Welcome to NoRo. That’s short for North Robertson Street, where May Gallery is located in a fortresslike former brewery next to an overpass. Currently situated in an industrial frontier of warehouses and train tracks, NoRo should be its moniker if the area gets trendy. The bunkerlike gallery is well suited to Momo’s super-graphic style of environmental art. One of a new breed of locally based global artists and curators, Momo seems to be perpetually in orbit, graphically modifying building facades across Europe and the Americas, yet his designs are a far cry from graffiti, instead suggesting deco or constructivist abstraction updated with pop flourishes and saturated electric colors.
Much of this show is made up of Momo’s extensive sculptural modification of the May interior itself (pictured). The title, Butt Joints, is a carpentry term for the simplest construction method, but what we see is a complex hallucinatory maze where formerly static floors and walls come alive with colorfully pulsating forms that evoke pop art pyramids, clouds or skateboard ramps, accompanied by his nearby paintings and drawings. The May space also includes a residency that recently hosted several, mostly European, artists, complementing the locals ensconced in their own studios elsewhere in the building. Like the DuMois Gallery on Freret Street, which recently expanded to larger quarters now shared by the office of the website Uptown Messenger, May constitutes an aesthetic enclave that sets a new tone for a neighborhood in transition. Such spaces take this city’s burgeoning experimental and emerging artist scene, formerly dominated by cafes, to a new level. Even so, the latter can still surprise, as we see in the graphite portraits of hipster heroes inlcuding William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick by Raven Creature at Byrdie’s. Rendered with remarkable presence in a hyper-realist style, this is one of the most intriguing shows currently at a St. Claude art space.
Through Jan. 25
Butt Joints: Large-scale sculpture and paintings by Momo
May Gallery, Suite 105, 2839 N. Robertson St., (504) 316-3474
Through Feb. 4
Drawing From the Inside: Drawings by Raven Creature
Byrdie’s, 2422 St. Claude Ave., (504) 656-6794