NOLA BOOK AND LITERARY NEWS

from Nathan C. Martin and Friends.
Summer Circles (all images by Lynda Frese)
Summer Circles (all images by Lynda Frese)

I wrote off Lynda Frese’s book of paintings, Pacha Mama: Earth Realm, as hippie bullshit the second I scanned the press release and saw mentions of healers, prayers, and phrases like “living harmoniously with the earth.” Frese was trying to schedule an artist’s talk at the Antenna Gallery on Friday, October 7, at 6 p.m. and my colleagues had asked if I’d help promote the event on Room 220. But upon visiting the artist’s website and looking at Frese’s collage-paintings, I was stunned, and immediately agreed.

The art in Pacha Mama is lush, complex, and sinister, with traces of Goya and the Brothers Grimm. Frese’s introduction to the book talks nothing of yogis or gurus, but focuses on cave paintings, petroglyphs, pagan temples, frescoes in a Benedictine monastery, and megaliths—huge stone structures erected by primitive people as acts of worship to gods they feared and believed would one day destroy the world. Frese’s art, like her introduction, is much darker that your typical “earth mother” fare—it reminds one of the jungles in Werner Herzog’s films, full of fornication and decay, and, indeed, Frese begins her essay with a Herzog quote: “It is as if the modern human soul had awakened here.”

Mondo Vegetale

In Frese’s paintings, angels with bat wings swoop through Dante’s inferno, a skull rises in an orange sky above the sea, ruins of houses of worship sit among ruins of nature, and human organs wash up on the beach like dead jellyfish. The themes of earth and harmony are still apparent, but are presented more as warnings than urgings, and it’s clear that, to Frese, at the core of natural harmony beats the earth’s dark heart.

Organismo

The book’s afterword includes two essays by healers/yogis that I couldn’t get through (they’re more like what I was expecting from the press release) and the book is interspersed with sonnets by former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque, which are underwhelming, to say the least. For these reasons, the book, as a whole, falters quite a bit, but Frese’s art and introduction alone are worth the price of the book ($25). Come talk with her and pick up a copy this Friday at 6 p.m.

Dante's Inferno

Hand-in-Glove Conference Guide

Hand in Glove Conference Guide
Essay by Amy Mackie, edited by Bob Snead, designed by Erik Keisewetter

This beautiful book, designed and printed by Erik Kiesewetter of Constance for the Hand-in-Glove Conference, includes a guide to all of the conference happenings Oct 17-20, 2013, an informative map of the artist run spaces on and around St. Claude Ave, and an extensive essay by Amy Mackie about the history of self organized contemporary art [...]

Photo by Sophie Lvoff in WE'RE PREGNANT

We’re Pregnant
Words by Nathan Martin. Photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano.

We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers.

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The People Is Singular
Poems by Andy Young and Photographs by Salwa Rashad

The People Is Singular, by local poet Andy Young and Egyptian photographer Salwa Rashad, is a personal response to the Egyptian Revolution. Rashad’s vision includes everyday people—Muslims and Christians, young and old, the foregrounded and the peripheral. Her perspective is from inside the events as they unfolded. Andy Young, a New Orleans poet married to [...]

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Curtain Optional
by Brad and Jim Richard

In both poetry and prose, Brad Richard explores the influence of his father’s work on his own, as well as the experience of growing up as the son of an artist while becoming an artist himself. Jim Richard is a professor of painting at the University of New Orleans and has exhibited at the Solomon [...]

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How to Rebuild a City
Edited by Anne Gisleson & Tristan Thompson w/ design and artistic direction by Catherine Burke

Beautifully designed, sometimes fun, always informative, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a work in Progress, is a reflection of the many ways that New Orleanians have realized our way towards recovery, actively and creatively engaging with our communities.

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Bitter Ink
by Brian Zeigler & Raymond “Moose” Jackson

BBoth originally from Detroit, cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson began collaborating while Brian was harboring Moose in Vermont during Katrina evacuation. While their doodling proclivities may have made them rustbelt exiles from the rest of their autoworker family, together they produce seductive aphorisms of wit and weirdness that provoke, confound and celebrate a [...]