Thursday, October 14, 2010

Robert and Julian Onderdonk

Julian Onderdonk, In the Hills of the Spanish Oaks, c. 1917
Collection of Susan and Claude Albritton

Julian Onderdonk (1882 – 1922), known as “the father of Texas painting,” is celebrated for his poetic renderings of the South Texas Landscape. Trained in his teenage years by his father, the realist painter Robert Onderdonk, Julian spent two formative years on Long Island in New York City, studying with William Merritt Chase, one of the most important painters and teachers of his generation. After an attempt to establish a studio in New York City, Julian returned to San Antonio in 1909, and painted the Texas landscape until his untimely death in 1922.

Robert Onderdonk, Portrait of Julian Onderdonk, 1892
Roger Houston Ogden Collection

While not the first or only painter to capture the shimmering blue Texas landscape with bluebonnets in blossom, Julian Onderdonk is by far the most popular. In 1901, ten years before Onderdonk painted his first bluebonnet landscape, the bluebonnet was named the official Texas flower. This series captures a popular subject with a strong regional identity, using the newly-developed style of American Impressionism.

Julian Onderdonk, Bluebonnet Scene with Girl, 1920
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Gift of Roger H. Ogden Collection

Julian Onderdonk’s style was formed by his studies with William Merritt Chase in 1901 – 1902 in Southampton, New York. There, Chase and his students painted out-of-doors (en plein air), exploring the boundary between perceptual truth and the subjective impressionistic approach of capturing light as it strikes the eye. Lacking the theoretical base of French Impressionism, American Impressionism was rooted more deeply in felt response to the landscape, rendered in a traditional compositional scheme, with a clear foreground, middle ground and background. What Onderdonk shares with the French Impressionists is the love of painting out-of-doors, the exploration of the times of day, an interest in capturing the play of light on canvas, and the subjective filtering of the landscape through the eyes of the artist.

Julian Onderdonk, A Spring Morning, Bluebonnets, San Antonio, 1913
Private Collection

Julian Onderdonk’s bluebonnet paintings stand as important examples of a moment of transition in American art. They also represent a burgeoning concern with place and regional identity, subjects that became increasingly important within the context of American art in the decades after his death in 1922. ~DH

Paintings by Robert and Julian Onderdonk will fill three galleries of the Ogden's Goldring Hall through January 2, 2011.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection

the brown & green collection from Crunchy Bugs Creative on Vimeo.
Interview by David Houston.
Video by J. Elliott Houston

The Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art was the first major body of work added to the museum’s permanent collection after Roger Ogden’s founding donation.Inspired by the collections of friends, Brown began seriously acquiring art for himself in the 1970s, a moment when the art world was in a major period of transition, and the art of New Orleans was experiencing a new trend of narrative painting, invigorated by the use of exuberant color. This trajectory - colorful paintings with a strong, clear narrative – became the focal point of Brown’s collecting, and this body of work chronicles several important artists working in New Orleans that define the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Fred Trenchard, Self Portrait While Dreaming of a Day at the Beach, Circa 1971

The sculpture in this collection represents the opposite trajectory of the paintings: far more purist and minimal, with clean lines and a straightforward articulation in metals and wood.

Steve Arthur Prince, Untitled, 1990

In the 1970s, Brown married Linda Greene, herself a collector and art lover. The shared collection continued to grow, resulting in this generous donation. This collection is one of several which, like the Roger Houston Ogden Collection, retains a distinct identity within the museum’s larger permanent collection.

Robert Warrens, I Cried a River Over You, 1975

This exhibition of works from the Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection will be on view through January 2, 2011. Filling three galleries, the exhibition includes works by Peter Dean, Robert Warrens, Frederich Trenchard, Justin Forbes, Noel Rockmore, Roland Golden, Arthur Silverman, Steve Prince, Martin Payton, Jose Torres-Tama,Robert Childers, Jack Gates, Gina LaGuna, William Ludwig, Molly Mason, Jesus Moroles, John Scott, and Clifton Webb.

Justin Forbes, Cooling Off, 1994

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Walker Evans' Louisiana: Photographs from the Collection of Jessica Lange

Walker Evans
[Greek Revival Townhouse with Men Seated in Dourway, New Orleans]
March 1935
Silver gelatin print

Walker Evans is recognized as the most important and influential American photographer of his generation. Working in what he called the “vernacular style,” Evans forged an approach that preferred the everyday to the precious and the factual over the artful. Although he often photographed inanimate objects, with architecture and signage being among his most lasting subjects, he also captured the harsh realities of American life in the grips of the Great Depression. John Szarkowski, long time curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, observed in Looking at Photographs (1973):

“Evans's work seemed at first almost the antithesis of art. It was puritanically economical, precisely measured, frontal, unemotional, dryly textured, insistently factual, qualities that seemed more appropriate to a bookkeeper's ledger than to art. But in time it became clear that Evans's pictures, however laconic in manner, were immensely rich in expressive content. His work constitutes a personal survey of the interior resources of the American tradition, a survey based on a sensibility that found poetry and complexity where most earlier travelers had found only drab statistics or fairy tales.”

The works in the Ogden Museum’s current exhibition were taken during two sequential trips to Louisiana in 1935 and 1936. The first, funded by Gifford Cochran, was to form the basis of a never-realized book on antebellum Southern architecture, and the second, just after Evans began working for the Farm Service Agency of Roosevelt’s New Deal, captured the architecture of New Orleans, the plantations of River Road, New Iberia, and the areas outside of Baton Rouge. His primary tool was an 8X10 view camera, supplemented by a 5x7 Speed Graphic and a Leica 35mm. Many of these vintage prints show variations from later prints, and some are examples of simple mistakes. Evans discussed these errors in a diary entry from this time, where he observed that most of the negatives were “… very successful, very exciting, some very good, some shocking errors. Tend to overexpose, tend to raise the lens board too much, leaving corner rings.” Some of these mistakes have become a part of the larger photographic language, and are sometimes purposefully emulated by subsequent photographers.

The photographs of the American South constitute a major body of work within Evans’ life work. He immediately began exhibiting his Louisiana photographs, and many of them have been regularly included in subsequent exhibitions and publications. Evans’ best known photographs of the South were made in Hale County, Alabama in July and August of 1936, and published in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), with text by James Agee. Although the subject of the South waned in Evans’ output after his leaving the Farm Services Agency in 1938, his connection to New Orleans remained strong. During his first trip to New Orleans, he met Paul and Jane Ninas at the Arts and Crafts Club in the French Quarter. Jane, herself an artist, became Evans’ guide during his two trips in the mid-thirties, and in 1941, became the first wife of Walker Evans, until they divorced in 1955.

Walker Evans

[Woodlawn Plantation, Belle Chase, Louisiana]

March 1935

Silver gelatin print

The architectural photographs in this exhibition follow the same model as his architectural photographs shot in Cuba two years before in 1933. Objective, frontal and documentary in intent, these photographs are a testament to the ebb-and-flow of endurance and loss of the architectural fabric of Louisiana. ~ David Houston, 2010

Walker Evans’ Louisiana: Photographs from the Collection of Jessica Lange will be on display through January 2, 2011 on the third floor of the Ogden’s Goldring Hall. All works are generously on loan from Jessica Lange, who is not only a talented actress, but a skilled and accomplished photographer herself. Special thanks are also owed to Joshua Mann Pailet and A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Visite par les Français

On September 13th, David Houston, Co-director and Chief Curator of the Ogden Museum, led a tour of current exhibitions for the French Senatorial Delegation, former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, and staff from the French Consulate. The Senatorial Delegation included senators from across the country, including the Island of Corsica. After an introduction to the museum, the artist, Fred Brown, gave a brief talk about his jazz paintings in the collection. Houston then moved the delegation to the collection of artifacts and images of country music legends from the collection of Mississippi-born Marty Stuart, at which time the former Prime Minister informed the group of his expertise in early Rock-and-Roll. Houston guided them through the current exhibitions relating to Hurricane Katrina and the city's efforts to rebuild in the wake of the Federal Levee System failures, ending the tour with our historical paintings on the third floor and a visit to the to the South's only true Richardsonian building, the Ogden's Taylor Library.

Consul General Olivier Brochenin and Fred Brown, artist.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Artist's Studio: Shawn Hall

Shawn Hall from Crunchy Bugs Creative on Vimeo.

Verso is proud to present the first of a new series of short videos by Crunchy Bugs Creative. On Sunday, July 11, 2010, the artist Shawn Hall hosted myself and Crunchy Bugs Creative (Elliott Houston and David Hall) at her studio in the Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Place Meets Time

Mount Tina M.B. Church, Scott, MS, 1990.

Place Meets Time, Tom Rankin's meditation on the passage of time and its affect on a particular landscape, is currently displayed on the fourth floor of the Ogden's Goldring Hall. Rankin lived in the Mississippi Delta from 1988 – 1992, where he was a professor and department chair at Delta State University. He is currently the Director for the Center for Documentary Studies and Associate Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Brooks Chapel M.B. Church, Greenwood, MS

Place Meets Time represents a body of gelatin silver prints shot with an 8X10 view camera, that explores the landscape, monuments and vernacular architecture of an eighty-mile stretch of the Mississippi Delta over a period of two decades.

Alfred Green Grave, Morning Star M. B. Church cemetery
Beulah, MS 2009

Tom's artist statement:

"When I moved to the Mississippi Delta to teach at Delta State University in 1988, the light and the landscape of the region immediately seduced me. Land that some outsiders might find monotonous with its table-top contours and endless horizon, I find purely magical in the resonance of time, water, and season. As Eudora Welty wrote of in Delta Wedding, “all seemed sky.” And it does on some days, from some vantage points. But more, to me, the Delta seems all land, with the nuances of breaks and bayous, levees and mounds, fields and sacred spaces accentuating the landscape in such a visible way as to make it seem all you could ever want as a photographer. And so I return, over and over, to a place I lived for only four years but a culture I’ll never be able to rinse from my mind’s eye.

I was also immediately drawn to the sacred in the many African American communities. No single institution in the region has had a more profound impact on the entire culture of the Mississippi Delta than the countless African American churches that accent the landscape. The ubiquitous presence of these churches and their adjoining cemeteries and churchyards—these sacred spaces—constitutes a three-dimensional iconography in an otherwise profane agricultural landscape. Landmarks to some, places of spiritual refuge to others, “home church” to their devoted members, these centers of religious and social life have been planned, built, decorated, and maintained by local communities out of heartfelt intention. I see in these spaces and the adjoining landscapes the attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, hopes, and realities of the entire place.
As the bell towers of noble churches rot and fall, as preachers and congregations pass on, as graves sink and stones erode away, as religious sites become overgrown, the Delta certainly looks different. In the end, though, my interest is not so much in what is absent but what is present—how the marks of time and weather are visible, how what remains may be slowly disappearing, but stands equally sacred."

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Kohlmeyer Circle Presents: Jenny Hager's Flight Lab

The Kohlmeyer Circle, the young support group for the Ogden Museum, has been dedicated, for several years now, to bringing emerging artists whose projects include a technological component to the Ogden on White Linen Night. This years offering is Jenny Hager's Flight Lab.

Jenny K. Hager is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University of North Florida, where she has been teaching for four years. She received her MFA in Sculpture and Digital Media from San Jose State University in San Jose, CA. She also holds a BA in Art Education and a BFA in Art Studio from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY.

Interested in a variety of processes and materials, including steel, cast iron, post-it notes, video, wood, digital photography and found objects, she finds inspiration in dreams, objects from her childhood, gadgets, sea life and other curiosities. She is also very interested in collaboration; the spirit of community important in both her teaching practice and in her own work.

Hager’s work has been exhibited across the country and currently at Ironstone, the Kidwelly Castle Exhibition in Wales. She and her husband, Lance Vickery (also a sculptor), recently collaborated on a large outdoor sculpture for the city of Ft. Pierce, FL. Another recent project involved collaborating with 106 sculptors across the country to create a large body of sculptural work called Imagillaboration, currently a traveling exhibition.

Flight Lab is currently housed in a fourth-floor gallery of the Ogden Museum's Goldring Hall. The openning of the exhibition on White Linen night marked another successful event sponsored and supported by the Kohlmeyer Circle.

Flight Lab

The inventor who works in this laboratory is a pseudo-scientist who is interested in achieving flight through the mechanics of swimming. Through the exploration of ideas, sketches, and models, the inventor studies possible methods of achieving flight by these means. Flight Lab
references the dream and the tool used to achieve flight, the flight suit. Upon entering the dark gallery, the viewer sees a video
projection of someone wearing a white form-fitting suit and white aviator goggles, flying through empty space. The suit has webbed feet and webbed hands. The image of the person flying travels through space on the gallery walls, from one wall to the next. Each wall resembles an observation window in an aquarium, the projection is a continuous loop in which the viewer is surrounded. In the center of the gallery floor is a display case which houses the flight suit, a remnant from another time or place and the tangible object that remains from the dream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John McCrady (1911 - 1968)

The Parade, 1950
Ogden Museum, Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

John McCrady was born in the rectory of Canton, Mississippi’s Grace Episcopal Church in 1911. His father was an Episcopal priest, and McCrady’s early life followed the itinerary of his father’s appointments to rural churches in Louisiana and Mississippi. His father finally settled into the positions of Rector and Philosophy professor in Oxford, Mississippi in 1928. After a brief adventure as a crewmember on a South American steamer, McCrady attended the University of Mississippi from 1930 to 1932. During the summers of 1931 and 1932, McCrady took courses at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and visited the museums of Philadelphia.

Portrait of a Negro, 1933
Ogden Museum, Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

In 1932, he entered classes at the New Orleans Art School, sponsored by the Arts and Crafts Club, and took an apartment at 627 Toulouse Street in the Vieux Carre. It was here that he painted Portrait of a Negro in 1933, and at the insistence of his fellow student and future wife, Mary Basso, he submitted the work to the annual competition sponsored by the Arts Students’ League in New York. The painting was successful, winning for him a one-year scholarship. At the League, he studied briefly with Thomas Hart Benton, and longer and with greater influence, Kenneth Hayes Miller.

Jugdement Day, 1938
Roger Houston Ogden Collection

During the mid-late 1930s, McCrady developed a personal style in keeping with the Regionalist movement of the depression era. Based on rural Southern life, particularly the religious and social life of African-Americans, McCrady’s work was well accepted in a time when American art looked away from European abstraction, and in the midst of great economic crisis, returned to pictorial traditions of this country. A 1937 painting, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, opened in New York to great critical acclaim, garnering positive reviews in Time magazine, Life, and The New Republic. Life then commissioned The Shooting of Huey Long in 1939, the same year that McCrady received a Guggenheim Fellowship “to paint the life and faith of the Southern Negro.” Between 1936 and 1939 McCrady was employed by the Federal Art Project, through which he executed several murals, including Oxford on the Hill, for Oxford, Mississippi, and Amory, Mississippi, 1888, installed in the post office of that town. In 1942, the Federal Arts Program becomes the Graphic Section of the War Services Office, and McCrady designed a series of propaganda posters to aid the war effort. In the same year, McCrady and his wife opened an art school on Bourbon Street, where he would continue to influence young Southern artists until his death in 1968.

Crucifixion, 1951
Collection of Grace Episcopal Church, New Orleans

Shortly after completing Steamboat ‘Round the Bend in 1946 for Delmonico’s Restaurant in New Orleans, a communist paper, The Daily Worker, denounced a recent exhibition of his work in New York as “a flagrant example of racial chauvinism.” McCrady was crushed by the criticism. He stopped painting for a short while, and when he resumed, his work was focused less on African-American scenes, and more on rural life in Mississippi, French Quarter life and Mardi Gras.

Eucharist Scene, John McCrady, 1954
Grace Episcopal Church, New Orleans

Grace Episcopal Church commissioned McCrady to design a mural of the Eucharist to be executed above the Altar in 1954. For two years, McCrady spent most of his time executing that work. He used his painting Crucifixion, 1951, as a template for style and palette. Parishioners were used as models for the disciples. The finished work remains at Grace Church, New Orleans. A second study, Ascension, was completed around the same time, but never executed in his lifetime. One of McCrady’s students, Alan Flattmann, was commissioned by Mary, McCrady’s widow, to execute the mural of Ascension in 1972 in Grace Church. Alan Flattmann also cleaned and restored the mural after the levee failures of 2005.

Ascension, 1974, Alan Flattmann after John McCrady drawing
Grace Episcopal Church, New Orleans

Currently, the Ogden is proud to exhibit the original John McCrady drawing for Ascension, as well as his 1951 painting, Crucifixion, which inspired the Altar mural at Grace Episcopal Church. Grace Episcopal Church is located at 3700 Canal Street. Please visit their website for a worship schedule.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Give My Poor Heart Ease

James "Son Ford" Thomas and Clay Skull, Leland, 1971
Collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

In the 1960s and 1970s William Ferris documented the art and music of his native soil, the Mississippi Delta. Raised on a farm in America’s Black Belt, Ferris developed a special affinity for the distinctive culture of the region. Give My Poor Heart Ease brings together black-and-white photographs, field recordings and film of the waning generation of Delta Blues players and the younger generation that would take their place. Alongside these photographs, Folk Art from the William Ferris Collection brings together quilts, paintings and sculpture collected by Ferris during that time, all of which are grounded in the same confluence of cultures, black and white, sacred and profane.

Photo by William Ferris

Following his fundamental research into the culture of the Delta, Ferris went on to found the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, and from 1997 to 2001 was the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He is currently the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scott Dunbar, Lake Mary, 1968

“When I, a white Mississippian, worked as a folklorist in my home state in the sixties and seventies, I set out to study African American music, but the people I met opened my eyes to much more than music. Each of the musicians I was privileged to record – through interviews, sound recordings, still photography and film – revealed the fabric of life in their families and communities in powerful ways … By trying to capture the faces and surroundings of these musicians through photographs and films that complement and deepen their recorded voices in important ways, I hope to make portraits of the speakers that respect their entire lives and their culture.”
From Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
William Ferris, 2009

Three quilts by Minnie Watson, Collection of University of Mississippi Museum

“The Southern folk artist has particularly deep ties to place. In their more isolated region with its long, vivid history, folk art is an intensely personal expression. It is not conceived with the museum in mind. Its images appear as dreams and visions to artists who release them on canvas, cloth, and in sculpture … The artists in this collection represent a particularly valuable Southern perspective. They witnessed the change from pre-industrial to space age experience, and each remembers dirt roads where horses, mules and wagons were the only transportation. Each remembers when the automobile, television and airplane first touched his or her life. Each saw family and community evolve as social and technological change reshaped the South. Theirs is the final generation to remember what Pecolia Warner describes as “way back times … An older order is clearly present in their lives and work.”
From Local Color: A Sense of Place in Folk Art
William Ferris, 1982
Drinking Dog and Haint House by Sulton Rogers
Collection of University of Mississippi Museum
Both exhibitions will run through July 25, 2010 on the fifth floor of the Ogden Museum. Special thanks to the staff of the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford, for facilitating the loan of William Ferris' Folk Art Collection.
Detail of Turkey Tail Quilt by Sadie Mae Blackburn
Collection of the University of Mississippi Museum

Friday, May 28, 2010

Walter Inglis Anderson: Artist and Naturalist

Pelicans, 1945
Gift of the Roger H Ogden Collection

After you have lived on the island for a while, there comes a time when you realize that the pelican holds everything for you. It has the song of the thrush, the form and understanding of man, the tenderness and gentleness of the dove, the mystery and dynamic quality of the nightjar, and the potential qualities of all life. In a word, you lose your heart to it. It becomes your child and the hope and future of the world depends upon it. –WIA, from Pelicans

Walter Inglis Anderson was born in 1903 in New Orleans. In 1918, the family purchased a large wooded tract of coastal property in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and in 1928, the Andersons opened Shearwater Pottery, which is still thriving as a family pottery in Ocean Springs today.

Frogs, Bugs and Flowers, 1945
Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

Anderson attended Parson’s School of Design in 1922, then The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1924 through 1928. Returning to Ocean Springs in 1928, Anderson worked as a designer and decorator at Shearwater for the rest of his life.

Blue Geese and Ducks, 1955
Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

In 1934, Ellsworth Woodward commissioned a large mural in the Ocean Springs Public School auditorium. A second mural was designed and accepted for the Mississippi Court House in Jackson, only to be rejected by a Washington bureaucrat. This disappointment, combined with the death of his father in 1937, led to a mental breakdown. From 1938-1940, Anderson was hospitalized in several mental institutions. He also escaped from several mental institutions, once famously lowering himself out of a window with bedsheets, and painting a mural with soap on his way down of birds taking flight.

Heron Over Pines, 1935

Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

1941 through 1945 was a highly productive period for Anderson. He moved into Oldfields, an estate from his wife’s family in Gautier, Mississippi. He wrote short stories and plays, translated and illustrated some of his favorite texts, and executed a large number of drawings, paintings and block prints. Some of the block prints were thirty feet in length, the largest ever produced by an American artist when they were exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1949.

Life in the Ditch 1 (detail), 1945, 19" x 109"
Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection
The idyllic life at Oldfields ended in 1945, when Anderson left his family and moved into a small cottage at Shearwater, where he executed a mural on all four walls and the ceiling. Inspired by Psalm 104, it depicts a single day on the gulf coast, with the interconnected order of the natural world evident from sunrise to dusk, a padlocked masterwork, discovered only after his death. From then until his death in 1965, he lived a reclusive life, working at the pottery and spending an increasing amount of time on his beloved Horn Island. He would take a rowboat from Shearwater to the island alone, and living in very primitive conditions, would attempt to capture the life of the island through extensive logs and watercolors. “Order is here,” he wrote, “but it needs realizing.” He filled over ninety journals with reflections on nature, feeling a special connection to the pelican colonies on Horn Island, which he understood as having an archetypal significance.

Blue Crab, 1960
Gift of the Roger H. Ogden Collection

In light of recent events in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps it is time to revisit Anderson's naturalist philosophies and reverence of the region's ecosystems. Currently the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Gallery in the Ogden's Goldring Hall is filled with our Walter Anderson collection.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Purvis Young (February 4, 1943 – April 20, 2010)

Saint with Boat People, 1987
Ogden Museum of Southern Art

“One way of knowing your environment is understanding the history.”

Purvis Young was a self-taught expressionist painter from the Overtown section of Miami. In the late 1960s, Interstate 95 was built over and through the neighborhood of his birth, an historically black Caribbean neighborhood ironically called Overtown. A private and contemplative person, Young was drawn to a particularly isolated section of Overtown , an abandoned street called Good Bread Alley. It was here that, over the next three decades, Purvis Young would make his mark on the aesthetic and cultural history of the South.

Bearing the Funeral, 1990s

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

As a child, Young was introduced to drawing by an uncle, but the pursuit was quickly abandoned. In the early 1960s, while serving time for breaking and entering, his interest in art was reignited. Young was encouraged to develop his talent for drawing while incarcerated, and it was here that themes started to develop in his imagery: angels, buildings, funerals, horses, boats, locks and street life. These basic themes were repeated and expanded over the course of his career, creating a cohesive narrative.

Cityscape with Cars, 1987
Ogden Museum of Southern Art

In the early 1970s, inspired by the community murals appearing in New York and Detroit as a result of the Black Arts Movement, Young chose a role for himself in Overtown. Moving away from drawing, Purvis taught himself to paint, and began to cover the walls of Good Bread Alley with painting after painting of his Visionary images of Overtown, creating his own community mural. The art world began to pay attention. An eccentric millionaire who owned the Miami Museum of Modern Art, Bernard Davis, took notice of Young’s work. Until his death in 1973, Mr. Davis was Young’s patron. In 1999, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami purchased the entire contents of his studio, over three thousand works. The Overtown Mural could be seen from the newly built I-95, and tourist began to visit. Paintings were literally ripped from the walls, only to be quickly replaced by Young. Eventually, Good Bread Alley became a required stop for collectors on their way to Art Basel.

Three Hands to Heaven, 1987
Ogden Museum of Southern Art

The narrative of Purvis Young’s work follows not only a community history, but his own self-taught and sophisticated version of world history and the history of Western Art. Beginning with the prison library and moving into the public library and public television, Young educated himself by devouring every art book and documentary he could access. He readily acknowledged being influenced by Rembrandt, Gauguin, and Remington. In Souls Grown Deep, Will Arnett says: “The Art of Purvis Young is equal parts calligraphy, music and graffiti. Its basic themes bump, collide, and eventually unite to reveal the chaotic and cacophonous dance of birth, death, and all that transpires in between in the artist’s world.”

On April 20, 2010, after a long and debilitating fight with diabetes, Purvis Young died in Miami. His works are in major collections throughout the world, including: the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; American Folk Art Museum, New York; High Museum, Atlanta; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA, and many more. In 2006 Young was the subject of Purvis of Overtown, a feature-length documentary film by David Raccuglia and Shaun Conrad.

Currently, the Ogden Museum has three works by Purvis Young from the permanent collection on view on the fourth floor of Goldring Hall. The works were donated by the Roger Houston Ogden Collection.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where They At?

Partners N Crime by Aubrey Edwards

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, in its mission to broaden the knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the culture of the South, has partnered with Aubrey Edwards and Alison Fensterstock to offer Where They At:New Orleans Hip-Hop and Bounce in Words and Pictures.

Ms Tee by Aubrey Edwards

As an introduction, on April 20th the Ogden screened Ya Heard Me? (2007), the definitive bounce documentary by Matt Miller and Stephen Thomas. The screening was well attended, and was followed by a discussion with Miller, Thomas, Edwards and Fensterstock, as well as producers John and Glenda Robert of All Good in the Hood fame.

Photo by David Houston

The exhibition opened on April 22nd, block-party style, with DJ Jubilee performing in the atrium of Goldring Hall. Over five hundred attendees danced on the staircases and browsed the galleries. It was a night not to be forgotten, a night only New Orleans can produce.

DJ Jubilee and the Ogden's Kisharon Green
Photo by David Houston

The exhibition in pictures includes over forty portraits from the bounce and hip-hop community of New Orleans, taken by Brooklyn and New Orleans based music photograper, Aubrey Edwards. Also included are twenty images of where it all happened: clubs like Blue Gardenia, Club Fabulous, Big Man Lounge and Ceasar's; parties like Katey Red's Anniversary, Take Fo's Anniversary and Teen Bounce Night at the Chatroom.

Big Freedia by Aubrey Edwards

The exhibition in words includes excerpts from interviews conducted by Alison Fensterstock of the players in the bounce scene: artists and DJs, family members and archivists, producers and record store owners. Fensterstock has also compiled playlists of the music combined with her interviews, offered on Ipods and Ipads.

Collection of Loren Phillips Fouroux

The third component of this exhibition is the ephemera. Two galleries are filled with archival images and artifacts, mainly drawn from the collections of Sthaddeus "Polo Silk" Terrell and Loren K. Phillips Fouroux. Representing over two decades of bounce history, the cases in these rooms include gems like DJ Irv's turntable, the famous "red tape" of Tucker and Irv's Wha Dey At? release, a No Limits Records tour jacket ('Bout It. 'Bout It.), Da Rude issues, badges, buttons, flyers, and amazing candid shots by Terrell and Fouroux. One corner is devoted completely to Bobby Marchan. Another wall lists those artists who have passed away.

Collection of Loren Phillips Fouroux

Where They At? represents several years of research and production by Fensterstock and Edwards. The respect and reverence in which they approached the subject shows clearly, not only in the professional quality of the work, but in their deferment of attention from themselves and toward the community, in their celebration and inclusion of everyone involved. This is the real deal, an exhibition that hopes to shed light on an often overlooked genre of New Orleans music, a genre directly descended from the call-and-response chants of Mardi Gras Indian music and the second-line tradition.

Polo Silk and Mother by David Houston

"Where they at?", you ask. At the Ogden. Come see.

The exhibition will close on August 1, 2009.