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Review: new work from Alan Gerson and Wendo on Julia Street

Paintings, sculpture and prints at LeMieux and Boyd Satellite



Spring has sprung, and pollen, hormones and mayhem are in the air. Birds, bees and even beetles are doing their thing as flowers blossom everywhere. All that and more appear in some new exhibits on Julia Street. Deft Kafka-esque surrealist Alan Gerson long has painted cautionary canvases depicting the more unsettling aspects of earthly life. Here, nature's flair for deadly beauty appears in vivid canvases such as Ancient Sea IV, where moray eels, crabs, starfish and carnivorous worms seem to casually devour each other. Similarly, his lushly painted Vietnam depicts a densely impenetrable bamboo thicket suffocating all life except for a few decorous bugs. But bugs rule in A Fondness for Beetles, where they gather like dense encrustations of shimmering, bejeweled predators massing for the territorial expansion promised by climate change. An accompanying wall text quotes the immortal words of geneticist J.B.S. Haldane: "The Creator, if He exists, has an inordinate fondness for beetles."   Pop art was refreshing when it first appeared in the 1960s, but more recent postmodern pop caused rigor mortis to set in with a vengeance. Enter the emerging New Orleans artist Wendo, who fuses traditional comic book figuration with the digital ambiguities of modern life. Vvaves (pictured) features figures with histrionic, Mad Men-era EC comics-style flourishes set in swirls of paint that meld the frenetic electricity of Jackson Pollock with a graffitilike insouciance. Maybe He'll Find Her features a Marvel comics-style superhero carrying off a modern tattooed maiden, but in You're No Longer the Man I Met Online, a retro late 1950s-style couple experiences a desultory moment as the guy morphs into a nattily attired police dog. Not everything works quite so well, but Wendo's best pictures return us to timeless mythic narratives that are hardwired into the human psyche and "pop" out at us with a disarming candor that makes for an impressive first Julia Street solo show.

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