March 28, 2019
I’m delighted to announce The Historic New Orleans Collection’s (THNOC) ART OF THE CITY: Postmodern to Post-Katrina, presented by The Helis Foundation, premieres on April 6 and runs through October 6th, 2019 christening the exciting redo of the Seignoret-Brulatour Building, 520 Royal Street. Invited as guest curator and working with the assistance of its Executive Director Priscilla Lawrence and in collaboration with her superb staff, it is my pleasure to invite you to visit the show and to participate in its multidisciplinary programs. Check hnoc.org for details that will be updated regularly. This exhibition is opening on the heels of the tricentennial of New Orleans after a year of ART OF THE CITY programs and a preview exhibition. Address: 520 Royal Street. Admission is free.
Coincidental to the New Orleans Tricentennial, was a quite differently-themed tricentennial public art project in the Netherlands, the northern Holland Groningen Province. This art route titled Kerstvloed (Christmas Flood) 1717-2017 was curated by Merijn Vrij and featured Biography of a House and Vestiges/Trinitas, as well works by fellow Orleanians Jana Napoli and Rontherin Ratliff, among public artworks by 16 artists representing other flood plains around the world as Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. View a video of the project here.
Christmas Flood 1717-2017 Art Route Video
most of the installations
Babette Beaullieu and I have further developed Cajun Prayer Flags, also known as the Louisiana Prayer Flag Project, which has traveled to several locations across Louisiana and extended beyond the State to communities via New York State schools and Maison Gai Saber artist residency in the Poitiers Region of France.
Since Spring 2012 we have collaborated working with communities conducting workshops with all ages gathering stories and valuing heritage and the resilience which arises therefrom. We aim to foster awareness and appreciation for these cultural assets/qualities/tools the culture of Louisiana has to give to the world.
Through workshops and installations in elementary schools, high schools, universities and at festivals, we guide participants in creating original prayer flag designs representing their own personal culture: what they are truly embracing in their religion, food, music, family traditions. Each person produces a flag design from photography/written stories /small objects/fabric /paper.
LOUISIANA PRAYER FLAGS – PORCH STORIES is an installation which was on view at Urban Sidewalk/Installation Space for the whole of 2017 including as a Prospect New Orleans, P.S. satellite program venue also appearing as part of an interactive installation at Goat in the Road’s Get Your Art On (2017) at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Music Box Village (2018). It is an invitation to celebrate, look with deeper appreciation, and reflect on who we are today in Louisiana –this lively layering of many racial/cultural backgrounds – and to share this reflection in dialogue with a wider audience.
January 06, 2015
P3 and P.3+ Close on Saturday, January 25, 2015.
January 2015 Happy New Year!
P.3+ PUBLIC PROGRAMMING
PROSPECT.3, the international exhibition has abundant and powerful offerings all about town that are not to be missed! Three P.3+ events that my works are a part of are:
At New Orleans Museum of Art: there’s REPARATION: Contemporary Artists from New Orleans with works by 180 New Orleans artists, part of the larger project, Imago Mundi, a ten-year old initiative of Luciano Benetton and the Treviso, Italy, Benetton Foundation Museum Collection. The aim of the project is to create a vast inclusive tapestry of international art. REPARATION is a document of the city’s artistic condition. Click HERE to see the beautiful catalog and information about the overall project.
Then in the Central Business District, Click HERE for a map of the P.3 and 3.+ offerings. Our US.IS (Urban Sidewalk Installation Space) venue is featuring VESTIGES/Trinitas (described more fully in my last post) along with works by Bureau of Change, Jimmy Descant and Ross Lunz. Though this is a P.3 Satellite, Trinitas will remain on 24 hour view indefinitely.
Arti(fiction) of the Battle of New Orleans Exhibition is on view at Studio Inferno now located at
6601 Saint Claude Avenue, Arabi, Louisiana, January 3 through February 7. This 200th Anniversary celebration showcases faux relics, artistic ephemera and kitsch souvenirs in the spirit of this historic struggle.
Also, it is exciting to beckon you to two evolving multidisciplinary and web-connected projects including my work:
Emancipation: Challenges at the intersection of American and European philosophy was
curated by Aleksandra Łukaszewicz Alcaraz and Rebecca L Farinas. This website is a collaborative project joining philosophical research and artistic investigations on the topic of “emancipation.” Stemming from American and European perspectives and using practical tools, such as pragmatic philosophy, sound and imagery, the website offers a platform where contributors present and debate their work. With views and critique from you who are visiting the site, the research will continue to develop. Your input connects people, ideas and activism. Please join us by participating with the blog and attending some of the online events.
Southern Rep Theatre’s Spring offering BOUDIN: The New Orleans Music Project, is an exhilarating theatre production that celebrates the music, art, magic, and history of our city.
Presented in partnership with WWOZ 90.7 FM, BOUDIN is a mash-up of local visual art, storytelling, live New Orleans music, and real stories from people like you!
Thanks for stopping by! Please come out – for real and/or virtually and join us!
May 26, 2014
As summertime approaches, some serious catching up is in order.
A couple of my public art pieces are currently out on the streets if you’re strolling The Quarter or CBD:
A collaboration with Debra Howell and 48 other artists, VESTIGES/Trinitas, is on view at US.IS (Urban Sidewalk Installation Space) 441 Gravier at Magazine Street and will be up at least through January, 2015. Assemblagist Jimmy Descant currently has work up there as well.
Imprint: A Call to Disarm, an elegy in the form of gunshot victims’ obits, continues to hang in the vestibule windows of my studio building, Borenstein Galleries at 511 Royal Street. Robert Boyd wrote a fun blog entry in his The Great God Pan is Dead telling of his tracking down info about this work which he ran into during his trip to New Orleans. It is a typical small world story of this place along with a newcomer’s take on the art underbelly he encountered.
Latin for Crab, a group show under the sign of Cancer last summer at The Front in the St. Claude Arts District, considered the female body- its armor, its flesh, bound, determined, embodied- from perspectives of illness, mortality, and recovery. Works in the show derived from artist responses to their own or close associates’ illnesses and included some of my Offering Blocks, featuring the work of Pinky Bass, Heidi Kumao, Sarah Cusimano Miles, Karen Edmunds, Monica Zeringue, and Lee Deigaard who also curated.
2013 was a special year as the Arts Council of New Orleans gave me a Community Arts Award and my work Salle des Pendus was included in the latest purchases for the City Art Collection for fire stations and first responders’ venues. These are two honors for which I am deeply grateful.
Congrats to Sophie Brechu-West, Gallery Director, on the publication of 571 Projects: The First Three Years, a catalogue celebrating and documenting its tenure at 551 West 21st Street. This gorgeous book is now available. It clocks in at 232 pages, 11 x 13 inches hardcover, with beautiful full-color images of works by all the artists. It is great to be included alongside: Lindsey Brown, Leah Durner, Sandra Elkind, Liz Engelhardt, Brian Fekete, Sally Gil, Melora Griffis, Tatiana Istomina, Jimmie James, Dorothy Simpson Krause, Noah Landfield, Laurel Lueders, Malcolm Moran, Nathan Schiel and Julie Tremblay. Please click on the links below to order the catalogue:
Joined by my fellow instigator and guest editor of a special issue of TDR aka The Drama Review, Kevin McCaffrey, we gathered a collection of articles, interviews, and photographs representing post-Katrina New Orleans where creative artists took responsibility for remembering the disaster and re-visioning the city. It is a collective, intimate glimpse into the still emerging effort to think through the past and envision the future of art and performance here in New Orleans. We were joined by contributing writers Carol Bebelle, Anne-Liese Juge Fox, Rachel Carrico, and Catherine Michna along with many of the artists written about for their ongoing work in NOLA including artists of: ArtSpot Productions, Ashe´ Cultural Arts Center, Junebug Productions, Mondo Bizarro, and New Noise. Contributor Catherine Micha thoughtfully wrote about the process and product in her blog entry, TDR: New Orleans: It’s About the Listening. I believe the issue is sold out; however, you can access the articles online via these two links, which detail its contents. ARCHIVE and MIT Press:
We’re delighted that Kevin’s No One Ever Went Hungry documentary on Cajun Food traditions then and now will be featured in a summertime New Orleans festival in Nanterre, France, just outside of Paris. Others participating in the festival are the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Trio (George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, June Yamagishi), The Treme Brass Band, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Nicky Da B, Rusty Lazer. Other films that will be screened are: “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Trouble The Water”, “Belizaire,” and more.
More info will be posted here. The next blog entry will be sure to report on our return residencies at Maison Gai Saber and to rejoin our collaborators, The Arpins, in Pennabilli, Italy, where the city street signs announce its friendly attitude to street artists!
Have a great summer!
July 05, 2013
It is with great pleasure that I announce the exhibition I curated in my former role as Interim Director of Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center. Please see details below:
Tank Drama: Deliberations from The Wet Grave
July 6, 2013 – September 22, 2013
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans
Artists working in a multiplicity of art forms—theater, writing, visual art, film, music, dance, and more—are brought together under the umbrella of The VESTIGES Project to present their work in the Lupin Foundation Gallery, along with scheduled events in the Freeport-McMoRan Theater and additional off-site venues.
These greatly varied works have evolved over the course of the past eight years, many winding their way through several iterations in different locales. The artists and works often traveled to cities with a high concentration of New Orleanians in diaspora, such as Houston and Atlanta. Others reached out to people and places with parallel coastal experiences and concerns. Some works passionately address issues such as global warming, public health, racism, and economic inequities, while others gently touch upon modes of peaceful escape, meanderings of memento mori, and metaphors and tools for intimate community healing and rebuilding.
Assembled together, these works are a potent representation of just some of the creative networks documenting, remembering, and re-visioning post-Katrina New Orleans. The ongoing efforts to think through the past while establishing fresh connections propels us toward new collaborative possibilities as we envision the future of New Orleans.
Tank Drama is defined as “a sensational or cheap melodrama in which water is employed in the scenic effects, as in representing a rescue from drowning.”
1906 Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
The Wet Grave
The “wet grave” term for New Orleans, these days more commonly called The Big Easy, is first referenced in TransAtlantic Sketches, by James Edward Alexander, a Captain in a Scottish foot regiment of the British Army. He detailed his travels around the New World, in 1833, when he visited New Orleans and emphasized that it did not resemble any other American city.
There are other references in old newspapers, ephemera, and even a cocktail invented with this appellation. The name “wet grave” arose from the fact that New Orleans, in addition to its below sea level status which flooded graves and inspired the usage of above ground crypts, was also a rugged city to live in being marked by yellow fever, alligators, snakes, and other pestilence, thereby offering a shortened life expectancy to its residents.
As many of you know, The VESTIGES Project (began in 1984 as an interdisciplinary collective of artists and writers who shared a common sense of place and sensibility nurtured by New Orleans. To VESTIGES Project participants, New Orleans is a complex and eclectic culture of remnants, relics, rituals, memories, and myths characterized by a hazy distinction between fiction and truth, facade and reality, past and present. In 2006 VESTIGES: Think Tank began as a 3-year roving residency under the auspices of the Contemporary Arts Center to explore the flood that turned New Orleans into true vestiges and its aftermath.
These explorations have continued in a variety of manifestations, called VESTIGES/Enactments 2013 as I assumed the role of Interim Director of Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center April 1, 2012.
As a co-founder of VESTIGES I curated a series of dialogues, public art projects, publications, events and exhibitions in partnership with various organizations and individuals.
May 24, 2012
Please mark your calendars: Saturday, June 9th 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. is the opening reception of my solo exhibition 30 Years / 30 Blocks: a retrospective installation of place and public artworks at The Front gallery in the St. Claude Arts District. This exhibition, and the book accompanying it, is a scrapbook-like album that simultaneously chronicles three decades of public art, amalgamates these works with the current physical presence of The Front, and introduces an upcoming plan for a new series of public pieces to appear on the streets of New Orleans in 2014.
The book of this retrospective installation/exhibition will be available for sale at the gallery and online at e/PRIME Media.
Along with this installation, Babette Beaullieu and I will introduce our Cajun Prayer Flags public art installation in the back/side yard of The Front. Ushering in the 2012 hurricane season, our new hybrid of Cajun Prayer Flags will flutter with deeply textured imagery of Cajun Mardi Gras costumes in Acadiana. Paper and pen will be provided as an interactive component for passers by, encouraging them to join in by offering their personal wishes or prayers and tying them to the fence amidst its dead, clinging vines. This ritual and these devotional offerings are borrowed and blended traditions from Tibetan, Japanese, and Cajun cultures.
I plan to be gallery sitting Saturdays and Sundays 12-5 during the run of the exhibition.
Imprint: Call to Disarm. This installation was installed at our 511 Royal Street studio building in the Quarter as a Prospect.2 Satellite and will remain on view through July 8th, the end of the exhibition at The Front.
October 19, 2011
How exciting. Along with Saints’ games and pumpkin spice, art is in the air.
The summer heat didn’t keep art away though. We simply headed to the cooler climes of Coastal Carolina University’s Rebecca Bryan Gallery to present VESTIGES/trinitas marking the sixth anniversary of the levee breaches in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Image/Text was on view at The Carroll Gallery of Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Department gathering those of us long fascinated by ways that we may wed image and text.
And now, Prospect.2 Biennial will be on view October 20, 2011 – January 29. 2012. I’ve joined with my studio partner, Jana Napoli, again to present a satellite offering, but this time the art is on the facade of our studio building, Borenstein Galleries at 511 Royal Street in the French Quarter, just down the block from the official P.2 Historic New Orleans Collection venue. That means, 24 hour visitation though evening viewing is recommended. My work Imprint: A Call to Disarm, a site-specific installation for the building’s vestibule, springs from the act of daily collecting, in this case a multitude of obituaries of New Orleans gunshot victims, from the days when they put it as a cause of death in the newspaper. It is a public call to acknowledge this senseless loss of lives and to end the violence. Jana’s installation deals with Floodwall, comprised of hundreds of drawers put out for trash that she collected immediately after the Post-Katrina floods from neighborhoods all over New Orleans and assembled into a Maya Lin-like memorial, which has been exhibited internationally and will be burned at the bonfire on the Algiers Levee at 8 p.m. on the evening of December 3.
Mark your calendars to open the new year with RAW curated by Sharon Jacques and Luis Cruz Azaceta at Homespace Gallery in the St. Claude Arts District. SCAD openings are always the second Saturdays of each month.
May 28, 2011
My Mom Says My Artwork Has Really Improved at Antenna Gallery is a group exhibition, curated by Natalie McLaurin, that explores the connection between artworks made at different times in an artist’s life. By using childhood work shown next to recent works of art, this exhibition shows how some themes, forms, and content stay with the artist over the course of a lifetime. It includes my bookwork Lots of Love, Helen which is a portrait of my mother, Helen Basilo Gilbert (February 29, 1920-April 27-2011), along with several scrapbooks I made as a kid. My mother was a strong creative influence always urging me to make things and allowing me to cut up our encyclopedia and magazines as long as it was to go into a constructive project. At my graduate thesis exhibition, she told John Clemmer, Chairman of the Art Department at Newcomb, that I “used to be able to draw really well.” May she rest in peace.
JUST BACK FROM SPRING TRAVELS and presenting (along with long time collaborators Jacques and Monica Arpin and hubby, Kevin McCaffrey): THE CAJUNS OF LOUISIANA: The strategies, traditions and techniques of a cultural community in a post-disaster situation in Paris at the 1ST International Conference on Cultural Psychiatry in the French Speaking World, Transcultural Psychiatric Section of the World Psychiatry Association. For a short, collaboratively-produced video we used to introduce the Cajuns and our field work in Acadiana, click here.
SPEAKING OF CAJUN, in his latest documentary Cajun Food Traditions Now premiering this month on WYES, Kevin surveys the complex traditions and ingredients that make up Cajun cuisine. We will continue roaming, photographing, talking and tasting Acadiana to document CAJUN SMOKED MEAT STORIES for Kevin’s upcoming book with University of Mississippi Press.
We were able to do some Cajun food history research on our flower-filled drive around the Loire Valley while in residence at Maison Gai Saber in Leigne-sur-Usseau. To view an album of meditations on place merging French Quarter and Leigne views, click here.
We then moved into a more general ‘roots research’ when we visited Madrid at our artists’ residency with NoDoor .
NEXT UP, will be participating in the Global Fairness Initiative Weekend Events in late June: Art of the Americas Auction to be held at the historic Organization of American States building on the national mall and GFI’s launch of BeFair, a new green campaign for farmers in Guatemala. Click here for auction book and previewing opportunities.
The Rebecca Bryan Gallery at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina has invited The VESTIGES Project to mark the 6th Anniversary of the Katrina floods with an exhibition September 1- October 7, 2011 entitled VESTIGES/TRINITAS. Along with other works that we’ll be showing, will be an installation (9’ x 18’) VESTIGES/trinitas, conceived and currently being constructed by Debra Howell and me with contributions by 50 artists and writers from far and wide. STAY TUNED!
January 22, 2011
WELCOME to the launch of my newly revamped website!
A snippet of the past year’s artventures:
THE FIRST QUARTER began in residence at Point B in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My first solo NYC show Sur la ligne/On the Line opened at Sophie Brechu-West’s 571 Projects in Chelsea which included interactions with the adjacent new High Line and gallery visit with the Lower Eastside Girls Club.
After its extended stay at Atlanta’s Buckhead Library, VESTIGES of New Orleans returned home. Our HOME, New Orleans? four neighborhood arts recovery project proudly concluded its year long evaluation and published a report. (download PDF) Please feel free to download it, share our lessons and pass it on. GO YE THEREFORE, this year’s HNO? LakeviewS project premiered in Gentilly and later travelled to Atlanta audiences.
Then it was time to beat the NOLA summer heat by stoking fires in Brooklin, Maine. Worked hard with inspiration: a view of Allen Cove just down from where E.B. White wrote. Then over to Massachusetts: Nantucket, Harvard, Boston and surrounding areas including a visit to The Healing Garden (unique breast cancer facility).
Headed to DC to participate in NEA Access to Excellence Museum panel and saw seeds of great Art to come to all areas of the country.
MOVING INTO FALL
The fifth anniversary of the Katrina flood was marked by VESTIGES’ participation in tributes held in NOLA’s sister cities, at Houston’s DiverseWorks and Atlanta’s Spruill Gallery.
These travails were topped off with the continued support of Creative Capital and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and that of Stephen King’s Haven Foundation support for the first time!
Brought in the new year Cajun-style heading to Acadiana for the third new year’s holiday in a row: roaming the Atchafalaya swamp, supporting the seafood industry, and listening to the music all along the way. Kevin and I and the Arpins were continuing our research missions for projects you’ll be hearing about in the near future.
Thanks for stopping by!