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Review: Beastly Delights and La Madama 

D. Eric Bookhardt on new work in galleries on Lower Royal Street

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Sometimes art seems to meander. Or so we might infer from recent developments along LoRo, as lower Royal Street is now known. Just as the French Quarter's Dirty Linen Night started out as a spoof of the Warehouse District's White Linen Night, LoRo is said to have begun as a synapse in the mind of Chris Antieau, whose eponymous gallery (927 Royal St.) sets an unusual tone. Soon like-minded others began to gather in our newest semi-cohesive gallery zone, most recently La Madama Bazarre and The Foundation Gallery, which relocated from Julia Street. The Foundation's LoRo show features local painter Jane Talton, whose recent work is often characterized by Renaissance figures with expressive animal heads. Madame Bulldog, whose proudly rumpled canine features recall my third-grade teacher, is based on an original by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and a svelte nude with a lizard head, The Gecko Courtesan, was inspired by a painting by Raphael. Here Talton neatly inverts Craig Tracy's body paintings of women whose anatomies resemble wild animals, as seen at his Painted Alive Gallery (827 Royal St.). Also on view is Talton's Odalisque Plastique (pictured), inspired by Manet's Olympia, but starring a Barbie doll.

La Madama Bazarre, formerly in the Lower Garden District, features a stable of artists who were longtime Magazine Street fixtures. Clay sculptor Lateefah Wright's heads inspired by Voodoo and Storyville are especially resonant. Erzulie Dantor, the fierce Voodoo spirit protector of women, is startling to behold, as is the gallery's namesake, La Madama, a nurturing female wisdom spirit who appears in both Hispanic Santeria and North American spiritual church pantheons. She traditionally resembles Aunt Jemima, but Wright's version features a sleeker, somewhat wilder cinematic quality. Accompanied by the equally colorful work of Molly McGuire, Christy Kane and Sean Yseult, among others, the show resembles a gathering of longtime Lower Garden District friends reunited on LoRo.


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