It has been said that New Orleans' collective soul is creative to the core and that it uses time like a tone, or patina, that dissolves the boundaries between dark and light, present and past. This mysterious quality sometimes is seen in altar-like arrangements of curious mementos on mantels in Marigny and Bywater, and while some newcomers may not get it, Pennsylvania-born photographer Kristina E. Knipe expresses it eloquently in large, dreamy photographs of her colorful friends in their native habitat. In Backyard, four zoned-out millennials languish amid tangles of vines and baroque accoutrements like a Baudelaire poem set in Bywater. In Front Room, a luridly pendulous banana tree bloom affixed to a door coexists with a fallen chandelier resting as unsteadily as an elegant drunk on the floor. That sense of people and things silently sharing psychic secrets is captured in Jenna with Passionflower (pictured). Here a blindfolded young woman holding an antique magnifying glass over a passionflower epitomizes the long lost practice of "seeing" with other senses. In tarot decks, cards with blindfolded figures often suggest people can be surrounded by endless possibilities yet fail to see them because their vision is limited. Knipe's beautifully rendered images reveal a world with many more levels than most of us ever see in our daily lives.
Kevin Brisco Jr.'s paintings came as a surprise. I knew his performance and installation work were powerful, but his beautifully painted impressions of the people and things that define his world — a tricked out '83 Chevy with Chrome Detailing, guys in dreadlocks sitting on a stoop, a chandelier in the Versailles palace, portraits of friends at ease in settings where their inner essence shines through — all convey a sense of how making and looking at art can instill rich new levels of awareness that the madness of everyday modern life may cause us to overlook. Brisco and Knipe are young, yet as artists, both seem wise beyond their years.