Home CULTURE ARTS Arts: March 2014

Arts: March 2014

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Art Smart: Give handmade gifts, and support local crafters.MarchArtsPop-up art markets are spreading like wildfire these days. Though it seemed like the craze came late to New Orleans, we’re making up for lost time: Art markets are springing up everywhere from Palmer Park and the Freret Street corridor to the Bywater area and Frenchmen Street.

The Oretha Castle Haley Art Market was founded in November 2010 as part of an effort to bring more foot traffic to its historic Central City neighborhood. And now, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard is designated as a “Cultural Products District” — meaning that all of the original artwork you purchase there is tax-exempt.

Stop by the art market on the second Saturday of each month (from 10am to 3 pm) to browse handmade art, crafts, clothing and gifts from New Orleans artisans. There’s plenty of local kitsch (hand-painted signs studded with Abita bottle caps; paintings bedecked with fleurs-de-lis), but there are some truly exquisite treasures, too, like small-batch soaps, expert leatherwork and gorgeous photography.

Artists and sellers will appreciate the market’s $25 vendor fee — significantly less than most other local markets — and the opportunity to rent a table for their wares instead of hauling one from home. 1618 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., ochartmarket.com

Book Buzz: This playful new dining guide takes Zagat to a whole new level.

Even if you only judged Michael Murphy’s just-published guide to New Orleans eateries by its cover, you’d be impressed — the colorful design promises an opinionated romp through the best of the Big Easy’s dining scene. But don’t cheat yourself. Read “EAT DAT” from cover to cover, because Murphy delivers.

Each detailed entry in this guide to New Orleans’ food reveals the author’s passion for discovering and sharing the dishes that make this city a famous food destination. Po-boys, pizza and pasta: It’s all here. And because New Orleans isn’t just another town, “EAT DAT” isn’t just a straightforward restaurant guide. Murphy punctuates his pages with personal anecdotes and famous stories of the people and cultures that created dishes, from the Brennan family’s dramatic history to the “Food Truck Wars” and our beloved Mr. Okra.

Each restaurant listing concludes with a “Reason to Go” and a recommendation for “What to Get,” offering the cuisine-curious a road map to untried delights. In addition to its beautiful design, “EAT DAT” also includes Rick Olivier’s vibrant photographs of the people and places profiled.
Both reverent and irreverent, Murphy manages to bring a sense of humor to serious eating — and that’s what New Orleans is all about. eatdatnola.com

In Costume: Just in time for Mardi Gras, a new photography exhibition hails the art of costuming.

Aline Smithson — a photographer, writer and editor who founded the popular photography blog LENSCRATCH — has juried a collection of photographs that celebrates masks, costumes and the idea of adopting a new identity, for a new exhibition called “Masquerade.” The show includes works sourced internationally from 36 photographers and takes place at the New Orleans Photo Alliance through March 30.

Though New Orleanians might imagine that most of the images in “Masquerade” would be Mardi Gras-themed, Smithson says that isn’t the case. “I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide exploration of masks, from cultural symbols to backyard mischief to Halloween incarnations,” she says. Two overarching themes that became apparent as Smithson put together the show were fright and whimsy: fitting for a show that lets its subjects become something other than themselves. Photos like Asia Kepka’s surreal, snort-inducing “Opera Bear” embody the show’s more humorous side, while shots like Jamie Johnson’s eerie pig-mask portrait, “Gluttony,” induce mild terror (at least in this squeamish viewer).

“There is nothing like a mask to transform and transport our imaginations … ‘Masquerade’ is a form of innate storytelling that is a universal expression of myth and deception,” Smithson says.

When selecting photos for the exhibition, Smithson looked for evocative, well-composed shots that functioned less as snapshots and more as fine art. “The selected photographers bring a wonderful spectrum of interpretations to the exhibition, each working hard to balance a fine-art sensibility and acknowledge the magical transformation of a mask for amusement, protection or disguise,” she explains. 1111 St. Mary St., neworleansphotoalliance.org