Russell Kraus: Midwestern ModernistRussell Kraus graduated from the Washington University School of Art in 1940 -- an interesting point in the history of American art. While abstract modern painting had taken firm hold on the East Coast, the Midwest scene was still dominated by the more realist works of the likes of Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. Kraus starts out painting in the realist vein, then moves through experiments with surrealism, American-style cubism (think Stuart Davis) and expressionism. (Then there's the astonishingly bad "children" series, started in 1972 and carrying into the 1990s, which defies categorization and is best left alone.) The most interesting work in this large retrospective is actually Kraus' illustration and design, and in particular the stark graphics of the World War II posters produced for the Work Projects Administration. The entire affair is useful as a review of mid-century modern art and design, St. Louis-style. Through July 23 at the Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Avenue; 314-621-8735. Gallery hours 1-4 p.m. Sat. and by appointment.
Amber Marshall and Micah Roufa: Blown Glass LightingThese blown-glass lighting fixtures are extraordinary, ranging from brilliantly colored table lamps to vertical hanging lights and a chandelier composed of glass "shades" and mirrored globes. This last piece is a real knockout, pairing the icicle texture of modern Scandinavian glassware with super-mod globes -- sparkly effects abound. The more restrained vertical tubular lights hover just inches from the table or floor. They're all installed alongside conceptual furniture -- wooden frames that just hint at the shape of tables, beds and sofas. It's an impressive installation, and comes with a bonus work: In the grassy lot next door, dozens of mirrored globes on rebar posts create a wavy pattern that shifts gracefully as you walk or drive past. Through July 16 at Third Degree Glass Factory, 5200 Delmar Boulevard; 314-367-4527. Gallery hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
George Hurrell's take on beefcake John Payne, emoting in the 1939 comedy Kid Nightingale
Six Shooters/Six Visions The "shooters" are six women photographers (Susan Dietz-Schmidt, Marianne Pepper, Joan Proffer, Naomi Runtz, Harriet Fisher Thomas and Kay Wood) who have frequently shown as a group since 1997. Their works are wildly divergent and often incorporate a variety of media in addition to photography (as is the case here). The standouts: Runtz's "Say Cheese" series of enlarged photobooth portraits from the 1960s and '70s, and Dietz-Schmidt's stark black-and-white images of tree branches. Thomas' manipulated Polaroids and Wood's Polaroid transfers explore conventional "women's" subjects -- flowers, baby shoes -- to mixed effect. In her "Turkish Relief" series, Pepper sabotages the power of her source material with extraneous decoration. Sustaining an artists' group requires considerable camaraderie and cooperation, and it's encouraging to see Six Shooters succeed at this level. Whether their exhibitions succeed is another question; this one is hit-and-miss. Through July 31 at the Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-5811. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. -- Ivy Cooper