What's with the babes anyway? Go out in public and it's not unusual to see guys looking at girls. Look again, and it's not so unusual to see women looking at women as well, though probably not because they want to marry them or anything like that. Sizing each other up? Maybe, but it may also go deeper than that. Women can be very visual and intriguing presences, and it's not unusual for female artists, no less than their male counterparts, to focus on them as subjects.
This is nothing new, but Kristin Meyers' approach is unusual or even peculiar. Beyond her traditional ink drawings, Meyers creates her own kind of representational, if whimsical, female figures out of wire and bits of cast-off junk or what have you. Niobe is a seated female with a butterfly under glass in her belly. A concoction of copper and galvanized steel wire, Niobe, like most of Meyers' sculptures, recalls busy surrealist line drawings and those mannequin-like faceless figures in DeChirico's "metaphysical series." Here heavy copper wire helps support many layers of thinner steel wire, with found metal objects serving as knee caps and the like.
In myth, Niobe was a Greek first lady who demanded that her subjects worship her instead of their goddess. The goddess was not pleased and took away Niobe's seven children, hence the butterfly in her womb. And then there is Autonoe, a seated figure comprised of reams of fine wire, who seems pensive, perhaps because she too had trouble with her children, especially her son, the hapless Actaeon, who was ripped to pieces by his own hounds.
Meyers' approach can be fanciful, as in Demonassa, whose voluptuous torso is comprised of heavy copper wire and found objects. Here the network of copper wire again mimics the lines of gnarly ink drawings, but her perky breasts are composed of odd objects -- an acorn-shaped glass light globe and an archaic copper toilet-tank float, respectively -- an almost jocularly surreal touch! Meyers' ink drawings, also female figures, are nicely rendered for the most part, if lacking the intriguing complexity and novelty of the wire sculptures. All are based on mythology, which she says, "distills human experience into a magical realm of sacred space. ... My explorations of this sacred space have led me to the Greek Myths of Transformation."
Classical myths of transformation can be psychologically appealing because they are liberating, reminders that life is often more fluid and magical than our prevailing scientific materialism suggests. A hint of something similar is seen in the dolls and doll photos by Christy Kane at Poet's Gallery. Here Kane's rather gothic girl dolls (some are Siamese twins!), deal with life's dramas and traumas, sometimes explained in wall text narratives. As with myth, they can become metaphors for reality in a buoyantly gothic parallel universe of sorts. The wryly colorful adjacent paintings of Flynn De Marco continue the droll and sometimes mythic intrigue.
No less gothic or mythic in tone are the works of Caro Caron, Josh Simmons and Richard Suicide at L'Art Noir, a new Bywater gallery that, as its name suggests, offers art with an edge. What we see on the walls is an assortment of alternative illustration, some of it explicit, all reminiscent of the classic "underground" comics of yore. Caron's mixed-media pieces are Hispanic fantasias of garish colors and luridly exaggerated figures arrayed in various debasing situations that reflect a humorously misanthropic worldview. Suicide's stuff is more minimal, ducks with breasts and the like, while Simmons' is often explicitly pornographic.
But his series of comic paste-up panels on the New Orleans photographer E.J. Bellocq is actually a thoughtful meditation on the nature of art, photography and pornography, as well as a rebuttal to the urban legends that describe Bellocq as a demented hydrocephalic dwarf. Simmons cites evidence that he was, in fact, a reasonably normal, successful photographer who just happened to have inherited a family home adjacent to Storyville, where one thing apparently led to another. Whatever, L'Art Noir, located in an outbuilding of the Mazant Guest House, is a colorful new addition to this city's burgeoning gallery roster.
- Niobe is like many of Kristin Meyers' sculptures in recalling busy surrealist line drawings and the faceless figures of DeChirico's "metaphysical series."