Sunday, March 29, 2009

John Henry and Sculptural Transmigration

It's been said, by Duchamp among others, that artworks have a "life" of their own, but that goes double for certain local sculptures that have seemingly become almost nomadic of late. It all began a year ago when Ernest Trova's PROFILE CANTO, which once graced the grounds of the New Orleans Museum of Art, was loaned to Jefferson Parish to try to make Veterans Blvd. look civilized.

Now Leandro Erlich's WINDOW AND LADDER: TOO LATE FOR HELP, right, that was a Lower 9th Ward landmark during Prospect.1, has found a new home in, you guessed it, the New Orleans Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden. Meanwhile, John Henry's monumental ZACH'S TOWER, above, part of Michael Manjarris' ongoing Sculpture for New Orleans project, is being installed near the Poydras Street entrance of Harrah's Casino, not far from its original proposed site on Poydras near the Superdome. With this game of sculptural musical chairs in full swing, the fact that Louise Bourgeois' great EYE BENCHES piece, another SFNO installation, is staying put for at least another year in Lafayette Square, is welcome news indeed.

Of all the above artists, few are more mysterious than John Henry, a Kentucky- born resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Part of his mystique is that his work has been shown all over the world even as Henry himself has remained a low profile persona. Part of it is his deceptively simple style, an approach that suggests seeming contradictions like "Zen engineering." The eye reads the elements as having fallen spontaneously into place even as the mind recognizes them as products of great precision. Like splash or starburst patterns, they also suggest those bamboo sticks tossed randomly to form the hexagrams used in traditional Asian interpretations of the I Ching. To me this is what his works at Bienvenu suggest. Others will have their own interpretation, part of Henry's somewhat protean modus, and an example of what philosopher Eric Hopper, in discussing Western culture, once called "the mysterious Occident." ~D. Eric Bookhardt
John Henry: Recent Sculpture
Through April 28
Gallery Bienvenu, 518 julia street, 525.0518; www.gallerybienvenu.com
Expanded from Gambit Weekly


Seen at the Front:

Lingerie as Sociology and Surreality at the Darkroom

The Darkroom's Peek - The Lingerie Show is a group exhibition of photographs featuring or inspired by lingerie. Curated by Debbie Fleming Caffery, it runs through April 1.

Traer Scott, Galaxy

Susan Hayre Thelwell, I Do

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