Dancing in the Streets: The White Linen Party Looks To The Tropics For Inspiration

Posted on: Aug 01 2005 | Posted in: Archive

If you can imagine an art gallery opening that doesn’t just spill into the streets but fills them, then you might have an idea what goes on at White Linen (Aug. 6).

The annual summer gallery-opening party is one of the biggest events of summer in New Orleans. Although linen seems like a good choice for a breezy summer evening, this year the light dress conjures images of tropical spots farther south. The Caribbean and Latin America inspire an evening of Latin beats and colorful décor in the Warehouse District.

White Linen paints a festive portrait of the downtown contemporary art gallery scene. They’ve taken a slow summer night and turned it into one of the city’s more fun art parties. With the art season not formally open, gallery owners have wide latitude to stage more fun and exotic shows. Meanwhile, the entertainment in the street keeps the party going.

White Linen’s tropical vibes will come from music stages set up along Julia Street from 6-9 pm. Among the performers are Ricardo Crespo’s Brazilian jazz trio and the Executive Steel Band playing Caribbean sounds. After the galleries close at 9 pm, the party moves to the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.), which will feature Honduran-born Fredy Omar Con Su Banda.

Roughly 20 galleries, mostly clustered along Julia, Magazine and Camp streets, will feature new shows. As the main artery of the gallery district, Julia Street will have its own tents, artist demonstrations, bar and food stations, live music and more. Other attractions open as well, including the Louisiana Children’s Museum. The Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.) opens a new show and hosts the after party with live music and a cash bar from 9 pm to midnight. They’ll even offer Latin dance lessons until 10 pm.

The art gallery scene in New Orleans used to be an exclusively French Quarter, Royal Street affair. The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) formed in 1976 to focus on younger, emerging artists. Since art galleries, lofts, restaurants and lawyers offices reclaimed the rest of the Warehouse District following the 1984 World Fair, which was centered on Julia Street at the Riverfront, the art scene developed a new dimension. Focusing more on living artists and contemporary art, the new galleries and CAC brought new energy to the art scene and transformed New Orleans into more of a regional art center.

The contemporary art scene continues to expand its vision. Last year, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art opened in the district, across from the CAC. The Smithsonian-affiliated institution has the largest collection of Southern art on public display. Based on the collection of New Orleans developer and philanthropist Roger Ogden, it has art in many mediums from the 17th century to the present. Currently under construction just blocks away, Louisiana Artworks will open next year. The project is a combined studio and gallery space, being developed under the management of the Louisiana Arts Council. With so much going on in the arts, White Linen has much to celebrate and an ever wider horizon to view.