Pancakes and Booze displays alternative art at the Howlin’ Wolf

All-you-can-eat pancakes, vividly-painted canvases and mingling local artists embodied the ambience last Saturday night at the Howlin’ Wolf, where the annual Pancakes and Booze Art Show opened its doors to the New Orleans community. As DJ Aceboogienola spun tracks, guests enjoyed live music, drinks and unlimited pancakes, all while perusing the wide variety of art on display.

The art show originated in an unembellished warehouse in Los Angeles eight years ago. It has since spread to more than 30 notable cities around the world, still adhering to its presentation of local, underground art and entertainment.

Though Pancakes and Booze is an art show, it distinguishes itself from more typical art galleries. It provides an interactive experience involving art, music and, most importantly, pancakes. The pancakes are made on a griddle in front of guests and are available for self-serve.

Now in its fourth year in New Orleans, Pancakes and Booze showcased a variety of artists from the community who utilize mixed media and subversive styles that contribute to the art show’s grunge and nonconformity. All the artists are based in New Orleans, and the subjects of the works displayed ranged from political messages to abstract pieces to contemporary depictions of pop culture.

“We pride our event on giving artists who do not always fit the gallery mold an opportunity to exhibit their work,” Pancakes and Booze CEO Tom Kirlin said. “A good percentage of artists in our event have never showcased their work before.”

This approach leads to a diverse selection of contributors, including artist Lauren Godo Lamarque. A New Orleans native and former art teacher, Lamarque hopes to engage people through her art.

“I keep finding myself drawn to conceptual narratives, using objects and creating some sort of narrative with just objects instead of the media of paint or pencil,” Lamarque said.

Her art reflects this philosophy. In addition to vibrant paintings and photographs of New Orleans, Lamarque’s art includes three-dimensional pieces. Her piece “Art History” is a conglomeration of 600 former students’ acrylic paint chips layered over each other. The different sizes and colors of the chips help to create a piece that is not just hers, but her students’ as well.

Pancakes and Booze also involves some members of the Tulane community, welcoming students into its somewhat covert artistic realm. Charlie Williams, street photographer and fifth-year architecture student, focuses his pieces on urban environments like New Orleans. Separate from many photographs on display, his video work utilizes glitch art and code manipulation to produce atmospheric and conceptual pieces rooted in digital preservation and impermanence.

“A lot of what I do is try to capture people in urban areas, in areas where there are a lot of people, but where they’re in isolation,” Williams said. “It’s a play on the idea of the loneliness of urban environments.”

Throughout the various displays, a common thread among many of the artists was their desire to reflect New Orleans’ culture. Whether their work be a literal representation or an abstract rendition, artists spoke of their attempts to capture the city’s energy.

By placing pancakes, fashion, abstract photography, oil paintings, ink pointillism and even fan art together, Pancakes and Booze set itself apart from traditional art venues. Last Saturday night solidified the event as one worth attending or submitting art to, though event-goers might consider arriving early next year to beat the pancake line.

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