Last Call: Contemporary Arts Center

Installation view of Drip: The Music of Water in New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans. Photo by Mike Smith.

Editor's Note

It’s the last weekend to catch the Contemporary Arts Center’s summer exhibitions. Fortuitous for procrastinators, the CAC has teamed up with Smithsonian magazine to offer free admission on Saturday, September 24, not to mention Brooke Pickett will be giving an artist’s talk on her show “The Center Cannot Hold” at 2 pm. Before it’s gone, Lauren Scarpello offers some thoughts on Drip: The Music of Water in New Orleans and the future of the CAC’s new sound chamber.

Spectral voices and the manifold sounds of water—splashing, dripping, pouring—have taken up summer residence with the cries of steamboat whistles and waterfowl in the niche-like space at the back of the Contemporary Arts Center’s main floor galleries. The circular alcove, previously used to acknowledge donors, has been more imaginatively transformed into a revolving exhibition space suitably dubbed “the sound chamber.”

Drip: The Music of Water in New Orleans, a light and sound installation by Waggonner & Ball interns John Kleinschmidt and Andy Sternad, inaugurates the chamber. First shown at the annual public art and architecture showcase DesCours in 2010, Drip is a study of New Orleans’ complicated relationship with water. It draws inspiration from the local architectural firm’s “Dutch Dialogues” project—a series of forums and workshops centered on living with a functional water management infrastructure. Two different tracks recorded at sites throughout New Orleans are played on four speakers, creating overlapping channels reminiscent of what one might hear on a stroll along the French Quarter riverbank. Vivid blue-violet LEDs programmed to respond to the sounds skitter across the wall in an orchestrated visual ballet. In the spirit of living creatively within our given environment, Drip makes a perfect opening act for the new chamber, part of a five-prong initiative by visual arts director Amy Mackie to reinvigorate the first floor of the CAC as a community-based project space. Following a hiatus to focus on Prospect.2 and the "NOLA NOW" shows, the Center will begin regularly exhibiting sound pieces in the chamber under the umbrella “Soundscapes” starting in June 2012.

Editor's Note

For more information on Smithsonian magazine’s Free Museum Day and a list of participating venues in Louisiana, click here.

To download the free Drip catalogue from Lulu, click here.

If you missed Benjamin Morris on "Patterns and Prototypes," also closing this weekend at the CAC, click here.