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Debbie Fleming Caffery: THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH 

South of the Border

Southwest Louisiana is noted for unique food and music, but its equally unique art scene has been somewhat overlooked. Fortunately, Acadiana artists have turned up in local galleries of late, most recently at Arthur Roger, where Debbie Fleming Caffery and Francis X. Pavy continue their visual explorations. Pavy's canvases are infused with psychedelic Cajun symbolism and lots of local color. Inspired by an elderly neighbor, a cat lady with a racy past, Velma and the Diamond Ring (pictured) features a dancer in an exotic pose in a liquor bottle in which smaller bottles, each containing a man's profile, float in space. With its iconic mix of dice, guitars, fast cars, crosses and cats, Velma is a kaleidoscopic evocation of a colorful life. Art Opening is a mural-size triptych, impressive in scale. Among the show's gems are some wood-block prints that highlight Pavy's flair for Matisse-like compositions propelled by a kind of late-night zydeco mysticism.

  Caffery's darkly luminous photos focus on residents of a Mexican village where life revolves around a cathedral and various cantinas, one of which doubles as a brothel. Caffery provides a poetic look at the women plying the ancient trade almost in the shadow of the church, interacting with the camera in coyly mysterious poses. Selma partially masks her face with her thick, dark hair. Z is made up like a 1930s Parisian coquette, and Ana bares her breasts while hiding her eyes behind strands of beads. Not all are prostitutes. Octolan is a wise old woman with wrinkles like tree bark, and then there is Octolan's wily cat and the glowing cathedral itself. In Caffery's Mexico, all things seem to dream and glow with their own inner light.

Debbie Fleming Caffery: THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH


Through April 25

Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999;

click to enlarge art_rec-1.jpg


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