20100519-finds-01011. ANDERSON ENVIE
It’s hard to get your hands on an original Walter Anderson these days. The Ocean Springs, Miss., painter is one of the great American stylists to emerge from the WPA arts programs. The Roosevelt administration understood that art is part of the collective consciousness of a nation and hired artists as part of the workforce to reinvigorate a country struggling though economic depression. Anderson was enthralled with his Gulf Coast surroundings and found a geometry of nature, that, along with his love of color, became a highly recognized style. Like many artists, he was not appreciated — nor did his work become valuable — until after his death. These days, when an Anderson does come on the market, it commands a stunning price, like this work titled “Two Purple Gallinules.” The watercolor and pencil on paper, 8.5 inches by 11 inches, has turned up in the current Neal Auction catalogue. Suggested price, $12,000 to $18,000. The auction is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 22, and Sunday, May 23, in New Orleans. For more information go to www.nealauction.com; the Anderson is lot 461.
— Mary Tutwiler


2. BATTURE GROUND
Most of us don’t have a name for the no man’s land between the lower Mississippi River and the levee —  flat, silt-saturated ground, often wooded, that disappears when spring rains in the Midwest send the river coursing upward to the levee. It’s called the batture, and Tulane University law professor Oliver A. Houck knows it well. In Down on the Batture (University Press of Mississippi) Houck, via 39 crisp, often captivating essays, explores the batture — its misfit artists, transient squatters, fishermen and day dreamers. But Houck’s essays are much more than mere socio-geological observations —  they are a means to end, to an exploration of what the Mississippi River means as a provider, a destroyer, and a testament to how vividly our south Louisiana ecosystem remembers our mismanagement, and how slowly it forgets it. — Walter Pierce

3. BACKATOWN
“Supafunkrock.” That’s the term New Orleans native Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews coined to describe his sound, a funky gumbo of everything from soul, hip hop, acid jazz and even good ol’ rock and roll stirred up with his mastery of the trombone and steezy southern strut. Shorty’s new album, Backatown, stays in keeping with this consistently inconsistent style, taking the listener on a musical tour as diverse as Shorty’s hometown and even featuring cameos from the likes of Allen Toussaint and Lenny Kravitz on a couple of tracks. Contrary to the difficulties of  post-Katrina New Orleans remembered by new HBO series Treme, in which Shorty has a recurring role, Backatown packs the energy of the New Orleans of old — reminding us that the city is well on its way back. — Lanie Cook

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