White Linen Night: The annual New Orleans event when art enthusiasts or wanna-be art enthusiasts flock Julia Street by the hundreds, all dressed in white and ready to drunkenly stroll through the galleries. The festival brings attention to the unique creative scene that New Orleans has to offer and to the artists who deserve recognition. And who are those artists? Whether or not you are very familiar with the world of visual arts, here is a list of a few painters, sculptors, illustrators, and performance artists who are worth checking out on White Linen Night. The White Linen Block Party will be free to the public, starting at 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and The Contemporary Art Center will host an after party for $10 general admission.
James Flynn, a New Orleans native, uses both varied and primary colors to produce images that resonate with time and space, creating paintings that look as if they are an intergalactic message that humans cannot comprehend. His works, almost all of which are acrylic painted on wood panel or linen, span in size but are mainly large scale. He deals with basic shapes and forms like circles and triangles but uses acrylic to create repeated patterns that evoke an inter-dimensional, planetary illusion. Some of Flynn’s pieces, such as The Superposition of Schrodinger’s Cats, almost look like an optical illusion or somewhat 3D. His paintings certainly reflect psychedelic art, similar to what’s printed on your roommate’s tapestry; however, they don’t merely imitate the past hippie era, but appear to be the psychedelic art of the future. Very trippy stuff, for sure.
Amy Guidry manages to capture the complex relationships between realism and surrealism, life and death, humans and animals, traditional and abstract, in small, single framed paintings. Her dreamlike landscapes with animal, human, and natural forms mixing and dancing with each other create beautiful images that seem to be more than just a mere neo-surrealist tribute to Dali or O’Keefe. Her paintings create a dialogue with her obvious predecessors and influences, but they retain an original, calming, eerie, and downright intelligent attitude to them. She focuses on painting very natural, recognizable imagery of wildlife in their assumed habitats; however, there is something a little bit off – a little bit uncanny – in the way the figures are composed. In the painting Vital, there are what looks to be three wolves running (although after closer inspection, it is hard to tell how many there are), but their heads and backs are replaced with delicately painted snow capped mountains, morphing the pack into their natural environment. The painting Fragility depicts a human skeleton, framed from the shoulders up, in front of a blue sky – but instead of a skull, a butterfly flutters above the neck bone, exactly where the brain would be. Most of her paintings are small scale, making them very picturesque for home décor. Her exhibit has many more surreal, outlandish paintings to see, so make sure to stop by LeMieux Galleries and check out her work!
The man behind the iconic comic strip “Vic and Nat’ly,” which appeared in almost every local publication throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, will be showcasing his classic cartoons at the Arthur Roger Gallery. His comics illustrate the life of Vic and Nat’ly Broussard, a somewhat crude husband and wife caricature duo who run a bar and po-boy shop in the Ninth Ward. They often converse with tourists and local characters, making satirical commentary on the cultural and social issues of New Orleans. Bunny Matthews depicts “Vic and Nat’ly” as having “Yat” accents, a local dialect that is sometimes unintelligible on paper; however the thick vernacular only adds to the comics’ authentic and hilarious portrayal of New Orleans life. Matthews manages to capture all aspects of New Orleans through this overtly unpleasant couple who know New Orleans as if they were experts – drunken, goofy experts – and they embrace the city to its core. One spot-on cartoon that captures New Orleans weather is called Nint’ Ward Meteorology, which illustrates Vic in a time frame from 2:30 to 3:15, and every fifteen minutes Vic switches from hiding under an umbrella in a thunderous rainstorm, to enjoying a beer and a cigarette in the sun. The weather is truly that moody in this city.
Although the artists featured in this exhibit are not originally from New Orleans, their work is truly phenomenal and has had great impacts on the art world – you have probably heard of most of them. Pop Abstraction focuses on Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, the two prominent art movements of the second half of the 20th century. The featured artists include Andy Warhol, Dan Christensen, David Row, Jack Tworkov, Jim Dine, Keith Haring, Kikuo Saito, Mr. Brainwash, Robert Rauschenberg, Ronnie Cutrone, Rubem Robierb, Sam Francis, and Theodoros Stamos. My god, what a collection. Andy Warhol was the leading figure in the pop art movement, mainly using silkscreen and paint to depict consumer and celebrity culture. Some of his most iconic works include images of Marilyn Monroe, and Octavia Art Gallery is lucky enough to display Marilyn Monroe FS.11.25, a beautifully colorful silkscreen painting of America’s dream girl. Jim Dine, another prominent artist of the later 20th century, is often considered a Pop Artist although his works diverge from the conventional Pop Art characteristics. Some of his most famous works include abstract colored lithographs of robes and his renowned heart symbol series. Three of his more contemporary pieces will be exhibited, such as The Blue Heart; a medium scale framed lithograph composed of mostly yellow, splotched with green, blue, red, and pink, and in the middle lies a heart shape that almost blends in and camouflages with the rest of the composition. Three prints by Keith Haring, an artist whose work reflects Pop Art, although he distinguishes himself by expressing concepts of sexuality, social activism, war, death, and birth, will be displayed at Octavia as well. They were also able to acquire a Robert Rauschenberg piece, an artist who essentially predicted and influenced the Pop Art Movement. One of the more contemporary artists featured will be painter and sculptor, Rubem Robierb. All eight of his exhibited works bare influence to the Pop Art movement, however his projects display more than meets the eye. He shows hidden anti-war messages in his works, and one of his most fascinating pieces is Love Changes Everything, a 37-inch-tall sculpture of a bullet facing upward towards the sky. Many of these artists changed and influenced the art world today, and if you haven’t seen any of their works in person before, I would highly recommend checking out Octavia Art Gallery on White Linen Night.
The New Orleans-based husband and wife collaborators, Jenny LeBlanc and Kyle Bravo, have been the leading installation and performance artists of New Orleans for years now. The creative couple uses varied mixed media to create incredible installations that let the viewer take a step inside their works and experience their imagination first-hand. The featured White Linen Night exhibit, New Wave, has not been constructed nor viewed by anyone yet, but I can assure something interesting will be presented by these two. LeBlanc and Bravo often combine printmaking and performance (what they call a “printstallation”) to construct pieces that ask questions about social and psychological questions. In 2009, the duo made Snowball, a “printstallation” that depicts a child-like performance of the artists having a snowball fight; however, the snow and the forts are all made and covered with printed images of snowflakes. The piece dealt with aspects of competition and games, and how the imaginary relates to real war and conflict. Although New Wave is not exhibited yet, I have heard that the installation will include wave sculptures that may or may not have moving parts. Make sure to check out what this New Orleans duo creates on Night Linen Night.