I once knew a hobo who called New Orleans "the city of the living dark." A former engineer who took to riding the rails, he voiced concern about tourism in the French Quarter: "There are secret beings in the shadows that tourists shouldn't see, and we sure don't need to see them." Although Jayme Kalal's photographs typically seem set around St. Claude Avenue, they often suggest the hobo's shadowy beings. Sometimes as contorted as pretzels, his figures remind us that New Orleans' strangeness survives. An untitled image of an oddly attired couple on modified tall bikes (pictured) displays his flair for hallucinatory effects, even as his figures resonate the gritty eloquence of Tom Waits' dive bar ballads. Those effects, the analog byproducts of antique shutter designs, can be mind-bending, so blacksmith/sculptor Rachel David, photographed in her studio, appears Shiva-like, with four arms and a tool in each hand. But Kalal's images are more often snatched from the shadow realms where shape-shifting creatures roam the streets, and in the process of capturing them he has created his own original body of work.
Charles Lovell's photographs of Mexico, compiled over the past quarter century, are noteworthy for their thorough documentary explorations of that nations' colorful culture. But Mexico is a place where the works of man and nature can seem quite surreal, so in Graffiti Wall, Puebla, tattered political posters share space with the Virgin Mary in a bandito mask in an image as wryly concise as the work of any Parisian surrealist. Sanctuario De Los Largos depicts a sanctuary with votives not unlike our own St. Roch shrine, but on a colorfully grander scale. The impressive gallery space at the Consulate of Mexico — the oldest in the U.S. — provides a significant new addition to this city's art scene.