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Springtime in Moravia: New paintings by Jim Sohr 

He's a Bywater institution, a dyed-in-the-wool alternative artist whose dedication is such that he rarely ventures far from his studio for any length of time. Neither Katrina nor its subsequent flooding could pry him loose, nor could the National Guard. The 65 year-old Sohr stood his ground, spending his days in the deserted city watching out for looters, protecting his neighbors' properties and, most of all, painting. Painting was his mission because he was on a journey to Moravia, but not in the usual sense of planes and passports and hotel accommodations. No, Sohr was on a trip through inner space to the Moravian recesses of his mind, and the results can now be seen in his new show at the Big Top. But what, or where, is Moravia? Geographically, it is right next to Bohemia, in Czechoslovakia, but here he may be dealing with the more whimsical Moravia of myth and memory. Born near the Czech-American stronghold of Milwaukee, Sohr has lived in or near New Orleans for most of his adult life, yet is still clearly haunted by the ethnic nuances of the Wisconsin of his youth, a mental geography that in the past populated his paintings with prairie flowers, polka-haunted jukeboxes and bug-eyed Slavic blonds. Lately, as his mind has wandered, his palette has deepened, and uncharted territory now awaits us: a new worldview inspired by old Moravia as envisioned by a longtime local bohemian.

Through Feb. 28
The Big Top Gallery, 1638 Clio St., 504.569.2700; www.3rcp.com
click to enlarge art_rec-12659.jpeg

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