Lacunas And Vanities

Brad Goins Thursday, November 16, 2017 Comments Off on Lacunas And Vanities
Lacunas And Vanities

Local experimental artist and McNeese professor Heather Ryan Kelley’s latest show is titled “Lacunas and Vanities.” It’s running now at the Gibson-Barham Gallery at Imperial Calcasieu Museum at 204 W. Sallier St.

The show is made up largely of still lifes. The theme is “vanities.” On that topic, Kelley says:

“Traditional vanitas paintings are filled to the brim with depictions of unstable, fragile objects (such as soap bubbles, flowers, and fruit) and with objects (like candles, pipes and musical instruments) that, when used, leave little or no evidence of their activity behind. Vanitas paintings are intended to function as reminders of the brevity of life. They urge us to ponder things of lasting importance.

“In the series Lacunas and Vanities, I have incorporated traditional vanitas symbols, but have also focused on developing a personal vocabulary of vanitas imagery. Objects in my house are the subject of the paintings, and are the protagonists acting out these ideas.

“Among the players are dice, midden heaps [trash heaps], trophies, glass baubles, origami forms, studio debris and lacunas. In these paintings the lacunas are the dark empty spaces beside, within or behind the rendered objects. The nothingness can be mesmeric and meditative. The voids form a counterpoint to the clearly articulated, often colorful, subjects and are spaces where one’s imagination is invited to wander.”

If you get this magazine on the day it hits the stands, you may still have time to make the opening reception, which is set for Nov. 2 from 6-7:30 pm.

Submit To Surreal Salon

Surreal Salon is an annual Baton Rouge exhibition that celebrates pop surrealism and lowbrow art. If you’re an artist and you know what those two things are, you’re eligible to get your work into this year’s show.

In recent years, the exhibition has focused exclusively on American-based artists; now, for the first time, it’s expanding eligibility to artists worldwide.

All artists older than 18 can submit works for consideration. Artists should review the exhibition’s prospectus at They can submit up to three works; deadline for submission is Nov. 17.

The work selected as Best in Show will be the topic of an upcoming feature story on that focuses both on the work and on the artist. (Juxtapoz is one of the country’s two main periodicals on the pop surrealism movement, the other being Hi-Fructose.)

The juror for Surreal Salon will be well-known American pop-surrealist Ron English (above). The Baton Rouge Gallery informs us that the New York-based painter and street artist English “coined the term ‘Popaganda’ to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, creating a visual language that turns advertising into ‘subvertizing’ …”

The show itself will be open to the public free of charge Jan. 3-31, 2018.

One features of the exhibit will be the Surreal Salon Soiree night of art, live music and interactive experiences at the Baton Rouge Gallery (inside BREC’s historic City Park) on Saturday, Jan. 27. Guests will be invited to express their pop-surrealist visions in their costumes for this special night.

You Figure It Out

Once in a while, I home in on a major Louisiana political figure and wonder to myself, “Why is this person in office?”

I’ve been doing it for some time now with Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. When he jets off to Germany or goes somewhere to get an award from some group I’ve never heard of, I ask myself, “Why is this guy doing this? Is he trying to accomplish something? If so, what? Why does he want to be in Louisiana government to begin with? Why doesn’t he stay home, be a good boy and count his money while he watches Keeping Up With The Kardashians?”

I used to feel this way about long-time Louisiana state Treasurer John Kennedy. Let me hasten to say that in spite of my uncertainty about his overall political sense of direction, Kennedy did accomplish some things in office. He was a gadfly to former Gov. Bobby Jindal. In his emails to the Louisiana public, Kennedy relentlessly attacked Jindal’s destructive economics and budget policies. Although Jindal was ultimately much more powerful, I think Kennedy’s email juggernaut did have some positive effect.

But was it enough? Kennedy was another major Louisiana politician about whom I wondered, “Why is he interested in higher office? What is it that he wants to do?”

Then, all of a sudden, Kennedy became the U.S. senator from Louisiana. It was as if he moved up from T-ball to Major League Baseball in a single day. I knew it was just a matter of time till something went wrong.

It happened on Oct. 4. Kennedy was questioning Equifax’s former CEO Richard F. Smith in the U.S. Senate. (Smith recently retired after Equifax suffered a huge cyber attack this summer.)

Kennedy had asked Smith a series of questions about what interests Equifax had contracts about. Smith didn’t have all the answers — as CEO, it wasn’t necessarily his job to know about every company contract — but he promised to get answers he didn’t have.

Then it happened. Out of the blue, Kennedy said, “It looks like we’re giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini-bar.”

Smith calmly responded to this flabbergasting red herring by saying, “I understand.”

He understands? Really? Well, I don’t. What the hell does Lindsay Lohan have to do with it? A former corporate executive is asked about contracts that may or may not have something to do with a data breach. Is the first thing that comes to mind the drinking habits of celebrities?

Why did Kennedy pick this moment — when he was trying to impress the nation as a serious politician — to, basically, say into a microphone that Lindsay Lohan was a drunk?

I don’t know. And that’s why I wonder what somebody like Kennedy is doing in the U.S. Senate.

Why don’t I ever write in my column, “Oh, by the way, this person X, who has nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m writing about, is a hardcore alcoholic”? Well, I don’t want to get sued, that’s why.

The first news story I saw on this matter carried a headline stating that Lohan wanted a lawsuit to be filed in regard to Kennedy’s remarks. If that’s accurate, it’s not exactly the same thing as her saying she’s told her attorneys to file a lawsuit.

If Kennedy gets away with nothing but a warning, he’ll be lucky. We’ll see whether Kennedy gets through the rest of the hearings without saying that something or other is like giving Elvis the keys to the Good Humor cart.

Zipping Over Land Mines In Bossier City

The Bossier City Fire Dept. wants its city’s government to buy a $375,000 bullet-proof emergency vehicle. It’s one of those massive, jet-black Hummer-style vehicles that looks custom-designed for a dangerous war zone.

Here’s fire chief Brad Zagone’s compelling explanation: “To be honest with you, I hope we never need it. I hope it’s just something we train with.” Training with a $400,000 price tag? That’s some training.

Zagone said he’d been thinking about this move for a while, but the Los Vegas shooting was what spurred him to go ahead with it. “I hate to say it, and I know it may seem a little extreme, but it’s kind of the world we’re living in. If we’re not prepared for it, then we’re not doing all we can for the citizens and the visitors of Bossier City.”

Oh. He thinks it may sound a little extreme.

The local TV station explained, “the Lenco Bearkat Medevac would be used to get in and rescue victims during an active shooter incident or other major emergencies.”

Said Zagone, “We would … be treating [casualties] in the back where our guys are safe from the rounds.”

So … if a mass shooting should break out in Bossier City, at least one military vehicle — in the fire department — will be able to zip right over the land mines, ignore the downpours of shrapnel, and zip right into the heart of the action. And all for just $400,000.

One positive aspect of this: taxpayers won’t be picking up the tab. Zagone says the Bossier City Fire Dept. has enough extra funds to pay for the vehicle in cash money. Ponder that a while. In Bossier City, the fire department has enough folding money to lay out $400,000 for a single military vehicle. And they tell us we’re the poorest state in the country.

When a horrible, large-scale tragedy like the Las Vegas shooting takes place, we have several strong resources at our disposal. One of the strongest is a sense of perspective.

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