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Coastal Art with a Cause 

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As oil continues to gush into the Gulf, people cope and respond any way they can. In some Gulf-themed art shows around town, the work tends to express either idealized views of what we risk losing or more biting commentaries protesting the disastrous effects of an industry run amok. The Gulf: Works Completed Before the BP Oil Spill at Arthur Roger Gallery features an array of provocative pieces that occasionally seem downright prophetic. For instance, Jacqueline Bishop's haunting Trespass is an assemblage of bird replicas interwoven with baby shoes and other flotsam all rendered in a black, oil slick-like finish. Allison Stewart's Silent Sign landscape painting resembles a marsh mired in oily muck, and Simon Gunning's idle trawlers at dusk look fraught and portentously fateful.

  Our Gulf Coast at LeMieux contains a slightly sunnier and sometimes more recent mix. Billy Solitario's tranquil realist Gulf coast scenes are typical of his oeuvre, but his less familiar still-life paintings include some big fat glistening oysters as well as a beautifully painted pair of fish wrapped in newspaper that, viewed closely, contains news stories about the spill. A rare work of current vintage, it's an instant classic. More realist works appear at the Garden District Gallery, including one of Auseklis Ozols' pelican paintings (pictured), a view of our state bird looking heroic atop a piling, unsullied wings partially outstretched and bathed in the golden glow of the sun breaking between storm clouds. A patriotic vision, it's dedicated to the great Ocean Springs artist Walter Anderson, and he of all people would understand: Here, our coast is our culture. Now as in ancient times, the pelican is a sacred creature, a symbol that should never be defiled. — D. Eric Bookhardt

The Gulf: Works Completed Before the BP Oil Spill

Through July 17

Arthur Roger @ 434, 434 Julia St., 522-1999;

Our Gulf Coast: Group Show of Gulf Coast Art

Through July 24

LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522-5988;

Treasures of the Gulf: Group Exhibition of Gulf Coast Art

Through July 31

The Garden District Gallery, 1332 Washington Ave., 891-3032;


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