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Grant v. Lee: Group show of contemporary works related to the Civil War


The Civil War was the great cataclysm of 19th century America. Miscalculations on both sides led to unspeakable carnage that still haunts us. Featuring the work of 14 artists from all over, and curated by Sophie T. Lvoff, this show is less about history and more about the war's psychic legacy as a subtly pervasive influence. Chris Domenick's semi-abstract Calvary Monologues are graphite grave rubbings from Civil War-era headstones with memorial inscriptions layered in expressionistic patterns that evoke the chaos of the war itself — a theme echoed in James Taylor Bonds' painting of battlefield mayhem with Civil War soldiers seemingly joined by haggard youths from later conflicts in which the venues changed but the mayhem remained the same. Even so, what stood out about the Civil War was the awful intimacy of battles fought on the combatants' home turf, pitting friends or family against each other. Something of that violent intimacy is evoked by Markus Fiedler's precise beeswax sculpture of a lifesize military knife, or Grant Willing's large photos of knives resting on planks framed by dark forests. Katherine Wolkoff's large color photograph of a human-size hollow in high weeds suggests the imprint of a fallen body, an eerily pastoral touch reinforced by Paul Mpagi Sepuya's psychically fraught photographs of his Louisiana aunt's rural home. Erik Kiesewetter's digital images of darkly distressed paper with boldface type announcing It Was No Riot — It Was A Massacre (pictured), recall the turmoil of the times even as Rachel Jones' line drawings of Civil War soldiers whimsically portray the perpetrators and victims of the carnage. But the most whimsical work is Nina Schwanse's video of herself as two drag queens acting out the roles of Grant and Lee in a catfight that either trivializes the conflict, or illustrates how it still pervades American life — in a show that is either thoughtfully subtle or overly vague, depending, like everything about the war, on your perspective. — D. Eric Bookhardt

Through July 3

Grant v. Lee: Group show of contemporary works related to the Civil War

Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427;

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