In previous times, writers like Joan Didion and Walker Percy anticipated a looming disintegration of American life and culture that never quite came to pass. What we got instead was global warming and the natural and technological disasters we have come to know all too well. Hurricanes, floods and oil spills have had a bracing effect on the art of Krista Jurasich, whose flair for reconfiguring chaos into distinctive collages and mixed media concoctions is evident in works like Round Town, top, even as she takes a socially critical turn in works like Pass the Buck (Hell Money), left. Here the eyes of corporate and institutional agencies are everywhere, but the clowns of chaos run rampant as monetary malfeasance and militant idiocy go high tech and ordinary folks have to scramble just to keep up. Similarly, Dipstick /Slick depicts a kind of Aquarium of the Americas scene where deep sea monsters, test tubes, corporate clowns and consumer products share space with the fish. These works comprise an eloquent sequel to Jurisich's pictorial quilt-like tapestries inspired by the post-Katrina flood devastation and the subsequent resurrection of the city and its culture while suggesting that states of emergency may be becoming the new American way of life.
Although every New Orleanian experienced a Katrina odyssey of sorts, Justin Forbes lived first hand what many only saw on TV. After long days in the Superdome, he and his girlfriend ended up in Denton, Texas, where they made a new life and got “right with God.” If his pre-K paintings resembled an insider's view of hipster life not unlike a localized update of Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD, the work in this new show is similar yet somehow different. The crazies and riffraff that populate his paintings are much the same, but it no longer feels like an insider perspective. Here a sense of new beginnings is palpable, and it will be interesting to see where this new odyssey takes him. ~Bookhardt
The Theatre of Cultural Strata: Mixed Media Works by Krista Jurisich, Through May 2
Halcyon Days: Paintings by Justin Forbes, Through May 8
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471; www.jonathanferraragallery.com