Ogden Museum of Southern Art Announces: Focus: Leah Chase by Aron Belka

September 12, 2022


Aron Belka, Leah Chase, 2022, Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, Collection of Natalie A. Razdolsky and Adrian K. Cohn

(New Orleans, LA) – Ogden Museum of Southern Art is pleased to announce the unveiling of Leah Chase by Aron Belka on loan from the collection of Natalie A. Razdolsky and Adrian K. Cohn.

The portrait of New Orleans’ chef and “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” Leah Chase, is appropriately larger than life as is Chase’s legacy as an advocate for both Creole cooking and African-American art. Her restaurant, Dooky Chase, became central to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, providing a safe place for meetings with leading figures of the movement including A.P. Tureaud, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Freedom Riders. Chase’s portrait hangs on the 3rd floor of Ogden Museum of Southern Art to celebrate Leah’s Chase’s 100th birthday.

“My grandparents introduced me to Leah Chase in my childhood and I got to know her quite well,” says the painting’s owner, Adrian K. Cohn. “I spent a lot of time with Leah after Hurricane Katrina to introduce New Orleans culture to volunteers from Rollins College who helped rebuild the city. She was a great inspiration who impressed upon me and my peers the vital role each of us play in our community. Her life’s work represents why New Orleans – and its people – matter. Natalie (Razdolsky) and I are humbled to have Ogden Museum of Southern Art exhibit Aron Belka’s portrait of Leah Chase for everyone to enjoy.”

New Orleans-based artist, Aron Belka, is best known for his large-scale portraits that are surprisingly intimate despite their scale. The sheer size forces the viewer to pay attention, but the layers that Belka exposes invite the viewer to explore the nuances of the personality. Belka recently completed a commissioned mural of the late musician and composer, Allen Touissant and in 2016 he spent five months at the highly regarded Joan Mitchell Center, winning the People’s Chose Prize at ArtFields.

“My paintings are representative but I like the pull between abstraction and representation,” says Belka. “The 21st century is filled with smartphones and laptops and little cameras from which we receive fragmented pictures of life and the world. As a result, I enjoy fragmenting my own subject matter when I paint, and I primarily make large paintings that inescapably address the viewer, forcing people to stop and really look at the picture.”

The portrait of Leah Chase was unveiled on September 2, 2022 and will hang in Ogden Museum of Southern art through January 8, 2023.

A complete list of exhibitions currently on view at the Museum can be found by visiting www.ogdenmuseum.org.

About the Artist

New Orleans-based artist Aron Belka was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1974 and earned his BFA in illustration from Utah State University in 1998. He has exhibited in numerous venues including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Alexandria Museum of Art, and a solo exhibition at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Georgia. He won the Juror’s Choice Award at the 2017 Huntsville Museum of Art’s Red Clay Survey and was announced the inaugural and prestigious COHN-GNOF-NOLA-ARTS award program winner in October 2021. Aron was an artist in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans in 2016 and more recently at the Cill Rialaig Project in County Kerry, Ireland in 2019. Belka’s paintings hang in numerous private and public collections including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art and most recently at Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

 About Focus Exhibition

The Focus exhibition program is meant to draw attention to current, important conversations in the world and reflect them on the walls of the Museum, outside of regularly programmed exhibitions. This program is useful for unexpected opportunities that we believe will have an impact in our community and for expressing our long-standing commitment to representation in the collection and in exhibitions.

About Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 1999 and open to the public since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to experience and learn about the artists and culture of the American South. Ogden Museum is home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside Southern traditions of music, literature and local craft.

Ogden Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older, $6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5.

The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information visit ogdenmuseum.org or call 504.539.9650.