Thursday, August 30, 2018

The New Orleans Gambit Art Review

D. ERIC BOOKHARDT Aug 27, 2018 - 12:00 pm

The parallels between visual art and music always have hidden in plain sight, yet that topic rarely is mentioned in art history books. Like music, visual art can resonate harmonically, or not, and even some carefully curated exhibitions can come across as tone deaf. Others maximize visual polyphony in ways that enhance how we experience even very diverse works, as we see in this 10th anniversary exhibition at Octavia Art Gallery featuring work by 10 artists. Regina Scully sets the tone with Inner Journey (pictured), a composition that subtly suggests a city inundated by massive blue waves that seem to frolic as playfully as dolphins. What it means is up to us, but as a composition it flows like an orchestral tone poem. Blue tones also permeate Philemona Williamson's Limbs canvas, where two kids seem to float amid entangled tree limbs under a dreamy azure sky. In the most famous 20th-century music-based painting, Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, colored squares pulsate to the artist's inner rhythms, but here Mason Saltarrelli takes colored patches on a meandering walk on the wild side in an untitled work that visually evokes an edgy modern jazz riff. James Henderson's Flowers — a spray-painted outline of a man in a bow tie with a collage of old photos where his face should be — reads like graffiti, but look again and those brown, purple and yellow splotches on a ragged green background suggest a nihilistic — or abstract jazz — take on Andy Warhol's iconic flower prints.

Conversely, Anne Senstad's minimal Soft Geometry light sculpture rendered in crimson, purple and turquoise neon glows with an otherworldly resonance that contrasts with the aura of a hot tungsten filament — or Miles Davis high note — in Jerry Cabrera's minimal acrylic painting Haven. Both differ from with the smoldering tones in Jeffrey Pitt's Nuclear Power painting ironically rendered in patterning reminiscent of Victorian velvet wallpaper. These works may come from very different places, but their placement in such a visually attuned installation allows for an unusually expansive and self-explanatory viewing experience.

Through Sept. 29. Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia St., (504) 309-4249;