I could see the slideshow of images that had been mounted to the back of the truck: a selection of images curated from images that had been sent to Pope.L from New Orleanians responding to the questions “What do you dream, when you dream of New Orleans?’ and “What do you see when you wake up?”  It was incredibly moving, and I’ll never forget the experience.

Emee left us to return to a friend’s house to sleep.  She was exhausted from a full half a week of assisting with interviews of art insiders for Joy Glidden’s  PBS show “Art Index.”  We promised each other we’d meet up for coffee the next morning.

After all was said and done … after all the openings … and all the spectacle … after all the art talk … after midnight, Brian Guidry, Stephanie Patton, my wife and I made our fumbling way down to the Lost Love Lounge for some excellent Vietnamese food and drinks (we got lost on the way there).  Some of the Good Children and the Front artists met us there.  We met the “Sex Ponies” while we were there.  They were a group of Amazonian women wearing skin-tight vinyl, corsets, horse-bridles with long ponytails dangling off their rears and mohawk manes.   They canoodled with the patrons.  At one point, the chef got one of the buttons on his shirt caught in one of their tails.   There was also this girl dressed in 1940’s garb doing jigs, “dropping it like it’s hot,” and pole dancing very poorly to the music on the jukebox.  The funny thing was that the music was generally down tempo, if not depressing.   One of the songs she was dancing to was Johnny Cash’s cover of the NIN classic “Hurt.”   Only in New Orleans …

We left the Lost Love Lounge hung over from the whole day but at peace with what we accomplished.  Brian and Stephanie returned us to our hostel, and we said goodnight.   I turned the key to the lock on the front door of The St. Vincent Guest House.  It didn’t work.  Another guest was with us:  the staff had neglected to give him a key to the front door.  We felt a little defeated.  Then, another guest who had been staying there longer walked up and helped us.  “You have to pull the latch while you turn the key, ” he said.  We walked in, said our “thank you’s” and retired to our room to dream dreams of Crescent City Gold in complete exhaustion and satisfaction.

Author’s Note: Stay tuned for Part 3:  Coffee Talk, sunday in the T-LOT, Staple Goods, running out of steam in the Quarter and what it all meant.  Plus in-depth reviews and pics and videos of all the P.2 Exhibitions I’ve seen so far!