Weekly Wire
Gambit Weekly Star Power

By Rich Collins

AUGUST 4, 1997:  You won't find many bigger fans of the sci-fi renaissance than local artist Hugo Montero. The native of Mexico City who has been plying his trade in New Orleans since 1991 says he's wildly exited about the popularity of Men in Black, Contact and other intergalactic new flicks because they're making his trademark paintings of outer space more popular than ever.

Montero, who is famous for his rapid-fire spray paint compositions (which take between five and 10 minutes to create), says that he's got crowds around him whenever he sets up in Jackson Square. And people are buying the works faster than he can make them -- which, of course, is pretty darn fast.

"Last year, I got a little depressed," says Montero. "It was getting kind of old. I felt like I was doing the same old thing: the planets, the landscapes. It felt like the '70s. Now, thanks to this alien thing, it's like, boom ... I'm selling really good. I'm even putting spaceships and aliens in my landscapes. "

Thanks to his current upswing, Montero says he landed a contract to perform his "show" at a cable convention this December in Anaheim, Calif. He also earned the attention of the local press. And he's working on a big show at the Contemporary Arts Center. In addition, he's opening up a new studio space at 425 Notre Dame St. in the Warehouse District.

In the past, Montero has worked for the NO/AIDS Task Force and taught for the New Orleans public school system. Now, he's focusing almost entirely on his craft and the current space craze -- although he's still not out there working as much as he was in leaner times.

"In one year, I sold 2500 paintings," says Montero. "I used to work 12 hours. Now I work three hours. I don't pursue the amount of money [anymore] because spray paint has some chemicals. ..."


The Art of Noise

No doubt, the friction between the Mermaid Lounge and the new apartments being fashioned next door will provide plenty of controversy in the coming year. But, of course, the Mermaid always has something interesting going on.

Take this Wednesday's "sound exhibition," for example.

Set up like an art exhibit at a local gallery, the sound show will feature the musical inventions and innovations of the city's avant garde community, which includes Mr. Quintron and his "rhythm buddy," Greg Wilds and his synth experiment, Henry Krinkle's ambient sounds and Ze DeLuz's computer cha cha. Clint Montz and Jeff Treffinger will "do something," and listeners will be treated to "the loopy world of Jim Cass."

"This is an opportunity for inventors who happen to be bent musically to exhibit the bizarre things they've made at one place," says Treffinger, the event's organizer. "It's more like a sonic gallery. I've heard a lot of interesting stuff which falls into very odd categories, but how do you have a show? This is an opportunity to give them a chance."

The performers -- or their creations, at least -- will be set up in different rooms inside the tiny club as well as in the courtyard. Attendees will be able to stroll from site to site to soak in as much as they can.

"You go from thing to thing and many of the things will be unattended," says Treffinger. "There will be a thing there making noise, and it may be interactive, maybe something you can shake hands with and play with. I don't know what it's going to be. I've got a vague idea about what will happen, but those usually prove to be way off base."


Screensters

Local film junkies should check out the New Orleans Film & Video Society's membership meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at New Orleans Studios, 800 Distributors Row, Harahan. The event will be a chance to hear about Film Society scoop -- including the latest on the upcoming film fest -- and get a sneak peak of the new studio facility. Alex Middleton, the CEO of the new studio, will speak to the assembled masses. Call 523-3818. ...

... Film fans will also be interested in a promotion being offered by the Prytania Theatre and Vaqueros Restaurant. If you purchase two entrees at Vaqueros, you'll get a free ticket to a show at the Prytania. After the flick, you can trade in your movie stub for a free house margarita. The offer lasts until Aug. 31.







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