Current Shows

Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Brandon Anschultz: ScapeLocal artist Anschultz is well-known around town for his slick, smart, painted pastel shapes on varnished plywood -- they're very neo-pop, very "now" -- but for this show, he has only included one of those works and surrounded it with nearly twenty other versions of landscapes. Some are tiny, printed and framed; some are fairly conventional oil works on canvas. There are op-artsy relief prints, such as LS Pattern (2004), that offer up a minimalist yet hallucinatory suggestion of a landscape. The project spills over from its closet-like space in the Contemporary Projects Gallery into two other spaces: In one City in a Bubble (2004-05), a large graphite line rendering of a composite cityscape on plywood, hangs alone; in the second a digital projection of Red/Green America (2005) offers dreamy landscapes fading in and out of focus. All told, it's an extremely well-conceived installation. Through June 5 at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, 3663 Lindell Boulevard; 314-977-3399. Museum hours 1-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

Alan Brunettin: New Work In six smallish new paintings on display at Left Bank Books, Brunettin shows off the amazing variety of structural and color effects he's able to achieve within self-imposed limits of scale, subject and color. Each work employs just three colors and is titled after them, each depicts a decaying urban area that looks remarkably like parts of St. Louis, and each is worked over and under Brunettin's signature grid structure, which recedes and emerges, reminding us of the underlying organizational logic that persists, even when cities fade away. These are brilliantly nuanced works, neither overly nostalgic nor clinical. Another exhibit perfectly pitched to the intimate atmosphere of the store's lower level. Through April 3 at Left Bank Books, 399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731. Bookstore hours 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.

Keith Bueckendorf: Elsewhere and Steve Brown: Edges Local artist Keith Bueckendorf's works play out in a consistently engaging modernist scrawl, highlighted with cheery colors and figures that float, fly and morph into their own formalist schemes. Brown's photos, meanwhile, march in lockstep along the wall: six black-and-white images of garden implements, implying a violence to the land that is required by First World rules of real estate and property values. Deadpan, funny and revelatory, these two shows should not be overlooked on your way to the galleries upstairs. Through June 4 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900. Gallery hours noon-8 p.m. Tue. and Thu., noon-5 p.m. Wed. and Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Contemporary Women Artists XIII It sounded like such a good idea.... The St. Louis Women's Caucus for Art snagged feminist art icon Judy Chicago to judge this exhibition, which was open to women artists all over the world. The resulting show should have been a glimpse into the rich range of media and conceptions employed by women in the post-post-feminist 21st century. Instead, this one is destined for the dusty annals of art history, filed under "H" for "Huh?" There are good works here, to be sure, including two large works by St. Louisan Janice Nesser, from her "living within the boundaries of nine squares" series; and the humorous, conceptual project titled The Hardly Hard Business: the dress to get hired in and the dress to get fired for, by AnniAbbi of Brookline, Massachusetts. Judy Chicago's interest in local artist Agnes Pal's Holocaust-inspired work is understandable, given Chicago's own work on that theme. But many of the works are retrograde, warmed-over feminist statements that would look more at home at Cal Arts in the 1970s. A few pieces are third-rate takes on women's folk art. And a couple of these beauties appear to have been dusted off from BFA shows circa 1986. Finally, will someone please explain what is going on with the woven tapestries by Linda Friedman Schmidt of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey? Two of them? Are they for real? Even the judge herself seems unimpressed by the work. From her juror's statement: "I had hoped that there would be some more radical work... but perhaps my expectations are too high; I still want art that changes the world -- God knows the world needs to change." Indeed! Through March 30 at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 South 12th Street; 314-771-8230. Gallery hours by appointment 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat.

Candida HöferThe shows at the Sheldon keep getting better and better. This selection of German photographer Höfer's work comes from the collections of Barbara and Tom Eagleton and Ulrike and Tom Schlafly, as well as a San Francisco and a New York City gallery, and it's an absolute gem of a show. Höfer is best known for photographing interior spaces, employing that somewhat chilly aesthetic that is the legacy of the German team of Berndt and Hilla Becher, with whom she studied. These works, from 1983 to 2003, present interiors of libraries, museums, archives and schools, perfectly and palpably devoid of human presence. But surrogate beings haunt them -- in the form of portraits, furniture and taxidermy. Anatomisches Institute der Universität Basel (2002) is sumptuously sterile, its overwhelming whiteness punctuated by the human skeleton hanging on a rack; Palazzo Zenobio Venezia III (2003) contains an extremely rare self-portrait reflected in the central ornate mirror. Through April 9 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900. Gallery hours noon-8 p.m. Tue. and Thu., noon-5 p.m. Wed. and Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

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