by Reggie Rodrigue
The latest post from the Acadiana Center for the Arts Blog is up! It’s on the Student Arts Expo which took place earlier this month during Artwalk. It’s also a treatise on the vital roll that arts education plays in Lafayette Parish’s schools! There’s also a story in there focusing on the most incredible student arts project ever – at least by my estimation! By the end of the article, you will also be able to determine whether you are more creative than a 2nd grader! Good luck on that one!
If you are interested in reading the article, please follow this link to the Acadiana Center for the Arts Blog!
Detail of Bullwinkle and Hammerhead (mural, ink and acrylic) by Johnathan “JJ” Wilson at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Detail of Bullwinkle and Hammerhead (mural, ink and acrylic,2012) by Johnathan “JJ” Wilson at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Adoration, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Adventure, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Connected, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Golden Girl, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, sRGB 1EC61966-2.1, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, The Commonwealth, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, www, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
by Reggie Michael Rodrigue
By all indications, the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette is doing its job well (despite its quirks). Either that, or we in the Lafayette art scene are experiencing a great generational fluke in the guise of a bumper crop of amazingly gifted and promising young artists. Leading the pack are two recent graduates from ULL who are currently exhibiting some of the most forceful, intelligent, and innovative work that I’ve seen in this city in years at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Johnathan “JJ” Wilson is originally from Baton Rouge. After earning his BFA from ULL, he began to embed himself in the scene Downtown, and within a few months, he was curating the socially-minded exhibition Revolution No. 63 with co-curator Lillian Aguinaga. The exhibition highlighted the ever-expanding bike culture of Lafayette, along with its street culture. Their prescience in holding the exhibition in the newly opened, local apparel/print shop Parish Ink didn’t go unnoticed, either. Revolution No. 63 was the perfect polygamous marriage between art, social activism and commerce.
Wilson has moved on from Revolution No.63, as his current work at the ACA attests, but he certainly has not left the street. Wilson has installed a monumental mural in the Mallia Galleria atop the ACA’s lobby that rocks, hums, vibrates and pulses with youthful excess and bravado, while remaining wise and skillful. In Bullwinkle and Hammerhead, comic book precision and urgent graffiti meet Hindu mythology, H.P. Lovecraft, punk rock, abstract expressionism, death, violence and Wilson’s own childhood. The mural is a gorgeously baroque labyrinth of sharply drawn, undulating Gods wielding weapons and musical instruments among phrases such as “Die! Die!,” I am becoming death,” “liquid courage,” and “XXX.” Red and yellow acrylics burst forth from the images and spill down the wall. Wilson managed to create a mural that is both a beautiful dream and a psychotic nightmare drawn from the pieces of his life. For instance, Wilson admitted that the title of the piece comes from the nicknames his grandfather used to address Wilson and his cousin when they were children. Altogether, the mural exudes a sense of primal rebellion tempered by a transcendental awareness of the absurdity of rebellion itself in the face of time and its repetitive cycles.
Directly under Wilson’s mural in the ACA’a Coca-Cola Studio is the exhibition Now Streaming, showcasing the assemblages and hybrid performance sculptures of Patrick Segura. As with Wilson, Segura hit the ground running after his graduation from ULL last year with his first post-grad exhibition at the now-defunct Gallery at the Grant (He showed his work there with Thomas Deaton, another extremely promising recent graduate of ULL who is currently in the ACA exhibition “Lost and Found: Louisiana’s Landscape Revisited) and an inclusion in the contemporary sculpture exhibition Red-headed Stepchild at the Homespace Gallery in NOLA’s St. Claude Arts District. Segura specializes in sculptures that bridge the gap between the personal and the private, by conflating the subject of contemporary technology with craft, domesticity and the familial. Various, colorful yarns, fabrics, sequins, a velvet curtain, terrycloth towels, a boy scout uniform and even a bridal gown collide with keyboards, computer screens, sockets, wires and electrical cords in Segura’s beautifully challenging assemblages.
For Now Streaming, the artist has upped the ante in his work by incorporating live performance into three of his ever-evolving assemblages. For the past two Artwalk evenings, volunteers have crawled into three of Segura’s sculptures to take cell phone pictures of the audience appreciating the works (the pictures then were uploaded to the internet) or play the ubiquitous musical note that accompanies computer updates on a keyboard while being swallowed by a continuously updating Facebook page. The energy of the exhibition can make one giddy, and the feminine wiles of each piece lulls one into a realm of warm, motherly bliss. Yet, there is something ominous and sublime at play in the work as well. Allusions to the body are stripped of individual personality and subsumed by all the domestic digitalia. It is work that speaks of surveillance, capitulation, anonymity and virtual obliteration as well as how technology is shaping humanity in its image. It is as if the duplicitous CEO/oligarch/matriarch “Mom” from the television series Futurama decided to try her hand at sculpture. Segura’s vision comes on warm, but is ultimately chilling when one realizes the implications of the work.
Together, Wilson and Segura have played a huge part in making the past two months of exhibitions at the ACA profoundly exciting and rewarding. Unfortunately, their work won’t be up for much longer. Their works are coming down this week. If you haven’t seen their works in person, I would suggest taking a visit to the Acadiana Center for the Arts as soon as possible. Five to ten years from now, you’ll thank me for this advice when you’ll be able to say ” I knew them when they were fresh out of college!” These two, along with Thomas Deaton, are on the verge of great things. I promise!
by Reggie Michael Rodrigue
Our friends, my wife and I were returning to the Good Children Gallery from a surreal, hallucinatory and mind-altering visit to the Prospect.2 Satellite exhibition at the Pearl, a St. Claude residence/speak easy/artistic petri dish. We were making our way through the darkened streets of the St. Claude Arts District. On their own, these streets take on a dream-like life in the dim embrace of the night. The side streets off St. Claude Avenue are tight, cluttered and poorly kept. Yet, the houses are painted in a kaleidoscope of celebratory colors which one can dimly make out under the streetlights. Colored lights installed on porches and inside living rooms and bedrooms add a festive, yet lurid glow to the surroundings. On streets like these, one can imagine meeting the love of a lifetime, a killer, God, or the Devil himself. Our trip to the Pearl only served to heighten my awareness of all the nocturnal beauty and danger that surrounded us. I felt like a cat. My senses were taut as violin string and ready to vibrate at the slightest provocation.
We were in the midst of making a right onto St. Claude Avenue, when we saw it. My friends, Brian Guidry and Emee Morgan, and my wife were openly wondering what all the fuss was about. We could see something slowly creeping up the avenue toward us, followed by the deep blue strobe of police lights. What felt like instantaneous recognition took hold of me. Unfolding before us was artist William Pope L.‘s performance of “Blink.” I started shouting and blurting out all I knew about the performance so that they would realized the significance of what they were seeing. I thought we would just drive past so I shoved my smart phone into Emee’s hands, instructing her to film the performance because she had the ideal drive-by vantage point from our car. Luckily, our driver, Brian, decided to stop the car – right in the middle of an intersection! It was a moment of pure frenzy, exhilaration and anticipation. We jumped out of the car, and Emee started shooting the video above.
A group of people emerged from the inky night like a team of sled dogs bursting forth from behind a black curtain. They were towing a black, used ice cream truck, which Pope L. has used in previous performances. The truck actually still works; however, the artist decided to have his volunteers tow the truck through the city to make an artistic point. After the team of volunteers towed the truck past us, we could see the slide show of images projected on a screen, mounted on the back of the truck. We were left with an image of a carousel horse followed by an image of a street car. A police car slowly followed “Blink” back into the depths of the night. All that remained before us was a line of traffic and memories of a lonely parade float throwing hope and inspiration to a city in need of it.
Pope L. specifically conceived of “Blink” as a performance/installation for the Prospect. 2 Biennial. Beforehand, he put out a call for New Orleanians to send him pictures in response to two simple questions: “When you dream of New Orleans, what do you dream?” and “When you wake up, what do you see?” Pope L. received over 750 images to be put into the ice cream truck slideshow which is meant to act as a magic lantern for the city through the entire run of Prospect. 2. It’s final destination is a site on the campus of Xavier University in Mid City. First, the volunteers had to tow it there from the performance’s starting point in the Bywater District, however. The volunteers spent the entire opening night towing the truck across the city – a herculean task if ever there was one.
Pope L. is an internationally recognized multi-media artist who deals with issues of racial identity, human rights, class and consumerism. He has gone on record, stating that “Blink” is about celebration, struggle and community. Watching the performance drift by us that night, I couldn’t agree more. I felt all three in my bones that night. I would have felt them without seeing “Blink,” after all, these are the major themes of New Orleans itself. However, being there that night – being fortunate enough to see it with my own eyes – both amplified and solidified these ideas and feelings in my mind and my soul. “Blink” left an indelible mark on me that I think I will carry for the rest of my life.
William Pope L.’s “Blink” is on view at 3520 Pine Street in the Xavier University Arts Village until the close of Prospect.2 in January.
performance, print and digital media with cookies
on view in the group exhibition “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, 1940 Saint Claude Ave., New Orleans, from Friday, October 14 at 6:00pm – Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:00pm
Author’s note: To read a review of “Parallel Play” at T-Lot, go to the previous post titled “Our Backyard Kicks Your Backyard’s Ass: ‘Parallel Play” at T-lot” here on “louisianaesthetic.”
“Fix-A-Thing (Wall) – Marfa, Texas”
Archival Inkjet Print
20″ x 28″
“Fix-A-Thing (Pothole) – Marfa, Texas”
Archival Inkjet Print
20″ x 28″
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.