Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spa Castle at Pelican Bomb Gallery X; Tuff Enough at the Scott Edwards Gallery

To celebrate its 5th birthday, the Pelican Bomb art web site opened its own exhibition space, Gallery X, on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Its inaugural exhibit explores an unusual theme: parties though the ages. Curated by Theo Eliezer and Micah Lerned of Momma Tried magazine, the opening night evoked a makeshift Brooklyn disco with décor by Bywater expats but the exhibit itself resembles a Ste. Anne marching society sub-krewe bash on the morning after. Lifesize photo cut-outs of friends of the curators arrayed as campy Greek gods and goddesses greet visitors in the front room. A surrealistic parlor like a local Mad Hatter's tea party features weird taxidermed animals, wacko bric-a-brac and eggshells with fortune cookie messages inside, while beyond a silver foil wall lies The Glory Hole Bar, an art installation celebrating the “grime and glamor” of the Andy Warhol factory years. It's very high concept, but it all makes sense if you can somehow channel the ghost of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Meg Turner's series of 20 tintype portraits rendered as large photogravures reflects her version of family values, but the folks in her extended family are a pretty edgy lot. Made up of very butch ladies and often willowy guys, it includes Meredith, looking rough and ready with her motorcycle, left, and Courtney, a lady boxer throwing punches, as well as Owen, below, a dapper contortionist in a vintage swimsuit, among others like gun toting cowgirls and a cat-puppeteer: Mayor Marshmellow and the Bywater Kitten Boys. No Barbie Doll updates will ever be diverse enough to encompass this bunch, but the folks seen in seaside group photos like Sometimes We Call It Goth Beach really do recall old photos of family outings, albeit with hints of John Waters. Turner's starkly empathic images telegraph that family is what you create with your nearest and dearest here and now, in your everyday life. ~Bookhardt / Spa Castle: Site-Specific Installation by Momma Tried, Through March 13, Gallery X, 1612 O.C. Haley Blvd., 252-0136; Tuff Enough: Mixed Media Photogravures by Meg Turner, Through June 12, Scott Edwards Gallery, 2109 Decatur St., 610-0581.