“Four North Shore artists to show at the Ogden for Louisiana Contemporary show”

The oil painting, “Reflection Parlor at Preservation Hall,” by Mandeville artist Robert Santopadre has been accepted into the Louisiana Contemporary Presented by The Helis Foundation. The juried exhibition opens during Whitney White Linen Night Aug. 5.
Robert Lobdell Photography

I was recently told that any day an artist is invited to show his or her work in a museum is a good day. That good day has come for four North Shore artists, whose work soon will be on display at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

Their pieces were accepted into the “Louisiana Contemporary Presented by The Helis Foundation.” The annual juried exhibition will open during Whitney’s White Linen Night Aug. 5 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Ogden, 925 Camp St., New Orleans.

Two – Dale Newkirk and Luba Zygarewicz – are veteran exhibitors, while two others – Trent Pechon and Robert Santopadre – are first-timers in the noted statewide exhibition. It was established in 2012 to promote contemporary art practices in Louisiana, to provide exhibition space for the exposition of living artists’ work, and to engage a contemporary audience that recognizes the vibrant visual culture of Louisiana and the role of New Orleans as a rising, international art center, according to the Ogden Museum’s Web site. This year’s juror is Shantrelle P. Lewis.

“This was a museum quality judge,” said Santopadre, who will show an oil painting entitled “Reflection Parlor at Preservation Hall.”

“This completely validates my paintings,” he added. “The other artists accepted are either major named artists or instructors or both. The nod from the Ogden means that I’m not wasting my time hunting for my masterpieces….An artist sometimes feels the need for validation. It gives them confidence that what people are seeing is being liked. Validation helps the artist have confidence to push to the next level and experiment further to test the viewer’s eye again.”

Santopadre’s paintings mix realism and Impressionism.

“My favorite spots in my paintings are the ones that aren’t so perfect. Lots of times I laugh at them. When that magic happens, I leave it in, hoping that the viewer will see it too,” he said, adding that pieces may look chaotic up close but more realistic from a further distance.

“Most of my paintings are so engaging to me that I drink my coffee in the morning and am almost entranced to the point that I can’t leave the chair. I would like to think that others would enjoy this as well,” Santopadre added.

While Santopadre’s piece was influenced by the historic context of Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Newkirk’s artwork, entitled “Trumped – Two,” was inspired by “weathered billboards that reveal layers of disjointed text from past advertisements,” he said.

The non-representational digital print on rag paper with acrylic painting mounted to a board “explores a geometric visual language, utilizing modern and post-minimalist visual constructs in an intuitive methodology,” said Newkirk, who has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University and moved to the North Shore to take teaching position at Southeastern Louisiana University. He currently is an Associate Professor of Art + Design and the Director of the Southeastern Contemporary Art Gallery, where he has curated 100 exhibitions.

As a artist, Newkirk as been part of 22 one-person exhibitions, four two-person exhibitions, and 75 group exhibitions. His artwork also was accepted into the Louisiana Contemporary two years ago.

“Trumped – Two” comes from a series where Newkirk starts “with the text of a word or group of words that are currently in the media,” he said. “Using the font and the shape of the individual letters as a point of departure for creating the artwork. This artwork started with the word TRUMP; other works in the series have been used have been SYRIA and CUBA.”

The pieces by Pechon and Zygarewicz, a native of Chile who has called the North Shore home for 20 years, use everyday items to explore larger concepts.

“Double Standards,” Pechon’s mixed media piece that combines a broom and newspaper, “questions the constructed standards attributed to gender roles as seen through American history. By dividing the stereotype of the ‘housewife’ in two parts, I intend to explore equality in gender roles, questioning the concept of the ‘ideal woman.’ In doing so, it exposes the long lasting effect of the construction of the feminine gender role on women’s identities, which is still having an impact on the women of today,” he said.

Pechon, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Art degree at SLU, said “it is a great honor and privilege to participate in the ‘Louisiana Contemporary.’…I would like to thank The Helis Foundation and everybody involved in organizing this every important event.”

Zygarewicz, a Talented Arts teacher, will participate in the exhibition for the third time.

“I feel deeply honored that I have been accepted. Given that there were 290 applicants and over 890 artworks submitted, it is a highly competitive show to get into, so I am absolutely thrilled,” she said.


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