Ogden Museum of Southern Art to Host Annual Magnolia Ball Saturday, June 11 Celebrating the Exhibition, Luis Cruz Azaceta: What a Wonderful World

NEW ORLEANS – On Saturday, June 11, Ogden Museum of Southern Art will host their annual Magnolia Ball, celebrating Luis Cruz Azaceta: What a Wonderful World, an exhibition bringing together painting, drawing, collage and sculptural works spanning over 4 decades to illustrate the prolific career of Luis Cruz Azaceta, a Cuban American visual artist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The evening will feature live music, DJs, entertainers, an online silent auction, food from local restaurants, cocktails and more. Chairing the 2022 Magnolia Ball is Wendell Brunious, Nathalie Simon, John Isiah Walton and Jennie Cannon West & Jason Richards.

Entertainment for the evening includes People Museum Band, DJ Heelturn, DJ T-Roy, Shawan Rice & band, Marina Orchestra and DJ Jess.

The online silent auction features over 70 regional artists and businesses, including Cubs The Poet, Tchoup Industries, Carlie Trosclair, Maisha Joshua, Mimosa Handcrafted, Kendra Scott, David McCarty and Jennifer Odem. Bidding opens Friday, June 3 at 6 p.m., and the silent auction will be on view at Ogden Museum June 4 – June 12. In a collaborative effort to support both the museum and the community, silent auction artists and businesses receive a portion of final sales.

VIP level tickets are available providing access to a VIP lounge with private seating, Magnolia Ball branded “swag,” additional cuisine and a premium bar.

Magnolia Ball is supported by The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, Eclectic Home, The Helis Foundation, St. Charles Avenue, Charles D. Urstadt & David Bernard and Michael Wilkinson.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the start of summer by supporting Ogden Museum, the arts and the spirit of New Orleans, all in which provide such a bed of inspiration for so many artists and creatives,” explains 2022 Co-Chair Nathalie Simion. “This particular exhibit of Luis Cruz Azaceta’s work could not be more timely – art provides such solace and hope in uncertain times and the cultural connection between New Orleans and Cuba is palatable in the space. We look forward to celebrating with everyone.”

“Magnolia Ball is renowned as a sophisticated, sartorial event that celebrates art of the American South in all its diverse forms,” states William Pittman Andrews, Executive Director Ogden Museum of Southern Art. “While being a fun summer party, this benefit gala provides critical support for Ogden Museum and its educational programming, at a time when inspiration and creativity is profoundly essential. We look forward to sharing the important legacy of Luis Cruz Azaceta and his exhibition with members and friends in our Museum community.”

Tickets are available at ogdenmuseum.org/magnoliaball. Attire is summer cocktail.

About Luis Cruz Azaceta: What a Wonderful World

For over fifty years, Luis Cruz Azaceta has created art, not for art’s sake, but to confront the most pressing issues of his time. Moving deftly between raw figurative expressionism and narrative abstraction, Azaceta conveys his own anxiety and fear about the state of the world through his paintings and sculptures. By bringing attention to current critical issues – violence, war, racism, environmental collapse, natural disasters, tyranny, oppression, pandemic – Azaceta confronts harsh realities with the pictorial force of his work, tempered with his own brand of compassion and self-awareness. He views his work as his voice, and also as a weapon for change.

Born in Havana in 1942, Azaceta experienced the violence and turmoil leading to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. As the executions began in the Revolution’s aftermath, he emigrated from his home in 1960 to the United States at the age of 18. In New York he began using painting and drawing as a form of expression, finding his voice and identity through art. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts New York City, he began his professional career in 1975 with his first solo exhibition at Allan Frumpkin Gallery in Midtown New York.

His early works were figurative and expressionistic. They conveyed the isolation inherent to the immigrant experience, and confronted the critical issues of the time – most notably urban violence and the AIDS pandemic. His figurative paintings captured the zeitgeist of 1970s New York City, boldly engaging the contemporary narrative through imagery both comical and violently emotional.

Azaceta moved to New Orleans in 1992. In the years that followed, his work moved gradually toward abstraction. Formally, he began a deeper exploration of visual tensions in his work, wrestling discord into harmony through color, line and material. His works continued to face harsh realities and to explore the human condition. Yet his process and style was (and is) ever-evolving, resisting mannerist repetition and predictability, and allowing for his own discovery through paint.

Luis Cruz Azaceta: What a Wonderful World brings together works from 1975-2021 to show an artist who has consistently pushed himself and his practice into new territory, both formally and conceptually. It illustrates one man’s unrelenting examination of the human condition through drawing, painting and sculpture. It reveals an artist who believes it is his duty to work for the betterment of humanity. It is that belief in the power of beauty over tyranny, of truth over fear, and in the potential of art to affect change that drives Azaceta’s studio practice. This timely exhibition offers a glimpse into the full scope of that worthy endeavor.

About Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 2003, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art 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. Museum admission is free on Thursdays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information, visit www.ogdenmuseum.org.