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Rising Art: Barrister's Classified and Automata Funds

Aaron McNamee: One year Times-Picayune

Of the things that captured my fancy this week in the St. Claude Arts District, I’ve streamlined a couple of things to herald for your enrichment.

First, a bit of news: Automata is sure to turn your gears again, New Orleans!

Automata, one of the best New Orleans art shows in 2010, nay, in all my experience, is thankfully going to grace us again, spinning, gyrating, human-powered, computer-powered, whirring, and dirty.

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Regional artists who produce works that incorporate machines, or, at simplest, kinetics, will be united under one industrial roof. Curator Myrtle von Damitz describes, “gearheads, train freaks, machinists, woodworkers, cam-grinders, magnetics attaches, whimsy-makers, glossy-eyed programmers, people who like to blow things up… all of this makes Automata, and how it should be year after year. It’s a trade show, a theater show, and an art show.”

My first look at the show last year, Automata's closing reception at the Candle Factory in the 9th ward, was an amazing night of all ages, electro-brazilian dj, joy, and PBR in a can. The works consisted of everything from a jittering cage of tuna can/bic pen insects pollinating pieces of paper, to a political miniature golf hole, to a rideable bucking narwhal. I, a fresh-off-the-boat new New Orleanian, was grinning uncontrollably, trying every interactive machine and found an expert union of concept, form and event.

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Sunday the Automata folks held an art auction at Mimi’s in the Marigny, primarily for assistance to the local artists who will be featured in the show. It pleases me greatly that people came out in droves, bought a ton of art, funded the show, and we are now brought rushing, steam-powered, laser-beamed, etc. toward

APRIL 2-9 2011 AUTOMATA AT THE IRON WORKS, 612 Piety St., Bywater.
Look for an upcoming raffle/party post-Mardi Gras, to raise funds for national artists’ materials transportation.

Switching... gears, I also earnestly encourage a visit to Barrister’s Gallery before March 5th to catch: Classified, an exhibition of works by Aaron McNamee and Nina Schwanse, both UNO MFA students. The two artists are well-matched; both deal, loosely, with media and inundation of images. I was particularly moved by McNamee’s work. The artist read the Times-Picayune each day for a year, and used the paper (What DO you do with all those newspapers?!) as a sculpture material. He appears to have joined the pages with resin or glue, and then sanded them down with a hand-held orbital sander. The sander reveals microscopic topographical gradations of ink and paper, looking like a gentle, gray map of a low-lying area: newspaper functioning as map, as yearbook, but unreadable. Hermetically sealed time capsules. One imagines all the 2008-2009 headlines embedded in the pieces: “OBAMA,” “IRAQ,” “MICHAEL JACKSON,” etc.

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The format of the sculptures suggests the artist places less importance on each day’s news and more importance on the accumulation, variation, and fact of documentation.

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The absurdly large, sheet rock-like pillars are, to use a painting word: luscious.

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Through March 5th at Barrister’s Gallery, 2331 St. Claude at Spain.