Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans

The Culture and History of the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans

Indian Statue Outside Store on Magazine Street          photo by elizabeth gordon

It is not uncommon in the United States to see brightly colored statues of American Indians at old dime stores, antique shops and in tourists areas.  But Indians have a different meaning here in New Orleans-the idea of the Indian(click) has been interwoven into the culture of the city and the Mardi Gras Parade(click).  Now you may wonder, just how did that happen?  It is an interesting and rich tale.

American Indian Statue on Magazine Street
New Orleans
  photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue        Photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue                      photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue                     photo by elizabeth gordon

During the time of slavery in the deep South, often if the conditions were horrible enough, slaves would take the risk to escape.  The American Indians (Choctaw) of the area would take them in and hide them. The African Americans never forgot this kindness.  Also if African Americans claimed some indian heritage they were treated differently.  At one point African Americans could not be a part of the Mardi Gras parade, but indians could.  So to be a part of the parade and to form their own Mardi Gras Krewes, they claimed to be indian and paid respect to their indian brothers who had protected them.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Work from the collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans
I will post several sections showing much of the collection from the Ogden Museum in the next few days while in New Orleans.  This is the first section.
As you will notice the styles, media, and time period will vary greatly, the common factor being the origin of the artists being the South.

Linda Benglis                                    Minerva  1986             photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Frederick Brown  1945-2012
Lionel Hampton, Listening, Watching and Grooving with the Band

The bio for Minnie said she started painting at age 43 when she heard a voice from God saying, "Paint or Die".  She was influenced by the African American traditions of family, story telling and religion she began to make a vocabulary of images.  The Whitney museum held a retrospective of her work in 1975.

Minnie Evens  1892-1987

Photo by Elizabeth Gordon

An Artist of Nature and Flight

John James Audubon

John James Audubon     Flamingo                         from google image

Roseate Spoonbill                                            google image
Audubon(click) was born in the French colony which is now Haiti.  His Mother was of Creole birth.  He was a French/American.  His family moved from the Islands to Philadelphia.  For a period of time Audubon lived and worked in New Orleans tutoring and painting. There is a park and zoo named after him.  His legacy of a lover of birds and naturalist live on in the New Orleans, as well as, Key West and Philadelphia. He love of nature and birds were paramount and his talent unparalleled as a naturalist.  

"From his earliest days, Audubon had an affinity for birds. "I felt an intimacy with them...bordering on frenzy [that] must accompany my steps through life." His father encouraged his interest in nature:
"he would point out the elegant movement of the birds, and the beauty and softness of their plumage. He called my attention to their show of pleasure or sense of danger, their perfect forms and splendid attire. He would speak of their departure and return with the seasons. from wikipedia 
New Orleans is a city has been touched by many artists, writers, poets, musicians, and actors.  Edgar Degas also lived and painted in New Orleans.  He also had a Mother of Creole birth.  His time in New Orleans helped to re-orient himself as an artist...he found his way and went back to France to become a world famous artist and do the best work of his career.  

Detail of Sculpture outside Ogden Museum 
photo by Elizabeth Gordon
Ogden Museum/New Orleans
Photo by Elizabeth Gordon
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (click for link) in New Orleans is a unique museum.  It highlights artists of the Southern USA, past and present.  There is a permanent collection of fine artists, folk art, and outsider art.  The book store has a rich collection of art books on Southern artists, art and culture.  They also carry cd's of blues and jazz music that is particular to the South.  
When I entered the museum I asked whether I needed to check my camera and they said no as long as I didn't use a flash I could take photo's.  Big mistake for me, I proceeded to photograph almost the whole collection artist by artist, painting by painting for you, so we can take a virtual tour no matter where in the world you live!  I will do a series of post highlighting different artists and their work over the next week.  

One of the highlights for me was discovering an artist by the name of Christopher Clark who once lived and worked in Tampa, Florida. I had taken private art classes from him in the afternoons when I was in high school.  He was an elite artist of the area who painted portraits of wealthy upper class families.   Even in the 1960's his work went for $500 for a small portrait.  He had been trained at the famous art school of the Bauhaus in Germany and was an excellent artist. He trained us to draw the same way he was taught at the Bauhaus.  His paintings were awesome, as he used layer upon layer of tinting similar to the techniques of the old masters. It gave them a richness and depth that is rarely seen.  He came to New Orleans often and painted the people and scenery.  The painting that you see here is The Crap Shooter.  One of the paintings I saw in his studio in Tampa was of a cajun family in the Bayou.  It was one of his finest works.  I would love to know where it is now.  

The Crap Shooter by Christopher Clark                       photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Detail of painting The Crap Shooter          photo by Elizabeth Gordon
We were young art students from local high schools that were recommended by our art teacher for additional training if our parents could afford to pay for the tutoring.  Chris lived in a run down two story house near the river in a questionable part of town.  He was probably in his 60's then...his hair was always tousled and shirt unbuttoned with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and ashes falling about.  There were cats everywhere and their left over tuna fish cans became his ashtrays.  There were many young men about and I was later to understand that Chris was probably a gay man, but I was unaware in those days.  Amid all of those things art was taught to young high schools students and the parents gladly paid for their children to learn from such a wonderful master artist even if the circumstances were a bit odd...after all it was an artist and artist are expected to be different!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Team Detroit Ad Series on Art Education

Rabbit's Moon Studio Likes: Team Detroit

This is an excellent Ad series on Art Education.  Check out the creative agency of Team Detroit for awe inspiring ads or as the English would say "adverts".  

Monday, May 28, 2012

By Team Detroit

This is a wonderful advertising campaign for art school that uses a format like anti-drugs ads.  They are quite creative and really catch your attention and make you think.  As a career art educator and art advocate I just really loved this series.  I thought you might like these as well.

Art school drugs 4 Ads liken art school to drug abuse
By Team Detroit 

Art school drugs 2 Ads liken art school to drug abuse
By Team Detroit

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rabbits Moon on Location 

Tattoo and Piercing Salon on Magazine Street in New Orleans

Here we are on location in New Orleans.  It is hot and sultry, it is the Big Easy approaching a long hot summer when the Quarter steams and fans swirls on wrought iron balconies.  A mint julep or cold ice tea helps a bit in the sweltering heat.  Southern gentlemen wear seersucker suites and ladies linens for the hot summer days. 
As we noted before this is a city of neighborhoods, each distinct in its own way. Magazine Street is one of my favorite neighborhoods.  It is filled with interesting shops of all kinds.  There are antique shops, junk shops, tattoo and piercing parlors, cafes and coffee houses.  Shaded oak sidewalks and old store fronts that are reborn from dry good stores into yogurt shops make for interesting walks and adventures.  
The photo above of the Tattoo Shop was taken along Magazine street.  The neon devil shinning through the palm fronds caught my eye.   

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Orleans

“I'm not going to lay down in words the lure of this place. 

Every great writer in the land, from Faulkner to Twain to Rice 

to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short. It is impossible to 

capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in 

words and to try is to roll down a road of clichés, bouncing 

over beignets and beads and brass bands and it just is what it is.

It is home.” 
― Chris Rose

1 Dead in Attic
Tourist walking the quarter, 4 million tourists a year come to New Orleans!

Iron balconies, a French Quarter Signature

Art Gallery, window still life

tourist store in the Quarter late afternoon

Jamming brass band on the corner

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rabbits Moon Studio Blog Arrives in New Orleans

Today we arrived in the big easy, as they call New 

Orleans.  Driving in last night we saw new Bubble dog 

public sculptures, new murals and various

unexplored galleries.  There are wonderful photo 

opportunities at every turn as New Orleans is busy 

full of life and cultural variety.  So tomorrow we 

start our explorations and your virtual tour of New

Orleans!  Tonight we rest! 

"In America, I would say New York and New 

Orleans are the two most interesting food towns. In 

New Orleans, they don't have a bad deli. There's no 

mediocrity accepted."

-- Mario Batali

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Aging of Women Artist

Louise Nevelson photo by Jack Mitchell and google image
The Aging of Women Artists became of interest to me when I brought home a film of Louise Nevelson(click) to review for a lesson I was preparing to teach.  My Mother watched it with me and was very moved by the film, as it showed an older Nevelson facing aging without fear.  Mom had been worry about her looks and wrinkles as she was approaching 80.  She declared to me, "Well, at least I can look interesting like her!"  The Arts are never easy for women.  They have to fight a male dominated art scene and fight with galleries and museums to show their work..that women's art is as inherently interesting as mens.  Like so many areas where there is gender bias, there are a lot of battles to be fought to make a difference and make things change. Georgia O'Keeffe, Lousie Nevelson, Louise Bourgoise, Lee Krasner,  Elizabeth Murray and Elizabeth Catlett are among the pioneers of strong women persevering in the art world.(click on each name for more information)

Georgia O'Keeffe    from google image

The American culture is so youth centered that we forget to treasure the beauty of aging.  I think each of these artists captured the onward march of aging with grace, dignity and courage, but they also did more they gathered in the process like art work in process and made it their own. These women were courageous from the beginning, but they lasted the race.  They did not listen to the naysayers and people who said it is a mans' world, they set their own pace and declared their own place.  I am not I saying they had no problems, ...they all struggled, they all had set backs, but the strength within and the belief in their own creative abilities gave them the fortitude to last out.  I think we owe them a tip of the hat and a look at their lives and art.  They were the Women Pioneers in Art and role models for women artists who came after them.  It is time in our culture to turn away from the worship of youth and beauty as the ultimate goals in life to honoring and treasuring what these women artist knew, surface beauty is not lasting and is superficial, but inner strength, fortitude, intelligence and skill is the stuff of life and courage.
So we honor you all for in your faces are the lines and wrinkles that make up a sculpture of character and accomplishment. 

 As in James Cameron's movie Avatar....WE SEE YOU!

Louise Bourgeoise from google image
Elizabeth Murray above and Elizabeth Catlett below 
google image

Lee Krazner  photo from google image
Lela Gordon, my Mother at 99
the woman who wanted to age well!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

“Artists are visionaries. 

We routinely practice a form of faith, 

seeing clearly and moving 

toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance - often 

visible to us, but invisible to 

those around us.” 

― Julia Cameron

Lake George by Georgia O'Keeffe                  from google image

Doors of Tunisa                                                              from google image


Welcome.  I know it must not be easy for you to get on line, so you get a special welcome!  If there is something special you want me to cover let me know and I will make every effort to do so!
May many doors open for you!
Georgia O'Keefe
from google image

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.  ~Georgia O'Keeffe

There is a story I remember from studying about Georgia O'Keeffe's life that always sticks with me because it was so funny yet gave insight into her life and personality. 
When Georgia was living at Abiqu(click)(Ghost Ranch)click New Mexico, she had a house keeper and cook that helped her with daily chores.  The house keeper recounts this tale. One day she had gone in town to the store to buy groceries and was walking back up to the house. 

It was a good distance from the road to the house and Georgia's beloved chow chow dogs were loose and running about.  The dogs were not well behaved and the house keeper said the only way she made it to the house safely was to throw out one steak at a time to the dogs...until she had thrown them all out, running full steam to the front door of the house for safety! 

Georgia O'Keefe  Abique  from google image

Georgia herself was an enigmatic and mysterious woman.  She was quite a character and not know to be easy to deal with.  Her time at Abiqu lengthened and lengthen until she lived their full time.  At first Stiglitz(click), her husband, would come, but they became more distant and he lived on the East coast and she in New Mexico.  I think we will take an in-depth look at her varied and interesting life in another post.  She is an artist that takes time to understand and know.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"As an artist, I must be very careful to surround myself with people who nurture my artist-not people who try to overly domesticate it for my own good.  Certain friendships will kick off my artistic imagination and others will deaden it."
  Julia Cameron / Meditations from the Artist's Way.

Asheville, North Carolina   River Art District     photo by elizabeth gordon

"All too often, we (artists) become blocked and blame it on our lack of money.  This is never an authentic block.  The actual block is our feeling of constriction, our sense of powerlessness. Art requires us to empower ourselves with choice.  At the most basic level this mean choosing to do self care." 
photo by elizabeth gordon
Julia Cameron from Inspirations,Meditations from the Artist's Way.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rabbit's Moon Studio On the Road Again!

Rabbit's Moon Studio on The Road Again!

Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans   google image

Museum of Fine Arts New Orleans, Louisiana  google image
Get ready for a virtual trip to New Orleans and Cajun Country.  In the coming few weeks we will catch up with  some of the artists we learned about last trip, as well as, research new ones.   We will visit the New Orleans Museum of Fine Arts and take a peak at their collection. 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi    Art Colony  google image
 We will look at the Ogedon Museum of Southern Art and Culture.  We will visit new galleries and meet new artists.  I hope to take you on a few virtual drives of the infamous 9th ward and Brad Pitts architectural projects there.  We will also visit areas of Cajun country and a small town or two in Mississippi.  

Sean StarWars and the Outlaw Printers   google image
We need to catch up with Sean StarWars and the Outlaw Printers again and take a trip over to a small art colony called Ocean Springs in Mississippi where you will visit the museum of Walter Anderson and Shearwater Pottery.  We will then go next door to Biloxi to the museum of potter George Ohr.  
I hope to also take you with me for a few virtual meals and snag some special New Orleans recipes for is one of the food capitals of the world!
So make sure you sign up to subscribe or join Rabbit's Moon Studio Blog so you can follow us the next few weeks with our exciting, sumptuous posts filled with links and contacts that will make your art experiences richer!
Join Rabbit's Moon Studio Art Blog Now!

How We See, Why We See What We Think We See!

Ancient Greek Statue  google image
Ways of Seeing 
by John Berger

I am continuing to re-read Berger's book after a long absence. It was one of the reccommended text when I was taking graduate level art history.  It has been many years, but I find it as fascinating as before.  It is not an easy read, but full of deep and thoughtful statements about our relationship to visual images and what we accept as real in our world. What emerges is that how we see is through a set of filters of our own making.  I thought I would share a few of his ideas with you and then discuss the thoughts he presents.  His writing is bit dry so hang in with us as we decipher these diamonds in the rough.

"Images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent.  Gradually it became evident that an image could outlast what it represented; it showed how somebody or something had once looked and thus by implication how the subject had once been seen by other people.  Later the specific vision of the image-maker became part of the record.  An image became a record of how x had seen y.  This was the result of an increasing consciousness of individuality." Berger

google image        Cave Paintings of Lascaux France

Egyptian Image of a body  Google

So let see if we can say this is simpler terms.  Cave man painted pictures of animals he hunted on the walls of his den with charcoal and chalk and red clay.  He drew an image of something that was absent..he had killed and was no longer there or the herds had migrated for the season.  Later other cavemen and later peoples see the images the first cave peoples drew and accepted their vision of what a deer or stag looked like.  Then for centuries people drew deer in the same manner and accepted that deer looked like that image.  It became part of the record of how the original artist saw and experienced deer from his point of view.  Think of how he drew the deer and the feelings he brought forth.  He was a hunter, he drew on ground level, not from above, he drew a magnificent creature that he as a hunter would be proud to kill to supply his clan and family with food.  He drew the deer as a huntsman might and he drew with the elements he had at hand in the lighting of the cave which would have been dramatic contrasts due to the firelight.  So now we beginning to see how the image maker (artist)  draws us into his way of seeing, his view point.

Now think of Europe and how this process lasted in the arts for a long time.  Drawing before the understanding of how a person is structured was one way to think of this...artists ideal of a person is repeated and repeated with out proper proportions or skeletal or muscular accuracy...until bodies are dissected by Da Vinci and others in secret.  Then the way the image maker...Da Vinci...Michelangelo...and others portray people becomes radically different and more life like. It changes how we view and accept a person looks.  Other artists then accept that view and paint in bodies or animals in the same way.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Study of Man and Body Proportions  google

Michelangelo's Pieta         google image
Think of art as time travel, but through an image that an artist offers at a specific time the way he perceives the image at that time with the influences of the culture around him.  

As Berger puts it, " No other kind of relic or text from the past can offer such a direct testimony about the world which surround other people at other times.  It is in this respect that images are more precise and richer than literature." Berger goes on to say that in saying this he is in no way denying the expressive and creative nature of art, but it even more so allows us to experience the times and the artists experience with the visible.  

So Dr. Who didn't have it wrong, time travel is possible and gives us insight in people in another time and culture and makes their view of their world visible for much so we accept it at times as real for ourselves now!  
Opinions and discussions are welcome.

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