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Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Traditions Transformed: Murrini Glass Artists Sam Stang returns to St. Louis from his Augusta glass studio to curate a show about something he knows well: the murrini technique, which employs cross sections of colorful glass rods fused together to create vibrant, colorful patterns. The eighteen artists shown here work in Italy, Japan and the U.S., and the range of murrini approaches is startling. Stang's own trademark bowls and vases are of course on hand, along with dozens of dazzling surprises. Ro Purser's glass orbs hold objects and painted scenes in suspended animation; Ralph Mossman's technique results in tiny pixels of color that float in clear glass; and Laura Pesce and Peter Secrest are represented by substantial wall pieces. The works here range from gigantic to tiny in scale, and from opaque to milky to translucent in character. They attest to the incredible versatility of glass as a medium -- in the proper hands, of course. Through March 6 at Craft Alliance, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-1177. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. and noon-6 p.m. Sun.

Victorian Photographs of Rural England: Benjamin Brecknell TurnerThe title sounds about as exciting as clotted cream, but the exhibition is actually quite lovely. Working in England in the mid-19th century, Turner used Henry Fox Talbot's calotype method to produce a paper negative and a contact-printed positive, resulting in softly toned, gloriously detailed images. On view are dozens of images from Turner's Photographic Views From Nature (1852-54), including views of the Crystal Palace, his family's property at Bredicot Court and utterly romantic scenes of Gothic ruins and windmills. Through February 6 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive; 314-721-0072. Museum hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (open Fri. till 9 p.m.). -- Ivy Cooper

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