Printmaking is an ancient endeavor going back to at least the 5th century, if not before. The Du Mois Gallery is located in a converted shotgun house on Freret Street, far from the Julia, St. Claude or Magazine street art districts, and that's a good thing. Artists and galleries are some of the most effective tools for urban renewal, and anything that can make the Freret corridor seem hip and happening is welcome indeed.
The show itself is a grab bag appropriate to a space with a democratic persona, and although there is no unifying theme, there are some intriguing, and sometimes thought-provoking, works to be seen. Aaron McNamee's Gaga Rig (pictured) print of a sultry Lady Gaga juxtaposed with an offshore oil platform offers no obvious connection between the two. Beyond the fact that the pop diva's CDs are made from plastic, a petroleum derivative, what this points to is not just the commodification of sex appeal but also the sex appeal of highly profitable commodities like oil. A retort of sorts is seen in Julia Samuels' Iowa Has It Figured Out, a nearly 8-foot-wide relief print that looks like a German expressionist vision of a wind farm replete with spiky turbines and high-tension towers amid a spidery web of wires. Techno-pop symbology continues in Don Maitland's print pastiche of engraved acoustic musical instruments and archaic audio devices punctuated by planes, rockets and razzmatazz in a hieroglyphic scroll of jazz-era alchemy. The party continues in Amanda Turpen's Sunday Dinner relief print of well-dressed alligators feasting on a cow carcass in a setting reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury group in London. And while Freret is in no danger of becoming Bloomsbury any time soon, the Du Mois Gallery is a step in the right direction. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Through August 6
Cold Drink: Printmaking Invitational Group Exhibition
Du Mois Gallery, 4921 Freret St., 818-6032