A Morning at the Joan Mitchell Center by Cybele Gontar

This Wednesday, we attended the first Community Coffee of the season at the Joan Mitchell Center. The Joan Mitchell Center is an artist residency center here in New Orleans with a mission to “support local, national, and international contemporary visual artists…{by} offering both time and space for artists to create work in a contemplative environment.” The Joan Mitchell Center feels like an idyllic artist oasis, the breeze is soft, the birds are chirping, and there are butterflies galore. What is so special about JMC, however, is their dedication to the New Orleans community. They host regular events (like the Community Coffee we attended) to serve the broader community of New Orleans, creating a welcoming, inclusive gathering place for artists (and everyone!) throughout the city. 

We loved getting to meet and mingle with the new residents as well as the Joan Mitchell staff and other local artists, curators, and community members. There will be more of these events as the season progresses - and we cannot wait to attend! The next one will be October 10thwith open studios!


Interview with David Doherty by Cybele Gontar

Gallery manager, Emery Gluck, sat down with David Doherty to discuss his current show, Evolve.


EG: So, David, you titled the show Evolve, and I think that’s a great place to start. Where did this title come from? 

DD: Before I start anything on canvas I like to get an idea of where it’s going with a series of paintings on paper. I call them prototypes, maybe that’s because of my engineering background, but yeah I make these prototypes/studies and the work evolves from there. My whole philosophy about painting is that the work takes a life of its own and continues to evolve throughout every step of the process. 

EG: Can you tell me more about your process? What’s a typical studio day like for you?

DD: “Well it starts around 4:30 am. My studio is in a large container building with no air conditioning so I like to get there early. But once I’m there I like to work for about 30 minutes, making some initial gestures, just laying out a general composition. If I’m working on a large canvas I get a lot of inspiration from the paper prototypes I mentioned earlier. I don’t copy them, they just inspire me as I further the process. So, after my initial marks I take some time to sit with the work, to think, and then I come back to it. I like to think my paintings have lives of their own, I ask them ‘Where do you want me to go next’? I talk to my paintings all the time – literally, out loud ‘Hey honey, how you doing this morning’? You have to have a conversation with the work, some of these conversations are easy and a painting seems to happen instantly, others are more of a struggle. The final part of this conversation is knowing when to step away. You have to know when to step away. 

 EG: I love that you talk to your paintings. I see a lot of evidence of these conversations in the scribbly, handwriting-like gestures that seem to be a common characteristic of your work. It reminds me a lot of Cy Twombly, did he inform your style at all?

DD: Oh definitely. I used to live in Houston and would just spend hours in the Cy Twombly Gallery. I would sit there in amazement, surrounded by these gigantic paintings. Twombly is a huge source of inspiration for me, his work really helped expand my practice and way of approaching a piece. I spent a lot of time researching him – his life, his work, the end of his career. I knew I couldn’t replicate his work, but I began to take bits and pieces of inspiration from him and put them back together in a new way that made sense to me. 

EG: Yes, I definitely see that in your work. It became with a fascination with this artist, and it all Evolved from there. 

DD: Exactly! It all evolves. 



On Our List by Cybele Gontar

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This Saturday, September 8, Second Story Gallery (2372 St. Claude Ave) opens 30 New Orleans Artists, a show celebrating New Orleans' tricentennial featuring the work of 30 New Orleans artists including Degas Gallery manager Emery Gluck and New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts collage instructor Aimee Siegel. 


Also, our friend and local talent Alex Beard begins his book tour today: The Lying King a children's book which features his witty prose and enchanting drawings. 

In New York - "Joan Mitchell: Paintings from the Middle of the Last Century, 1953–1962" recently opened at Cheim & Read. We cannot wait to see this show!

Finally, check out Hieronymous Bosch on Netflix. A film we are loving!

September at Degas Gallery by Cybele Gontar

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Currently on view at the gallery is Evolve - the work of David Doherty. David Doherty is a New Orleans based abstract artist. Doherty's large, non-representational mixed media pieces demonstrate his interest in formal elements, such as shape, line, and color. His work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions throughout the United States. The artist has recently received the Gia Prima Foundation Award II, as well as the Nell Tilton Faculty Award from the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts