Sunday, February 25, 2018

Brisco, Broussard, Humble, Ratliff, Bizer, Loney

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the St. Claude Arts District. Founded amid in an outpouring of art community activism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, its mostly co-op galleries opened in tandem with the Prospect New Orleans international art exhibition's inaugural P.1 exposition in  2008. During this year's nearly three month run of its Prospect.4 interation, most St. Claude galleries hosted group exhibitions of "gallery artists" that often resembled Whitman Sampler assortments of aesthetic miscellany with occasional tasty morsels to reward the determined viewer. In this context, Antenna's current Part 4 show stands out as unexpectedly, almost shockingly, cohesive.

That may have to do with Horton Humble and Rontherin Ratliff, highly accomplished Nola native members of the Level Artist Collective, whose works set the tone. Humble's arresting Women of Indigo, above, suggests worlds arising within worlds, as if ancient Ashanti earth goddesses reappeared as a towering, yet ethereal, vision of transcendence hovering above clamorous city streets, His nearby Man Tree painting of a human head appears, up close, to be comprised of icons and artifacts from the history of civilization. Rontherin Ratliff riffs on related themes in his mixed media sculptures, strikingly stark concoctions of architectural relics somehow imbued with hints of human consciousness as if building  materials had absorbed something of the spirit of the people they once sheltered. Amelia Broussard's nearby graphical works suggest topographical maps of the obscure corners of the psyche. Kevin Brisco's pop-realist portrait of the wreck of his old high school Honda Prelude is an inexplicably gorgeous evocation of a rite of passage -- of teenage cars as symbols of liberation and its limits. It is a theme amplified by his pop realist portraits -- including his canvases at the Good Children Gallery down the street, where they share wall space with intriguing graphical abstractions by Jessica Bizer, above left, among others. But perhaps the final word on the pop mythology of freedom appears at Barrister's Gallery where Daphne Loney's Death of a Disco Dancer sculpture, top, a horse-size unicorn lying in extremis on the floor as reflections from a disco ball bathe it in a slow funerary dirge of refractory luminosity. ~Bookhardt / Antenna Part 4: Work by Kevin Brisco Jr., Amelia Broussard, Horton Humble and Rontherin Ratliff, Through March 4, Antenna Gallery 3718 Saint Claude Ave., 250-7975.