Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cynthia Scott, Alex Podesta, Stacey Holloway and Antonia Zennaro at The Front

The St. Claude Arts District came about as an experiment in community self-determination by artists  rebuilding their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Today, the noble experiment is thriving in a community where the freedom to experiment its own reward, so it's fitting the current shows at The Front focus on our rapidly changing world as an unplanned experiment that confronts us all. Cynthia Scott's Un-Nature series explores how technology impacts our sense of reality as climate change and genetic engineering keep us guessing. Here species like bees and Zinnias appear in clear cast resin like artifacts preserved in amber while otherworldly photos like Space Garden, top, convey an unsettling sense of what our future yards may look like. 

The alluring perfection of geometric forms has long inspired scientists, but the human body makes geometry look a lot more lived in, as we see in Alex Podesta's Ballspine sculpture, above left, an eerily humanoid spinal column with rubber balls as vertebral discs. In another, tangles of inner tubes suggest intestines, but Infinitude features a sculpted hand clasping a looped inner tube in the figure-eight shaped infinity symbol in an iconic aspect of Podesta's most eloquently serendipitous work to date. Stacey Holloway's sculptures envision the animal kingdom as a parallel universe with human sensibilities including a sense of “home,” and related longings for status and security in a world where lambs, bunnies and foxes reflect familiar human cravings. In Italian photographer Antonia Zennaro's The Last Singers of Bahia Solano series of photo-tapestries, portraits of Colombian women in a remote region known for narrative singing appear as icons of a vanishing way of life. There, villages are overwhelmed by drug smugglers as traditional lifestyles close to nature are upended and fishermen, seduced by previously unimaginable riches, are recruited to help move vast quantities of cocaine to the insatiable North -- a mutually destructive process that undermines America while slowly silencing a simple, but poetic, way of life long celebrated in song.  ~Bookhardt / New Work by Cynthia Scott, Alex Podesta, Stacey Holloway and Antonia Zennaro, Through Aug. 6, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980.