Sometimes the most telling things hide in plain sight. One of the literal watershed moments in local history was the way diverse communities came together to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Artists were no exception, and a decade later that spirit of collaboration is stronger than ever. The nonprofit Foundation Gallery devotes 25 percent of its sale proceeds to other community-oriented nonprofits, and sales from its current show support Antenna Gallery. Antenna is currently sponsoring Blights Out, an anti- blight arts nonprofit, via its Antenna Incubator program, in a striking example of collaboration taken to the next level. St. Claude art scene pioneer Meg Turner uses vintage 19th-century techniques to portray this city's edgy alternative lifestyle scene, and Zibby (pictured) suggests a retro-futurist Carmen Miranda in a post-apocalyptic burlesque performance. But Courtney Brooke Hall's Still Life flips the script by using digital magic to evoke a gorgeously gothic Dutch Renaissance "vanitas" tableau replete with flowers, fruit and a sleekly stylish severed female head. The show seems too eclectic, but the organizations behind it are intensely focused on building a better and fairer city.
The Pelican Bomb nonprofit website operates out of a rugged storefront on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard that also houses its exhibition space, Gallery X. Its current offerings by Erin Johnson include a haunting sound collage of interwoven British and Arabic sea songs digitally modulated by ever-changing real-time wave action in Chandeleur Sound in the Gulf of Mexico. Her Providence Canyon multiscreen video provides an in-depth look at the complicated human story behind a Georgia canyon created by decades of cotton farming-induced erosion. Another video, Hole, explores Minnesota ice fishing as an allegory for how humans affect, and are affected by, the places we inhabit. Johnson's multimedia works are evocative ruminations on how nature and culture remain inextricably interwoven.