With its built-in dress code and focus on boozy schmoozing and socializing, White Linen Night probably gets more than its fair share of attention among annual arts events in New Orleans.
But when it comes to events where the focus is more squarely on the art itself, nothing compares to Art for Arts’ Sake, with dozens of museums, galleries and shops all over town marking the occasion with opening parties and other special events. (OK, and maybe with a good amount of boozy schmoozing as well.)
Conceived by the Contemporary Arts Center in 1979 as a means of kicking off the fall arts season in New Orleans, Art for Arts’ Sake is expected to draw more than 30,000 participants this year along a several-mile stretch of the city from the French Quarter to upper Magazine Street.
Of course, you won’t be able to hit everything in the three-hour time slot that most of the event venues will be observing — though complementary shuttle buses will help you make the most of your time exploring Magazine Street that evening.
Otherwise, Art for Arts’ Sake is a great opportunity to get a first look at some of the major shows that will be headlining the New Orleans art scene this season — that is, until Prospect.3 opens at the end of October and transforms the citywide creative landscape once again.
Start at the Ogden
A good bet would be to start at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., with a pair of major group shows.
“Self Processing: Instant Photography” looks at work created by photographers using instant film, while “The Gasperi Collection: Self-taught, Outsider and Visionary Art” will showcase pieces by some of the best-known artists of the genre including Clementine Hunter, Howard Finster, and Sister Gertrude Morgan.
A few blocks away, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432-434 Julia St., will once again be hosting openings in all of its exhibition spaces on the 400 block of Julia Street, including Troy Dugas’ intricately layered mandala-like assemblages, new pop culture-inspired neon pieces and large-scale paintings by Deborah Kass and an installation paying homage to New Orleans ballroom culture by Lesley Dill, incorporating nine dramatically gowned figures centered around a glittering chandelier.
But it’s the new video piece by Dave Greber in the gallery’s video room at 432 Julia that promises to be among the highlights of the evening: Greber’s “7000-Day Candles,” an interactive take on traditional devotional candles, is an environment consisting of four video monitor-based objects and a “Stasseo” (a stained-glass video object that the artist invented himself). In a similar vein as Greber’s other hilariously loopy surreal works that have popped up around town over the last several years, the piece will invite the viewer to explore notions of spirituality, technology and transhumanism.
Art as a weapon?
Meanwhile, a group show at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400a Julia St., will examine an issue that’s uncomfortably on top of many minds this year: “Guns in the Hands of Artists,” a reprise of a similar show the gallery exhibited 18 years ago, will incorporate almost 200 actual firearms acquired by the New Orleans Police Department through community buyback programs and repurposed in mixed media pieces by more than 30 artists.
Gallery founder Jonathan Ferrara hopes the exhibit will function as part of the continuing debate on gun control in the Crescent City and beyond: “In some way I hope this furthers the discussion and affects change,” he said in a statement.
Alex Mollere’s sculptures at Martine Chiasson Gallery, 727 Camp St., follow a more cerebral bent: His mixed media assemblages were designed with software used by mathematicians to produce graphical representations of mathematical objects, and look like they wouldn’t be out of place as props on the set of “Doctor Who.”
And farther Uptown ...
As many great things as there will be to see in the Warehouse District, keep in mind that dozens of galleries and shops on Magazine Street will be joining in the Art For Arts’ Sake spirit as well.
Cole Pratt Gallery, 3800 Magazine St., will be featuring an opening for Stephan Hoffpauir’s intensely detailed photorealistic paintings of overlooked spaces around buildings: “parking lots, freeways, driveways, porches, and the familiar objects found within them.” Meanwhile, Scairono Martinez Architects, 3642 Magazine St., will show a selection of art by local architects, including Bob Bennett, Heather Englehart, and Ron Martinez.
And of course, all roads that evening will lead to the official Art For Arts’ Sake gala at the Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., where you’ll have a final chance to see the current “Mark of the Feminine” show before the entire venue closes for installations for the rest of the month.
It’s all enough to sate even the hungriest of art appetites this fall. Just be sure to leave some room for Prospect.3 at the end of the month, too.