Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kalal at Good Children; Lovell at Consulado Mexicano

I once knew an old hobo who called New Orleans "the city of the living dark." A former engineer who took to riding the rails, he voiced concern about tourism in the French Quarter: "There are secret beings in the shadows that tourists shouldn't see--and we sure don't need to see them!" Although Jayme Kalal's photographs typically seem set around St. Claude, they often recall the old hobo's shadowy beings. Sometimes as contorted as pretzels, his figures remind us that Nola's strangeness lives on. An untitled image of an oddly attired couple on modified tallboy bikes, left, displays his flair for hallucinatory effects even as his figures sometimes resonate the gritty eloquence of Tom Waits' dive bar ballads. Those effects, the analog byproducts of antique shutter designs, can be mind bending, so blacksmith- sculptor Rachel David, photographed in her studio, top, appears Shiva-like, with four arms and a tool in each hand. But Kalal's images are more often snatched from the shadow realms where shape-shifting creatures roam the streets, and in the process of capturing them he has created his own uniquely original body of work.
Charles Lovell's Mexico photographs, compiled over the past quarter century, are noteworthy for their thorough documentary explorations of that nations' colorful culture. But Mexico is a place where man and nature can both seem surreal, so in Grafitti Wall, Puebla, left, tattered political posters share space with the Virgin Mary in a bandito mask in an image as wryly concise as the work of any Parisian surrealist. Sanctuario De Los Largos depicts a sanctuary with votives not unlike our own St. Roch shrine, but on a colorfully grander scale. This impressive gallery space at Mexico's Consulate --its oldest in the U.S.--provides a significant new addition to this city's art scene. ~Bookhardt

The Photographer Is a Thief: Photographs by Jayme Kalal, through Aug. 3, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427;  Mexico, Te Quiero: 25 Years of Photographs by Charles Lovell, through Aug. 3, Consulate of Mexico, 901 Convention Center Blvd, Suite 118, 528-3722. Left: Man in a Dress by Jayme Kalal