Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chris Roberts-Antieau's Outsider Fabric Art


When I was traveling through Europe by train I followed the advice to never stay or eat too close to the train station -- higher prices, lower quality. Well, a corollary is that you're not going to find much good art in the tourist part of town. Our time in the French Quarter seemed to bear that out. On Royal Street you can find many boutiques with fine antique objects, with some fine antique painting thrown in. A half mile away, on the other side of Jackson Square, there are numerous art galleries, including the gallery of the late George Rodrigue, whose "blue dog" series of paintings has become a cultural touchstone in the region.

For the most part the galleries didn't speak to us, but we did like the Antieau Gallery, the namesake of Chris Roberts-Antieau, whose work is also a strong visual presence in Nola, having graced Jazz Fest posters and the like. She is actually from Michigan, though the French part of her name might suggest otherwise. Her work is fabric-based and resides at the sophisticated end of the spectrum of outsider-visionary art, a mode that substitutes exuberance for the straightjacket of MFA theorizing and gains energy via freedom from niceties such as perspective (and possibly even good taste). I loved her Blues series (that's Muddy waters below), but all of her work is intriguing and engaging. A framed letter from Bill Clinton hanging on a gallery wall near the door indicates that he agrees.



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