Performances, artist talks reflect on Louisiana's coastal crisis

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Tina Freeman's photographs at "Living With Climate Change" at the River House in Poydras.
  • Tina Freeman's photographs at "Living With Climate Change" at the River House in Poydras.

Louisiana is in the middle of an existential crisis. The state braces for more impacts to its already-decimated coasts and prepares for massive cuts programs that preserve them, while answering to elected officials' ongoing denial of climate change as they rubber stamp oil production. This weekend, pair of shows — on either sides of New Orleans' dual waterways — brings attention to south Louisiana's dependence on and increasing vulnerability to them, as the realities of climate change and environmental degradation threaten the future of the communities relying on them.

On Saturday, April 6, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra joins arts organization New Orleans Airlift for a performance of composer Yotam Haber's "New Water Music." Partially inspired by George Frideric Handel's 18th century "Water Music" on the River Thames, the piece incorporates south Louisiana music tradition (spirituals, Mardi Gras Indian chants) and a mass of musicians to play it. "Exuberance and sadness. Tragedy and happiness, together," Haber told Gambit. "It's the perfect mix for the theme of this piece, which is calling light to the serious problems we have here, and also celebrating all its great things." Orchestras will perform offshore on barges accompanied by a sort of "shrimp boat ballet." The performance also includes community organizations involved with coastal restoration, as well as local fisherman and other community groups.

"As artists, we shouldn't be reinventing the wheel for this experience but looking to the cultures who are most directly affected by, and the people who are most directly affected, for participation," artistic director Delaney Martin told Gambit. "I realized it was not so much about making things from scratch as artists but involving the people and pre-existing objects — beautiful objects that speak to these issues."

The performance begins at sunset, with food and activities beginning at 4 p.m. at Seabrook Boat Launch. Admission is free.

On Sunday, April 9, Creative Alliance of New Orleans hosts an artists' talk coinciding with the "Living with Climate Change" exhibit at the River House at Crevasse 22.

Roughly 20 minutes from downtown New Orleans, artists Jacqueline Bishop, Tina Freeman and Allison Stewart discuss their work and relationship to the fragile environment reflected in it.

Bishop's paintings capture the coming environmental apocalypse with birds as fragile horsemen; Freeman's photographs document St. Bernard Parish water treatment plants; and Stewart's mixed-media paintings are inspired by Louisiana waterways.

"Spirit of the People of St. Bernard," featuring portraits by regional artists, also is on view. The adjacent sculpture garden features the Tannen-Gery ModGun prototype house by Bob Tannen and Frank Gehry.

The Palm Sunday event (visitors are encouraged to take one as a symbol of "peace, rebirth and recovery") is 1 p.m.-3 p.m.  at the River House at Crevasse 22 (8122 Saro Lane, Poydras). Admission is free.
Location Details River House at Crevasse 22
8122 Saro Lane, Poydras
St. Bernard Parish
Poydras, LA
Gallery and Spare Spaces



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