Current Shows

Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

 Jeff Aeling: Landscape Paintings, and works by Tom Reed and Cheryl Wassenaar Aeling's landscapes are classical, the kind you learn about in art-history class. Superbly detailed, they pitch together dramatic forces of nature and freeze them into moments of sublime stillness, recalling American Luminists such as Martin Johnson Heade or John Kensett. But these are leaner, and almost completely emptied of references to humans or buildings; only one, Thunderstorm and Power Plant, announces its postindustrial time frame. This Kansas City-based artist's work doesn't mimic but sits quite comfortably among its historical forebears. In Slein's back galleries are several collages and prints by Tom Reed, an accomplished visual prankster and maker of cartoon-like cautionary tales about our mistreatment of the wilderness. Six works by our own Cheryl Wassenaar round out the show nicely, continuing her brilliant study of the arbitrary meanings suggested by sign fragments. Through May 7 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

Brancusi and Serra in Dialogue The Pulitzer is getting a lot of mileage out of Richard Serra, particularly a few large-scale pieces (Joplin and Standpoint in particular) that have graced the main gallery since the Serra solo show opened two years ago. (They're really heavy; I wouldn't move them either.) Now Serra's sculptures and drawings are paired with sculptures and photographs by Constantin Brancusi, whose interests intersect with Serra's in some fascinating ways. Their approaches to materials couldn't be more different -- Brancusi hacked away at wood and polished stone and bronze to a high, classical finish -- but all kinds of intriguing observations emerge out of this "dialogue," including the ways in which both artists treat (or dispense with) the pedestal, their interest in stacking pieces and relating individual parts to the sculptural whole. The small Cube Gallery now features an intense confrontation between Serra's Pacific Judson Murphy (1978), a black paint-stick piece that spans two walls; and Brancusi's Agnes E. Meyer (1929), a stately, totemic polished work of black marble. It's an inspired pairing, equaled by the strong juxtapositions throughout the show. Through July 23 at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850. Museum hours noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

Brandon Anschultz: Scape Local 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.

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.

Gail Cassilly: Figurative Sculpture and Deborah Douglas: Recent Paintings Cassilly's bronze and plaster figures make for a mixed bag here. The smaller bronze harlequin and circus figures are schlock, but the larger painted plaster (hydrocal, to be exact) female figures possess a twisted humor. It's Douglas' paintings that make this gallery trip worthwhile. The basement display room (Xen Sub Terra) is filled with nine new canvases that mostly move away from the more nostalgic character of her past work to a new level of pop playfulness. Bold, decorative flowers populate large areas of these works, balanced against illustrations of kittens, cherries and swans. Douglas isn't just copying cute imagery, she's using it, playing illustrative qualities off decorative ones to demonstrate how the imagery communicates. But the paintings are so fun to look at, it's easy to forget there's some serious aesthetic investigation going on. Through May 13 at Xen Gallery, 401 N. Euclid Avenue; 314-454-9561. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Dzine: Punk Funk and Ruby Osorio: Story of a Girl (Who Awakes Far, Far Away) and Alexander Ross: Survey Three shows perfectly suited to one another and to the bright, airy spaces of the Contemporary. Chicago-based Dzine's psychedelic mural-size paintings look good enough to eat. They sound great too, accompanied as they are by music from the Parisian DJ Cam. In the next gallery, Alexander Ross' paintings are more calmly cerebral, but no less fun, suggesting fantastic cell structures, fungi and plants inhabiting cool-colored backgrounds. But it's Ruby Osorio's works that will hold your attention the longest. In her first solo museum exhibition, the LA-based Osorio covers the gallery walls with elfin girl characters in fantastical, flowery habitats. Osorio pins paper elements directly to the wall, or cuts and folds back paper segments of her works, producing brilliant effects that make the works come alive. Also not to be missed are the fabulous paintings by Katherine Kuharic, the latest in the Contemporary Project Series. Through June 12 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660. Museum hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (open Thu. till 7 p.m. and Sun. till 4 p.m.).

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