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Wade in the Water : Paintings based on Negro Spirituals by Charly PalmerI Promise to Remember : Paintings, Collages and Photographs by Jeff Cook

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Old time spirituals, including slave songs such as "Wade in the Water," are often more complex than they seem. Sure, those "Wade in the Water" lyrics refer to the old river baptism ritual, but in pre-Civil War days they also warned slaves to escape along the rivers, and not the main roads, to throw the dogs off the scent. Spirituals and their meaning are explored in Charly Palmer's paintings (pictured) of African-American life ranging from old-time religion to the Civil Rights era, all rendered in a colorfully atmospheric style of realism. On view nearby are some mixed-media sculptures dedicated to Katrina's unclaimed victims by multi-talented doll and fabric artist Rukiya. A series of collages, photos and two- and three-dimensional paintings by highly regarded and widely collected New Orleans artist Jeff Cook rounds out the show. The opening on Saturday features a performance by trumpter Irvin Mayfield at 7 p.m. -- D. Eric Bookhardt

Through August

Stella Jones Gallery, 201 St. Charles Ave., 568-9050; www.stellajonesgallery.com

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