Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another: 7 New, New Orleans Artists at Barrister's

One of the more interesting examples of the way post- Katrina New Orleans has reinvented itself is the expansion of the gallery scene on St. Claude Avenue. Among its defining influences--which includes the burgeoning bohemia of the Marigny-Bywater neighborhood for which St. Claude serves as the local Main Street--few can rival the University of New Orleans when it comes to setting a certain, slightly edgy tone. UNO even has its own gallery there, though it sometimes seems almost redundant. Even the current show at the venerable Barrister’s Gallery features seven emerging artists who are all products of the UNO fine arts graduate program. Their work on and off the walls is often quirky, personal, punchy and occasionally entertaining.

Aaron McNamee’s TOOTHFACE , left, features pink ceramic vessels with scalloped ridges that are actually replicas of front teeth. Appearing with a photo of a smiling guy in a suit whose face is covered with protrusions that also turn out to be front tooth replicas, it’s a curiously cringe-inducing foray into postmodern expressionism. The cringe binge continues in Robyn Denny’s convincingly warped drawings of weirdly anxious people yanking on each other in a bizarre psychodramatic reverie. But aversion is inverted in Hollis Hannan’s monumental Saran Wrap and packing tape sculpture, DIALECTIC WITHIN, above, where the multiplicity of limbs belies the fact that there are only two torsos so rapturously engaged in what might be a Hindu deity rendition of a Merce Cunningham moment--or maybe an inner dance of approach-avoidance. The dynamic duo of Sciortino and Rinehart provide a pleasingly vintage take on the postmodern obsessions of text and video in DARKHORSE, but those same concerns receive a latter-day update in Dan Rule’s PALIMPSEST, in which one of those digital picture frames comes to life as a time-lapse billboard with new and old messages appearing and disappearing before our eyes. Curated by UNO’s Chris Saucedo, it’s a curiously cohesive slice of art and life in the St. Claude Gallery District. ~Eric Bookhardt

THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER: 7 New, New Orleans Artists
Through Sept. 5
Barrister's Gallery, 2131 St. Claude Ave., 710-4506;
Click on Images for Expanded View