Current Shows

Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

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.

Christina Shmigel: Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar This third installment in the Kranzberg Exhibition Series brings Shmigel back to St. Louis from Shanghai, where she has spent the past two years. She's been missed, but the change of scenery has done incredible things to her work and her visual sensibility. The exhibition unfolds as the visitor passes through the galleries. Framing elements are a leitmotif: A floating pavilion sets the stage, showing photographs of bamboo scaffolding -- a leitmotif taken from the constant formal flux of Shanghai, a city evidently under permanent reconfiguration. Photos of text messages evoke the city's chaos of communication, but this gives way to calmer, more contemplative and intimate encounters with light, shadow, text and cityscapes. The artist's signature connecting-pipe circuitry pops up here and there, transformed by this new context. Somehow Shmigel manages to make a hundred disparate strains coalesce in a delightful experience of another world, recognizable and yet far from home. Through August 30 at Laumeier Sculpture Park, 12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-821-1209. Gallery hours 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.

David Burns Smith: The Arcana and Dionna Raedeke: Drawings These two artists have lived in St. Louis practically forever. It's about time they got some exposure. Smith's "Arcana" series consists of heavily worked acrylic paintings, some on multiple panels. Each is an abstract interpretation of a tarot card character, in other words, a meditation on human archetypes, emotions and folly. Smith lays sober, rigid forms over roiling, stormy swirls; here and there, a wayward line wanders in as if by accident. These are bold, accomplished paintings. In Xen's lower gallery, Raedeke's drawings are simply amazing. Each is a small, tightly organized composition combining restrained color passages and strong graphic elements. Consistent in size and format, they easily suggest multiple recombinations. Raedeke's design sensibility is highly refined, but these drawings are breezy, bright and even humorous. With luck, this will be only the first of many shows to come for these two. Through August 7 at Xen Gallery, 401 North Euclid Avenue; 314-454-9561. Gallery hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., noon-4 p.m. Sun.

Summer Sessions This group of works by well-known artists Douglas C. Bloom (based in Pasadena), Benjamin Edwards (Washington, D.C.), Jennifer Dorsey (D.C.) and Jessica Craig-Martin (New York) make for an impressive combo. Dorsey has continued to make saturated c-print photographs in the deadpan style she perfected in Wash. U.'s M.F.A. program. Here her untitled close-ups of wedding and bridesmaids' dresses, all garish satin sheen, glisten forth from underneath their clear plastic sheaths. Just as Dorsey packs wry commentary into formalist compositions, Edwards rearranges fragments of corporate logos into colorful, abstract icons. Bloom, meanwhile, revives and reinterprets the smudged pop-painting style of early Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke. The exhibit also includes color and black-and-white photographs by Craig-Martin. The gallery makes no bones about its pitch to collectors, but the show's still a pleasure to look at. Through August 30 at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, 3540 Washington Avenue, 314-361-7600. Gallery hours 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., and by appointment. -- Ivy Cooper

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