In the painting “Sandcastles” by Ukrainian-born artist Alexander Stolin, two boys build an elaborate sandcastle with tall spiers and thick walls as the waves crash just beyond them. A couple of seabirds seem to be watching in the foreground. But the background is more ominous, with dark clouds dropping rain and a few aircraft carriers in the distance.
“It’s related to the Russian invasion, the Black Sea and Crimea, when Russia annexed it,” Stolin says. “It’s called ‘Sandcastles’ because it’s a metaphor for peace. We try to keep the peace like building a sandcastle. You should always keep this. Otherwise, it will be washed away.
The paintings in his “Memories Project” look back over a century of his family and wife, combining images from his native Kyiv and his roots in Mississippi.
“Memories Project” opens at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery with a reception on White Linen Night on Saturday, August 6. The annual event hosted by Arts District New Orleans returns with street art activations and food and drink vendors spread across the 300 across Block 600 of Julia Street from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Stolin’s work has a sort of Covid-era influence. Although his canvases are normally bright and colorful, most of these works are in black and white or sepia. Part of the reason is that he decided to look back at his family over the past century, and many of the works capture the dark tones and shadows of old black and white photography. But he also caught Covid when he was thinking about going colorless and temporarily lost his sense of taste, he says.
After immigrating to San Francisco with his family in 1992, Stolin came to New Orleans for an exhibition of his work in 1994 and ended up staying in the area. In addition to his artistic practice, he works in the film industry as a set designer. It also suits his style of painting, which he says is influenced by film noir and the works of Alfred Hitchcock.
He also describes some of his color canvases as cinematic in style. A Hitchcock-like, film noir-like creepiness is evident in “Halloween,” which is based on a 1911 photo of one of his wife’s relatives. A large group of children pose for the camera wearing grotesque clown masks they made at a party.
Also at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, “Remix,” a collection of 20 sculptures made from hand-cut books by jazz musician Tony Dagradi.
There is a wide range of openings planned for White Linen Night, including major group exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There are also exhibitions in 15 galleries and at the American Institute of Architects – New Orleans Center for Architecture and Design.
The Ogden Museum opens its Louisiana Contemporary exhibition. Guest curator Valerie Cassel Oliver of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts selected 51 works by 49 Louisiana artists from more than 1,000 submissions. Works range from the luminous painting “POSTCARDS FROM UKRAINE 111” by Luis Cruz Azaceta, to photos of dilapidated road signs by Thom Bennett, to assemblages of found objects and other pieces by Shannon Landis Hansen and Jordan Hess.
The Center for Contemporary Art presents the ninth edition of its Gulf South Open Call exhibition. Titled “Remember Earth?”, her works address environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion, natural disasters, environmental racism and more. There are works by 54 artists from Florida to Texas.
The CAC also presents works by artists currently in residence, Britt Ransom and ar havel. Ransom works on sculpture incorporating 3D printing techniques. “Oh Holy Filth” is a collaborative altar project by Havel, Xiamara Chupaflor and Koko Barrios. The CAC also hosts DJs, cash bars and more during its White Linen festivities.
Music, dance, theater and more this week.
LeMieux Galleries also organizes a group exhibition with a jury. Among the artists is Jimmy Descant, a New Orleans alum best known for his Deluxe Rocketship assemblages, turning things like vacuum cleaners and vintage appliances into rockets with the sleek curves of space-age design. He sets up two full-scale rockets in Orlando before the show.
Although Descant has returned to the city for his recent appearances at the Jazz Fest art booth, he’s largely moved on to Western-based assemblage work, and he’s been living in Tucson for four years. His works at LeMieux combine photos taken by his father of Sen. John F. Kennedy with assembly parts to give him outfits invoking Native American tribes and Mardi Gras Indians.
The Stella Jones gallery in Place Saint-Charles presents the work of painter and illustrator Charly Palmer. His distinct portraiture style is reflected in John Legend’s image on his “Bigger Love” album. Palmer was recently chosen to design the cover for the NBA 2K22 video game, and he has done previous video games and numerous children’s book covers.
Most of the participating galleries are on Julia or Camp streets. The Arthur Roger Gallery features exhibitions of sculptures and videos by Stephanie Patton, tapestries by Troy Dugas, paintings by Brian Guidry and works of geometric abstraction by Pard Morrison. At Octavia Art Gallery, “Digital Reality” features several artists exploring the uses of technology in art-making, with projections, holograms, and NFTs, along with accompanying paintings.
For more information on White Linen Night, visit artsdistrictneworleans.com.
Something is brewing in Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke”. It’s just a matter of whether the fire burns or reignites.