Galleries, museums are a cool summer refuge

CHILL ART

When the thermometer starts to hover around 100, there may be no better place to cool off than an art museum or gallery. At least that’s what the folks at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and many other arts venues around town think.

On Friday, the first day of summer, the New Orleans Museum of Art kicks off the third installment of its Great Hall exhibition series with a solo show by acclaimed video, performance and collage artist Rashaad Newsome.

Titled “Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms,” the show explores the artist’s passion for ornament, systems of heraldry and baroque grandeur. Newsome fuses signs of royalty and nobility with elements of hip-hop culture in his videos and collages.

One such example is his elaborate framed collage “Duke of NOLA,” which features a central armorial shield topped at the crest with an image of hip-hop musician and New Orleans native Juvenile.

A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Tulane University, Newsome gained prominence in New York over the past decade as a result of his highly successful video and performance art pieces, which were featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2010 Whitney Biennial.

He has also exhibited his work in museums throughout the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Hong Kong International Art Fair.

“NOMA’s Great Hall series has been an outstanding platform for innovation in site-specific art,” said Susan M. Taylor, director of the New Orleans Museum of Art. “Newsome brings a new dimension to this exciting series through the development and creation of a performance and video piece that responds to the unique cultural life of New Orleans.”

The NOMA show is Newsome’s first solo show in Louisiana, and it includes more than a dozen of his large-scale collages, many of which will be on public view for the first time. In addition, the exhibition will include a special video presentation of Newsome’s “Herald” from 2011 in NOMA’s second floor gallery of French paintings.

At the Ogden

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art will also be bustling with activity this summer when it presents several exhibitions and shows, including “Into the Light,” which draws on photographs from Ogden’s permanent collection. The show, which runs from July 11 to Sept. 22, includes works from E.J. Bellocq, Clarence John Laughlin, William Christenberry, William Eggleston, Shelby Lee Adams, Alec Soth, among many others.

From Aug. 3 to Sept. 22, Ogden presents a statewide juried art exhibition titled “Louisiana Contemporary Presented by Regions Bank,” an annual show aimed at promoting contemporary arts practices in Louisiana. This year’s juror is Franklin Sirmans, curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans, which opens next year.

“Artists in Louisiana are a special breed,” said Louisiana artist Robert Tannen. “Whether they are born here or not, these artists have worked in a place that is both difficult and easy. An ongoing annual exhibition for living artists in Louisiana is the appropriate means to celebrate the work.”

White Linen Night

Louisiana Contemporary opens on one of the most anticipated nights in the New Orleans art community — Whitney White Linen Night along the 300 to 700 block of Julia Street in Warehouse District.

While the thought of strolling the streets of New Orleans in the peak of summer may not appeal to everyone, those who don their white linen attire — or anything white for that matter — are sure to get into the spirit of the night, which features dozens of galleries displaying and selling their amazing works of art.

Sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Center, White Linen Night is all about the art. But it also offers samplings of fare from New Orleans restaurants as well as cool drinks to sip on as you travel from gallery to gallery.

The event also features stages and live entertainment by some of the city’s most talented musicians, and the after-party at the CAC promises to be equally enjoyable.

Dirty Linen Night

Not to be outdone is Dirty Linen Night, a similar gallery-hopping experience in the French Quarter. Held this year on Aug. 10 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Dirty Linen Night began 12 years ago as a takeoff on the more elegant White Linen Night, and organizers encourage attendees to wear their “dirty” linen outfits from the week before. In keeping with the theme, some galleries even serve dirty martinis and dirty rice.

Stretching from the 200 to 1000 block of Royal Street, the festivities include live music, food samplings and an opportunity to mix and mingle with artists at dozens of galleries along Royal and adjoining streets.