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A review of the Persistent installation at Artpace by a former patron of the Davenport Lounge, the subject of O’Grady’s piece. Posted by “Diva Dee,” variously described as a DJ, college student, and blogger, on an entertainment news blog geared to black San Antonio.
Posted by DIVA DEE on The Juice Online, July 2007
The genius of modern art and the rhythm of this generation are coupled in a beautifully urban piece entitled “Persistent,” at the Artpace Gallery. New York artist Lorraine O’Grady has perpetuated the closing of one of San Antonio’s favorite dance lounges, The Davenport, which shut down recently to the chagrin of its multi-ethnic patrons. O’Grady, who is also a renowned writer and critic, decided to do a photo installation piece that represented the social desires of popular culture versus the pragmatic needs of business and real estate.
I went down to experience “Persistent,” part of the “New Works: 07.2.” at Artpace. As soon I walked in the bass thumped through my body. Celena Bustamante Emery, manager of public affairs and special events at Artpace, led me graciously to the downstairs gallery. I immediately found myself beamed onto the corner of Houston and St. Mary’s peering through the large red frames and darkly tinted windows of The Davenport, where the funky furniture was viewed as art. Through high tech photography, O’Grady captured several local dancers and imaged them into the air with lights and visual effects. The house music kept the dancers moving non-stop and the closer
you get to the window you can see the reflection of yourself. Although my personal visits to the Davenport were on Hip Hop and Old School Saturday nights, I could relate to the universal theme of loss that her artistry uniquely captured on so many levels.
O’Grady, also known as Mademoiselle Bourgeosie Noire, is a wizard at evoking emotion and social change through her work. Since the early 80’s she has challenged racial tensions and sexist notions through this Lois Lane/Wonder Woman character that she created. Some of these works include the 1998 Studies for Flowers of Evil and Good at the Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC, which is a derivative of Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil) by French poet Charles Baudelaire. The 16-diptych installation evaluated the love between Baudelaire who O’Grady says “speaks in poetry” in her piece and Jeanne Duval, his Haitian common law wife of 20 years, who “speaks in prose.” Through her art, she welcomes us into worlds and situations unknown.
Lorraine O’Grady is a renowned artist, critic, writer, and educator. She has just completed a five-year span at the University of California-Irvine where she taught African American studies and studio art.
© 2009 Lorraine O'Grady | All rights reserved.