The “Louisiana Contemporary” Exposition

Ogden Museum of Southern Art Director William Andrews talks about the show and the future of Louisiana artists

What defines Louisiana contemporary art? According to Ogden Museum of Southern Art Director William Andrews, the work of Louisiana artists comes in many themes and mediums, and that’s on display at the museum’s third annual “Louisiana Contemporary” exposition.

Debuting during White Linen Night, the statewide, juried expo – this year’s juror is Jonathan P. Binstock of Citi Private Bank Art Advisory & Finance – features 89 works from 39 artists around Louisiana. Andrews talked to us about the show.

How did it start? The concept grew out of something I’ve been interested in, which is focusing on the artwork of community of artists who chose to remain in Louisiana and make it their home and to practice their craft and create their work. This expo was designed to give this specific community a voice. Or, you could just say we thought it was a cool idea.  

You talk about this group like it’s an accomplishment to stay here. Are many artists pulled to bigger art cities? Typically that’s the characteristic of artists, they ultimately want to try to be part of East Coast or West Coast – New York or L.A. – art scenes. New Orleans offers another coast, another alternative. It’s a third pin on the map, making a beautiful triangle. For decades and decades artists relocated to great art centers, we now find artists from other major art centers want to relocate to New Orleans or Louisiana because of the ability to live as a productive artist. It’s an artistic culture, people support artists, people collect art, there’s an art market, there’s a distinguished group of museums and galleries in the city and the state, and those things support artists.

Do you see a theme among contemporary art in Louisiana? Is there a specific style that characterizes it? It’s very interesting. I’m glad you asked that because one of the initial concepts was to not impose any restraints or limits on the interpretation of concept of what is contemporary art in Louisiana. Jurors selected to engage the art and decide what’s in the exposition have each interpreted this dramatically differently. That really underscores the concept that we have a mutable, viable art eco-system if you will. I think the best thing we can do is to continually ask the question rather to pose to answer and enjoy the exploration.

What kind of mediums will be represented? I can tell you that 270 artists exhibited 832 works, which is a very wonderfully expansive group.

The exposition will comprise any media you can think of, from more traditional disciplines such as painting, sculpture and photography, but it also includes video and installation, so it’s kind of all over the place – that’s what makes it exciting. It’s hard to anticipate what we’ll be including.

One of the great things is artists react to quotidian materials in so many ways. There’s been sculpture made from hot glue, plastic army men … just when I think there’s a limit to mediums and what we’ll see, artists come up with new expression that’s engaging – maybe even sensational.

For more information on Louisiana Contemporary, visit OgdenMuseum.org.

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