Well Hung

Two vastly different local exhibits highlight St. Louis strengths

Meanwhile, downtown on Washington Avenue, Philip Slein's new gallery is making an argument for the importance of artists working closer to home. Schmidt's Picks, a selection of works chosen by the venerable local collector Jim Schmidt, features a veritable who's who of St. Louis area artists. It's a knockout show, the perfect vehicle to make converts out of those who doubt -- or don't know -- the level of artistic talent in the city.

It's wonderful to see St. Louis veterans like Michael Byron and Sue Eisler exhibiting side by side. In fact, Byron's Generic Dada Abstraction (K.S.) (2000) makes a witty allusion to Eisler's found-material collages and sculptures. It's also a treat to compare Dan Anderson's wood-fired stoneware "oil cans" to Jeri Au's sawdust-fired ceramic bundle, and to consider how these two celebrated ceramic artists have shaped the St. Louis scene for so many years.

A.R. Penck, Tulb (1976), on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum through January 11
A.R. Penck, Tulb (1976), on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum through January 11


German Art Now-Shows through January 11, 2004, at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. Call 314-721-0072.

Schmidt's Picks-Shows through January 10, 2004, at the Philip Slein Gallery, 1520 Washington Avenue, Suite 300. Call 314-621-4634.

St. Louis clearly has its share of younger talent, as well, as evidenced in the painted abstractions by Jerald Ieans and Justin Tolentino. And two photographs by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, Powder Valley Nature Reserve #4 and Middle Grove, New York #3" (both 2001), reveal the director of the Sheldon Art Galleries to be one of the city's best artists.

Slein says he's committed to featuring works by local artists, a dedication that's nice to see as many St. Louis galleries move further away from representing locals. The gallery itself is a brilliantly restored loft space in which just about anything would look good. Then again, the works in Schmidt's Picks couldn't be much improved upon, no matter where they found themselves. This is a must-see show.

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