St. Roch is one of those urban frontier neighborhoods where artists, charm and creativity share the streets with chaos, crack and crime. Just off St. Claude Avenue, Staple Goods Gallery was an oasis of tranquility even before Aaron Collier's deft graphite drawings turned up on the walls. More sober and subdued than his colorful paintings at Cole Pratt Gallery, they recall the American Scene realist artists of the 1930s, but with disjointed negative spaces and conceptual flourishes that can make the images appear in danger of falling off the edge of the paper. Somewhat experimental, with little to draw in the viewer, they look rather academic, but they also are not what one would see in most commercial spaces and, on balance, this is an almost ideal venue for them.
John Pilson's short videos at Arthur Roger Gallery were filmed on Villere Street, at Kirsha Kaechele's former gallery space. In Idea For a Film (pictured), some of the neighborhood kids devise a story about a couple with a dog-washing business who face eviction. With area artists Adrian Price and Srdjan Loncar as actors, the result is a multilayered vignette. In Hunter, Kaechele narrates a mysterious story, and both videos are poignant reminders of time's passage — Price now lives in New York and Kaechele in Tasmania — but both also capture the dreamy surreality of recent times in the neighborhood. The gallery is still pristine, but kids and artists no longer hang out there, and the blighted houses across the street are gone. Some neighbors complained Kaechele had allowed them to deteriorate. KK Projects used them to display art before Kaechele purchased those two buildings in 2009, and at the time she said she planned to restore the facades and rebuild some parts. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Through Sept. 4
Mining the Edges: Drawings by Aaron Collier
Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331
Through Sept. 12
Night of the Hunter and Idea For a Film: New Videos by John Pilson
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com