"So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine/ And the moon rose over an open field/ ... Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike/ They've all gone to look for America" — Paul Simon
Paul Simon's haunting ballad "America" is more than 40 years old, yet it's just as haunting today, perhaps because it captures something of the mystery of life on this vast continent. People go about their everyday lives, yet the interaction between different kinds of people is more dynamic here than anywhere on earth as a kaleidoscope of cultures seems to constantly shift and change. Simon's song came to mind when viewing the Americana show at The Front, a selection of quirky and ironic new works that touch on the innate surrealism of life in the United States.
Few pieces are more fitting than Corey Drieth's installation Big Fat, a wall-size curtain big enough to imply a stage. Made of Spandex that shimmers in metallic rainbow colors, Big exudes gaudy excitement, perhaps in a nod to the razzle-dazzle of the land that invented jazz, rock and big-screen color movies. Lydia Moyer's video projection Reverse Cimarron touches on both Hollywood glitz and old frontier days with loops of vintage footage of manic Westward-Ho pioneers chasing the setting sun as placid buffalo chew their cud on a second screen, in a kind of capsule history of the American Dream. By contrast, Mark Bradley-Shoup's oil on paper Vacant Carwash is a starkly painted evocation of the eerie emptiness that takes hold of the urban landscape when nobody's around. It's yet another oddly poetic offering from one of the most energetic and consistent of the new St. Claude Avenue galleries.
Americana: New Work by 11 American Artists
Through Sat., Aug. 1
The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave.; www.nolafront.org