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Second Annual Gulf-South Regional Artists Group Exhibition — Mark Grote, Scott Finch, Anne Stagg 

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  BECA Gallery on St. Joseph Street, across from the Contemporary Arts Center, bills itself as a "Bridge for Emerging Contemporary Art," and its 2nd Annual Gulf-South Regional show exemplifies a neatly cerebral approach toward that end. Tidy indeed are Luke Sides' Cup Cakes, life-size, cast-iron replicas with cast metal icing. Tiny icons of approach-avoidance syndrome, they evoke a clash of associations, seductive comestibles versus cold, hard metal, a vibratory conundrum felt in the roots of the teeth. Mark Grote's Los Alamos 4 is also tidy, but with the added funk of a found-object provenance: a battered metal carrying case from military ballistics tests in New Mexico. It now holds tidy rows of little glass bottles filled with mystery granules and topped by lead stoppers. This mingling of obsessive order with overtones of violence harks to cinematic mysteries embedded in the subconscious, vintage notions of nuclear apocalypse and dirty bombs with production values by Alfred Hitchcock.

  No less mysterious but very different in tone is Scott Finch's pop painting Put It Upon Their Eyes and Heads. The hard-edge pastiche of two young women kissing features a Waring blender flying, poltergeistlike, overhead as a passenger jet drops from the sky, a seemingly random confluence of events that serves as a kind of cockeyed rumination on the unpredictability of chaos in modern life. Order of a sort returns in Anne Stagg's From A to B, and Sometimes C, an exploration of the migration of birds across a cerulean blue sky, a study of patterning and randomness and the role they play in the lives of birds — and those who observe them.

2nd ANNUAL GULF-SOUTH REGIONAL: Regional Artists Group Exhibition

Through May 23

BECA Gallery, 527 St. Joseph St., 566-8999; www.becagallery.com

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