Sunday, July 11, 2010

Art of the Gulf at Roger, LeMieux and Garden District

As the oil flowed into the Gulf, people coped and responded in any way they could. In some Gulf- themed art shows about town, the work tends to express either idealized views of what we risk losing, or else more biting commentaries protesting the disastrous effects of an industry run amok. THE GULF: WORKS COMPLETED BEFORE THE SPILL, at Arthur Roger, features an array of provocative pieces that can occasionally seem downright prophetic. For instance, Jacqueline Bishop's haunting TRESPASS, top (detail), is an assemblage of bird replicas interwoven with baby shoes and other flotsam all rendered in a black, oil slick-like finish. Allison Stewart's SILENT SIGN landscape painting strikingly resembles a marsh mired in oily muck while Simon Gunning's idle trawlers at dusk look fraught and portentously fateful. (See The Gulf: Works Completed before the Spill.)

       OUR GULF COAST at LeMieux contains a slightly sunnier and sometimes more recent mix. Billy Solitario's tranquil realist Gulf coast scenes are typical of his oeuvre, but his less familiar still life paintings include some big fat glistening oysters as well as a beautifully painted pair of fish wrapped in newspaper that, viewed closely, contains news stories about the spill. A rare work of current vintage, it's an instant classic. More realist works appear at the Garden District Gallery including one of Auseklis Ozols' pelican paintings, a view of our state bird looking heroic atop a piling, unsullied wings partially outstretched and bathed in the golden glow of the sun breaking between storm clouds. A patriotic vision, it's actually dedicated to the great Ocean Springs artist Walter Anderson, but he of all people would understand: here our coast is our culture. Now as in ancient times, the pelican is a sacred creature, a symbol that should never be defiled. ~Bookhardt
THE GULF: Works Completed Prior to the Spill
Through July 17
Arthur Roger @ 434, 434 Julia St. 522-1999;
OUR GULF COAST: Group Show of Gulf Coast Art
Through July 24
LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522.5988;
TREASURES OF THE GULF: Group Exhibition of Gulf Coast Art
Through July 31
The Garden District Gallery, 1332 Washington Ave., 891-3032,