Portraits of the Artists

Included are the obvious works (images of houses) and some interesting furnishings, especially by Mark Paradowski (a lamp) and Clare Bramlette (a table). But mostly there are in-between works that evoke "home" rather lethargically. Indeed, lethargy is the other part of this exhibition's problem. By the time you water down a theme like "home" the way this show does, no one can generate the energy to liven it up.

The bright spots are worth noting: Rob Thornberry's "Abstract Landscape" lays a topography of encaustic over a landscaper's blueprint, achieving a rich, layered effect; and Barbara Williams' "Alpha, Richard, Dorris and Joe Garrison" mixes intaglio prints, ink and collage to capture the awkward sweetness of old family photos.

In contrast, Art St. Louis' other current exhibition, Varsity Art V, holds together quite coherently, even without a unifying theme. Varsity Art V showcases recent works by art students at colleges and universities in the area, and judging by this selection, there is a lot of talent here.

Area students seem especially strong and experimental in the area of ceramics. David East's untitled ceramic sculptures are simple, evocative forms that bring Louise Bourgeois' works to mind. Allison Shock's stoneware containers and Julie Bilow's clay and mixed-media "Extra Fancy Farm Fresh Produce" are witty and inventive.

Varsity Art V also benefits from the great variety of works and an excellent job of hanging and arranging. Don't miss Wonder Koch's fragile "7," a careful arrangement of things like thistle, pine needles and silk perched on a windowsill. And you can't miss Wes Snavely's "Fingerprint," which takes up an entire room.

The paintings in this exhibition are less strong than the other work, but that's a minor complaint. Varsity Art V is highly recommended.

The exhibitions continue through March 12.
-- Ivy Schroeder

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