Home CULTURE ARTS Arts: February 2016

Arts: February 2016

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Spotlight on New Orleans Scribes: Reading Between the Wines connects local readers with local authors. 
TubbyandcoosArtsfeb2016Every month, a group of local readers gather at a Mid-City wine shop to discuss books by authors who share their city, possibly their neighborhood, and maybe even their block. The Reading Between the Wines series, held the first Wednesday of the month at Pearl Wine Co., features a different set of local authors at each event, working to match local readers with local writers.

“We started it to make local authors more discoverable to the community and connect local authors to readers,” says Candice Huber, owner of Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop and founder of the series. “I feel like my purpose is to help other people tell their stories.”

Since the series began in Nov. 2013, Reading Between the Wines has featured 75 local authors representing various genres, Huber says. Usually, each discussion involves a central theme: mystery; poetry; romance; LGBTQ; living in New Orleans. An indulgences-themed event included books on New Orleans food, drinks and celebrations; a woman-themed event included a historic book about New Orleans suffragettes and a contemporary book about human trafficking during the 2013 Super Bowl. “It was interesting to see the correlations between today and the past,” Huber says. “It’s interesting the continuity in the subjects and topics these writers are writing about.”

During the events, authors talk about their work — but in the form of a laid-back, salon-style discussion moderated by Huber, not a lecture. “This is a conversation,” Huber says. “That’s what makes it cool and different from other things that you might go to.” tubbyandcoos.com

Local authors interested in participating should contact Huber at Tubby & Coo’s, 631 N. Carrollton Ave., (504) 598-5536. This month’s Reading Between the Wines starts at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at Pearl Wine Co., in the American Can Building at 3700 Orleans Ave. Admission is free and open to the public.
Painted Oddities: Sideshow-inspired art takes center stage at Red Truck Gallery.

Like any good sideshow, the array of wild, carnival-esque artwork displayed at Red Truck Gallery has a knack for luring passersby straight into the rumpus — and then keeping them there, wandering among the bright collection of tattooed contortionists, drunken reptiles, laser-eyed jackalopes and colorful promises of snake oil. The gallery, which opened in Aug. 2013 at 938 Royal St., is on a mission to focus on “beautiful, unexpected” art as part of creating an ambience that invites art patrons and the curious to wander on in and feel at ease among art. “We invite you to enter our world, sit down, relax, and let us introduce you to our family of eclectic and dedicated artists,” reads a statement on Red Truck’s website.

Indeed, on a warm winter night, one of those eclectic and dedicated artists, Bryan Cunningham, stood sipping a PBR, ready to casually chat with visitors who happened inside. Cunningham, a co-owner and featured artist at Red Truck Gallery, gravitates to painting, along with a hodgepodge of other media and techniques. “I use repurposed materials, loose canvas, found objects,” he says.

Cunningham’s work draws stylistic inspiration from vintage carnival-sideshow posters, Mexican Day of the Dead art and traditional American folk art and ads. “I like old advertising, sensational advertising, sideshow stuff, old ’70s magazines, circus stuff,” he says. Cunningham also designs and constructs his own frames, part of Red Truck’s commitment to showing artists whose work emphasizes craftsmanship. redtruckgallery.com
Southern Comfort in Music: Lauded violinist Regina Carter to perform in New Orleans.

In the hands of virtuoso Regina Carter, a violin becomes more than a mechanism for producing masterful jazz, classical and roots music. Carter’s violin also serves as an instrument of storytelling.

This penchant for using sound as a channel for narrative shines particularly bright in her latest collection, Southern Comfort, which traverses the musical landscape of the story-rich South. New Orleans audiences can watch and listen as Carter evokes various parts of Southern history through her violin in live performances of Southern Comfort at the Contemporary Arts Center next month. The shows are part of efforts by Contemporary Arts Center executive director Neil Barclay to reinvigorate the performing-arts aspect of the museum, said Raelle Myrick-Hodges, the center’s curator of performing arts.

Myrick-Hodges, who has seen Carter perform, describes Carter’s music and stage presence as “such a contemporary homage to African-American storytelling and the history of the South,” especially the African-American experience in the South. “It feels like hanging out with your grandparents and talking.”

Inspired to explore her family’s Appalachian roots, Carter began the album with a focus on the folk tunes that her grandfather would have heard working as a coal miner in Alabama, according to Carter’s Website. As Carter gleaned information from distant relatives, field recordings and books on the era, her project expanded to encompass more musical influences. Southern Comfort meanders between genres, featuring Carter’s “interpretations of Cajun fiddle music, early gospel and coal miner’s work songs alongside other, more contemporary, tunes.” The album also reflects the development of blues, gospel, spirituals, folk and country music alongside jazz, rhythm-and-blues, among other influences, according to the Website.

Carter takes listeners through darker aspects of African-American life, while also capturing the beauty and joy of the people themselves, Myrick-Hodges says. “Think of this experience as a musician telling you a story,” she says. “Listen to the music like you would listen to a story.” cacno.org

The shows are scheduled for 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. March 11 at the center, 900 Camp St. Tickets, $35 in advance and $40 the day of the show, are available online or at the museum. CAC members receive a $10 discount.