In a recent interview, Prospect New Orleans founder Dan Cameron opined that New Orleans doesn’t do enough “to support its local visual artists, yet ... the St. Claude district now constitutes the critical mass of artist-run spaces for the entire country.” While his opinions are open to debate, his comment about St. Claude being a national epicenter for artist-run co-op galleries is hard to dispute; no other city has so many in such concentration.
The newest gallery is Staple Goods, a former corner grocery on St. Roch Avenue at Villere Street. Its current show features work by its member artists, and it’s surprisingly cohesive despite the diversity. Cynthia Scott’s Chandeleur (pictured) series of sculptures transform everyday manufactured items into airy, chandelier-like mobiles with a Zen-like delicacy that belies their prosaic origins while complementing Daniel Kelly’s grid drawings, in which loosely rendered lines and marks suggest a ghostly sort of architectural space, as if modernism had evolved directly from stone age cave paintings. A notable exception to the prevailing abstraction is Thomasine Bartlett’s Hot Mamas photo series of women in archaic Storyville attire lounging languidly in steamy summer torpor in a visual meditation on “the brutality of fashion and style” in a tropical environment.
More Storyville-based imagery turns up down the street at another co-op, the Homespace Gallery, in a series of tintype photographic portraits by Bruce Schultz. In fact, the entire gallery is given over to the archaic 19th century tintype process with additional portraits as well as abstract compositions by Euphus Ruth, Jenny Sampson and S. Gayle Stevens. Beyond novelty, these works take us to a parallel universe where technique becomes a ritual and where the expressions of the sitters, extended over long exposure times, become windows into their souls.
Through Jan. 8
Fresh Produce: Works by Thomasine Bartlett, Aaron Collier, Robyn Denny, William DePauw, Daniel Kelly, Anne C. Nelson, Laura Richens and Cynthia Scott
Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331
Tintype: Photographs by Euphus Ruth, Jenny Sampson, S. Gayle Stevens and Bruce Schultz
Homespace Gallery, 1128 St. Roch Ave., (917) 584-9867