Sunday, November 11, 2018

Bishop and Pavy at Arthur Roger



Jacqueline Bishop's “Human Threads” series of paintings on linen, paper and vintage little girls' dresses reflect her ongoing exploration of how civilization and wild nature affect each other. In an age when natural disasters occur with increasing frequency as global warming continues unabated, works like “Peaceable Kingdom” depict our strained relationship with nature. Here a muddy mound of roses, pitcher plants, pelicans and viny tendrils smolder under a fiery sky where flocks of small birds ply smoky convection currents in an apocalyptic painterly crescendo in what amounts to a capsule history of a planet earth that has seen many beginnings and endings.

In an age of mass distraction it can often be hard to see the forest for the trees even as vast tracts of them burn out of control, but “Ginko,” a kind of camouflage pattern painted on a vintage cotton girl's dress, reminds us that this ancient tree species' resilience enabled it to survive over millions of years since the earth was young, a quality humans might do well to emulate. “Natural History,” top, offers a contrasting narrative in the form of a blue monolith like an iceberg in which the ghostly remains of extinct species are entombed just as Egyptian pharaohs were entombed in their pyramids. By extending linear notions of time and space into a mythic realm, as exemplified by "Black Bayou," above right, Bishop  imbues these works with a deja vu quality that suggests an evolving visionary ecology in its own right.
    

Francis X. Pavy's “36 Views of the Gulf South,” inspired by Hokusai’s similarly titled woodblock series based on Mount Fuji, effectively illustrates the way south Louisiana's lush tropical nature has inspired the lushness of its culture. Works like “The Moth Where Your Heart Should Be,” a simple yet mysterious composition of marsh grass, moths and hands with crossed fingers, illustrates the almost hieroglyphic fluency of Pavy's work as a kind of visual language that blends coastal ecology with the topography of the psyche in a place where, as Lafcadio Hearn once put it, “all things seem to dream.” ~Bookhardt / “Human Threads:” New Mixed Media Paintings by Jacqueline Bishop; “36 Views of the Gulf:” New Wood Cut Prints by Francis X. Pavy, Through Dec. 22, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

William Monaghan at the CAC



The homing instinct of certain creatures, for instance, swallows returning to Capistrano, is legendary, and Louisianians are no exception. Childhood impressions count, and New Orleans native William Monaghan was fascinated by the machinery where his father worked at Reily Coffee Company. After studying architecture and art at Harvard and Yale, his fascination with machinery endured through his years as a builder and a sculptor in the Northeast. He moved back to New Orleans five years ago, but his most dramatic visit was just after hurricane Katrina when he searched for his mother in waste-deep floodwaters. She survived, but many homes did not, so he founded the Build It Now nonprofit to help local residents build affordable, eco-friendly new homes based on traditional local designs.


His “I-Object” exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center harks to metal construction materials and the machinery that made them. Recalling the gritty found-object assemblage art of the 1960s, untitled works like a magenta rhapsody of twisted steel and metal mesh (detail, top) hark to the soulful aura of distressed and discarded machine parts that served us dutifully before ending up in a scrap pile. Mounted on wood, their monochromatic finishes emphasize ripples of light and shadow on flattened surfaces that resonate a rhythmic, painterly musicality while suggesting a fateful encounter of the Tin Man, from the Wizard of Oz, with a vintage Sherman tank. The sheer force used in the making of metal machine parts gives these works a silent inner pathos that we sense on a subliminal level.

The metal forms that comprise these compositions harks to the early 20th century futurist art movement that embraced disruptive industrialism as an ideal, but the ironic approach of the assemblage artists and found object sculptors of the 1960s anticipated post-industrialism and the decline of the Rust Belt, as we see in a series of Monaghan's prescient earlier works that neatly round out the vision of this Nola native who saw the past and future, not as opposites, but as an ongoing, organic continuum. ~Bookhardt / “I-Object:” Metal Sculpture by William Monaghan, Through Feb. 10, Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528.3805