Last month* I was invited to bring The Seaside Fleet to New Orleans, to be featured at Kolaj Fest, a festival and symposium about contemporary collage. The event was sponsored by Kolaj Magazine and organized by Ric Kasini Kadour and Christopher Byrne. My transmedia art projects look far afield from collage, but it’s the medium I develop my art with, and how I think. I’m very fortunate that Mr. Kasini understood that The Seaside Fleet is large scale collage that fit into the conference mission.
What follows are my photos** from the four day event, documenting the first year of Kolaj Fest, and my part in it.
At the opening day Congress, I was invited to teach my fellow collage artists boat folding. The Seaside Fleet would be part of Kolaj Fest’s wayfinding, as well as a public symbol for the event. I spent most of the day after making sure the participating galleries all had boats on display, and covering as many miles of street in between as I could manage. I ended the day at Antenna Gallery, the festival host.
Antenna Gallery is a wonderful converted house, nestled in a neighborhood full of local creativity and color, a bit apart from the more common tourist areas, but no less exceptional. After I got the Anchor Boat setup, there was an artists-led walkthrough of our exhibit where I learned more about the creative concerns of my peers, followed by a program about the life and work of Firelei Báez. After a long day of hoofing it around New Orleans I was dog-tired, so I head back to city center to recoup–and to place more boats on the upper floors of the hotel.
Day two began at Cafe Istanbul, nearby Antenna Gallery. I was part of a spotlight panel, Curatorial Issues in Collage, along with Dillon Raborn (critiquing the presentation box reel collages by trumpeter Louis Armstrong); Los Angeles-based artist Chelsea Dean (introducing “Disparate Sources: Los Angeles Collage”, which she curated in 2018); and Todd Bartel (speaking on “Collage at 100”, his five-part exhibition celebrating the centennial of the appearance of collage in painting). I was asked to add my experience presenting collage at art festivals, solo and group performance art pieces, and transmedia storytelling projects (you can read my notes and see the accompanying slides here).
Afterwards, I hit the streets again, placing boats throughout the Bywater neighborhood. The day was capped off with a fun and inspiring program by The Jealous Curator, Danielle Krysa, who has been introducing contemporary art and artists to the greater public, and challenging curatorial conventions, via her blog and books since 2009.
Saturday was my last full day in New Orleans, and as much fun as I was having communing with my peers, I decided to visit the more conventional tourist district and do my work in The French Quarter . . .
While roving the quarter, I also got to commission a poem, and permission to record a street band too, I’m working to edit those recordings together and will post the results later (you can listen to my sound collage at this link). Before arriving in New Orleans, I was strongly encouraged to visit the MS Rau Antiques shop–and it was something special. I only took a few pictures inside, and I don’t want to spoil its treasures, but I can’t recommend it enough for sheer care, seriousness, wonder and occasional shocking strangeness. After exploring, I caught a ride back to the Bywater and spent the late afternoon making collage with my new friends at the Artisan Bar & Cafe, hosted by Ben DiNino.
On the final day of Kolaj Fest, back at Aloft New Orleans, there was a last Congress to discuss the positives (many) and negatives (very few) of the event, and a fun art exchange, too. I traded some of my special “Research Kits” and copies of the Paper Boat Catalogue that Kasini House published for me, for some really great art, and swapped all the business cards I had left.
I returned to LA with fewer than 100 folded boats, if my math and memory are correct, I distributed somewhere over 860 for certain. The weekend was a creative and logistical success for me and The Seaside Feet.
Everyone who helped make Kolaj Fest happen, especially Ric Kasini Kadour & Christopher Byrne, deserve to be praised for their achievement. Thanks and admiration to Antenna Gallery, the team at Kasini House Publishing, The Bluebird Book Bus, fellow distribution artist Rosie Schinners aka The Dystopian Reader, architect and teacher Clive Knights.
Special thanks to Stella Jones Gallery, LeMieux Gallery, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Arthur Roger Gallery, Octavia Art Gallery, The Chop, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, who allowed The Seaside Fleet to dock at their spaces, as well as The Front and Paper Machine, who I owe boats.
To the City of New Orleans, the exhibitors, panelists, collage makers, and everyone who got excited about The Seaside Fleet, and made me feel welcome and understood, thank you very much. I look forward to meeting and working with you all again as we grow and continue. ~JRC
**If anyone from Kolaj Fest has photos of The Seaside Fleet (New Orleans) they’d like to send me, I would greatly appreciate it. My cell phone camera was a poor tool for the work asked of it.