Bywater Biennial To Debut At New Orleans Art Center, 75 Artists Represented
NEW ORLEANS – Debuting at the New Orleans Art Center on Saturday, October 10, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., the Bywater Biennial will showcase the work of some 75 artists representing an eclectic alternative scene downriver from the French Quarter.
Curated by Don Marshall, the exhibition, running through Sunday, November 8, will include works by emerging and established artists.
The show takes its name from the neighborhood sandwiched between St. Claude Avenue and the Mississippi River levee.
In the years following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the start-up gallery scene along St. Claude blossomed, energized by creative activists who viewed culture and a DIY approach to community engagement as integral to the re-birth of the city. Performance and visual artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and craft artisans from a budding creative class flocked to the area.
Most of the galleries that sprang up were artist-owned co-ops and spaces that followed a collaborative model, providing exhibition opportunities for up-and-comers. With much of the area along St. Claude having been ravaged by floodwaters, its rejuvenation became something of a cause célèbre — “a nationally prominent alternative arts enclave based on the principles of participatory democracy in the service of creative urban community building,” as veteran local critic D. Eric Bookhardt, of New Orleans Art Insider (InsideNOLA.org), observed.
A resident of Bywater, curator Marshall decided the time was right to launch an ambitious showcase recognizing the depth of the area’s arts community after making an impromptu visit to the New Orleans Art Center and discovering the vast expanse of white wall space available within.
“I like big shows with as many artists as possible,” said Marshall, who curated over 30 exhibitions during his celebrated tenure (1977-1986) as director of Contemporary Arts Center, which served as the catalyst for what became the Warehouse Arts District, a top museum and gallery destination (upriver from the French Quarter) for tourists and arts aficionados.
With 6,000 square feet of open space, the New Orleans Art Center crystalized Marshall’s vision for a Bywater show that would cast a wide net for talent. “There really isn’t another space in the St. Claude corridor that could handle this type of show,” he said.
Opened in February 2015, the New Orleans Art Center, at 3330 St. Claude Ave., is a gallery and event space with upstairs art studios that is located in the heart of a vibrant, eclectic enclave that is uniquely New Orleans. Representing several local artists and presenting group and guest-curated exhibitions, it also hosts fundraisers and other events for local community organizations.
Herman Kron is founder of the center, and his partner, artist Christina Juran, serves as art director. Both are native New Orleanians.
While relocating to New Orleans from northern California in 2014, Kron and Juran were graciously introduced to the space, which, despite having been abandoned to the floodwaters, presented many creative possibilities. Pre-Katrina, the building was in the process of being converted into a medical center. Although considerably larger than anything they had in mind, and quite a project to take on, Kron and Juran were smitten by its location, in a growing and already culturally and artistically rich community. “We had to gut up and take it,” said Kron.
A few days after his initial visit, Marshall, who has served as executive director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation since 2004, floated the idea of having the center host the inaugural Bywater Biennial. “I knew he could draw all the best artists in the area,” said Kron.
Marshall hopes the show will foster community coordination while creating opportunities for emerging artists to get picked up by galleries looking to expand their rosters with fresh, exciting talent.
“In the future, Bywater Biennial could take place with all of the galleries along St. Claude,” he said.
In 2017, the exhibition will coincide with the Prospect.4 citywide contemporary art extravaganza. “I plan to have a lot more artist engagement in how we can grow this idea,” said Marshall, “and make sure Bywater Biennial is a big enough attraction that collectors and patrons who are coming in for P4 see it as a must-see event and discover artists and support them.”
Artists represented in the inaugural Bywater Biennial include:
Amzie Adams, Sergio Alvarez,Lucia Aquino, Raine Bedsole, Aron Belka, Mark, Bercier, Amy Bryan, Ian Chrystal, Amanda Cassingham- Bardwell, Lyla Clayre, Ray Cole, Ze daLuz, Keith Duncan, Brad Dupuy, Karen Edmunds, Eric Ehlenberger, AnnieLaurie Erickson, Michael Fedor, Bennie Freeman, Pippin Frisbie-Calder, Gabrielle Gaspard, Erica Larkin Gaudet, Mitchell Gaudet, Greg Giegucz, Sallie Ann Glassman, Nurhan Gokturk, Allison Gordin, Shawn Hall, Sandy Hester, Althea Holden, Juan Carlos Jaimes, Kenneth James, Christina Juran, Johnny King, Herman Kron, Dapper Bruce Lafitte, Karen LeBlanc, Richard Legendre, Ernest Joshua Littles, Anna Belle Loeb, Mitchell Long, Trea Martinez, George McClements, Molly McGuire, Natalie McLaurin, Kate McNee, Jeff Morgan, Jerry Moran, David Ray Morris, Willie Noel, Gary Oaks, Mary Jane Parker, Keith Perelli, Christopher Poche-West, Abigail Poplin, Victoria Posey, Elizabeth Pratt, Randy Sanders, Veronika Schmude, Jon Schooler, Spenser Schultz, Max Seckel, Colleen Shannon, Elizabeth Shannon, Maxx Sizeler, Bob Snead, Patch Somerville, Leona Strassberg Steiner, Laurel True, John Isiah Walton, Christy Ward and Max Wilde.
The Bywater Biennial is made possible by the support of the following founding sponsors:
Bristle Magic, Cheezy Cajun, Hank's Meat Market, Creative Alliance of New Orleans, New Orleans Art Supply, and private donors