Visitors to this Siren Song expo may wonder why it sometimes looks like whimsical elves got high in a marine salvage yard. But seen in its totality — including Isabelle Hayeur's Castaway video, which was filmed at a marine salvage yard — the overall ambience is quite contemplative. New Orleans Airlift co-founder Delaney Martin's colorfully aboriginal totems and wall pieces cobbled from washed-up flotsam subtly resonate an evocative poetry of abandonment. In the gallery setting, their weathered forms mingled with surreal examples of maritime industry impediments look almost like archaeological artifacts from a lost civilization, which is what coastal Louisiana will be if we continue to let it wash away. Hayeur's panoramic and undersea video views of the rusting wreckage of once-proud vessels moldering in their watery graves comprise a morbidly beautiful elegy to the lost dreams of bygone industries. Sporadic marine radio chatter crackling from Taylor Shepherd's Odysseus and the Sirens installation adds to the pervasive aura of mystery.
Siren Song is a prelude to a free April 8 performance of composer Yotam Haber's New Water Music by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and hundreds of area musicians. Set on Lake Pontchartrain and inspired by the classical 18th-century symphonic compositions of George Frederic Handel, New Water Music reflects New Orleans Airlift's and the Gulf Restoration Network's collaborative efforts to raise awareness of this city's uniquely maritime identity and the importance of our coasts and waterways.
Artist Myrtle von Damitz III, who occasionally collaborates with New Orleans Airlift, has been living in Oregon, where her thoughts sometimes wander to endless highways. Gone Trucking is a small suite of paintings from the byways of her imagination, otherworldly scenes that suggest what Jack Kerouac and Odilon Redon might have concocted had they joined up for a road trip. In the absence of such time travel collaborations, von Damitz's paintings may be the next best thing.