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P.3+: Country brunch at Crevasse 22

A country brunch in St. Bernard Parish

A country brunch in St. Bernard Parish

Editor's Note: Prospect 3 Plus offers more than 60 local art installations and events taking place alongside the international Bienennial Prospect 3. NolaVie and its cultural partner, WWNO public radio, are taking a look at some of them in a series to run during the exhibition, which continues through Jan. 25.

The word of the day was "bucolic."

The moment I arrived at a country brunch held at Sydney Torres III's personal residence in St. Bernard Parish, I decided the day needed to have a word of its own. Bucolic it was. And the optimal mode of transportation would have been a Sunbeam Alpine convertible, as in To Catch a Thief.

The al fresco breakfast was held in conjunction with a Prospect 3+ exhibit -- Surge: Crevasse 22. Curated by Jeanne Nathan of The Creative Alliance of New Orleans, the installation consists of an outdoor sculpture exhibition staged at the sight of a devastating crevasse, or massive breach, in the Mississippi River levee that flooded much of St. Bernard Parish during the historic flood of 1927. New Orleans leaders, it seemed, had the very bad idea of blowing up the levee below the city to keep it from flooding. It sent a lake of water into St. Bernard instead.

But at the country brunch -- which is being held the first Sunday of each month through the end of Prospect 3 --  disasters of both the physical and political kind seemed far away. Under the moss-covered oaks, about 30 New Orleanians and St. Bernard Parish residents gathered to look at art and enjoy a delicious brunch amidst the beautiful setting.

Artworks in Crevasse 22 pay homage to the environment.

Art installations in Crevasse 22 pay homage to the environment.

The atmospheric color palate --  from the gray of the Spanish moss to the chestnut of a guest’s sweater -- aesthetically channelled the changing season. Relaxed art patrons sipped coffee as they sat next to the water, nibbling on biscuits and grits, broccoli au gratin and fruit. Following brunch, art goers traveled by foot and in golf carts to view site-specific sculptures created by several local artists.

The idea for Crevasse 22, says Nathan, arose from a chance encounter with Torres at Satsuma Café. Torres owns the property at which the crevasse is situated, about half an hour downriver from New Orleans. With this exhibit, the Creative Alliance is testing the space to see if it can be viable as an art space for future shows. Crevasse 22, says Nathan, “is a cultural event that would be a catalyst” for getting people to the historic and scenic locale.

“My theme here is the destruction of man upon nature or nature upon man and of beauty and promise,” explains Nathan. Environmental themes have engaged all of the show’s artists over the course of their careers. A standout piece, Floodgate and Floodwall of Artist Palettes, by artist Bob Tannen, Nathan’s husband, is a commentary on the precariousness of levees that fail to protect the people they are built to serve and, instead, have succumbed to nature.

“People have been stunned by the beauty of the space and moved by the conceptual art,” Nathan says of the exhibit.

The Crevasse 22 show is one of three Prospect 3+ shows put on by CANO and curated by Nathan. The others include a Civil Rights-themed installation at Myrtle Banks School and a performance art-based piece at St. Maurice Church based around a “Reverberations” theme.

The next Country Brunch will be held this Sunday, December 7, with food, drink and music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free "trolley" busses are available for the 30-minute ride to the site, departing from the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp Street) at 10:30 a.m. The event is free; however, space is limited. You can register here.

If you go, don’t forget to let the top down on your convertible. And wear your silk headscarf.

This series on Prospect 3 Plus artworks is made possible by a generous grant from the lawyers of the Lugenbuhl firm, with offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houston, in support of art in the Gulf South.