Big Sculptures on Campus

Last Friday I noticed a new sculpture in the quad.

One Sculpture

Then I saw another, not too far away.

Another Sculpture

What’s going on here? Could it be a part of Prospect.1?

On November 1, 2008, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1], the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States, will open to the public in museums, historic buildings, and found sites throughout New Orleans.

Maybe. But our campus is not listed as a venue, and I can’t find mention of Prospect.1 on our website.

There’s a third sculpture by the rack where I park my bike.

Third Sculpture

It looks like it’s not yet fully assembled. A co-worker suggested this might be how it’s supposed to be presented. I scoffed at the notion, but here it is a week later and that snake head is still lying on the ground next to the pedestal.

Mysteries abound.

Update: Just got word via the campus e-bulletin:

Have you noticed strange things on the quad? It’s art – part of the “Sculpture for New Orleans” project, a two-year exhibition placing monumental sculptures throughout New Orleans to bring national and international attention to the visual arts and the artists of post-Katrina New Orleans. The XU Art Department is assisting with installation here on campus. For more info, visit sculptureforneworleans.org.

An Interlude to Stillness

Wow. I missed Waiting for Godot, but I have got to check this out:

Art In Action!: Site #23: Sean Derry “An Interlude To Stillness” 300 N.Broad (@ Bienville), Mid-City

ArtInAction is pleased to announce the premier of Pittsburgh-based artist Sean Derrys public art installation “An Interlude to Stillness” (please visit www.seanderry.com). The project will installed November 13th through the 17th in the front parking lot of the abandoned Robrt Market at 300 N. Broad. Realization of the project will culminate two years of the artists work sewing inflatable sculptures from second hand bed sheets in an attempt to re-animate the abandoned parking lot. With the help of volunteers, 35 multi-colored balloon automobiles will be inflated by a network of handmade air pumps powered by motorbikes. [emphasis added]

More at Art in Action. What with the fake submerged house in Bayou St. John last week, it’s good to see that life in Mid-City isn’t getting any less surreal.

John Scott

MaPó called me Saturday afternoon to tell me John Scott had passed on. I never met the great sculptor, despite his close association with the University’s art department, and now I never will.

His works live on, though: down by the river, over on St. Bernard Avenue and right in the middle of the University’s main quad, which I see every day I go to work.

Here’s a picture I took of that sculpture shortly after the floodwaters receded from campus.

John Scott Sculpture

He has works in many other places; those are just the ones I know off the top of my head.

I remember reading in the paper some months ago about how thieves broke into his studio here and stole some of his sculptures, hacking up what they didn’t understand to sell for scrap. Such an insult.

What’s so sad about Scott’s passing is that he never made it back to the city he loved. He suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and had a double lung transplant in Houston — twice, I believe. He watched the flooding of New Orleans from afar like so many of us, but his health never allowed him to come back.

I understand his wish was to be buried here. May he rest in peace.

Yet More Guerrilla Art in Mid-City

That old chaos hag Courtney Egan has done a great installation at Banks and Broad. Check it out.

Similar idea: Someone put a marker up at Bienville and Conti last fall. It eventually disappeared but recently I noticed it’s back up again.

The idea of marking flood heights is powerful and important. Sometimes we’d rather forget, but we mustn’t allow ourselves to do that. I admire what Courtney has done, but I think it needs to be expanded. I would like to see something more permanent, in stone perhaps, at multiple locations around the city. The right sculptor could make a mission out of memorializing the big flood of 2005.

More Guerrilla Art in Mid-City

Spotted this morning on the way to work on the Jeff Davis neutral ground:

Art Installation

It’s a pitcher full of water suspended above a map of Louisiana made of sand.

Pitcher on a Wire

Louisiana Sand

A strange, elegant, and disturbing metaphor for our current situation.

I have no idea who’s behind this. Could it be the same person (or people) who put up the flood marker? Whoever it is, I salute you.

Update: Thanks to Courtney Egan for revealing that this is a project of Art in Action! This specific piece is Site #6, “O Water!” by Jonathan Traviesa, the same guy who put photos on Bayou St. John a year ago. You can read about the installation or, if you’re in New Orleans, you can go down to Jeff Davis and D’Hemecourt and see it yourself. It was still there this morning.

Jonathan Traviesa, I salute you.

Flood Marker

I took this picture this morning at Jeff Davis and Conti.

Waterline Marker

I think anyone in New Orleans would recognize what this marker means: that’s how high the water came during last year’s flood. As a point of reference, the waterline was about the level of my neck, and I’m tall.

What I wonder about is: Who put this here, and is it part of a larger project? Are there more markers like this around the city?

Dick

Xy and I got to see the Philip K. Dick robot at White Linen Night. It was pretty cool. The back of Dick’s head was off, exposing a bunch of circuitry and animating mechanisms. This detracted somewhat from the verisimilitude but added an element of humorous absurdity, especially when the artist, David Hanson, explained to Dick that his “head-turning servos were malfunctioning.”

Art News

Item: The Ogden Museum has chosen their official mug, and it’s made by none other than my friend Andrea Christie. The contest was judged by MaPó Kinnord-Payton, an incredible ceramic artist in her own right, who works with me at the University.

Item: There’s an art gallery opening in our neighborhood — just around the corner from our house. Their grand opening is next Saturday!

Basin

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on an interactive Flash movie for BibleDudes. It simulates an archaeological dig, and you can explore 29 different stratagraphical layers, with artifacts and descriptions of the period.

The time-consuming part of this has been producing the 58 necessary illustrations, two for each level, each based on a photograph of an actual artifact.

But as of today, I’m finally finished with the illustrations. I saved the most intricate illustration for last, and I’m particularly happy with the way it turned out:

Basin

It’s a polychrome footed basin from Iznik (Ottoman Empire, ca. 1585 CE). Yes, that’s right, I’m posting a picture of an old ceramic pot. Is this boring enough for you, Bill?

Lest it sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. Quite the opposite. I enjoy this aspect of my job. Working on interesting multimedia projects like this is fun.

Now I just need to revamp the navigational interface.

Kneecap Recap

My right knee, which I twisted in December, is getting better every day. I had been favoring it, limping, and generally trying to stay off of it. Seems that was the wrong approach, as my sister pointed out to me. It just got stiffer and weaker. So I’ve been trying to walk normally, and it really seems to be helping. I’m still strapping on the knee brace for my bike ride to and from work, but I’m about ready to dispense with that.

So, in honor of my rapidly improving right knee, I’m proud to announce the release of “My Left Knee,” which I scraped up in October. It’s a 1.9 MB QuickTime video, not optimized for the net, so you’ll have to download the whole thing before you can watch it. (On my Mac it plays with nifty dissolves, which are missing on my Windows machine.) The concept was inspired by Rick Dietz.

Watch out for the big scab in the middle. Bonus points if you can identify the music without googling.

Dairy Overdose

Xy and I went to an art extravafreakoutganza at the Big Top Gallery, something called Meow Mix that Heather Weathers put together. Everything had a feline theme. For example, they were serving some sort of “milk punch,” which actually tasted as nasty as it sounds. Xy took advantage of the grooming station to get her hair cut. All the performers were female. There was a stand-up comic (Marcia Wall) and burlesque dances by the Storyville Starlets and a “Hairy Pussy Slide Show” by Heather. Trista Douglass read The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, but she was dressed as the Cat in the Hat; while she read, Thing 1 and Thing 2 ran around and caused quite a ruckus, shattering a couple pieces of glassware, including my pint glass of beer. But what’s a few shards of glass between friends?

The event ended earlier than we’d expected, which gave us time to stop by the Creole Creamery. This is a relatively new Uptown ice cream shop, but it was disappointing even to Xy the ice cream addict. In fact she couldn’t finish her treat. Too much dairy for one night, perhpas?

Then we saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at the Prytania.

Godard

I’m about ready to give up on Jean-Fuck Godard. I tried watching Alphaville a few years ago, but found it so excruciatingly boring that I couldn’t finish it. More recently I rented Breathless; it was watchable, but I can’t say I really appreciated or enjoyed it. (In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my favorite part was the scene in which a pretentious author answers questions from reporters. This gave me a fleeting thrill of recognition because it’s the basis for a recent television commercial. My chagrin is mitigated by the fact that I cannot recall the product being advertised.) Last night we gave Contempt a spin, and once again, I found it so boring that I gave up about halfway through. Ordinarily I’ll watch films through to the end even if I don’t like them, because I am at least curious to know the whole story, and I generally crave a sense of closure. But I couldn’t see any point. I can imagine a thousand things I’d rather do than watch a Godard film, like washing the dishes or getting a cavity filled.