Louisiana was named after France's so-called "Sun King," Louis XIV, but the Crescent City is symbolized by the moon and its fluid lunar phases of dark and light. That alternation of dark and light also plays a role in Kaori Maeyama's mysteriously atmospheric paintings of city streets, docks and railroad scenes where shadows often resonate an uncanny life of their own. Trailin' (pictured) depicts a nocturnal street scene where some dated, Detroit-looking taillights beam crimson rays like navigation buoys on an inky, darkened harbor. Defined mostly by random streetlights and the car's ambient reflections, it is a scene so ordinary yet so oddly alive that it comes across like a bit of impromptu visual bebop mysteriously emanating from the shadows of an otherwise desolate byway.
Juncture is a random view of a tangle of railroad tracks on a day when dusk is defined by a desultory ozone haze glowing eerily in a blood orange sunset. Here the dusty railroad cars basking in the junction's vacuous shadowy expanses resonate with a prosaic mystique of the sort that has captivated train-hoppers and hobos obsessed with their promise of faraway places and the infinitely receding mirage of freedom they symbolize. Front End is a tragic-heroic view of a battered semitruck like a fragment of an attempted Anselm Kiefer painting of a truck stop, and Truth is a vision of a grain silo like a kind of heavy industrial holy ghost rising from the tangled shipping facilities that dot the riverfront. Signal–to-Noise, a panoramic view of similarly massive steel relics, extends the metaphor via a murky rhapsody of dark shadows and bright highlights that suggest the electro-synth staccato and vibrato bass lines of elegiac industrial ambient music. Maeyama says her use of electronic "signal to-noise" terminology refers to "the idea that a noise to one person is a signal to another," and "the Japanese notion of wabi sabi, the appreciation of impermanence, imperfection and simplicity." Created via complexly abraded layers of paint, Maeyama's images also recall the Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki's pronouncement: "Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty." Through July 8. Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., (504) 908-7331; www.staplegoods.org.