Sunday, August 4, 2013

Deliberations from The Wet Grave and Who is Pulling the Strings? at the Comtemporary Arts Center

No one needs to be reminded that Hurricane Katrina still haunts us. Like an uninvited guest that never really leaves, telltale traces of its presence continue to crop up. In the art world there is the inevitable Katrina show, but the good news is that the nature of these expos has gone from grim to whimsical over the years as the healing process continues. Tank Drama: Deliberations from The Wet Grave sounds morbid but features a wide array of art and artists with some of the freshest perspectives coming from some of the less known names. Babette Beaullieu's Sacred Trails installation, top, employs storm refuse refashioned into an altar-like structure housing ghostly objects. Framed in white petticoats, it serves as a backdrop for shimmering projections of spectral dancers that arise and vanish like charged memories.  This ties together a very miscellaneous show that ranges from Kristen Struebing-Beazley's Katrina Closet: A Floating Funerary Repository of Calalverian Vanities, below, to the Bureau of Change's Here/Home "menagerie of objects selected from cultural centers" that signify different area ethnic groups' localized sense of  Although diffuse, the show itself is really about just that, how our sense of self is rooted in our sense of home.

 On a lighter note, the piquant joys of childhood are evoked in ways that adults can appreciate in the Who is Pulling the Strings? show featuring the puppetry art of locally active troupes including Calliope Puppets, Mudlark Puppeteer, Scary Toesies and Red String Wayang Theatre. But the star of the ground floor extravaganza is puppeteer Panacea Theriac (aka Miss Pussycat), who appears daily in person as part of a residency during which she creates 100 puppets besides the ones on display, below. There, in her workshop like a mythic elfin diva, she recreates the world of human foibles that puppets embody, and we can only wish that our own human foibles were as deftly and expertly managed. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Tank Drama: Deliberations from The Wet Grave: Mixed Media by VESTIGES Artists; Who is Pulling the Strings?: Puppetry Art through Sept. 22, Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528.3805