Top 11 Visual Artists in 2011
The visual arts continued their resurgence in 2010. Events such as Prospect 1.5, PhotoNOLA, and the suddenly hot monthly art walks have propelled those putting brush to canvas to a stature equal to those putting brushes to skin... feet to canvas. Right now, we are seeing incredible art coming out of this city; the works span all mediums, and convey themes still tinged by the Storm, but no longer pigeonholed by our dark days.
Willie Birch - For a sixty-seven year old man to have a big year ahead of him in the world of fine arts, after producing work for upwards of thirty years in a myriad of mediums, Willie Birch manages to maintain his marbles, and they look good. This year Julia Street’s Arthur Rogers Gallery showed Looking Back, a Birch retrospective exposition on work made between 1978-2003. Birch grew up in the Magnolia Projects, left the country for many years to travel throughout Africa, live in other cities, show all over the world, and returned to NOLA in the mid 90s, where he settled and continues to reside in the Seventh Ward. The work is found in public, private, and museum collections (Hola NOMA, The Ogden, and um, The Met). 2011 is looking strong for Mr. Birch, who is featured in a continuing exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York entitled Global Africa Project through May 15, as well as an exhibit to open at NY’s White Columns Gallery in January 2011. Yeah you right, Willie.
Skylar Fein - There is no shortage of love for punk, pop art, or street aesthetics in the NOLA arts scene. Repurposed materials and signage are pretty popular also. However, an individual who can take these abstract love, getting you sh*t together, creating art out of it, and then having said look good is a bit more scarce. Enter Skylar Fein. Although, no stranger to the shuffle, Fein broke out in late ‘09 with his “Youth Manifesto” show, an homage to graffiti and the hard edged rock of the CBGB circuit. Fein has spent the year since building momentum. He’s been busy showing his unique brand of Dirty Southern Pop nationally, and here in NOLA at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. Keep on rockin, Skylar, you’re doing Fein.
Dan Tague - Money, money, money! At least that’s what this Jonathan Ferrara represented artist is talking about, and making. Dan Tague has a lot to be thankful for this NYE, especially after JF’s gallery took a trip down South and featured his work in none other than Art Basel Miami. It doesn’t get much cooler than that, unless you’re then asked to show at Ballroom Marfa the following year, which Tague will be doing for an exhibition in March 2011. Now there’s more than just the Prada Store to justify this Texas-bound road trip. Look out for Tague in Nola’s own Prospect.2 Biennial opening October 22. (Disclosure: DTR, Dan Tague's Pinewood Derby Racing Outfit is the chief rival of NoDef Racing, our miniature car racing subsidiary.)
Alex Podesta - Podesta, member of The Front art collective, and another artist featured in the Ogden’s exhibition EMERGE, as well as the permanent ‘Saratoga Collection’, has lived, worked and shown in New Orleans for thirteen years. You may have spotted (or read about) the five bunnies peeking out from the top of the Falstaff building at the corner of Broad and Perdido Sts. This public art piece titled ‘City Watch’ (recently taken down, as the bunnies relocated indoors for the winter) referenced the time people spent on rooftops awaiting rescue, and the prisoners who were dragged by guards after the storm from Orleans Parish Prison (located across the street from the bunnies) onto the nearby Broad St. overpass, and, ultimately, the I-10, with no food, shade or inkling of what was going on elsewhere in the flooded Post-K city. The bunnies act as memorials, judges, and protectors. They are always an ambiguous and therefore thought provoking presence on the trip down Broad Street. “City Watch,” is only one part of a series of installations by local artist Alex Podesta, and we’re keeping our ears perked for what’s to come.
Candy Chang - As far as we know, cloning has not yet become common among humans. But Candy Chang provides conspiracy theorists with fodder. She’s a full-time New Orleanian and plans to be here for a long time. She’s rolled out at least four projects that were sizable undertakings this year alone -- and they all required a little thought to put together. Her “Sexy Trees of the Marigny” calendar reminded us what we could lose, while her “I Wish I Was...” sticker project and grocery-centric entry into the “Hypothetical Development” exhibit showed us what we stood to gain. To top it off, her “It’s Good to Be Here” sidewalk stamps almost made us optimistic...for longer than a minute. Chang’s work ethic alone seems to be a community asset. It’s only lagniappe that her work focuses on civic dialogue.
Pompo Bresciani - Bresciani made a name for himself photographing waves and windsurfers in Hawaii. Not surprisingly, his move to New Orleans was a paradigm shift in mentality and subject matter. Today, Bresciani's work features lots of umbrellas, but little water. Stunning photography of NOLA’s secondlines and skylines captures the heart of the city, without the cheese for tourists. Masterful use of texture, color, and good old fashioned lighting make for striking photos. Like his new home, New Orleans, Bresciani is on the rise.
Generic Art Solutions - What’s more ‘in’ than collaborative art teams these days? Not to mention collabs making topical works, about the oil spill? Enter Generic Art Solutions, currently showing at NOMA, and the Ogden, having previously showed at the Voodoo Music Experience before that (the OK Sign), Matt Vis and Tony Cambell have been duo-ing it as G.A.S. for more than a decade. The ‘Deja Vu All Over Again’ show is the first solo museum expo for the team, featuring their usual grouping of mixed mediums (photographs, video, sculpture, silkscreen), and will run through February of 2011.
The Community Print Shop at Louisiana Artworks - A microcosm of artists, the print shop has been tossed between transitioning managements for some time, thrusting for a stable administration to simply, well, let it do its thing. Thanks to the help of Meg Turner, who jumped into LA Artworks straight from Providence, RI after helping start up the AS220 Print Shop (one of the most functional and well-equipt community shops in the States). Artist, not administrator, by trade, Turner brought organization strategy and equiptment ‘know-how’ to the shop, and managed to create an environment for people of all stages and skills to comfortably use all that’s offered: open shop and rentals, classes (returning this spring), two etching presses, a litho press, a vacuum table, and most importantly, affordability. A new rosin box now allows for shaded etchings with aqua tint (color is the future), and word from the inside is that cut rubylith films and transparent inks are all the rage in 2011. Look out for work from Ms. Turner, Li Pallas, Maureen Iverson, Pippin Frisbie-Calder, and Vanessa Adams.
Lionel Milton - It’s one thing to show in a gallery, another to be chosen for a museum, and a whole new ballgame when your illustrations are featured on a cake, or better yet sought after by international corporations. Lionel Milton is an artist with clients; clients like MTV, Sony Playstation, Target Budweiser, Walt Disney, Brad Pitt, and dem Saints. Media Companies from television to gaming systems incorporate Milton’s original work into their programming for decor purposes, while consumer brands use his designs on the very face of their products. You know what they say, once you go Target you never go back, but Lionel keeps it real and continues to do work in, for, and with the people of New Orleans, collaborating with local radio stations WWOZ and Q93.3, The Children’s Hospital, the CAC, Sucre, and Jazzfest, Voodoo, and Essence music festivals. This chill Crescent City corporate has street smarts and a talented freehand that keeps us guessing (and hyped) for 2011.
T-Lot - Located on former commercial property across from Sweet Lorriane's Jazz Club at 1940 St. Claude Ave, a long-time-unused space now serves (as of July) a studio for five up-n-coming artists. Less than five months after signing the lease, Georgia Kennedy, Stephen Kwok, Hannah Chalew, Natalie McLaurin, and Angela Barry bled, sweat, and teared their way to host the kickoff party for the Prospect 1.5 open studios, titled ‘Catapult!’. The artists, who are all from the South and lack Master's degrees (like two spoons in a drawer), have taken that opportunity as a chance to explore their personal interests, untethered from a curator or gallery owner concerned about space and palatability. All of "Catapult!" artists work in different mediums, but maintain a collective interest in human interaction with forces outside our control.There is much more to come from these creative cohorts, and we predict 2011 will be seeing A-Lot from T-Lot.
Dave Greber - Front-man videographer turned video artist Dave Greber has dabbled in all things media since moving to New Orleans in 2005, but left the world of production in 2009 to focus solely on making art. Greber was most recently featured in T-Lot’s Catapult! as well as Prospect 1.5, with a solo show at the legendary Louisiana State Museum (aka Madame John’s), one of the few houses to escape the great fire of 1795. Creatively cruising towards the future, Dave is bound to impound us with wacky and humorous works that impress.
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