Sunday, August 3, 2014

Talton at The Foundation; Wright et al at La Madama

Sometimes art seems to meander. Or so we may infer from recent developments along LoRo, as lower Royal Street is now known. Just as the French Quarter's Dirty Linen Night started out as a spoof on Julia Street's White Linen Night, LoRo is said to have begun as a synapse in the mind of Chris Antieau, whose eponymous gallery (927 Royal) sets an unusual tone. Soon like minded others--most recently La Madama Bazarre and the Foundation Gallery, formerly of Julia Street--began to cluster in our newest cohesive gallery zone, an area where Lowbrow Art meets Neo-Folk and Pop Surrealism. Foundation's LoRo show features Jane Talton, whose work falls into the latter category. Her Odalisque Plastique (top), inspired by Manet's Olympia but now starring Barbie is a classic of the genre. Her most recent work is often characterized by renaissance figures with expressive animal heads. Madame Bulldog, whose proudly rumpled features recall my old third grade teacher, was inspired by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and a svelte lizard-headed nude, The Gecko Courtesan, was inspired by a painting by Raphael. Here Talton neatly inverts Craig Tracy's body paintings of ladies whose anatomies resemble wild animals as seen at his nearby Painted Alive Gallery (827 Royal), below.

La Madama Bazarre, formerly of the Lower Garden District, features a stable of artists who were  longtime Magazine Street fixtures. Clay sculptor Lateefah Wright's heads inspired by voodoo and Storyville are especially resonant. Erzulie Dantor, below, the fierce voodoo spirit protector of women, is startling to behold, as is the gallery's namesake, La Madama, left, a female wisdom spirit who appears in both Hispanic Santeria and north America's Spiritual Church pantheon. She traditionally resembles Aunt Jemima, but Wright's version has a sleeker yet wilder cinematic quality. Throw in the equally colorful work of  Molly McGuire, Christy Kane and Sean Yseult among others, and this show suggests a gathering of longtime Lower Garden District friends reunited on Royal Street. And if these expos may lack the more obvious sturm und drang or portentous themes associated with some other local gallery districts and museums, much that defines the early 21st century human condition is really all there just below these works' seductively colorful surfaces. ~Bookhardt

Beastly Delights: Paintings by Jane Talton, Through Aug. 31, The Foundation Gallery, 1109 Royal St., 568-0955; La Madama: Recent Work by Lateefah Wright, Molly McGuire, Christy Kane, Sean Yseult & Others; La Madama Bazarre, 910 Royal St., 236-5076.