NoLa Diary #4 – Ogden Museum & Contemporary Art Center

Originally I thought the Ogden Museum of Southern Art , located on Camp Street, was free to visitors on Thursdays but I was mistaken. The Ogden is free to any resident of the state of Louisiana on Thursdays, but not a Yankee like me. 🙂 I was also informed by the helpful desk clerk that the Ogden After Hours program (Thursday evenings between 6-8pm) requires a second admission fee 0f $10.

Travel Tip: However, despite the rain today, there was a silver lining. The Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans  – which is directly across the street from the Ogden was offering a one day $10 “Prospect Pass” which included admission to both the CAC and the Ogden, as well as numerous galleries across the city as part of a group “Prospect” show.

I wish the CAC allowed photography inside their NOLA Today show on the 3rd floor, but alas they did not. The show was well curated and there was a lot of narrative work about New Orleans and artist’s interpretations of life in NoLa now. Of course, references to the flood were plentiful, and the art it inspired was moving. I recommend it highly, and NOLA Today will be on display until the end of January 2012.

Lovely mural on the side of the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans, Camp St

Once I took in everything the CAC had to offer today, I went back across the street to the Ogden and I’m so glad I did.

The red and white building on the right is the Ogden and the really old building on the left is a Civil War Museum which I didn’t visit

The one reason I wanted to go to the Ogden was to see native New Orleans artists work and I’m happy to report the work of George Dureau, a well known NoLa French Quarter artist, was worth the visit alone.

Entrance piece (a self portrait by the artist) to the George Dureau exhibition at Ogden

I loved Dureau’s use of color and abstract figuration and I enjoyed the fact that he appears in nearly all of his own work as a model, which is intriguing and I think unusual.

Dureau self portrait red background

Other than the amazing Dureau exhibit, I was really astounded by the work of New Orleans photographer Josephine Sacabo. Her surrealistic negative images of women’s faces are hauntingly beautiful and inspiring. Her work (according to the biography on her website) is in MoMA in NY, the New Orleans Museum of Art – NOMA, the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress collections, just to name a few.

Sacabo piece on display at Ogden

To say the work I saw today was “crazy good” is not an understatement. I was excited by these more contemporary works, even though I thoroughly enjoyed NOMA and the sculpture gardens yesterday. Today I felt like I was putting fuel in my creative furnace as I continue to soak in what the city has to offer.

Another strong Sacabo piece at Ogden – woman with smoke

Although I’ve focused most of my diary entries on museums and art galleries almost exclusively for the first few days of my visit here, I think anyone can easily see why it’s so easy to get pulled in by the artistic heartbeat of New Orleans. The city is so old and has such a strong character, it makes sense to me that so many artists would call this place home.