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New Work by Dona Lief, Ann Hornback and Andrew Bascle

D. Eric Bookhardt on new works at Taylor Bercier Fine Art


In the late 1980s, an art movement arose called the Visionary Imagists. Spawned in a Marigny gallery operated by a charismatic and controversial Ecuadorian expatriate named George Febres, the Visionary Imagists melded American imagism with the Magic Realist tradition of Latin America, reflecting an undercurrent that actually had been just below the surface of local art making for ages. When Febres died in 1996, the artists went their separate ways. While some moved on to high-profile galleries, others like Dona Lief, Ann Hornback and Andrew Bascle are less well known. Lief has long been intrigued by the parallels she sees between consumer culture icons and cold-blooded creatures like spiders and crabs, and her most recent works continue in this devolutionary vein, with an emphasis on social and environmental issues. Her strongest painting in this show, Cry Baby Cry (pictured), depicts a bawling infant with a flaming aura topped by a hermit crab worn like a cap. Hermit crabs are among the species most devastated by the BP oil disaster, and here the volatile chemistry of anger and lost innocence is palpable. Similar sentiments appear in Bascle's found-object sculpture World Bank, a spider-like concoction cobbled from a toy handgun, a miniature globe and false teeth affixed to a wire armature supported by legs made of steak knives. Once again the connection between insects and institutions is emphasized in works that appear predatory yet humorous, robotic yet whimsical. Hornback's no less surreal but more nuanced paintings take us to a realm of nature spirits where a vaguely vampy siren in an alligator mask and evening attire evokes mythic figures like Hecate, the Greco-Roman demoness of the underworld. But this is Louisiana, where boundaries between nature and culture, land and water, dream and reality are not sharply defined, making Hornback's alligator woman an evocative spirit guide to an amphibious realm where imagination and the wild are forever intertwined. — D. Eric Bookhardt

New Work by Dona Lief, Ann Hornback and Andrew Bascle

Through March 31

Taylor Bercier Fine Art, 233 Chartres St., 527-0072;

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