(December 23, 2019 – New Orleans, LA)— The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, announced highlights from 2019, including recent international acclaim for past and present visual art exhibitions, the hiring of new Executive Director George Scheer, and bold performing arts programming coming to New Orleans audiences in the spring of 2020.
In its year-end review, Hyperallergic named the catalogue for Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension among its “Top Books of 2019.” Published by Siglio Press and edited by CAC Chief Curator Andrea Andersson, the Hinge Pictures book accompanied the CAC’s spring 2019 exhibition Hinge Pictures, Eight Women Occupy the Third Dimension. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, the exhibition featured works by Sarah Crowner, Julia Dault, Leslie Hewitt, Tomashi Jackson, Erin Shirreff, Ulla von Brandenburg, Adriana Varejão and Claudia Wieser and explored the concept of “The Hinge.” Lee Ann Norman of Hyperallergic said in her review of the exhibition: “using ‘The Bride’ as the starting point, each artist takes on Duchamp’s primary challenge to create a work that comes off the page to escape the two-dimensional plane.”
The CAC received critical acclaim for its nationally-touring exhibition About to Happen by renowned artist Cecelia Vicuña, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) through March 29, 2020, where it was named one of the “Top Exhibitions To See” by ArtNet during Art Basel Miami. Vicuña was also nominated for the 2019 International Hugo Boss Award and received the 2019 Premio Velázquez de Artes Plásticas award from the Spanish Ministry of Culture as well as the 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in Visual Arts. In an expansive feature in the New York Times, Vicuña affirms her commitment to the environment and states “Consciousness is in the Art.”
In early 2019, the CAC presented three diverse exhibitions: Zarouhie Abdalian’s Production, William Monaghan’s I-Object, and Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick’s Labor Studies. Abdalian’s exploration of the conditions of work or production was highlighted by ArtForum’s Charlie Tatum, who noted “Always present in Abdalian’s practice is a concern for the ways in which systems of production intersect with the art industry, for art itself is complicit in the obfuscation of labor.” ArtNet’s Ben Davis declared Calhoun’s and McCormick’s exhibition of photographs of laboring communities in Louisiana “One of the Best Shows I’ve Seen In a Long Time.” In praise of Monaghan’s I-Object exhibition, New Criterion highlighted the exhibition as featuring “smart, complex compositions that feel at once casual and calculated—one hand in the anarchic junkyard and the other in the studio where artist lords supreme.”
The CAC’s robust performing arts programming included three sold-out performances of KindHumanKind, a new work by rising musician and performer Aurora Nealand in collaboration with Goat in the Road Productions; the New Orleans debut of grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Melissa Aldana; and Halfway to Dawn, a dance work by David Roussève / REALITY about the life of Billy Strayhorn, presented in dialogue with senior leadership and students of Xavier University.
In October 2019, the CAC appointed George Scheer, to the role of Executive Director. Scheer gained extensive leadership and management experience during his 16-year tenure as Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elsewhere, a living museum, artist residency, and education laboratory set in a former thrift store in North Carolina. In his first few months as Executive Director, Scheer has aligned the CAC organization towards the fulfillment of its artistic mission: supporting artists as a touchstone of contemporary art in New Orleans and a resource to the city’s artist community.
“The CAC emerged from an artistic impulse 42 years ago into a multi-disciplinary arts center," said Scheer. "Today, it is poised to be a touchstone for contemporary art in New Orleans, a critical partner in a national dialogue around art and equity, and an asset to the city's artist community. It is an honor to be welcomed into New Orleans' cultural community, to champion the importance of this place and its artists, and to work alongside the CAC's staff and community to grow the organization's creative and critical vision.”
Scheer’s leadership comes at a time of enthusiastic acclaim from critics and audiences alike for the CAC’s 2019-2020 visual arts exhibitions. Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires, on view through June 14, 2020, features multimedia works including montages, collages, new paintings, film, and photography celebrating Black feminine identity. Meg Turner: Here and Now, on view through April 12, 2020, is an immersive exhibition featuring more than 100 portrait tintypes of artists, activists, teachers, schoolmates, friends, lovers, and near-strangers who have elected to join the photographic record of Turner’s vision of a queer utopia. Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle, on view through February 2, 2020, features Ghanian-American filmmaker, producer, and cinematographer Akosua Adoma Owusu’s “hair trilogy” films adapted for a full-room installation. The films examine the construction of historical memory and cultural identity through archival material, direct animation, and staged scenes. Femmes Féroces: Material Life X Femmes Noires, on view through June 14, 2020, is a pop-up exhibition in collaboration between Mickalene Thomas and Carla Williams of the New Orleans-based emporium Material Life and Laa Ray Guillory. Occupying the Oval Gallery and cafe spaces in the CAC Atrium, Femmes Féroces celebrates the creativity and originality of our collective community of “femmes noires” —who, borrowing from the 100 Black Females Project, Williams defines as “all who express and identify themselves as a woman, girl, femme, female, trans, queen on any day or all days.”
In the Spring of 2020 the CAC looks forward to presenting vibrant performing arts programs, including the reprisal of Aurora Nealand and Goat in the Road’s production of KindHumanKind (April 8-11, 15, & 17), the New Orleans debut of Afro-Cuban jazz star Daymé Arocena (May 2), and the arrival of the internationally-acclaimed dance company Kyle Abraham / A.I.M. (Abraham In Motion) (May 8-9). Learn more and purchase tickets for these performances at cacno.org.
Laura B. Tennyson, Associate Director of External Affairs,
Contemporary Arts Center, 504 319-9943, firstname.lastname@example.org