If White Linen Night feels a little different this year, it’s not just the heat playing tricks on your brain.

First off, the massively popular annual Warehouse District art event has acquired a new name: It’s now Hancock Whitney White Linen Night, which reflects the (new) official name of its main sponsor. (There’s a new logo too, if you pay attention to things like that.)

And the Contemporary Arts Center-benefitting Cool Down Lounge at the Lighthouse on Camp Street that for many attendees has been a necessary amenity the last several years? It’s moved over to the buzzy and even more Instagrammable Auction House Market on Magazine Street. (The $50 admission gets you two drinks, “light bites” and restroom access, in addition to that, much-coveted air conditioning.)

As for other changes, rest assured there will be pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from White Linen Nights in the past — only more of it.

That will likely include more crowds. The event has held steady as one of the most popular summertime events in New Orleans since its 1994 inception, despite often stifling temperatures.

This year’s event will again take over Julia Street between North Peters and Carondelet streets, with spotlight entertainers and live DJs featured on each block and more than 25 food and beverage vendors.

And of course, there’s the art, which is the ostensible reason for the whole shebang in the first place: More than a dozen galleries along and near Julia Street will be hosting receptions between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday. (See the sidebar for five gallery openings you shouldn’t miss.)

In addition, the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be opening two major group shows.

At the CAC, “Constructing the Break” will feature work by 29 regional artists reflecting “practices that engage with the shape-shifting that is at the core of New Orleans”, according to exhibition curator Allison Glenn of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Across the street, the Ogden will open the 2018 edition of its annual Louisiana Contemporary group exhibition, which has become something of a bellwether for the current state of the visual arts in southern Louisiana and its environs. Juried this year by Courtney J. Martin, deputy director and chief curator at the Dia Art Foundation, the show features work by more than two dozen emerging and established artists.

Should all that art get you in the mood for dancing — not to mention thirsty for more cocktails — the CAC has you covered with its official White Linen Night-after party with a cash bar and DJs until midnight.

And if someone happens to spill one of those cocktails all over your white linen ensemble? That’s exactly the kind of situation that next week’s Dirty Linen Night in the French Quarter was made for.

Some things never change.

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Hancock Whitney White Linen Night 2018

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 4

WHERE: Warehouse Arts District, including the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.) and Julia Street between North Peters and Carondelet streets

INFO: cacwhitelinennight.com 

ADMISSION: Free admission to art galleries and exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art; cash bars and food vendors on Julia Street; $10 for CAC after party; $50 for the CAC’s Cool Down Lounge at Auction House Market)


Must-See Shows

In addition to the two major museum group shows that anchor the evening — the annual Louisiana Contemporary at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and “Constructing the Break” at the CAC — here are five gallery shows worth making your way through the crowds for.

Mythologies Louisianaises at Arthur Roger (432 Julia St.)

Indifferently assembled group shows are the often the staple of summertime gallery schedules. But this one at Arthur Roger has an intriguing premise: Exhibition curator and artist Jonathan “feral opossum” Mayers has bought together works by a diverse collection of artists linked by their Francophone ties to New Orleans and southern Louisiana.

Shawne Major at Callan Contemporary  (518 Julia St.)

Major’s complex, glittery assemblages of fabric and random objects occupy a space between chaos and control, and the intimate scale of some of her more recent works allows viewers to better appreciate the considerable technical artistry that goes into making them.

Margaret Evangeline and Ruth Owens at Jonathan Ferrara (400 Julia St.)

Two very different but equally excellent contemporary painters will be sharing the walls at Jonathan Ferrara: Ruth Owens’ figurative canvases draw from an intensely personal repertoire of what she describes as a “racially and culturally complicated” family history, while a new series of Margaret Evangeline’s intricately layered abstractions based on hundreds of individual “micro-gestures” are dizzying worlds of color texture and form.

Lester Merriweather at Stella Jones (stellajonesgallery.com) (201 St. Charles Ave.)

The monochromatic works in Memphis-based Merriweather’s solo show explain only part of the title: “WHITE(S) ONLY” also hints at the provocative nature of his mixed media art, which combines collage and found objects to comment on American histories of race and class.

Anne Blenker at Brand New Orleans (brandneworleansartgallery.com) (646 Tchoupitoulas St.)

Most galleries will mark White Linen Night with openings, but Brand New Orleans will be extending the run of Anne Blenker’s “River of Palms” show with an “encore reception” that evening, giving you a chance to see her engaging botanical textures shot through with wavy lines representing the flow of the Mississippi … before they all float away.