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Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation

Kristin Meyers

Revelations Recent Photography Acquisitions

Melvin Edwards: Crossroads Presented by The Helis Foundation

What Music is Within Black Abstraction from the Permanent Collection


Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation

For the 2020 edition of the annual juried exhibition, Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation, guest juror René Morales, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), has selected 55 works by 56 artists.

Ogden Museum first launched Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation, in 2012, to establish a vehicle that would bring to the fore the work of artists living in Louisiana and highlight the dynamism of art practice throughout the state. Since its launch, Louisiana Contemporary has presented 729 works by 450 artists.

This statewide, juried exhibition promotes the contemporary art practices in the state of Louisiana, provides an exhibition space for the exposition of living artists’ work and engages a contemporary audience that recognizes the vibrant visual arts culture of Louisiana and the role of New Orleans as a rising, international art center.

  • The Helis Foundation Art Prize for Best in Show: Wendo Brunoir
    Appropriation of a Masterpiece, Spray paint on laser cut wood on birch panel
    Don’t Catch You Slippin’ Up, Acrylic and spray paint on laser cut wood mounted to panel

  • First Place: Nic Brierre Aziz
    Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy (White Barbies), Video

  • Second Place: Luis Cruz Azaceta
    CRISIS 3, Acrylic on canvas

  • Third place: Ann Perich
    determination or distrust, Archival pigment print

Juror's Statement
Some of the best places are the hardest ones to see. Take New Orleans, for example. Like Miami, my hometown and the city from which I write these words, NOLA is cloaked in a thick veil of misrepresentation consisting of myths, stereotypes, and most of all, images…in movies, shows, and advertisements, on T-shirts, album covers, coffee mugs, and refrigerator magnets. People all over the globe, from Germany to Brazil to Thailand, think they know our cities, but I know that you know that what they know corresponds to but a meager fragment of who we really are. The same can be said about our respective states, all too often reduced in the popular imagination to swamps and alligators, sunshine and violence. I know that you know that the vast stretches that constitute our regions hum with communities that are far more vibrant and complex than most folks understand.

This moment in history, too, is hard to see. Long occluded by deep legacies of systemic racism and inequity, the pathways to lasting structural change and national healing are, today, further obscured by so-called leaders who thrive on discord and misinformation, and by a media that runs on evanescent spectacle. Meanwhile, locked down and locked up as we are by this awful pandemic, our perspectives have drastically contracted. Many will argue that the consequent intensification of our engagement with the digital realm, which has occurred out of necessity but which has been enthusiastically embraced by late-stage capitalism, has effectively mitigated this narrowing of our vision. But I know that you know that we can learn more about our societies from a fleeting conversation with the guy sitting next to us on the bus than from a thousand Instagram posts or a thousand Zoom meetings. Whatever can be said about the pandemic holds especially true for our respective homes, which have, over the last few months, traded back and forth the tragic distinction of being epicenters for this dreaded disease.

As I poured through the 2020 Louisiana Contemporary submissions, I was reminded of how grateful I am to art and artists for how you help us see (y)our worlds. Though I didn’t mean to do this at the outset, I found myself balancing aesthetic criteria with how the works shed light on this dark year and the imprint it has left on the patch of earth that is this competition’s purview. Several of the selections offer rich insight into Louisiana’s incredibly dynamic and multifaceted culture and history, generating a sense of context far more nuanced and intimate than what one could derive from any mass-media representation. Several other selections touch on the current political climate, testifying to how passionately and profoundly you have internalized the urgent struggle for justice and reform. Lastly, several others relate directly to the pandemic—both the unique and universal ways in which the crisis has affected your region. The pain I gleaned from those works is palpable. My heart goes out to your communities, as I know your hearts go out to mine.

As an ensemble, the selections demonstrate the need to understand events, especially the most global and cataclysmic ones, in terms of how they mesh with the specificities of a given place and the people who call it home. It is only by this intersection of who, what, and where—the way in which the long arc of history coincides with the lived experience of the here and now—that we can hope to see that which would otherwise go unseen.

René Morales
Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Mollye and Laurent Demosthenidy
Martin J. Drell, M.D.
Jerry and Carolyn Fortino
Linda Green and Michael Brown
Jessie and Beau Haynes
Micki-Beth Stiller
Donna Vitter
Penny Weaver
Terese and William Winslow

The full roster of 2020 artists:

David Armentor

Nic Brierre Aziz

Jacksun Bein

MaryGrace Bernard


Wendo Brunoir

Kara Crowley

Theresa Crushshon

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Michael Eble

James Flynn

Josiah Gagosian

Mitchell Gaudet

Mike Hartnett

Jordan Hess

Miles Kinney

David Knox

Abbey Kuhe

Charles Muir Lovell

Andrew Lyman

Rikailah Mathieu

Rose McBurney

Rebecca McGirney

Michael McGrane

Greg Miles

Jacob Mitchell

Karen Ocker

Nicole Ockmond

Stephanie Paine

Brendon Palmer-Angell

Carol Peebles

Keith Perelli

Ann Perich

Matthew Phelan

Herb Roe

Brittan Rosendahl

Dan Rule

Claire Christine Sargenti

Cynthia Scott

Isabella Scott

Noamy Sechooler

Joey Slaughter

Joshua Smith

Gailene St. Amand

Jill Stoll

Drew Stubbs

Trenity Thomas

Sherry Tipton

Antonia Zennaro

Monica Zeringue

Collaborative team: Cata Cowlen, Nelle Edge, Lacy Levin, Savannah Levin, Natalia Roa, Elias Serhan and Antonia Zennaro

Kristin Meyers
Through FEBRUARY 21, 2021

“I follow my hands, and they often reveal the answers to the questions that I am asking myself while I explore the material I am working with.” – Sonya Yong James

Drawing inspiration from the traditions of various cultures – Haitian Voudou, Appalachian broom-making, Calabrian silk production, Peruvian rope coiling, Congo Nkisi – the contemporary Southern artists in Entwined engage wrapping and binding as a symbolic aesthetic device, and often as a ritual practice within their work.

The technique and the symbolism of wrapping and binding in the work of these artists is as varied as the artists themselves. From the visionary allegorical paintings of the female form by Susan Jamison to the abstract textile sculptures of Sarah Zapata, there exists a common thread of ritual. For some, it is the ritual of repetitive laborious handwork. For others, it is a ritual and spiritual act of creation. Through wrapping, painting, weaving, coiling, drawing or knotting, each artist binds their own unique and thoroughly contemporary vision to an ancient, universal and very human practice.

Entwined features works by Friendswood Brooms, Jeffrey Cook, Sonya Yong James, Susan Jamison, Sharon Kopriva, Kristin Meyers, Susan Plum, Ashley Pridmore, Elizabeth Shannon, Ed Williford and Sarah Zapata.

This exhibition is curated by Bradley Sumrall, Ogden Museum Curator of the Collection.

Veronica Cho
Michael J. Deas
Holly & Geoffrey Snodgrass

Revelations Recent Photography Acquisitions
Through MARCH 7, 2021

Revelations: Recent Photography Acquisitions features a selection of photographs made from the early 20th century to the present and added to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s permanent collection over the last decade.

With over 70 photographs featured, Revelations represents a wide range of processes and techniques made by a diverse group of 39 photographers.

Revelations celebrates regional identity in parallel with the South’s ongoing contributions to a global conversation on photography in the visual arts.

Photographers included in the exhibition: Keith Calhoun, William Christenberry, Lee Deigaard, Walker Evans, Debbie Fleming Caffrey, Aaron Hardin, Lewis W. Hine, Birney Imes, Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann, Andrew Moore, Chandra McCormick, RaMell Ross, Ernest Withers and more.

This exhibition is curated by Richard McCabe, Ogden Museum Curator of Photography.

Host Committee
Shelby Cobb in Honor of Richard McCabe
Beverly Dale
Don and Lola Norris
Roger Ogden & Ken Barnes
Alan Rothschild
John Shubin
Charles D. Urstadt and David Bernard
Terese and William Winslow

Melvin Edwards: Crossroads Presented by The Helis Foundation
FEBRUARY 8 – JULY 5, 2020

Host Committee
Lin Emery in Honor of Mel Edwards
Charles D. Urstadt and David Bernard

Peer into Melvin Edwards’ world of twisting, sinuous metal and you will find a place of possibility, an environment where found objects expand—both formally and conceptually—beyond the boundaries of their given form. Look closer and you may even catch a glimpse of Africa in his dense, abstract assemblages and planar, geometric installations. His works are meant to move, to exist and be seen in different contexts, on different continents. Their presence speaks just as easily to rural blacksmiths in Zimbabwe as it does to the urban denizens of Chelsea.

Edwards has lived, taught, and traveled on the world’s second largest continent since the early 1970s, creating relationships with artists, students, and politicians in sixteen different countries. In doing so, he has discovered an almost genetic relationship between his work and that of African smiths and carvers, past and present. “You have the concept in your head, or your spirit somewhere,” he observes. “But you don’t have the detailed structure. It’s too many generations ago. But the concept related to it, that’s there somewhere in Africa.”

Melvin Edwards: Crossroads explores this relationship and examines the formal, familial, and conceptual affinities between Edward’s work and that produced by African artists and artisans. Edward’s great-great-great grandfather was a west African blacksmith and the continent has, in his words, “always been there for me in one way or another.” Yet, this is not a simple story of artistic influence. Edwards’ style did not change because of his varied engagements with the continent and its people. Rather, in the words of the artist himself, these interactions “corroborated” something deeper and more profound: the pre-existing connective tissue that bonds African and African American art together.

This exhibition explores these creative ties, and—for the first time—seeks to make African sense of an American artist. In doing so, the exhibition allows viewers to visualize the relationships between African and American abstraction. Furthermore, it breaks down the artificial art historical geographical silos that have hindered our ability to understand the true story of human creativity and connection.

Yet, while the subject of the show is Africa, its object is America. As the country’s leading abstract sculptor, Edwards’ has influenced generations of artistic giants with profound political commitment and innovative formal genius. By highlighting the African roots of Edwards’ dynamic, muscular abstraction, this exhibition seeks to reframe the history of modern American art by showcasing the profound impact of Africa on American creativity. Indeed, it argues that Edwards had to first leave America in order to truly see, understand, and speak to it. As such, this exhibition seeks to broaden our definition of America, and of American art.

About Melvin Edwards
Melvin Edwards (b.1937) is a pioneering African American artist who divides his time between New York, Baltimore, and Senegal. Born in Houston, Texas, he began his artistic career at the University of Southern California, where he met and was mentored by Hungarian painter Francis de Erdely. In 1965 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art organized Edwards’ first solo exhibition, which launched his professional career. He moved to New York City in 1967, and his work was soon exhibited at the Studio Museum. In 1970, Edwards became the first African-American sculptor to have works presented in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Other major solo exhibitions include Melvin Edwards Sculpture: A Thirty-Year Retrospective 1963–1993 at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, NY (1993); Melvin Edwards: Five Decades at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, TX (2015), Zimmerli Museum of Art, Rutgers University, NJ; Columbus Museum of Art, OH; Melvin Edwards: Festivals, Funerals, and New Life at Brown University in Providence, RI (2017); and Melvin Edwards: Lynch Fragmentsat the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Brazil (2018). The artist’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection (2017-2019); Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic 1945-1965, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2016); All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2014); Blues for Smoke, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2012-2013); and African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (2012).

What Music is Within Black Abstraction from the Permanent Collection
Through JULY 5, 2020

Artists included in What Music is Within:

  • Ron Bechet
  • Kevin Cole
  • Jeffrey Cook
  • Minnie Evans
  • Sam Gilliam
  • Moses Hogan
  • Horton Humble
  • Martin Payton
  • Eugene Martin
  • Robert Reed
  • John Scott
  • Merton Simpson
  • Clifton Webb
  • Arlington Weithers

“My poetry, I think, has become the way of my giving out what music is within me.” ― Countee Cullen

At a time when American museums are reassessing the history of 20th century art by correcting the omissions of the past and including more artists of color in meaningful and significant ways in collections and exhibitions, What Music is Within: Black Abstraction from the Permanent Collection presents some of the strongest voices from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s permanent collection. These works use abstraction as a powerful modality of expression. Each of these artists project their own voice to convey their individual visions. With work that spans almost five decades, this exhibition includes masters such as Sam Gilliam and emerging practitioners like Horton Humble. The critical contributions of Xavier University, a keystone New Orleans art program, is also strongly represented through artists John T. Scott, Ron Bechet, Martin Payton and Jeffrey Cook.

The creative process is a highly individual and personal endeavor – a way of giving physical form to abstract ideas or emotions. The African American artists in this exhibition all have deep ties to the American South and they each create through the language of abstraction. Yet, even with those shared elements of identity, they maintain strong unique voices, expressing, as Countee Cullen wrote, “what music is within.”

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