Sometimes they don't come back. Some folks moved to middle America after Katrina, fit right in, and stayed there. But what about the hard-core New Orleanians who somehow ended up in extended exile? Folks like post-K Nashville resident Scott Guion, whose striking new paintings are so NOLA-centric they feature vintage local icons like Mr. Bingle and Morgus the Magnificent, relics of a memory bank littered with lost Carnival throws and Lucky Dog wagons. Heck Freezes Over alludes to the recent Saints Super Bowl win, but it's rendered in '70s-style imagery, including the Superdome as a boiling kettle of crawfish and Buddy D as an angel in a dress. The Temptation of St. Ant'ny depicts 1950s-1960s stripper Blaze Starr pounding a bongo in her leopard-skin print bikini atop a giant, levitating plate of beignets, all rendered in the lurid tones of expired Kodachrome. Winged Jax and Falstaff beer cans, and a streetcar topped by the Hubig's pie man, swarm like termites in the sky, all of which poses a frightening warning to the locals: Stay away too long and the fates will relentlessly torment your brain with no end of insidious local kitsch. Beware!
More vintage beer and flashbacks appear in Junkfish Caviar, Susan Gisleson's poetic evocation of her pre-adolescent sexual awakening in the 1970s, an event provoked by her brother's Playboy magazines and beery reveries. All that, plus the experiences of her five sisters and the pop icons of the period, inspired her symbolic mannequin sculptures, archetypal figures in garments made from found objects, thorns, mirror shards, oyster shells and the like. The walls are covered with cutouts of curvy, busty babes incised from '70s-style interior paneling, reflecting the stereotypes women have to work with and around. In Gisleson's world, the value of experiences, like found objects, depends on what you're able to do with them. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Hurricanes, Handgrenades and Other Delights: New Paintings by Scott Guion
Through July 17
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-2506; www.barristersgallery.com
JUNKFISH CAVIAR: A Piece of Work by Susan Gisleson
Through July 4
Antenna Gallery, 3161 Burgundy St, 250-7975; www.press-street.com