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Taint Modern

Big Top Art Exhibition Participants Are Creators and Evaluators

Everyone is a critic at Taint Modern, and that's how they like it. 



The new exhibition at the 3 Ring Circus’ Big Top Gallery, which opened last weekend, features artists from a collective called the Critique Group, a band of local artists who believe that art doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  The artists challenge and inspire each other through discussion and criticism, and the result is a show that features distinct individual artists linked by the open and personal nature of their work.  NoDef met up with some of the artists from the Critique Group for a tour of the exhibition and some insight into their artistic processes.



In August, 2009, a mass email went out to artists inviting them to participate in the Critique Group.  Since then, those who responded have been meeting regularly to discuss their art in the kind of workshop-style setting most often associated with academia.  Kathy Rodriguez, one of the artists in Taint Modern, told NoDef that the group started in an attempt to recapture the camaraderie and community that artists sometime lose after leaving school.  “We found ourselves outside of the conversation,” she said, “and we wanted to maintain it.”



The show’s title—which seems to declare what the show is not, in addition to declaring the intentions of the artists—is expounded upon in the Crit Group Manifesto:



The purpose of Taint Modern is not to be trained in the art of pretentiousness or to create disillusionment within a group of creative minds.  Rather, its goal is to illuminate the collective mind to create more powerful art by continuously reshaping problems into possibilities.



The idea of “reshaping problems into possibilities” is a theme that runs through much of the work in the show. 



Rodriguez’s contribution to the show is a series of small drawings based on cell phone photos that she took around New Orleans during her daily commutes. 



With a hectic schedule, the photographs—and then the drawings—were a way for Rodriguez to make time to devote to her art.  The idea, she said, is in “fixing moments that go by too quickly.”  The small, detailed drawings reference the size of a cell-phone screen, but also, she said, “the moment is that size,” and the drawings are a way to capture those fleeting moments that add up to something more significant.



For Myrna Enamorado, a hospital stay led to questions of identity and self, something she worked out through a series of self-portraits produced in an almost outsider or folk-art style.  “They’re all different,” she said, “but all different parts of me.”  Her favorite portrait is the one that includes passages from the Lotus Sutra, a Buddhist text that Enamorado finds inspiring and comforting.  That portrait, she said, was one of the last ones in the series, done when she felt “more defined, and ready to get out of the hospital.”



Matthew Kirscht’s painting, “What Have You Done for Me Today?” represents his own struggles as an artist, caught between the commercial and creative.  The painting is brightly colored and playful, a sort of kaleidoscope dreamscape which is a departure from Kirscht’s more narrative commercial work.  “I was angry at painting for a long time,” he said, “and I wanted to have fun again.”  This particular work rekindled the joy of painting for the artist, allowing him to work outside of conventional expectations.



Ryan Lindburg has been in New Orleans for a few years now, and he calls “Gentrified” his “first New Orleans piece,” the result of “gathering symbols and images” of the city, trying to figure out how to use them best.  Living in the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood, Lindburg has witnessed some of the trappings of gentrification in the area, though he believes much of the sprucing up is merely superficial.  “It feels like a veneer,” he said.  “There’s that seedy underbelly underneath it all.  There’s still something lurking.”  Lindburg created a series of three woodcuts that mimic the decorative grates used to cover the crawl spaces beneath old neighborhood homes.  Behind the third grate is a snarling dog, a reminder of the viciousness just beneath the surface.



Laurie Gipson also finds beauty in the everyday, creating a pile of shovels from homemade paper, making the heavy tools light and delicate.  Her focus is on the form, but also on the process, the act of rendering the iron and wood harmless.  Doing so, she said, transforms a heavy burden into something nearly weightless, which serves as “a visual reminder to drop useless thoughts.”      



Taint Modern also includes works by Kelly Casey, Valerie Corradetti, Matthew Duguid, Holis Hannan, Rachel Jones, Ariya Martin, Jeff and Natalie Rinehart, Amanda Turpen, David Webber, and Kathryn Zansler.



The show is on view through Saturday, January 28, and the Big Top will host a closing reception that night from 6:00-9:00pm.

Oo-ee, I love the concept of

Oo-ee, I love the concept of such diverse art, with very talented artists in the mix. I have one question: Where does the word "taint" come in to play?
"Tainted Modernism" or "It Ain't Modern"?
By far, my fave artists in this show are Kathy Rodriguez and Matthew Kirscht.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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