1st Saturday En Brief
Julia Street galleries and museums have historically held the torch as the central New Orleans art scene. The promise of ample (read: FREE) white wine and semi-contemporary art entices crowds to stumble their way through the "Warehouse District":http://www.neworleansartsdistrict.com/ from 6-9pm the first Saturday of every month. Special events such as "White Linen Night":http://www.neworleansartsdistrict.com/white-linen-night/ or Art for Art's Sake attract hordes of people to pour onto Julia Street for a sweaty evening of saying "pardon me" and running into people you met three years ago at the same event.
These mega events seldom feel as though they're actually about the art on display-a generally disappointing concept I mull over in the corner while I glare at a pack of 4-year-olds pawing a porcelain sculpture-and more about an economic boost to the Warehouse District. For me, First Saturday has played the less attractive stepsister to St Claude Arts Districts' "Second Saturday":http://scadnola.com/index.php/home, mostly due to proximity to my house and the fact that St Claude openings usually run later (Good Children gallery and the Front both stay open until 10 p.m. or until the PBR runs dry.)
Most notably, the work I see on display on St Claude is genuinely diverse and engaging. It reminds me of the work you'd see in small Brooklyn galleries, where the artist is usually standing in the same room as you and their studio is the apartment upstairs. I appreciate that type of intimacy between the artist and viewer, and it feels more appropriate for New Orleans' small (sometimes incestuous) community.
My preferences aside, I will say that during January's First Saturday, the Boyd Satellite Gallery (B S Gallery for short-hopefully referring to the owner's sense of humor), a newcomer to Julia Street, hosted Megalomania, an exhibit of portraits paying homage to one individual in a variety of media. Said individual, Blake Nelson Boyd, is an artist himself and owner of the space, and was depicted by other artists with varying degrees of familiarity with Boyd.
The exhibit included straight forward portraits such as David Halliday's Victorian-style photo, which makes you chuckle as he stares back at you through comically thick glasses, a 90's style beanie and ponytail. The show included more interpretive two-dimensional drawings and etchings that alluded to Boyd's own artwork and life - a personal history and fascination with Walt Disney. This exhibit, Boyd Satellite's first opening since they opened in Dec 2012, stayed crowded all night. More importantly it introduced visitors to the owner of the space (instead of hiding him like the Wiz) and set the tone for future exhibits to include more than just large-scale abstract expressionist painters (the space's previous inhabitants were often guilty of this).
Megalomania was on display at 440 Julia Street through Mardi Gras. Looking forward to what comes next for the artists at Boyd Satellite in March.