Wednesday, March 8, 2013

UNO Ogden Museum of Southern Art Hosts Works From House of Blues

“Devil Fishing” by Leroy Almon“Devil Fishing” by Leroy Almon is among more than 100 pieces featured in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s ongoing exhibit “When You’re Lost, Everything’s A Sign: Self-Taught Art from The House of Blues.”

For more than 20 years, the House of Blues in New Orleans' French Quarter has collected Southern vernacular art, tying it to American vernacular traditions. The music center now showcases its deep commitment to the preservation of American Blues music and American folk art with an exhibition at the University of New Orleans' Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

When You're Lost, Everything's A Sign: Self-Taught Art from the House of Blues started April 25 at the Ogden Museum with a reception and performance by New Orleans gospel group One-A-Chord and runs through July 21. The exhibit spotlights more than 100 pieces from House of Blues ever-expanding art collection, which encompasses more than 10,000 pieces, said Sue Strachan, spokeswoman for the Ogden. Artwork on display curated from House of Blues venues throughout the world. Some have never been made public.

Featured are works by self-taught American folk artists Leroy Almon; Archie Byron; Roy Ferdinand; Jimmy Lee Sudduth; Rev. Howard Finster; Sybil Gibson; Mr. Imagination; Baltimore Glass Man; Calvin Livingston; "The Picasso of Prattsville;" BF Perkins; Mose Tolliver; Reginald Mitchell; Herbert Singleton; Lonnie Holley; James "Son Ford" Thomas (who is also a musician); Ronald Cooper and Mary T. Smith, among others.

Materials used range from cracker boxes and broken glass to guitars, shoes, teeth, marbles, chains, old TV sets and costume jewelry.

"Like the art itself, these vernacular art forms are pure expressions of creativity from the unique culture of the South," said Ogden Museum Chief Curator Bradley Sumrall in a statement.

The exhibition's title comes from an old folk idiom with a dual meaning, Strachan said. Artists used their work as signs to draw visitors or clients into that artist's home or store to buy art. On the spiritual side, some artists saw their art "as a way to direct someone from evil and into the path of God."

Tied to the exhibit are a variety of events at the Ogden, including: Visual Workshops/Day with an Artist and a multi-cultural drum and dance program teaching basic percussion and dance rhythms.

During the exhibition period, Ogden After Hours will feature musicians such as Colin Lake who performs regularly at the House of Blues in New Orleans and will play at the Ogden on June 13.

Learn more about the Ogden Museum