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John Barnes Jr. — Eschatology: Recent Sculpture and Drawings 

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It's an unusual name for an art show. Eschatology is a branch of religious study that deals with endings in general and the Last Judgment in particular. Local artist John Barnes Jr. felt it was an appropriate term to use for his current crop of wooden sculptures inspired by old shotgun homes that endured Hurricane Katrina-related flooding, which was often described as biblical. Thanks to the work of numerous visual artists, the classic, dilapidated New Orleans shotgun house has emerged as an enduring icon of local African-American life, and Barnes' compact yet intense assemblages further elaborate this legacy.

  Abstract in form yet realistic in detail, his wood and mixed-media sculptures are curved and vertical, suggesting upended wooden boats as well as ghostly two-story structures. It is a form that also evokes the enchanted huts of folk tales as well as the hoods worn by "gangstas" trying to conceal their identities. Weathered and distressed, they seem haunted by both personal memories and impersonal forces beyond anyone's control. Inequity Loft Towers (pictured) is a gaunt, rakish hulk of overlapping shingles and distressed paint. The interior chambers seem to sag under the weight of accumulated personal histories, the ghosts of former occupants. Barnes' Hooded Lilliputian Gangster series is comprised of similar, smaller pieces. Distressed and partially torched, they bear gang graffiti, as well as the crude "X" tattoos of houses slated for demolition, like crude tattoos. The drawings suggest detailed schematics for the construction of blight, which is really what these works are all about: the beauty and blight of a city where poetry and tragedy, community and chaos often coexist in close proximity.

Through July 25

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


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