If White Linen Night is an excuse to drink lots of wine and pretend you’re looking at art, Art for Art's Sake is the event where everyone is supposed to take things a little more seriously.
But Art for Art's Sake is as big a party as any other festival in New Orleans. And given its huge scope — from the French Quarter to the farthest Uptown reaches of Magazine Street — your best strategy shouldn’t involve worrying about what specific shows to hit, as much as it should be about socializing, going with the flow, and seeing where the evening takes you.
That said, here are five places along the route that you might want to keep in mind to check out should you be passing by.
Sean Yseult at Boyd | Satellite (440 Julia St.)
Photographer Sean Yseult’s “They All Axed For You” is described as “a love letter and a birthday gift for the City of New Orleans on the anniversary of its Tricentennial.” Anyone who’s seen Yseult’s visual art over the years (or knows her musical work with the legendary White Zombie) won’t be surprised to find out that her tribute goes against the usual visual cliches to reveal the more unexpected and magical facets of the New Orleans experience, which in her current body of work invokes animals from the Audubon Zoo let loose in some of the most iconic tourist spots in the city.
Newton Howard at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St.)
For many city dwellers, “Sportsman’s Paradise” is little more than a phrase that appears on Louisiana license plates. Artist Newton Howard (1912-1984), however, was a duck hunter, fisherman and naturalist who translated his experience in the various Louisiana wildernesses into a huge number of simple but evocative paintings in oil, acrylic, and watercolor that reveal the subtlety and richness of a natural environment many of us take for granted, and are as fresh and evocative today as when they were painted more than half a century ago.
Josephine Sacabo at A Gallery for Fine Photography (241 Chartres St.)
When photographer Josephine Sacabo began noticing disturbing and misogynist graffiti popping up around her Marigny studio, she decided to do something more than call 311: She started using it as elements in her dreamlike photographic compositions, which include layers of imagery that contrast and comment upon each other. The results are on view in “Tagged,” her new show at A Gallery for Fine Photography, which contains some of Sacabo’s most provocative work yet.
Simon Gunning at Arthur Roger (432 Julia St.)
More than any other landscape artist working in New Orleans now — and this is saying a lot given the considerable talent pool — Simon Gunning manages to capture best the particular details and rhythms of the greater New Orleans ecosystem. His paintings don’t focus on details so much as they reveal how man-made and natural elements combine to form something greater than just the sum of their parts, and the chance to see a new series of bayou-focused landscapes in person at Arthur Roger promises to be an Art for Art's Sake highlight.
Berta & Mina's Antiquities (4138 Magazine St.)
Art for Art's Sake attracts thousands of folks for a night out, and much of the art on view along the considerable Magazine Street stretch of the evening is as much a backdrop for a mileslong block party as a destination in itself. Works by artist Nilo Lanzas and his daughter, Mina, on display at Berta and Mina’s are vivid, joyful and uncomplicated — much like the best parts of Art for Art's Sake itself.