Following Stephen Paul Day's progress as a sculptor is at times like following the history of the medium itself. He doesn't just work in metal, wood, glass, ceramics and found objects, he gets right down to the basics. He built his own bronze foundry, although it became one of the more unusual casualties of Hurricane Katrina. This mostly porcelain expo is partly a result of his work with the facilities at Kohler, the maker of kitchen and bath fixtures and a prominent patron of the arts.
Whimsical, psychological and slightly enigmatic, Day's new work elaborates his interest in the parallels between archeology, myth, children's stories and modern life. Perhaps because porcelain tends to be pale and smooth, this is also Day's most subtle show in many moons. Billed as assorted artifacts from a lost civilization buried in the silt of the Mississippi delta, these pieces soon reveal themselves to be the products of a fertile personal mythology. Cabin Land, the title piece, features bronze busts of a pair of dazed looking kids in front of a display of pale porcelain "wooden" planks and a smattering of other objects that look suspiciously like pill bottles. Reader Tiles (pictured) suggests pages from an archaic children's reader but with some words misspelled: "I is for Injun." Boy and Cabin is a bronze casting of a Tom Sawyer sort of kid contemplating a miniature log cabin that seems to have sprouted from a tree stump. In this show, Day evokes a shadow realm where myth, magic and the subconscious coexist.
A different but related dynamic appears in James McGarrell's colorful A New Ragamala expo of watercolor paintings next door at Heriard-Cimino — a series of visual variations on the raga traditions of Indian music, evocations of nature, culture and the transformational power of the imagination.
Through July 22
Arthur Roger @ 434, 434 Julia St., 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com