Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gerson at LeMieux; Wendo at Boyd Satellite

Spring has sprung, and pollen, hormones and mayhem are in the air. Birds, bees and even beetles are doing their thing as flowers flirtatiously bloom everywhere. All that and more turns up in some lively shows on Julia Street.

Pop art was refreshing when it first appeared in the 1960s, but more recent postmodern pop caused rigor mortis to set in with a vengeance. Enter the emerging Nola artist Wendo, who fuses traditional comic book figuration with the digital ambiguities of modern life. Vvaves, top, features figures with histrionic, Mad Men-era EC comics- style flourishes set in swirls of paint that meld the frenetic electricity of Jackson Pollock with a graffiti - like insouciance. Maybe He'll Find Her features a Marvel comics - style superhero carrying off a modern tattooed maiden, but in You're No Longer the Man I Met Online, left, a retro, nifty late-1950s style couple experiences a desultory moment as the guy morphs into a nattily attired police dog. Not everything works quite so well, but Wendo's best pictures return us to timeless mythic narratives that are hardwired into the human psyche, and “pop” out at us with a disarming candor that makes for an impressive first Julia Street solo.

Deft Kafkaesque surrealist Alan Gerson has long painted cautionary canvases depicting the more unsettling aspects of earthly life. Here, nature's flair for deadly beauty appears in vivid images like Ancient Sea IV, above, where moray eels, crabs, carnivorous worms and starfish seem to rather casually devour each other. Similarly, his lushly painted Vietnam canvas depicts a densely impenetrable bamboo thicket stifling all life but for a few decorous bugs. But bugs rule in A Fondness for Beetles, where they gather like dense encrustations of shimmering, bejeweled predators massing for the vast territorial expansion promised by climate change. An accompanying wall text quotes the immortal words of geneticist J.B.S. Haldane: “The Creator, if He exists, has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” ~Bookhardt / Recent Works: Paintings and Sculpture by Alan Gerson, Through April 15, LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522.5988; VVAVES: New Mixed Media Paintings and Prints by Wendo, Through March 28, Boyd Satellite Gallery, 440 Julia St., 899-4218.