Fancy linen: Galleries, museums spotlight the best for White Linen Night

In an ideal situation, you’d have Courtney Egan’s lyrical, transfixing installations all to yourself on White Linen Night, the better to experience the blend of poetry and technology that makes her projections of flowers burst into bloom as you approach them, and appreciate the wonder of the surreal botanical vignettes she creates with video, light and sculptural objects.

But it’d be a shame to miss them while you’re passing through the Ogden on Saturday. Cross your fingers that most of your fellow gallery-goers that evening will be busy buzzing around the newly opened Louisiana Contemporary group show so you’ll be able to take in Egan’s work with at least a bit of solitude.

Most of the summer group shows you’ll wander into over the course of WLN will tend to be either catch-all affairs, where galleries simply try to make the most of their wall space, or more curated efforts (like the Ogden’s annual Louisiana Contemporary) conveying the taste of whoever chose the works while mostly leaving how they relate to each other up to the viewer. The CAC’s offering makes its point of departure more explicit: “Identity Measures” will bring together work in a variety of media by more than 20 New Orleans-affiliated artists to explore how “identity is shaped by a variety of historical, racial, gendered, socioeconomic, geographical, physical and ideological experiences through time” — and will set the stage for a “Drag Experience” featuring local glamour guru Vinsantos and members of the New Orleans Drag Workshop at the official WLN after-party later in the evening.

At age 97, Françoise Gilot has led the sort of life that lushly produced period films are based on: a cultured upbringing outside of Paris, education at the Sorbonne and Cambridge, and an artistic career that spans the better part of a century. But to many, she remains best known for her tumultuous decade-long relationship with Pablo Picasso, which produced two children, a recently reissued bestselling autobiography about their relationship, and, yes, a tepidly received 1996 Merchant-Ivory production — and which has unfairly eclipsed her own considerable artistic achievements. Mac-Gryder Gallery’s much-anticipated show of vibrant drawings and monotypes is a welcome opportunity to address the still-formidable Gilot’s status as a notable artist in her own right.

Tony Dagradi’s sculptural collages literally speak volumes: Each one is constructed from vintage encyclopedias, atlases, textbooks and illustrated reference manuals, which Dagradi cuts up and into and reassembles into three-dimensional compositions that are dizzying in their layered complexity. Some are comprised of hundreds of individual components, and the multiplicity of forms and narratives that each piece contains merits the kind of focused attention that’s usually in short supply at a boozy social event like WLN. But take some time between sips to consider how Dagradi’s use of imagery, texture, and shapes create visual compositions that connect to his celebrated career as a progressive jazz musician: as he says in a statement accompanying his show at Jonathan Ferrara, “The juxtaposition of abstract shapes which come together as I work on a book, is very much how I perceive the interplay of melody, harmony and rhythm.”

In her fifth solo exhibition at Callan Contemporary, Key-Sook Geum continues to explore the intersection of fine art sculpture and haute couture. The results are a series of shimmering, intricately wrought dress-like figures — made from silk gauze, crystals, coral and multicolored wire — that seem to simultaneously take form and dissolve before your eyes as they float in space: the perfect kind of art to take your mind off the fact that it’s still sweltering outside and someone just spilled a cocktail all over your own finely wrought linen ensemble.

And don’t miss ...

Epaul Julien & Matthew Rosenbeck: “Ain’t I America” @ Stella Jones

Amer Kobaslija @ Arthur Roger

Donald Martiny @ Martine Chaisson

Guy de Montlaur @ The National WWII Museum

Regina Scully @ Octavia

Image: Jessica Strahan's "Survived" will be featured at the Ogden, opening on White Linen Night 

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