Since its founding 40 years ago, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts has become one of the world’s best-known arts conservatories for high school students.
But since we live in a city that loves a lot of music (not to mention a little drama), most of NOCCA’s best-known graduates are performing artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Wendell Pierce and Anthony Mackie.
But Visual Arts is one of NOCCA’s oldest and largest departments, and it’s been home to some incredibly talented faculty and students over the years. For an example, check out the New Orleans African American Museum this fall where NOCCA alum Zarouhie Abdalian has created one of Prospect.3’s most fascinating installations.
Now, NOCCA’s Visual Arts program is about to get a boost that will increase its visibility in the New Orleans art scene: the NOCCA Institute 5 Press Gallery is a new art space located in the NOCCA Forum, a historic warehouse in the Faubourg Marigny recently renovated to accommodate NOCCA’s expanded programs.
“5 Press Gallery focuses on practicing, professional artists who have a connection to NOCCA, including current and former faculty, alumni and visiting artists,” said gallery director Amanda Cassingham-Bardwell. “These artists are visible throughout New Orleans, showing on Julia Street, Royal Street, in the St. Claude Arts District and elsewhere in the city.”
In addition to its NOCCA-centric focus, another important part of the gallery’s mission is its non-profit status.
Its own portion of sales revenue from its exhibitions will be used to support programs for NOCCA students, faculty and the neighborhood, including an artists-in-residence program for the school and public concert and literary series.
It’s an unusual business model that was conceived by NOCCA’s nonprofit partner, The NOCCA Institute.
According to the Institute’s executive director Sally Perry, 5 Press Gallery will be one part of NOCCA’s expanding effort to become an increasingly visible focus of arts activity in New Orleans.
“The gallery, along with the new Press Street Station restaurant next door, and the soon-to-open Press Street Gardens, are designed to pull back the curtain a bit and let the community see the amazing things that take place at NOCCA every day,” said Perry. “Our neighbors will be able to see artwork from NOCCA faculty, purchase culinary treats made by NOCCA students, and peek at some of the student experiments taking place in the gardens. At the same time, every purchase made in the gallery, the restaurant and the gardens will help support a public school that’s been changing young people’s lives for four decades.”
5 Press Gallery opens to the public on Nov. 8 with a mixed-media show called “Salutations.” Artists featured in the silent auction include NOCCA faculty members Nikki Jackson, Mary Jane Parker, Keith Perelli, Ann Schwab and Michel Varisco.
Work by NOCCA faculty artists will be presented alongside that of alumni including Hannah Chalew, Emilie Gossiaux, Erica Lambertson, Bonnie Maygarden, Brandan Odums, Terrance Osborne, Ashley Teamer and Carl Joe Williams.
Work will be sold via a silent auction during the show; in addition, a selection of video works by visual and media artists will be on display on the evening of Nov. 8 only. Silent auction works will remain on view through Nov. 16.
It’s an exciting start for what promises to be a space worth keeping an eye on.