Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bohemian Jungle from Jonathan

A photo exhibit and book depict New Orleans turn-of-the-21st-century bohemia.

The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 504.920.3980, www.nolafront.org

Art in an Urban Jungle that's mostly Jungle

Jonathan Traviesa’s exhibit "Photographs in New Orleans 1998-2009," now on display at The Front is a collection of black and white portraits of young urban artists and art types formally posed in picturesquely funky back yards and door stoops.

There are some significant props, such as a ukulele, a skirt made of plastic six-pack yokes, and Mardi Gras costumes. There are dogs and cats. But the most persistent detail is the vegetation: the cats claw, mother-in-laws-tongue, and banana leaves that lend a subtropical texture to many of the photos.

Symbolically speaking, the foliage represents New Orleans. It’s an unruly presence, surrounding, protecting, clinging, pushing in from all angles, threatening to take over everything. It’s the thing that sets the Crescent City’s artistic landscape apart. It’s the thing that transforms Traviesa’s portraits into a vision of an artistic Eden.

The exhibit continues through Nov. 8. Gallery hours are Sat-Sun, noon to 5. Prints are : $200; "Portraits: Photographs in New Orleans 1998-2006, a book of Traviesa’s series by UNO Press is $27.

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