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John Henry: Recent Sculpture


It's been said — by Marcel Duchamp, among others — artworks have a life of their own, but that goes double for certain local sculptures that have seemingly become nomadic of late. It all began a year ago when Ernest Trova's Profile Canto, which once graced the grounds of the New Orleans Museum of Art, was loaned to Jefferson Parish to try to make Veterans Memorial Boulevard look civilized. Now Leandro Erlich's Window and Ladder: Too Late for Help piece, which was a Lower 9th Ward landmark during Prospect.1, has found a new home in the New Orleans Museum of Art's Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Meanwhile, John Henry's monumental Zach's Tower, part of Michael Manjarris' ongoing Sculpture for New Orleans (SFNO) project, is being installed near the Poydras Street entrance of Harrah's Casino, not far from its original proposed site near the Superdome. With this game of sculptural musical chairs in full swing, it is welcome news that Louise Bourgeois' Eye Benches piece, another SFNO installation, is staying put for at least another year in Lafayette Square.

  Of all the above artists, few are more mysterious than Henry, a Kentucky-born resident of Chattanooga, Tenn. Part of his mystique is that his work has been shown all over the world as he maintained a low profile. Part of it is his deceptively simple style, an approach that suggests seeming contradictions like "Zen engineering." The eye reads the elements as having spontaneously fallen into place even as the mind recognizes them as products of great precision. Like splash or starburst patterns, they suggest bamboo sticks tossed randomly to form the hexagrams used in traditional Asian interpretations of the I Ching. Others will have their own interpretation — part of Henry's somewhat protean modus and an example of what philosopher Eric Hopper, in discussing Western culture, once called "the mysterious Occident." — D. Eric Bookhardt

Through April 28

Gallery Bienvenu, 518 julia street, 525-0518;

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