Art walks are usually all talk, small cups of wine and even less viewing. But when the peninsula is straddled by two of its more revered artists’ openings, it’s sure to jolt the crowds into consciousness. At one end, we had Colin Quashie showing at the hipster darling Redux Contemporary Art Studios, and at the other end was David Boatwright showing at the city-sponsored City Gallery at Waterfront Park.
Walking into Quashie’s exhibit, we were very aware of our surroundings. The crowd was completely engaged in the work and a solemn note hung over the gallery. Quashie’s work, dealing with slavery and race relations in the South (a simplification), presented highly charged questions to the audience and they stood in silent contemplation. Those who had seen and understood the shock of of Quashie’s work gathered in the next room to discuss and the artist graciously entertained questions. It was a learning experience as well as an aesthetic experience.
The atmosphere at the City Gallery was a bit different. The exhibition was a retrospective of Boatwright’s work, and while dealing with some of the same subject matters as Quashie, it was more of a celebration of one man’s work and his love of the South, even if it is fraught with political indecencies. Boatwright embraced the good and the bad. The subjects were less graphic than at the Redux exhibition, allowing the audience to relax while they contemplated brushstrokes. Guests freely roamed the spacious gallery before moving on to other galleries in the French Quarter for the first warm weather art walk of the year.