Critics’ Picks: “Louisiana Contemporary” at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Art Review contributors share some highlights from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s annual open-call exhibition.

Editor's Note

Each year on White Linen Night, the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art help kick off the art season in New Orleans with their signature open-call exhibitions. The museums invite curators from outside their own institutions to select their picks from a pool of applicants, putting together their unique takes on art in the area. Unlike traditional curated exhibitions, the works on view are selected only from those who apply, and oftentimes, juried shows are a great place for viewers to learn about established, mid-career, and emerging artists alike.

For “Louisiana Contemporary” at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Courtney J. Martin, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Dia Art Foundation, chose 28 artists who live across the state of Louisiana. We asked a group of Art Review contributors to share highlights from their visits to the exhibition.

Matthew Shain, Post-Monuments, New Orleans (General P.G.T. Beauregard, erected 1913), 2017. Courtesy the artist.

Matthew Shain

Post-Monuments, New Orleans (General P.G.T. Beauregard, erected 1913), 2017, by Matthew Shain is a black-and-white photograph of the former monument site of the Confederate Civil War general P.G.T. Beauregard. The tub-like pedestal in the photo sits crownless and open-faced at the entrance to City Park, showing exposed brick where the general’s name was once etched before the monument was removed in 2017. The photo is a contemplative reflection on a now empty site (the pedestal was removed in July) that maintains the charged energy of a broken monument to a racist history amid pruned shrubs and a public sidewalk.

—Myles Poydras

Anita Cooke, Connections, Divisions/TouchPoints, TurningPoints, 2018. Canvas, acrylic paint, and thread (detail). Courtesy the artist.

Anita Cooke

Anita Cooke’s Connections, Divisions/TouchPoints, TurningPoints, 2018, is a dense 3D work built from strips of randomly colored, painted canvases that Cooke layered together and sewed at what she calls “touchpoints,” representations of imagined human interactions. Connections mirrors the crowded network of communications between people, face-to-face and technological, that accompany contemporary life.

—Ann Hackett

Renée Allie, Covered House & Car, New Orleans, LA, 2018. Silver gelatin print hand-colored with Marshall photo oils. Courtesy the artist.

Renée Allie

In her American Malarkey series, New Orleans-based photographer Renée Allie set out to capture the legacy of mid-century roadside attractions. The majority of the photos document wackadoodle sights like a monumental oversized foot or an RV with a painted sculptural mouth directing drivers to an alligator park down the road. Even in more subtle scenes like the one photograph from this series at the Ogden—Covered House & Car, New Orleans, LA, 2018—Allie echoes the marketing strategies of tourist traps by transforming the banal in today’s world into something worth stopping for.

Covered House shows a New Orleans street scene mostly in black and white. The covering of an old-timey car and a termite tent over a house are hand-colored to show their eerie formal parallels. The car’s distinctively dated outline and anachronistic spoked wheels highlight Allie’s use of a photographic process perhaps best known for its use in early 20th-century postcards. In Allie’s depiction, the tent, colored in blue and orange stripes, looks less like a home-maintenance nightmare and more like a dreamy mashup of Daniel Buren’s patterned architectural interventions and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental wrapping of buildings in fabric.

—Charlie Tatum

Lena Kolb, It’s Me, 2018. Wool tapestry. Courtesy the artist.

Lena Kolb

It’s Me, 2018, by Lena Kolb is a wool tapestry depicting red curtains against a blue background. In this work, the artist uses shape to create a rich visual play on texture and color. Kolb’s geometric weaving is technical and fluid, blending each element so that as a whole, it is a pleasure to examine. Additionally, check out the work of Marianne Desmarais, whose geometric art is also featured in “Louisiana Contemporary” and was recently on display at the Contemporary Arts Center.

—Myles Poydras

Laurel Porcari, N 29° 55’ 15.02” W 90° 6’ 15.217”, 2017. Mixed media. Courtesy the artist and Cole Pratt Gallery, New Orleans. 

Laurel Porcari

For her mixed-media works, Laurel Porcari takes specific geographic locations as starting points for explorations of memory, experience, and place. Suspending delicate pieces of painted linen in rectangular blocks of resin, Porcari attempts to capture her remembrances of particular sites, man-made and natural, of personal importance.

Instead of attempting to create literal representations of her selected locations, Porcari depicts them as impressionistic color studies, arranging small rectangles of linen into gridded compositions. For example, N 29° 55’ 15.02” W 90° 6’ 15.217”, 2017—whose coordinates point to Porcari’s studio on Magazine Street—is comprised of layers of smudged black, blue, pink, and white fabric. By using latitude and longitude as titles, Porcari explicitly connects each work to an actual place, while celebrating the functional lines and shapes of maps for their formal, even abstract, qualities.

—Charlie Tatum

Editor's Note

“Louisiana Contemporary” is on view through November 4, 2018, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp Street) in New Orleans.