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Glimpses of the Invisible : Paintings by Sallie Ann GlassmanAltered Perceptions II : An Exhibition of Artists With Mental Illness


She's not only New Orleans' best-known voodoo priestess, she's also a prolific painter and illustrator. Famous for her hurricane-protection rituals, Sallie Ann Glassman found herself in the ironic position of having her painting exhibition, originally scheduled to open in September, delayed by a hurricane. Nonetheless, she says her ritual worked, and that Katrina wasn't really "the Big One." Even so, it is hard to view this show without sensing something ominous in the works. While much of it celebrates the mythic figures and deities of many faiths as well as the traditional pantheon of voodoo spirits, there are also images that seem eerily prescient. Hurricane Season (pictured) is a downright sinister view of the New Orleans skyline under a furious hurricane sky, with massive breakers rolling in from the river. Other, no less apocalyptic, images with titles invoking the Four Horsemen depict scenes reminiscent of the violence and looting that came in Katrina's wake. So what did Glassman know and when did she know it? In fact, it is not unusual for artists to sense events before they happen and depict them in their work even if they may not know exactly what they are at the time. Fleeing the Tempest, a painting by Martha Ittenback in the companion Altered Perceptions, is no less prescient in its depiction of elemental fury roaring in from the ocean. How do artists know these things? That is one of those eternal mysteries that art and science have yet to fully fathom.

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