I'm about six feet four inches tall, so I'm not super used to looking up at people. Noah Antieau, owner and director of the traveling New Orleans-based Red Truck Gallery, stands well above me, looking gracefully out-of-town in worn overalls and a tattered white shirt. "My mom [Chris Roberts-Antieau] makes these quilts" says Antieau in his half-Bayou drawl, while giving me the tour of his temporary art space at 1106 NW Marshall (open through April 18).
In Roberts-Antieau's "Chimpanzees Are Dangerous," a quilted two-panel narrative recalls a news meme about a woman and her pet chimp. Antieau tells me that the woman and the chimp would drink wine and take Xanax while watching television together, which is shown in the top panel. The bottom panel shows the chimp wigging out and ripping a house guest's face off (hear the 911 phone call). Not exactly the quilts grandma makes.
Antieau has taken the work of his mother, family, and friends around the globe under the Red Truck name: To London, Dubai, Paris, Berlin, and throughout the continental United States. When I asked him why he took his gallery on the road, his answer was transcendentally simple. "Because it's more fun that way," he says with an easy smile.
John Whipple, Antieau’s uncle, created the Misfit Toys series, which is made up of charcoal illustrations of mopey animals with modern maladies— such as "chain smoking," "sex addiction," and "workaholic." Ross Bonfanti, who Antieau has know since childhood, created cement animals by de-stuffing plush critters, pouring cement into their pelts, and then peeling back the fabric to expose the cement figures. Jason Houchen, another artist Antieau has know since boyhood, burns illustrations into wood in a process he calls "pyography."
While Red Truck is about the art, they're equally about the road stories— in a buddy-flick kind of way. “We had Thanksgiving with Princess Leia,” Antieau tells me, recalling the scene at Carrie Fisher’s house this past turkey day. We trade stories and drink beer for a while.
"We got a midget," says Antieau, motioning to a man sitting outside, drinking a beer. "We were in New York City and put an ad on Craigslist saying we needed a midget for a reality show," he explains. Nik Sin— the "midget"— joined his traveling gallery after being duped by the ad. (Sidenote: Sin is half-famous for performing as Mini Marilyn Manson, and has graced the pages of Maxim, Bizarre, and others.)
As I say my goodbyes, Antieau puts up a hand written sign, reading "Out for heavy drinking, be back tomorrow," summing up the perpetual sense of humor of the self-proclaimed “[four] rednecks and a goth midget [who’re] out to steal your hearts and credit card numbers,” (as reads the Red Truck Facebook page).
Pics of artwork on view at Red Truck, after the jump!