Sunday, April 5, 2009

Caffery & Pavy at Arthur Roger

Southwest Louisiana, Cajun country, is noted for food and music, but its equally unique art scene has been somewhat overlooked. Happily, more Acadiana artists have turned up in local galleries of late, most recently at Arthur Roger where Debbie Fleming Caffery and Francis X. Pavy continue their visual explorations. Pavy’s canvases are infused with psychedelic Cajun symbolism and lots of local color. Inspired by an elderly neighbor, a cat lady with a racy past, VELMA AND THE DIAMOND RING features a dancer in an exotic pose in a liquor bottle in which smaller bottles, each containing a man’s profile, float in space. With its iconic mix of dice, guitars, fast cars, crosses and cats, VELMA is a kaleidoscopic evocation of a colorful life. ART OPENING is a mural-size triptych, impressive in its scale, but among the show’s gems are some wood block prints that highlight Pavy’s flair for Matisse-like compositions propelled by a kind of late night zydeco mysticism.

Debbie Fleming Caffery’s darkly luminous photos focus on residents of a small Mexican village where life revolves around a cathedral and various cantinas, one of which doubled as a brothel. Here Caffery provides a poetic look at those ladies that ply their ancient trade almost in the shadow of the church, interacting with the camera in coyly mysterious poses. Selma partially masks her face with her thick, dark hair, Z is made up like a 1930s Parisian coquette, and Ana bares her breasts while hiding her eyes behind strands of beads. Not all are “putas.” Octolan is an old wise woman with wrinkles like tree bark, and then there is Octolan’s wily cat and even the glowing cathedral itself. In Caffery’s Mexico, all things seem to dream and glow with their own inner light. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Debbie Fleming Caffery: THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH
Through April 25th
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999;

Expanded from Gambit

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