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Artistic expressions at No Dead Artists

Jeff Pastorek What We Want, detail Gouache and Ink (Courtesy of the artist and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery)

Working in an art gallery, I’m not always able to get out to other art openings. So it was a treat to be able to attend some of the second-Saturday openings in September. These included a few of the galleries along Julia Street, which had postponed their openings from the first Saturday of the month due to Hurricane Isaac.

I saw a lot of art that I enjoyed that evening, but was really taken by the work of an artist named Jeffery Pastorek, whose pieces are among the 40 works selected to be a part of the annual No Dead Artists juried exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.

Pastorek's “What We Want” is composed of more than 100 tiny faces (176, to be exact). Some are smiling, some are scowling, some are faces you’d like to encounter, and some you might run away from screaming. But each is unique. Every face was selected to correspond to a “want” -- a process that Pastorek says was painstaking at times to do.

Each visage captures a desire. Human or chimp.

“Self-Approval,” “Perfection,” “More Time” match faces you might recognize, like Al Pacino, Jesus as portrayed by Willem Dafoe or the bust of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. When a face wasn’t readily available to correspond with a “want,” Pastorek simply makes one up, he says, starting with his own expressions in the mirror and then rendering an image around that. He adds that he does reuse faces, but changes the expressions.

Pastorek’s work is inspired by man’s attempts to document human experiences and things that aren’t easy to catalog.

“What We Want” initially overwhelms the viewer with images; hopefully, you’ll go back for another look. The artist’s intent, he explains, is for the piece to be read sequentially, concluding with a statue (Abraham Lincoln) whose “want” is life itself -- “dna.”

Oh, and did I mention there are chimps as well?

No Dead Artists runs through September 29 at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400 Julia St. Jeffery Pastorek’s work can also be seen online at www.jeffpastorek.com/

Christy Wood writes about the New Orleans art scene for NolaVie. She is co-director of LeMieux Galleries.