For some in the Payton family of legendary musicians, jazz is what life is all about. But Martin Payton is a sculptor, a visual artist no less influenced by music than his famous kin (Walter Payton, Nicholas Payton). His Second Line expo at Heriard-Cimino pays homage to jazz and to the streets from whence it came. He considers these works a "suite in eight movements," and their titles allude to antecedents from Africa and Europe as well as here at home.
Not counting pedestals, these pieces appear smaller than many in his previous shows, but their polish, integrity and resolution are striking. Ravellington (pictured) is a lyrical assemblage of lines, circles and wedges that visually hark to Matisse and the spirit masks of Mali, but despite such multicultural influences, the result is a symphonic unity, a fluid riff flash-frozen in steel. Dogon Dirge melds African abstraction with the contrapuntal elasticity of the jazz funeral, its timeless torsion of joy and sorrow. Bamana Bourre is visually more angular, reflecting a more percussive sense of composition, but the title is a Payton blender concoction: Bamana is a tribe in Mali, and bourre is either a French provincial dance or a Cajun card game. The result is pure Payton, and in this show, the visual jazz musician gives us a virtuoso performance.
Meanwhile at the McKenna Museum, Bruce Keyes' Spirit of New Orleans exhibition of black-and-white photographs provides a panoramic visual survey of the city's famously fertile street culture. Understated and unassuming, these classic documentary shots let their subjects speak for themselves, which is all it takes to convey the eloquence of such artfully animated characters.
Through July 14
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St. 525-7300; www.heriard-cimino.com