“Mixed-Media Photographs and glass sculpture at Arthur Roger Gallery,” Gambit

by D. Eric Bookhardt, Gambit

In December, New Orleans is brimming with art events including Prospect.2, photo shows at PhotoNOLA’s array of gallery shows and the architecture expo DesCours, presented by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It’s a bit much. Among the photography shows, Arthur Roger Gallery got a jump start with Ted Kincaid’s archaic looking land, sea and sky scenes resembling 19th century “wet-plate” photographs, a process prized for its poetic imperfections, but Kincaid’s work is mostly digital. Here the landscapes are dramatically otherworldly, as if some 19th century romantic artist like Alfred Bierstadt had suffered many darkroom mishaps but still got some occasionally inspired results. The same goes for maritime scenes with ghostly sailing ships traversing preternaturally foggy seas, some studded with icebergs, and all somehow imbued with the patina of the ages. Open Sea 719 depicts a schooner in a pea soup fog, a ghost ship out of Coleridge — only here the albatross has already fled as it drifts toward an iceberg. Even hints of dry ice don’t mar its musty Victorian charm; it’s like something the ancient mariner himself might have dreamed up in a Laudanum trance. I especially liked the moon pictures. Lunar 4321 suggests a triumph of Victorian science, a futurist vision from a distant past like those circa 1902 Georges Melies movies about moon travel. Imbued with the elegant lucidity of a more romantic time, Kincaid’s elemental otherworldliness complements Dale Chihuly’s extravagant baroque glass concoctions in the adjacent gallery, decorative fantasies of impossible biological or marine life rendered vitreous as if by elfin magicians in faraway places. In an odd twist, Chihuly’s twisted baroque confections are seemingly echoed in Kourtney Keller’s kinetic, mirror-glass found-object sculptures at the Home Space Gallery, only these glittering, rotating, science fiction structures — like mini-asteroids from a disco ball universe — may have originated in the far reaches of Bywater instead.

Through Dec. 24
Every Doubt That Holds You There: Mixed-media photographs by Ted Kincaid
White: Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com