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Volume 15/Issue 18

Golden Age of Carnival Saluted in NOMA Exhibition

New Orleans' famous Carnival and the art it spawned will be celebrated in the exhibition Artists of Mardi Gras: The Golden Age of Carnival, 1870-1930 at the New Orleans Museum of Art Sept. 27 through Nov. 23,1997. Curated by Henri Schindler, a native New Orleanian and himself an acclaimed Carnival designer, the exhibition will accompany the publication of Schindler's book, Mardi Gras: New Orleans. "Though there are some differences between the book and the exhibition, their spirits are identical," Schindler said.

Artists of Mardi Gras will focus on six major designers who worked from 1870 through 1930-Charles Briton, Bror Anders Wikstrom, Carlotta Bonnecaze, Jennie Wilde, Cenilla Alexander and Louis Fischer-and is the most extensive collection of works by these designers ever mounted. "A population devoted to joy is not wont to leave records, and those created have had to endure a tropical climate notoriously unkind to paper and velvets. Mardi Gras' surviving fragments exist like buried treasure; few New Orleanians have seen them, and they have remained unknown to the outside world," Schindler writes in his book. For the exhibition, three NOMA galleries will house Carnival designs while the fourth gallery will feature paintings in which Mardi Gras is the subject, including works by George Dureau, Boyd Cruise and a fantastic 19-feet by 6-feet mural by Paul Ninas.

New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration is world renowned-its festivities, with balls, masquerades and parades, embrace every class and culture. Schindler's book offers a stunning panorama of Mardi Gras' evolution and its exuberant diversity: the early Creole cavalcades, torchlit processions of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the rise of Rex (King of Carnival), fabulous balls, carnival royalty, Les Mysterieuses (the first female society) and African-American organizations like the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club and Mardi Gras Indians. The joyous spirit and opulence of Mardi Gras' Golden Age is revived in Mardi Gras: New Orleans with a dazzling profusion of illustrations; beautifully finished watercolor designs of floats, costumes and ball invitations; vintage photographs; lithographs; and prints. The book will be available in NOMA's Museum Shop.

NOMA Explores Dutch Genre in Eye of the Beholder

Visitors will get a glimpse of past Dutch culture in the up- coming exhibition In the Eye of the Beholder: Northern Baroque Paintings from the Collection of Henry H. Weldon. This survey of 17th century Dutch and Flemish art will arrive at NOMA's Ella West Freeman Gallery on Sept. 13, 1997, and depart on November 2, 1997.

Due to religious and political conditions unique to the Netherlands, the art produced there during the 17th century was different in many ways from art anywhere else in Europe. Holland was a Protestant republic controlled neither by the Catholic church nor by an aristocracy. Because there were no large public or religious groups to buy art, the enormous middle class became the art market. Artists needed to produce subject matter that the middle class could appreciate, resulting in art that reflects 17th-century middle-class Protestant life.

Needing to find their niche in the art market, artists developed special categories of paintings. They concentrated on history scenes, landscapes, genre scenes, still lifes, or portraitures. Each of these areas held a special interest for the Dutch. For instance, landscapes became almost patriotic. They immortalized the land the Dutch fought for and emphasized that they were owners not only of the land, but of everything produced on it. Genre scenes are often entertaining, in their frank depiction of some of the coarser aspects of Dutch life. The still lifes, genre scenes, and even landscapes reveal the moralistic side of Dutch society. For modern eyes, the symbolism in the still life paintings, especially flower paintings, is often missed or misunderstood. But to the Dutch, these symbols of the "transience of earthly life" and other moralizing undertones in the paintings were completely evident. The meaning behind a flower, an insect, or an everyday object was immediately understood by virtually everyone who looked at the picture.

Because the patrons of 17th-century Dutch art were the middle class rather than the church or the aristocracy, some paintings were made smaller to fit inside middle-class cottages instead of large cathedrals or castles where art was previously displayed. Many of these postcard-sized paintings on copper, or "small marvels" as the Weldons refer to them, will be on view at the upcoming exhibition. Seventy pieces from the Weldons' collection compose In the Eye of the Beholder. In addition to the "small marvels," works by Anthony van Dyck and a painting by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger entitled Landscape with Pan and Syrnix will be showing.

June and Henry Weldon are collectors with an interest in art that is centered around quality rather than a particular school of art. They have extensive knowledge of the art world and an eye for detail and craftsmanship that has helped cultivate a diverse collection including not only Dutch and Flemish art, but English 18th-century pottery, Chinese tomb pottery, and Italianate landscapes as well.

A full-color catalog will accompany the exhibition and will be available in the Museum Shop.

Red, Blue & Gold--That's Imari

The nation's premiere collection of Imari Porcelain will take cen ter stage as the New Orleans Museum of Art present the first exhibition in the United States dedicated to this exquisite Japanese porcelain. Imari: Japanese Porcelain for European Palaces from the Freda and Ralph Lupin Collection will enchant NOMA's visitors from Sept. 13 to Nov. 2, 1997.

Imari porcelain, named for the Japanese seaport from which it was exported, is characterized by the bold, vibrant colors of cobalt blue, iron-red, and gold, and tapestry-like images, animals and flowers. The Chinese porcelain that preceded Imari in the late 15th century was only blue-and-white. The beautifully colored and decoraded pieces of Imari caught the eye of the English aristocracy, such as Queen Mary, who decorated elaborate porcelain rooms with these wares. These pieces were primarily decorative, as Lisa Rotondo-McCord, NOMA's Associate Curator of Asian Art, notes. "Other than teapots and some small vessels for condiments, Imari was not used by Europeans as tableware." Because of its immense popularity among Europe's upper classes, Imari was brought to Europe via the Dutch East India Company during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Jeff Fest 97 Wants You!

Jeff Fest 97, presented by The Times-Picayune, celebrates six consecutive years of providing a major event that offers "something for everyone." This year the fest will be held in Lafreniere Park, Metairie, Sat. & Sun., Oct. 18 & 19.

The eclectic line-up of musical talent this year includes: The Neville Brothers; Blood, Sweat & Tears; the Smithereens; Johnny Rivers; Wyne Toups; Shenandoah; Anders Osborne; Tiny Town; and, the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

The entertainment will be enhanced by fantastic edibles from great local restaurants like Trey Yen, Kokopelli's, Wrap & Roll, Taqueria Corona, Restaurant Paris Dakar, Charmine's and Semolina's plus lots of the great classics like the famous Fil Asian Onion Mum and Cajun Land Spices "Hot Tamales."

The fest is presently actively seeking volunteers to help in all areas of the festival such as parking, ticket booths, children's area, stage area, or security. Volunteers are rewarded with a free ticket, t-shirt, cold drinks, giveaways and all the fun one can roll into one day.

For further information, call 504.888.2900.

My Life With Barbra: A Love Story

When actor Barry Bennen opened up to this chatty, pretty girl who introduced herself as the "actress" Barbra Streisand he knew he had found a confidante and a best friend-someone he could share his life with, while each struggled to make it in New York's bustling theatre district. Then, on one amazing afternoon, Barry heard this talented young woman sing! He hurried to press "record" on his tape player. He knew in his heart that this was a voice the world would never forget.

Moving, fascinating, and very intimate, My Life With Barbra: A Love Story is the first exclusive, insider's look at Streisand, from the 1960s to today, as Streisand looks to Dennen for friendship, reminiscences, and career advice. Their instantaneous friendship in those exuberant, innocent days in the city burned itself into Dennen's memory, from the nervous, funny auditions to the standing ovations, from his tiny apartment's bedroom to the big Broadway Stage.

Sexual exploration in these years for Dennen was that of wonderment and mixed emotions. While he had doubts about his heterosexuality, he maintained the relationship with Streisand (a subject he explores in great detail) in addition to his in-depth examination of Streisand's talent, her hopes and dreams, before she became an international celebrity.

Centering on their early friendship, passionate affair, and the on-again, off-again relationship he has had with Streisand for 30 years, Dennen reveals: how Barbara became "Barbra"; how he helped her discover her great talent for singing: her intense need for privacy; his work as her mentor, as well as the most important journey into nightclub singing and cabaret that Streisand took with Dennen at the helm.

Krewe Of Armeinius Sponsors Pretty Baby

The Krewe of Armeinius is sponsoring a benefit performance of the world premiere of the new pre-Broadway musical Pretty Baby at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, Wed., Sept. 10, at 8pm.

This will be the very first public performance of the musical described in further detail elsewhere in this publication.

Be among the first to see this exciting theatrical event. Tickets are available from any krewe member or by calling 504.482.5855.

Vanity Fair Shows Bad Taste

In the Sept. issue of Vanity Fair, writer Maureen Orth's article on Andrew Cunanan is trumpeted on the front cover with the tease "On The Trail of the Gay Serial Killer."

While not wanting to flog a dead horse, the magazine's use of a phrase which was retreated from by many media outlets after learning that equating his sexual orientation with his crimes was defamatory to the lesbian and gay community shows that it was either woefully ignorant of the discussions which took place publicly about the issue, or willfully ignored them.

Either way, Vanity Fair ends up looking both behind the times, as well as insensitive. This is doubly unfortunate when considering that earlier this year GLAAD praised the publication for a story on lesbian representation in film.

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