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James Michalopoulos: Paintings


He's a French Quarter art star, his paintings are everywhere, and his gallery is a Bienville Street fixture. And now it's open once again. Actually, it's been open for a few weeks, but for a while the Quarter was unusually vacant as visitors, spooked by draconian news stories, stayed away in droves. Now that things seem to be slowly normalizing once again, it's time to celebrate those Vieux Carré fixtures, and this guy surely qualifies. A noted painter of a certain sort of seemingly careening New Orleans buildings, effervescent babes and funky old cars, Michalopoulos has a way with a palette knife that cuts to the quick and strikes a chord somewhere in the psyche of almost anyone who's ever visited this place. In a city where right angles don't exist, he divines the pressure points and makes antique buildings dance -- or maybe he merely observes and records their dancing. Certainly, we've all had evenings that drifted into mornings where the buildings seemed to dance, especially on lower Decatur, where such things have always been a little more obvious. We may pretend that it was just the effects of whatever was in that Thai rice whiskey that whatsisname pulled out from a secret nook at his restaurant, but now we can see the actual evidence in paintings that read like Rimbaud's poem, "The Drunken Boat," only here it's more like drunken balconies. Of them, Michalopoulos says, "I'm listening for the inspirational and I express it as a visual lyric. These paintings portray the places we live and sometimes love, through harmonics and disharmonics, accord and discord." And he means that.

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