Best Local Artist

Leslie Laskey

In the hit-or-miss world of contemporary art, longevity in itself is a virtue. A longtime professor of art and architecture at Washington University, Leslie Laskey has possessed emeritus status for many years. His demeanor in the classroom is still the stuff of legend -- suffice it to say he did not suffer fools gladly. Now in his eighties, Laskey remains a working artist -- and a vital, terrifically appealing one at that. This year, his woodcuts were displayed at the Sheldon Galleries -- stunning, evocative, bold abstractions that elegantly belied the blood sport that is woodcutting. Laskey also exhibited prints and collages in a gorgeous private home near the Hill in the spring. He displays both artistic surefootedness and revelatory surprise in small-scale works. Longevity is one thing, but combine it with integrity and a daring to continually push the artistic enterprise forward and you have an artist who has long been in our midst who deserves celebratory recognition and gratitude.