Raine Bedsole once stumbled upon a fleet of derelict World War II Navy vessels moored along the Tensaw River in Alabama. Surrounded by dense fog, they looked ghostly, like massive memories suspended in ether. Now Bedsole makes her own vessels, but they are far smaller. Like spindly canoes and kayaks clad in paper in the form of old photos, children's drawings, scraps of antique maps, ledgers and engravings, they comprise a skein of dreams or a litany of lost moments from the everyday lives of the past. At Gallery Bienvenu, they are lit from above and cast portentous shadows; some glow like Japanese lanterns. The ancient Egyptians used to send their deceased away in boats that were guided across the heavens by Anubis, the dog god, but among other peoples it was birds that embodied the spirits of the departed. On the back wall of the gallery, there is a pair of large wings that, like the boats, are made up of prosaic paper scraps from the past. Here the spirits of the departed may have taken flight, but every boat carries a contemplative cargo of dreams, memories and misplaced moments.
Lillian Butter's paintings and drawings at Barrister's Gallery are all about the subculture of pierced and tattooed wanderers who cluster in the St. Roch neighborhood. As expressionistic as anything by George Grosz or Ralph Steadman, the works on view seem to reflect the musings of a fantastic and tortuous imagination — or so we thought until her subjects showed up en masse at her opening, revealing Butter is actually a realist. Either way, this Canadian punker, who divides her time between Toronto and New Orleans, is a talented artist as well as the recording angel of a particular milieu. What Toulouse-Lautrec was to the Paris demimonde of the past, Butter is to the St. Roch subculture of the present. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Ghost Fleet: Sculpture and Works on Paper by Raine Bedsole
Through May 22
Gallery Bienvenu, 518 Julia St., 525-0518; www.gallerybienvenu.com
Lost Little Girl's Art Show: Paintings and Drawings by Lillian Butter
Through May 7
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506; www.barristersgallery.com