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Ogden Openings Explore Intersection of Development, Environment

by Brad Rhines

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art brings the bayou to the business district this week, as a slate of new exhibitions celebrate the diverse landscapes of the Gulf Coast.  A whopping nine new shows open on Thursday, all of them focused on some unique aspect of Southern geography, from the waterways to the wilderness.  The openings take place at the Ogden’s weekly After Hours event, and will feature music from bluesman Johnny Sansone.


With exhibitions that include drawings, paintings, photographs, and video, the new shows will cast a wide net in their representations of the region.  Sue Strachan, in a press release from the Ogden, said the focus of these shows will be “the beauty and fragility of nature and the environment as interpreted in a variety of media.”


New Orleans artist Michel Varisco presents a series of photographs that features the wetlands of south Louisiana, many presenting aerial views that, while beautiful, also document natural and man-made changes that have led to the degradation of this natural resource.


Also on view are nature and wildlife photographs by CC Lockwood from around Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, and photographs by Nell Campbell who explores the role of hunting in the conservation of nature through her shots of duck blinds constructed throughout the state’s waterways.


Painter Mark Messersmith comes from Tallahassee, Florida, where suburban sprawl threatens the dense, swampy landscape of Northern Florida, originally tamed by the white settlers—known as “crackers”—who came to the area in the 18th century.  Messersmith’s dense, colorful paintings depict the flora and fauna of Northern Florida struggling to survive as the infrastructure of the state’s capital encroaches.


Also from the Sunshine State is self-taught painter Alexa Kleinbard who was at the Ogden last year with husband Jim Roche as the pair showed off their extensive collection of American self-taught, outsider and visionary art.  This time Kleinbard is showing her own work, which features oil-on-panel paintings of wild medicinal plants of the Southeast.


In Lee Deigaard’s video work “Plastic Gulf,” fishing lures simulate ocean life in an artificial environment of plastic reefs.  According to the artist’s statement, “in the battle for conservation resources, fish have trouble engaging human sympathies. These plastic fish flirt with the viewer, resist being ignored.”


Thursday’s opening reception will be 6pm-8pm on April 19 during Ogden After Hours, free to museum members and $10 general admission.  For more information about all of this week’s openings at the Ogden, visit their webpage.  

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