Friday, July 31, 2009

Terence Blanchard

Tonight at the Ogden, Terence Blanchard will premiere music from his upcoming album, "Choices," in our Patrick F. Taylor Library, an historic H. H. Richardson building attached to Goldring Hall. The new album, scheduled for release on August 18, was recorded in the library in early March, the first time Blanchard has recorded in his hometown.

A native of New Orleans who studied under Ellis Marsalis at the NOCCA Institute, Blanchard first emerged on the scene in 1980 with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He went on to play trumpet for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, becoming the band's musical director, replacing Wynton Marsalis.

In 1990, Blanchard launched his solo career, and has since made a name for himself as trumpet player, band leader, arranger and composer in the hard bop tradition. His work as a film composer on over fifty films has reached a wide audience, and garnered numerous Grammy nominations. He is currently director of the Thelonius Monk Institute, and led the charge to move that institution to New Orleans from Los Angeles after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures.

Tonight's event will feature Terence Blanchard and his band—Fabian Almazan on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass, Kendrick Scott on drums and Walter Smith III on saxophone, and special guest vocalist Bilal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bo Bartlett's Young Life

Bo Bartlett's Young Life, 1994, oil on linen.
Collection of Robin and Michael Wilkinson.

Bo Bartlett is an American realist painter born 1955 in Columbus, Georgia. At 19, he travelled to Florence, Italy to study painting under Ben Long. He went on to apprentice under Nelson Shanks and to study in several American schools including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and University of the Arts, PA. A Certificate in Filmmaking from New York University in 1986 led him to work with Betty Wyeth on a documentary film, titled Snow Hill, about her husband, Andrew Wyeth, who became both mentor and friend to Bartlett.

As an introduction to the exhibition of six large Bo Bartlett canvasses from the collection of Sandy and Otis Scarborough opening August 1st on the fifth floor of the Ogden Museum, Bartlett's 1994 painting, Young Life, has been installed in the atrium of Goldring Hall. Young Life is on loan from local collectors, Robin and Michael Wilkinson. An interesting detail of this masterwork is the inclusion of a deer tail in the frame, and deer hair in the paint. A small insect and dandelion seed have also gained immortality through inclusion under the paint.

Writing about The Fatherland (Study for Young Life) in February of 1994, Bartlett says:

"I saw my sister's son in this shirt and cap. I asked him to pose with his girlfriend in front of my father's truck. As I took the photo, my youngest son Eliot ran into the picture. This is a study for a larger painting, Young Love or Young Life or something."
He goes on to list a few influences:

"The Home of the Brave, that photo of Lee Harvey Oswald, Rockwell. Young America by Wyeth. That flower selling group by Picasso in the Barnes. American Gothic, Bruce Springsteen."

All of these things and more, combined with childhood memories (first love, the light walking home frome school, newspaper clippings of men with their kill) have combined in the artist's mind to create this simple, elegant realist painting that to this writer, is a truly iconic Southern image.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Peter Schjeldahl's Fireworks

Schjeldahl Potluck 2009. Photo by Richard McCabe.

During the 4th of July weekend of this year, the Ogden's chief preparator, Richard McCabe, and I travelled to New York to return works from previous exhibitions of Hunt Slonem and Margaret Evangeline. As luck would have it, the final delivery of Evangeline's work to the Catskills was scheduled to coincide with Peter Schjeldahl's private Independence Day celebration and fireworks display. In their turn-of-the-century farmhouse located just a few miles from the celebration, artists Ruth Hardinger and C. Michael Norton were gracious hosts for the night to a small group including Margaret Evangeline, art critic Dominique Nahas, Susan Smith, Richard and myself, among others.

Schjeldahl's Driveway 2009. Photo by Richard McCabe.

Susan Smith 2009. Photo by Richard McCabe.

Ruth Hardinger 2009. Photo by Richard McCabe.

Currently head art critic at The New Yorker, for nearly 45 years, Schjeldahl has written art criticism in New York. He is also a contemporary postmodern poet in the tradition of the New York School. In a 2006 questionnaire published in Frieze Magazine, Schjeldahl was asked, "What could you imagine doing if you didn't do what you do?". His answer was pyrotechnician. For over twenty years, he has staged his fireworks performance in the Catskills, an event that he aptly describes as "terror and delight."

Peter Schjeldahl 2009. Photo by Richard McCabe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kendall Shaw: Let There Be Light

Photo by David Houston

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is proud to announce the publication of Kendall Shaw: Let There Be Light. This catalogue documents the exhibition of the same name, curated by David Houston and featured at the Ogden Museum from January through April of 2007. The exhibition was then travelled to the Ruskin Gallery at Cambridge School of Art in England in the fall of the same year. Including a foreward by J. Richard Gruber, Ph.D, and essays by David Houston, Martica Sawin, and Bruce Russell, this handsome hard-bound volume is a fine critical document and tribute to the work of New Orleans native, Kendall Shaw. With over thirty full-color plates of paintings from the 1950s to 2006, the catalogue also contains installation shots from both venues, showing not only content but context.

Circular Continuity, 1966, Kendall Shaw.
Acrylic on canvas 72" x 72".
Collection of the artist.

Kendall Shaw: Let There Be Light is available for purchase (while supplies last) in the museum store. Plans are in the works for an artist's talk and book signing.

Giorno installed at Ruskin Gallery.
Photo by Arlington Weithers.