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Media Kit :
Events following Hurricane Katrina
Renegade Art Dealer Opens Two Shows
in New Orleans
10.16.05 - by:
Matt Dukes Jordan at
Antippas, owner of Barristers Gallery in New Orleans, had to offer
a guy from the power company a six-pack of warm beer to get the
juice turned back on in his gallery, but he didn't hesitate. He
was determined to have an art opening on schedule and kick off the
art season in a town that has always been known for its creative
spirit and lively arts community. Sure enough, on Saturday,
October 1st, he put up two big art shows and held an opening
attended by over 100 people.
"I knew I'd have to shut down by curfew, but I stayed open until 8
pm and a lot of people in the local arts community showed up,"
Antippas said. "It was absolutely worth it. It's one thing for
people in other
of the country to hear about the Wal-Marts and the Home Depots
reopening, but this is an arts city, so I felt it was important
that people know the arts are alive too."
going to do this in the dark if I had to. I thought it might be a
purely quixotic and platonic gesture, but I'm glad that so many
people showed up and appreciated it," Antippas said in a phone
interview a few days after the opening. His 140-year-old home,
located on the edge of the badly swamped Ninth Ward, has no power
or potable water and two ancient trees are leaning against the
roof, but he still opens his gallery daily to the public. As we
spoke, two artists who he represents were coming and going.
Friends and artists have been sleeping in the mezzanine loft at
the back of the gallery at times lately. "Seeing Rene in his p.j.s
in the morning is not something you want to see when you open the
gallery," he said only half-seriously, and laughed.
Gallery, owned by Antippas, represents an eclectic group of
artists. The two shows that opened at his gallery on October 1st
feature the art of a local voodoo scholar and practitioner and a
group show of art by people who have mental disabilities. Antippas,
a former professor of English literature, is known in New Orleans
as somewhat of a renegade and one of the most creative,
cutting-edge gallerists around. "I've subjected myself to some
unusual life experiences, which makes me more studious and
knowledgeable than most," Antippas said. His huge gallery is full
of some of the best African art, folk art, lowbrow art, outsider
art, and contemporary art in New Orleans.
the location of the gallery is contrary to the conventional wisdom
of the New Orleans art landscape: it's not in the popular
museum/restaurant/gallery area called the Warehouse District just
west of downtown, nor on the busy gallery row of Royal Street in
the French Quarter, nor on trendy Magazine Street. Instead it's in
a semi-abandoned industrial/commercial area west of the Superdome
that can seem desolate and scary. Outside of the large,
floor-to-ceiling windows is the wide Oretha Castle Haley
Boulevard, a thoroughfare that wasn't heavily used even before
Hurricane Katrina emptied the town. Sometimes the only person
you'd see in an hour would be someone riding by on a dilapidated
Yet the gallery has a roster of some of the most successful folk
and underground artists in New Orleans, including Mike Fedor, John
Greco, Sean Star Wars, Sallie Ann Glassman, Herbert Singleton,
John Arceneaux, Elizabeth Fox, Ryan Burns, Rene Stout, Chris
Fisher, Ray Ferdinand and Mrytle Damitz.
Usually October 1st is the beginning of a busy art season. "The
first weekend in October is when all galleries in New Orleans have
the Art For Art's Sake weekend to launch the season," Antippas
said "But this year I'm hearing from other gallery owners that the
season is dead. They're talking about how they're going to try to
sell the art in other cities. One has already rented the gallery
out to a construction company."
want them to stop this whining and get back here. If they don't
come back now, they won't have a clue about what's going on. A
massive clean-up has already happened. The city is coming back. I
had over 100 people at the opening. People told me that they were
so glad I was doing this."
Antippas and his fiance Tricia Moss returned from Texas, where
they went to avoid Katrina, to live in their house full-time a
week and a half before the art opening and just after Hurricane
Rita temporarily closed the city for a second time this year. "The
mosquitos are a nightmare. Each night we've had to cover ourselves
completely with Off," Antippas said.
gallery had a large oval puddle on the floor because of a leak in
the roof, but no flooding. I was going to have a big group show
called The Spirit of Place for October, with a New Orleans
theme and all local artists. But a lot of studios have flooded and
work was damaged or destroyed."
Antippas already had art on hand for two shows. "The last thing I
did before we left town as Katrina was approaching was to come to
the gallery and move all the art for the new shows upstairs to the
mezzanine in case there was four or five feet of water in the
Altered Perceptions II: Artists with Mental Illness is a
juried group show featuring work by artists with mental
disabilities, now in its second year. "All of the artists have a
diagnosed mental illness," Antippas said. "All proceeds go to the
artists. It's becoming known around the country. After Katrina
hit, I was contacted by an organization in New York City called
Hospital Audiences Incorporated that shows art by artists with
mental disabilities. They offered to put on a benefit show in New
York for me. I thanked them but said I was determined to do it
here, as planned. Unasked, a Latino artist who works with an
organization that helps artists with mental disabilities sent me
some amazing paintings." Some of the artists in this show are
Natalie Gaidry, Kenny Champagne, Gus Fink, and William A. Kelly.
other show, new work by Sallie Ann Glassman, an aritst and
spiritualist who has studied and practiced Voudon, is called
Glimpses of the Invisible. Her work is moody and full of
archetypal symbols. Antippas also included two brand-new
storm-themed paintings that she did while she was in Houma,
Louisiana, having evactuated during the storm. "One depicts the
city with a dark, glowering sky," Antippas said.
Antippas and Moss delivered the previously printed show
invitations by hand throughout the French Quarter during the days
before the show. He spoke with Times Picayune arts writer Doug
McCash. whose article about the state of the arts now in New
Orleans appeared in the Living section of that paper on Friday,
September 30th (the article can be found at NoLA.com), saying
that, "Maybe we can get a Black Hawk to drop some from the sky."
turned out, the fears Antippas had that no one would show up were
unfounded. Over 100 people attended the opening on Saturday
including Don Marshall, head of the famous Jazz Fest and former
head of Contemporary Arts Center; Press Kabakoff, a major
developer in the city; Kathy Randall, one of the leading
actress/performers in town; David and Courtney Sullivan, who do
great video and computer art; and many more. "Usually we get
mainly visual artists, but there were lots of people from the
theater community here. All of the arts were represented."
had plenty of wine left from past openings. For a while I thought
only ten people would show up and I could give each person their
own bottle of wine," Antippas said.
Antiapps feels that the arts community in New Orleans will be back
despite the storm. "Artists gravitate to a physical place, a city
that captures their imagination. Musicians drift around on a
spiritual basis; they're nomadic. But artists work from a sense of
place, so they will tend to be back. The big challenge will be to
artists simply lost their work. Many studios were completely
flooded. The issue is how much work they can salvage. We had
planned to open last weekend with a Spirit of Place, a
group show of local artists. I'm still planning to put that on,
along with my Mao show called Mao Now, a collection of
Chinese posters and communist kitsch social-realist art, in the
Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
New Orleans, La. 70113
504-525 2767 (6246)
"In the shadowy,
humid interior of Barrister's Gallery on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard,
owner Andy Antippas insisted that in his corner of the art world, Art for
Art's Sake will go on, despite a lack of electricity, despite a
drastically reduced population, despite everything.
Art's Sake will go on, despite a lack of electricity, despite a
drastically reduced population, despite everything."
He realized, of course, that his daylight opening reception, from 11 a.m.
until dusk, was a symbolic gesture.
"Everybody's got to understand how important it is to do this," he said.
"We really don't expect anyone to come, but we're keeping the gears
moving. Reopening the Winn Dixie, the Wal-Mart and the Home Depot is all
fine, but that's not what New Orleans is all about. The artists need the
galleries. They need to be reminded of what they do, what they are, that
their lives have not been swallowed up."
Antippas and his fiancé Trisha Moss, who'd escaped the hurricane in
Galveston and returned to New Orleans two weeks ago, planned to alter the
times on the already-printed exhibit invitations, that they would then
distribute by hand to gathering spots in the French Quarter.
"Maybe we can get a Black Hawk to drop some from the sky," he said.
The two-part exhibit features symbol-laden paintings by
artist/spiritualist Sallie Ann Glassman and a group show of works by
self-declared mentally-ill artists such as Gus Fink, Kenny Champagne and
William A. Kelly. The luridness of much of Glassman's work and the
inspired eccentricity of the other artists' works seems somehow to fit
Antippas's ghostly opening reception gambit.
Asked if he expects the art community to bounce back from the catastrophe,
Antippas hovered between pessimism and hope.
"I don't know about the future economy," he said. "I can only hope that
new construction will need new art. I expect to see everybody (artists and
art dealers) back because everybody who runs a gallery is doing it because
they love it."
nola.com by Doug McCash Art Critic
The New York Times
By JERE LONGMAN
Published: December 5, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 30 - The robot in the median on Elysian Fields Avenue
has a barbecue grill for a head, a microwave oven for a face and an adding
machine keyboard for a chest.
"I can see the wit of a city reborn," said Murray Brown, a teacher, as he
viewed the so-called trashbot, made from items found amid Hurricane
Katrina's debris. "Or it might be a corpse."
The hurricane has inspired visual art everywhere here, be it on canvas,
T-shirts, refrigerators or tattooed arms and legs. By turns whimsical,
angry, despairing and hopeful, the art explores such themes as loss,
impermanence and rebirth as it seeks to sculpture a kind of coherence from
emotional and physical wreckage.
"New Orleans is rotting and tragically fresh," said Herbie Kearney, a
painter and sculptor whose studio was destroyed. "We have to come back and
make art. If you don't have culture, the city will become Disneyland for
On St. Claude Avenue in the Bywater section of the city, Jeffrey Holmes
and Andrea Garland have created a memorial to the ravaged Lower Ninth
Ward. They have driven wooden crosses into the median and spray-painted a
metal cadaver transport case with the lament "RIP Lower 9," which is also
etched into the artists' arms with tattoos.
Mr. Holmes also created a street memorial featuring molded black Styrofoam
heads placed on stakes and called "Field of Silent Screams." It was meant
as a tribute to black residents in the impoverished Lower Ninth Ward who
cried out futilely for help. But, he said, National Guard troops
dismantled the exhibit one night, a consequence risked by many artists who
created their works in the street.
"One guy said, 'Some of my troops find it offensive, and it might be
construed as racist,' " Mr. Holmes said. "I said, 'Excuse me, you don't
know me, the dynamics of my neighborhood, the friends that I lost.' "
Not all of their posthurricane work has been so brooding. After the storm,
Ms. Garland draped an abandoned city bus with moldy fabric and
spray-painted the message "This is not a Christo."
"Sometimes," she said, "you just have to make people laugh."
Jonathan Traviesa, a photographer, rode out the hurricane in Mid-City and
then traveled around in an inner tube, documenting the rescue of people on
a strip of land near Bayou St. John. Mr. Traviesa had the photographs
printed on corrugated plastic and stuck into the ground on metal tines, a
comment on the pastures of signs that have sprung up offering tree
trimming, house gutting and other cleanup services.
In mid-November, the photographs were placed in the spots where they had
been taken, providing a time-travel perspective that was poignant but also
transitory. By late November, the photographs appeared to have been
removed, as if they were just another bit of storm debris.
"I thought having the work in the environment communicated something
peaceful and reverent in tribute to the people of the neighborhood," Mr.
Traviesa said from New York. "But I knew the photographs could get
confiscated, stolen or blown over. It was meant to be a temporary gift."
For relief workers and residents who want something more than a T-shirt
proclaiming Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as "Girls Gone Wild" and "Twisted
Sisters," tattoos have become a popular, indelible reminder.
"I don't want to forget that storm," Bubba Welborn, a local construction
worker, said as he had the swirling winds of Katrina and "I survived"
tattooed onto his left calf. "That's the thing that chased me out of my
Andy Antippas, owner of Barrister's Gallery in Central City, said he was
initially reluctant to show a hurricane exhibit, believing that art might
be incapable of capturing the breadth of the storm's devastation.
Then Mr. Antippas reconsidered. A project called "Dirt Drive," initiated
by an artist named Adam Farrington, invites artists from around the
country to send packets of dirt to be piled in a mound in a symbolic
effort to repair the city's failed levees.
The project underscores a growing belief here that New Orleans is being
forgotten by the federal government and will have to rebuild itself. Even
residents of largely untouched Uptown neighborhoods seem to have grown
insulated from more despoiled areas like Gentilly and the Lower Ninth
Ward, Mr. Antippas said.
"They've got their cable and gas and electricity, and most of the trash is
picked up," he said, "and they're in a state of denial about the needs of
the rest of the city."
Art Captures a City's Tumult and Renewal
Published: December 5, 2005
(Page 2 of 2)
Defiantly, Mr. Antippas reopened his gallery on Oct. 1, even without
electricity, and exhibited works by Sallie Ann Glassman, a painter and
voodoo priestess. Ms. Glassman sold hurricane-inspired paintings of
roiling skies. At her Bywater home, she is now working on a piece
featuring bruised clouds and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Ms. Glassman said she felt a "sacred duty" to capture the tumult of the
moment. "I tend to paint the way I feel," she said, "and I guess there are
a lot of turbulent emotions and thoughts right now."
At the Waiting Room Gallery in Bywater, Pati D'Amico has been drawn to the
hands of Hurricane Katrina victims. Ms. D'Amico has painted a series of
panels in which hands provide a sign language of desperation, reaching for
help, falling limp in defeat.
Her husband, William Warren, has begun to sculpture with cement as he
explores elements of permanence and rebuilding.
"In all this destruction," Mr. Warren said, "cement remained."
Hurricane Katrina has forced reassessment on several levels for New
Orleans's artists, who have been left to re-evaluate their work and their
viability in a city of escalating rents and scattered clients.
"People can't afford to buy art," said Miranda Lake, 36, a painter who
lives Uptown. "They have to put roofs on their houses."
A general sense of doubt is the subject of Jose Torres Tama's
performance-art piece "The Cone of Uncertainty," in which he explores,
among other subjects, the future of New Orleans. He worries that it may
become an "insidious Las Vegas" or a sideshow tourist destination "where
we become the three-legged woman."
Mr. Torres Tama's roommate, William Sabourin O'Reilly, 33, is seeking to
expand his short film "Old Orleans," in which he juxtaposes scenes of the
city's cultural heritage with documentary footage of Hurricane Katrina and
prestorm newspaper headlines on the city's rising crime rate and sinking
hope for its public schools.
"It was not only Katrina that destroyed New Orleans," Mr. Sabourin
O'Reilly said. "There was a perpetual state of passivity and tolerance of
a lot of bad things."
In the weeks after the storm, discarded refrigerators became billboards of
protest, regarding the possible move of the New Orleans Saints to San
Antonio or Los Angeles, and the widely criticized response of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency.
Now the tone seems to have changed. A refrigerator standing along
Esplanade Avenue this week offered a mournful request: "Please Come Home."
For those who cannot yet return, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in Central
City will soon begin transporting a photography exhibit of
African-American life to displaced residents in cities including Atlanta;
Baton Rouge, La.; Houston; and Jackson, Miss.
The exhibit is called "The Ties That Bind: Making Family New Orleans
Style." Those who attend will be asked to write stories of memory and hope
on cloth that will be transformed into another traveling exhibit.
"It's our way of letting them know we are not complete without them, that
their faces and hellos and sassy phrases are missed," said Carol Bebelle,
project director for Ashé.
Even New Orleans art indirectly related to Hurricane Katrina has developed
a certain cachet.
Humidity turned Ms. Lake's Uptown studio into a "dank sweatbox" after the
hurricane, buckling and fading her collage paintings done with pigmented
beeswax. Improvising with a razor blade and a pancake griddle, and drying
some works atop her car, she said she restored four paintings and sold
three at the Affordable Art Fair in Manhattan in October.
"People were hooting and hollering; they were so amazed we put it
together," Ms. Lake said. "If we get the underdog vote, that's fine. I
have to buy a lot of Sheetrock and do a lot of mold remediation."
Designer Jac Currie's "Defend New Orleans"
T-shirts, originally created to protest gentrification, assumed a
profound new significance after Katrina.
In September 2005, a flood-ravaged New Orleans
lay silent, dark and empty. The last remaining residents had been made to
leave, some at gunpoint, and those who somehow escaped expulsion wandered
the streets like zombies, often armed and under cover of darkness,
avoiding both the law and the lawless. By the end of the month, drinking
water and electricity were still scarce and access was still restricted by
the National Guard. The Art for Arts' Sake-coordinated gallery
openings slated to kick off the art season on Oct. 1 were all but
forgotten. An empty city under martial law was clearly no place for art
shows or festive openings, but on that very day, on Oretha Castle Haley
Boulevard in Central City, that is exactly what happened.
"We didn't think we'd have lights, and there was
a curfew anyway, so we held it in the afternoon," said Barrister's Gallery
director, Andy Antippas, of the opening reception for Sallie Ann
Glassman's paintings. "We weren't expecting anything -- if anyone thought
I was crazy, here was the proof -- but lo and behold, over 100 people
showed up and none of them were National Guards. I have no idea where they
Serendipitously, Entergy had hooked up the
electricity the day before. Barrister's was soon followed by the Arthur
Roger, LeMieux and Cole Pratt galleries, which all opened their doors in
early October and even made some occasional sales. Soon others followed
suit, as did the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and now all but two of the
Arts District galleries, as well as the Contemporary Arts Center, are
scheduled to be open by January. The New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture
Garden has also reopened, as will the museum itself come April. And that
in a nutshell is how a major art scene, written off for dead in September,
came roaring back to life over the following months.
As gallery dealer Cole Pratt put it, "The way to
bring New Orleans back is for people to come home and do their job."
But that may be easier said than done. Some
artists, like so many Orleanians, no longer have homes or jobs to come
back to. Some haven't returned because they were traumatized, while others
are nomadic by nature. An artist of elemental discord in her own right,
Katrina was a catalyst for mixed emotions. But she sometimes brought out
something else: a dogged determination to keep on keeping on. Even during
the dark days after the storm when it looked like we were down for the
count, artists kept working with whatever they had at hand. Shows of local
art were organized in other cities, while here at home artworks appeared
spontaneously in the streets like mushrooms after a rain. They included a
"robot" on the Elysian Fields Avenue median with a barbecue grill for a
head, a microwave oven for a face and an adding machine keyboard for a
Then there was Jeffrey Holmes and Andrea
Garland's controversial RIP Lower 9 trash-art installation on St.
Claude Avenue with its "Field of Silent Screams," rows of dark Styrofoam
heads on stakes meant as reminders of the Lower Ninth Ward residents left
stranded on their roofs. (Some National Guardsmen found it offensive and
took it upon themselves to dismantle it.) Another holdout, Jonathan
Traviesa, plied the floodwaters photographing helicopter rescues from his
Mid-City neighborhood near Bayou St. John. He later had the images
transformed into plastic signs like those ads that now blanket the neutral
grounds, and in November each sign was placed at the site it documented as
part of his Deliverance on Bayou St. John conceptual project. While
some dithered from a distance, artists and others pursued their own vision
in a kind of urban guerrilla activism, a sensibility reflected in Jac
Currie's gothic "Defend New Orleans" T-shirts about town.
Considering the erratic nature of Mayor Nagin's
leadership, and President Bush's unspoken, yet obvious, policy of
demolition by neglect where New Orleans is concerned, citizen activism is
more important than ever. More than a city, New Orleans is regarded by
many as an artwork in itself and, as with any art form, people are either
passionate about it or not. Those who are not now mostly live elsewhere.
Those who are here have a chance to create a new landscape much bigger
than any canvas.
D. Eric Bookhardt
"Barrister's Gallery...the heaven of hell on earth" ...Marilyn Manson
'Yes, as you may have already guessed, Barrister's ain't your
ordinary art gallery. Once inside, you begin to suspect that you'll
never, ever see all of it, no matter how much time you spend wandering
through the 8,790 square foot space. Andy arranges his gallery in a
random-looking but secretly kinky-structured assemblage that makes
sense only if you know the subject matter or have a good sense of
'When people understand what I've done with a collection or grouping,
they often become good clients and friends,' he smiles. "The atmosphere
of the gallery, and the focus of the exhibitions that Barrister's
mounted, regularly caused mental and spiritual distress to the weaker
souls who happened to wander into the space. One look at those shrunken
heads and human and animal skulls, incredible African fetishes and
other tribal artifacts, Marilyn Manson's paintings and drawings
straight from the hands of serial killers, Voodoo veves, photographs of
extreme body modifications, and assorted other retina-searing objects
sent some scurrying out the door in fear of losing their immortal souls
(or their lunch).
But the rest of us-those who thought we'd seen it all at least
twice--couldn't wait to get back to New Orleans--to eat at Emeril's and
to see what Barrister's was up to. Because we understood that he wasn't
trying to shock or disgust, but was interested in showing art that
provoked a reaction and demanded something from its observers--a bit of
open-minded curiosity, a lot of internal inventory, an ability to
really look at something without preconceived ideas and try to
understand why the artist created it."
--INKED Magazine, March 2000