REDART is the most recent permutation of work by artist and planner Robert C.Tannen
whose lifelong focus on environmental issues began as a teenager making sculptures from
debris on the beaches of Coney Island where he was raised. Consumer objects doused in red
warn of consumerism's contribution to climate change, and underscore the dominance of
He first showed environmentally themed work at artists' collectives on East 10th St.,
including the Tanager Gallery in 1956, and the March and Brata Galleries in 1957. At 18 and 19
at the time, he was the youngest of the artists showing at the collectives that initiated the
movement of American abstract expressionist art. He also exhibited wrapped objects there
before Christo. His exhibitions of animals in formaldehyde were exhibited in the 1960s, before
Damien Hirst, and monumental concrete block constructions before Sol LeWitt.
Since residing in New Orleans beginning in 1971, he has shown work revealing the
significance of the city's diverse architecture, infrastructure and neighborhoods and their
response to the challenges of the environmental threats here, even as he worked as project
director for the planning and siting of the second bridge over the Mississippi in New Orleans; the
identification and protection of the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans; planning for
Riverwalk, a festival marketplace development at the river adjacent to a suburban style
shopping mall, New Orleans Center, in the heart of downtown New Orleans, adjacent to the
Superdome; sited the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition and planned for the residual uses of its
riverfront site after the fair; siting of the Arena adjacent to the Superdome and a million square
foot regional distribution center in the Almonaster-Michoud Industrial District.
His large ubiquitous sheet metal shotgun houses have been shown at galleries and
museums since 1974. His large fiberglass fishes resting on their bills have influenced other
artists including Frank Gehry. In a response to the House Floats that replaced Mardi Gras
parades during the Covid pandemic last year, he hung a casting of a 1,018 lb Blue Marlin,
largest ever caught by a woman in the Gulf, Linda Koerner, "afloat" from the balcony of 2326
Esplanade, Tannen's home and studio, and his wife Jeanne Nathan's headquarters for the
Creative Alliance of New Orleans, (CANO), an arts and economic development advocacy
non-profit aimed at increasing support for the creative industries sector of the city's economy.
The Marlin's placement, as well as the red soaked buoy on the sidewalk in front of the house
warn of the not so long term possibility that Esplanade, despite sitting atop a prehistoric river
ridge, may be well underwater.
Tannen has placed reddened refrigerators, washing machines, generators and more
throughout the garden/jungle surrounding the 19th century house. Ironically, the garden's
canopy consists of beautiful but invasive Chinese Fan Palms that started with one small plant,
Also in the garden is a work by landscape architect and artist Robin Tanner, no relation to
Tannen, except for receiving each other's mail. His Liberaguity, is a reimagining of the material,
color and configuration of the American Flag. Tanner, best known for his landscape design
including the beautiful Enrique Alferez Garden and the Japanese garden in City Park where
Esplanade Avenue gives way to what once was a plantation, has also recently placed a
labyrinthian work in the Crevasse 22 | River House sculpture garden in Poydras, Louisiana
adjacent to the Mississippi River. Crevasse 22 began life as a pop-up sculpture garden for
PICK UP THE ART PARTY
Back in the spring CANO offered art to promote donations during the citywide givenoladay
fund drive. Art was also offered to people who took time to fill in a survey to help CANO collect
information about the state of the creative industries in New Orleans, informing a strategic plan
for the city's creative industries sector. The plan will include recommendations for better support
and investment in this sector, and make it possible for creatives to build sustainable careers in
The Covid Delta variant surge delayed plans to invite people to come by 2326 Esplanade to
pick up their art. With the opening of the REDART show, it seemed perfect timing to invite them
to come by for their art and enjoy the exhibition, as well as some libations and treats. With most
of the exhibit outdoors in an expansive garden that extends from Esplanade to Barracks street,
there is plenty of room for a safe visit.
With a special viewing of Tannen's prints and drawings in flat files in the foyer of the house,
those with proof of vaccination may enter the museum-like-home filled with not only works by
Tannen, but many other regional and international artists.
"There is almost nothing in this house other than art that is new. From Asian antiquities, art
deco designs, mid century furnishings to the multitude of artworks, vaccinated visitors are
invited to enjoy an eclectic mix of genres and eras of art and design," says Nathan.
Paper and selected works are available for purchase. The neighborhood is part of a cultural
district, so all sales are tax free. For those who did not either contribute or take the survey, the
gift art is also for sale, and is tax deductible.
ART HOME NEW ORLEANS TOURS OF OUR CULTURAL NEIGHBORHOOD, an ongoing
CANO program, will offer opportunities for visitors to see the cultural richness of America's first
black neighborhood, Treme and Esplanade Ridge, including homes, museums, park sites, and
especially the New Orleans African American Museum which is opening its facilities at 1418
Governor NIcholls Street as part of the Prospect 5 official program, from 1- 4 pm, just 8 blocks
away from the REDART exhibition at 2326 Esplanade. It is also headquarters for this year's
Prospect New Orleans in its 5th iteration. Neighborhood tour directions will be available at 2326
CANO will also be presenting its Art Home New Orleans tours of artists' studios and private
art collections throughout the city during Prospect 5. Prospect brings artists from around the
world, but also visitors who get to see work by the growing cultural community in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a uniquely indigenous art scene, with culture bearers keeping three centuries
of cultural roots alive on every block. Native American culture is also alive in that legacy. But
with creatives streaming into New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, initially to help, but then
getting a taste of the Mississippi River as we say in New Orleans, many have stayed, and mixed
new cultural themes into the already richly diverse cultural life of the city. Prospect is the perfect
opportunity to see the curated work of the citywide fair, as well as dig deeper into the city's
Need any more reasons to visit? Esplanade Avenue is one of the most beautiful
Esplanades/Boulevards in America, maybe the world.
CANO: The Creative Alliance of New Orleans has the mission to provide training, education, and information for creative artists, cultural producers and the community, to protect our cultural legacy and to promote the revitalization of the city as a cultural and economic center.
Prospect 5: Every three years, we invite artists from all over the world to create projects in a wide variety of venues spread throughout New Orleans. We bring new art to an old city, both inviting artists from around the
globe to engage with New Orleans and raising the voices of artists who represent the Global South. Many Prospect projects are rooted in social justice issues and the city of New Orleans itself. Each iteration of Prospect is organized by a leading voice in the curatorial field. For residents and visitors alike, Prospect is an invitation to experience the city through the eyes of artists. NOAAM: The mission of the New Orleans African American Museum is to preserve the history and elevate the art, culture, and contributions of African Americans in New Orleans and the African Diaspora.
Copyright 2019 Robert C. Tannen. Website by Matthew Foreman