Sunday, January 30, 2011

Conscience at the Carroll Gallery; Goedert at Antenna

The wrecked pickup truck first appeared inexplicably inside an empty storefront on St. Claude Avenue, just beyond a door that was far too small to accommodate any vehicle. Closer inspection revealed that it was a full size replica carefully crafted from cardboard, but it remained a mystery until it suddenly reemerged at the Carroll Gallery. Its creator, Bob Snead, was inspired by an actual pickup truck that a drunk driver had wrecked outside his St. Claude studio. Now part of this CONSCIENCE expo, it complements David Grunfeld's eloquent photographs documenting the travails of working folk such as oystermen in the wake of the BP oil spill, among others that capture the visual poetry of life and labor in south Louisiana. Similarly, John Barnes' stark shotgun house sculptures, and Keith Perelli's lyrically surreal portraits based on police mug shots, meld gritty urban chaos with an incipient visionary aura that hints at the possibility of transcendence.      

     James Goedert's MACHINES ON PAPER show at Antenna features, among other things, a 1970s-era Ford Granada with Nebraska plates. Also too large for the gallery door, this is a real car that was taken apart and reassembled inside--with modifications. The seats now surround the relocated steering wheel, which when turned activates some engine parts reconfigured into a mechanism that sketches an abstract drawing of a car, as if the Granada had taken up art in its old age.

On the wall is a landscape painting like an expanse of green grass on paper; beneath it on the floor rests the weedeater that created it with colored markers tied to its plastic trim cords. Other everyday devices appear with their equally unlikely creations, and here Goedert reveals how old machines can be reconfigured to make art while incidentally providing a sense of what surrealism might have looked like had it originated in Middle America instead of Paris. ~Bookhardt

CONSCIENCE: Work by John Barnes, David Grunfeld, Keith Perelli and Bob Snead, Through Feb. 11, Carroll Gallery, Tulane University, 314-2228;
MACHINES ON PAPER: New Work by James Goedert, Through Feb. 5
Antenna, 3161 Burgundy Street, 250-7975;