Sunday, July 12, 2009

Payton at Heriard-Cimino, Keyes at the McKenna Museum

For some in the Payton family of legendary musicians, jazz is what life is all about. But Martin Payton is a sculptor, a visual artist no less influenced by music than his famous kin. His SECOND LINE expo at Heriard-Cimino pays homage to jazz and to the streets from whence it came. He regards these works a “suite in eight movements,” and their titles hark to the roots of jazz in Africa and Europe as well as here at home.

Not counting pedestals, these pieces appear smaller than many in his previous shows, but their polish, integrity and resolution are striking. RAVELLINGTON, above, is a lyrical assemblage of lines, circles and wedges that visually hark to Matisse and the spirit masks of Mali, but despite such multicultural influences the result is a lyrical unity, a fluid harmonic riff flash-frozen in steel.

DOGON DIRGE melds African abstraction with the contrapuntal elasticity of the jazz funereal, its timeless torsion of joy and sorrow. BAMANA BOURRE is visually more angular, reflecting a more percussive sense of composition, but the title is a lyrical Payton blender concoction: ”Bamana” is a tribe in Mali, while “Bourre” is either a French provincial dance or a Cajun card game. Yet the result is pure Payton and in this show the visual jazz musician gives us a virtuoso performance. Meanwhile at the McKenna Museum at 2003 Carondelet St., Bruce Keyes' SPIRIT OF NEW ORLEANS exhibition of black and white photographs provides a panoramic visual survey of this city’s famously fertile street culture. Understated and unassuming, these classical documentary shots let their subjects speak for themselves, which is just about all it takes to convey the eloquence of such artfully animated characters. ~Eric Bookhardt

SECOND LINE: New Sculpture by Martin Payton
Through July 14
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St. 525-7300;