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Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

 Betwixt and Between: Christina Shmigel Most artists invited to install work in the Saint Louis Museum of Art's Contemporary Projects Gallery choose to black out the space and show off their work under discreet, tasteful lighting; the space is that awkward. Along comes Christina Shmigel, who takes the former utility closets and lights them up hard, adding her signature scaled-down versions of industrial tubing, pipes and architecture. The result is a sublime disorientation. Shmigel plays off existing plumbing, power lines and drains, installing her own little silos, wire circuitry and trestle bridges. We're left to wrestle with scenarios that are either miniatures of industrial landscapes or enlarged interpretations of the secret architecture betwixt and between the buildings we daily inhabit. Through July 11 at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, Contemporary Projects Gallery, 3663 Lindell, 314-977-3399. Gallery hours Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Currents 91: Francis Cape, "Forest Park" Sadly, viewers seem to have a tough time warming up to this piece. Cape has designed three boldly colored, freestanding wall pieces in one of the Saint Louis Art Museum's upstairs galleries. Titled "Forest Park," the pieces together unite and divide the room, describing their own perfectly square floor plan while echoing the museum's subtle architectural detailing. They inscribe a space-within-a-space, and do us the extra favor of inviting us behind their pristinely painted surfaces to check out the normally hidden details of construction. Given that the museum itself was constructed as part of the 1904 World's Fair, it's engaging to watch another artist reinterpret the construction process within its walls. Through June 13 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072. Museum hours Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.)

Double Exposure Fourteen internationally known contemporary artists have produced photographic diptychs for this splendid exhibition, which shows off William Shearburn's new gallery extremely well. Candida Höfer and Vanessa Beecroft treat architecture and the human body, respectively, with brilliant deadpan, while Thomas Demand's photos elevate stacks of paper cards to a quiet monumentality. Photos by Alfredo Jaar and Nan Goldin capture the vulnerability of very different human subjects. The works are all printed in a consistent, modest scale, creating a rhythmic pattern at eye level along the gallery's main wall -- a dry tone that's perfectly pitched to these fairly conceptual works. Also included are works by Malerie Marder, Uta Barth, Barbara Probst, Catherine Yass, Bill Jacobson, James Welling, Axel Hütte and Olafur Eliasson. Through May 15 at William Shearburn Gallery, 4735 McPherson, 314-367-8020. Gallery hours Tue.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

El Ojo Fino/The Exquisite Eye: Nine Women Photographers An extensive exhibit of works by three generations of Mexican artists. While the arrangement is fairly dry, the work is marvelous, subtly indicating the transmission of techniques and themes among natives and immigrants working in Mexico. These women depict street scenes, heavily symbolic staged arrangements and politically charged situations. Among the standouts are Yolanda Andrade's surrealist street tableaux; less interesting are Flor Garduno's stagings, which are somewhat strained. Also included in the exhibition are Alicia Ahumada Salaíz, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Maya Goded, Kati Horna, Graciela Iturbide, Angeles Torrejón and Mariana Yampolsky. Through June 19 at the Sheldon Gallery of Photography, 3663 Lindell, 314-977-3399. Gallery hours Tue. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Wed. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

John Dilg: Recent Paintings This collection of paintings by Iowa artist Dilg is terrific -- funny, enigmatic, emblematic and smart all at once. The color palette on these small canvases is limited to dusty blues, heather greens and grays, depicting stylized trees, waterfalls and a couple of abstract "landscapes" so oddly minimal they defy easy description. Blue Grizzly features an animal form in a simplified forest at twilight; The Big Picture is nothing more than a few lines indicating water, with a triangular shark fin planted in the center -- it's hilarious, but hard to say why. Elvis has an abstraction of the King's hair in an empty landscape, his face a rectangular void. These works are rare little treasures. Through May 21 at Schmidt Contemporary Art, 4740 McPherson, 314-575-2648. Gallery hours Wed.-Sat. 1-6 p.m.

Louise Bourgeois: Nine Drawings These nine drawings by Louise Bourgeois were all donated anonymously to the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1995. Those familiar with Bourgeois know that her drawings rival her sculpture in terms of power and acerbity; even this small collection brings the point home. "Sainte Sebastienne" (1992) offers a female version of the saint, with arrows darting toward the headless body as if it were a medical illustration. An untitled oil and watercolor image from 1986 unites large and small pairs of scissors by an umbilical cord. And a 1943 ink drawing has a woman tucked underneath a bell jar; her smile is uncanny. This is vintage Bourgeois. Through June 20 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072. Museum hours Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.)

Michael Lin and William Pope.L "In Sickness and in Health" is Michael Lin's exuberant installation at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. With students from Washington University, Lin handpainted an enlarged Taiwanese floral textile design on floor panels that bisect the enormous gallery space; then he added striking window designs. The installation was the backdrop for one lucky local couple's wedding. Its post-nuptial purpose will elude some, but it certainly is beautiful. Lin's "Spring 2003" fills the second gallery with flower-covered modernist furniture and a painted "carpet" incorporating symbols found in Afghani rugs during the Russian occupation (bombs, tanks, grenades, etc.). This is art of a post-post-industrial era, a sitting room in a William Gibson novel. William Pope.L's "eRacism" DVD-projection shows the artist performing "whiteness" as street theater -- it's potent stuff, and humorous. Through May 27 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington, 314-535-4660. Gallery hours Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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