Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Ogden Museum is a shrine to Southern Art

By & By String Band
I've written about the Ogden before, but it surely merits another post. It's the best cultural bargain in town.

For my piddly $50 membership fee, I get to attend the weekly After Hours performances and wander around the museum enjoying the latest exhibitions, almost all of which are interesting.

In addition to the regular art exhibits, there are frequent panel discussions with authors and artists, films and other special events.

Tonight, I was fascinated by the gorgeous, humongous ceramic pots crafted by Mark Hewitt, a resident of North Carolina. The entire fifth floor is populated with his 4-foot, earthen pots, arranged in rows like a giant chess board. I had the urge to wrap my arms around one in its bulbous beauty. Hewitt says about them: "While delightfully big-assed, they are also profoundly big-hearted."

A floor below, are two rooms of glass blown by Richard Ritter, another North Carolinian, who adopted a technique created in Egypt and perfected in Italy. I can't even imagine how he decorates those gorgeous shapes with such intricate floral designs. Only in the Ogden would those fragile, priceless pieces be sitting on a shelf where some bimbo could bump them off, but they're fine.

Two photography exhibits, Partial to Home, by Birney Imes, a Mississippi photographer, and Southern Portraits featuring several different photographers, provide some insight into the Southern culture. Some are poignant, others funny, but all intriguing.

Meanwhile, the By and By String Band was captivating the crowd with Appalachian old-time country music, which sprang from the streets of the French Quarter in 2008. Lead vocalist Kiyoko McCrae could easily have originated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The band's fine string music echoed beautifully throughout the atrium.

In December, I was lost in a musical haze listening to Roland Guerin play. During the mid-show interview, he explained how was given the opportunity to study music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, but chose instead to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge. There he learned from Alvin Batiste and later joined Batiste's Jazztronauts.

"That's the reason he got that thing," Guerin said about taking up music in the South. When you hear it played elsewhere, "it's like the food - you taste it, but there's something missing."

No comments:

Post a Comment