Sunday, April 28, 2013

Baer at UNO St. Claude; Ho & Langlinais at the Front

Kevin Baer's Ritual Process show at the UNO St. Claude Gallery is a little like the jazz piano playing of Keith Jarrett: both seem coolly minimal yet are actually complex. In Baer's case, organic materials were deployed with surprising lyricism to evoke natural and man made processes. Horizons, pictured, was inspired by the Rothko Chapel where the legendary artist's abstract canvases appear as objects of meditation. But in Baer's Horizons, a blank canvas literally paints itself as its bottom is suspended in a trough of colored dyes that gradually saturate it like a wick. Likewise, some glassy illuminated obelisks in the parking lot slowly change form over time as what looks like cast glass turns out to be sugar glass that melts in the rain and heat. Even some of the drawings--created with materials like hair, charcoal and dust--look almost like they drew themselves. Ritual Process is cool and sleek yet organic in tone, and if that seems unlike Nola's baroque extravagance, think again, because this city is like a vast process art project that is always in flux. Even that self-painted Rothkoesque canvas might be read as an aesthetic re-visioning of the water lines found on so many structures after Katrina. Here Baer explores the unfathomable nexus of nature and culture.

More minimal process art appears in Colleen Ho's near monochromatic drawings at the Front. Stitched in thread on paper, they suggest spider webs in frost or footprints in snow observed from above. Labor intensive yet quietly evocative, they explore the subtle interplay of presence and absence.  Barrett Langlinais' abstract photographs return us to a realm of natural and man made processes as they appear etched into the skin of the city. Contained in those surfaces is a poetry of decay and regeneration like a resonant interplay of minor and major tones, the eternal counterpoint of darkness and light. ~Reviewed by D. Eric Bookhardt  Ritual Process: Mixed Media Process Art by Kevin Baer, Fridays-Sundays Through May 5; UNO St. Claude Gallery, 2429 St. Claude Ave., 280-6493; Strata: Photographs by Barrett Langlinais, On Impulse: Mixed Media Drawings by Colleen Ho, Saturdays-Sundays Through May 5, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980. Reviewed by D. Eric Bookhardt