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.

Inside Out Loud: Visualizing Women's Health in Contemporary Art Now that the hoopla is over -- the opening forum with its cast of art-world luminaries, the Todd Haynes Superstar screening that wasn't -- we can settle in and appreciate Inside Out Loud for what it is: the first exhibition devoted to images dealing with women's health. Smartly curated by Janine Mileaf of Swarthmore College, this broad (ha!) survey offers something of everything, from personal narratives about living with cancer (Hannah Wilke) to Orlan's cosmetic-surgery performances to cautionary agitprop by Gran Fury, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger and beyond. This being the first exhibition of its kind, it tries to cover a lot of ground, and it largely succeeds. A watershed show that ought to engender plenty of interesting, perhaps more tightly focused exhibitions elsewhere. Through April 24 at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (in Steinberg Hall on the campus of Washington University), Forsyth & Skinker boulevards; 314-935-4523. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu., noon- 4:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Perret and Le Corbusier: A Dialogue in Reinforced Concrete Who knew concrete could make for fascinating viewing? In the hands of architects Auguste Perret (1874-1954) and Le Corbusier (1887-1965), this most mundane of building materials is transformed into expressive, space-shaping form. The exhibition itself isn't particularly pretty or inviting, consisting primarily of a bunch of photographs, dense text panels, placards and even samples of the varieties of concrete these progressive architects employed (yes, there's more than one kind of concrete). But the photographs capture the marvelous forms and textures that Perret and his onetime apprentice, Le Corbusier, achieved in public and private buildings throughout the world. Perret's wonderful apartment building at 25 Bis Rue Franklin (1903-04) in Paris uses concrete to make the building's structural frame visually explicit, while in Le Corbusier's later works, such as the church at Ronchamp, France (1950-54), the concrete takes on a muscular malleability. These images will spark a new appreciation for the Sheldon's concrete neighbors, the Pulitzer and the Contemporary. Through April 16 at the Bernoudy Gallery of Architecture, 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. and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

The Wall Ball Preview Show Here are works by twenty artists who participated in March 12's Wall Ball, the South City Open Studio and Gallery's annual art-making and -buying extravaganza. In spite of the loose logic behind the roster, the works hang beautifully together, as if the entire affair had been years in the planning. Standouts include Kim Humphries' digital prints on ceiling tiles; three small encounter paintings by William LaChance; and a trio of heartbreakingly fragile maplike drawings by Sarah Giannobile. Also included are works by Alicia LaChance, Craig Downs, William Christman, Nate Abner, Lyndsey Scott, Janice Wallace, Chris Moreland, Charles Houska, Keith Buchholz, Christopher Gustave, Alan Brunettin, Terrell Carter, Solomon Thurman, Michael Paradise, Jenna Bauer, SAResa (the team of Theresa Disney and Sara Hale) and Michael Hoffman. Above all, a spirit of experimentation, fascination with the everyday and sheer joy in picturemaking connects these works -- and perhaps explains the artists' generous contributions to SCOSAG's mission. Through March 26 at Gallery Urbis Orbis, 419 North Tenth Street; 314-406-5778. Gallery hours 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu., noon-7 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and by appointment. -- Ivy Cooper

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