Current Shows

Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Alicia LaChance Locally based LaChance produces paintings with dense surfaces of fresco and oil, divided into separate panels. While the imagery is clearly contemporary in design, the thick, heavily worked application of paint evokes archaic styles. Especially strong are the paintings that combine botanical silhouettes with areas of joyful abstract patterns. One or two false steps (such as a Mark Rothko redux) can be overlooked in a show that includes strong pieces like Tupelo Meadow Lark and a lovely grid of twelve square panels called Botanicals. Through February 4 at Houska Gallery, 4728 McPherson Avenue; 314-454-0959 ( Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

Minimalism and Beyond This exhibition is perfect. The stacked and repeated boxes of Donald Judd, Dan Flavin's fluorescent lights and Richard Serra's stacked and leaning works cast new light on the minimalist idiom, which is simultaneously thematically connected to works by more recent artists like Felix Gonzales-Torres, Roni Horn, Rachel Whiteread and Robert Gober. OK, these connections have been drawn out before — but not amid Tadao Ando's minimalist architecture. Whiteread's Untitled (Gray) (1996/2003), a cast-concrete bathtub, quietly anchors the exhibition, making sensual reference to the smooth concrete of the building's walls and floor, while nearby Roni Horn's Untitled (Yes), a block of cast black optical glass, looks positively liquid in relation to the Pulitzer's water court, and Gonzales-Torres' pyramidal pile of candy in shiny silver wrappers acts as a foil to the somber character of the small Cube Gallery. The endless, subtle surprises embedded in the exhibition's layout will beckon viewers back again and again. Through April 26 at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 ( Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

New Works: Jesse Thomas and Andrea Green Snowflake's inaugural exhibit at is spare, clean and smart, like the gallery itself. Gleaming wood floors, white walls that stretch to a high, high pressed-tin ceiling — Snowflake is a perfectly lovely space and a welcome addition to the burgeoning Cherokee Street art scene. Jesse Thomas' six painted portraits owe much to the likes of Bronzino, Titian and Caravaggio, but Thomas trades in the Renaissance garb for outfits and props inspired by — no kidding — the 1980 film version of John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Brilliant! Six new pieces by Andrea Green are also on view. Small in scale, they hold their own thanks to their quiet intensity: faint bite marks in paper, a bridal dress zipper cloaked in beeswax — Green handles evocative materials with a subtle surety. Through mid-February at Snowflake, 3156 Cherokee Street; 314-865-1557. Call for viewing appointments.

Philippe Parreno: The Boy from Mars The fourth installation in the Saint Louis Art Museum's "New Media" series is the most exciting to date from the standpoint of contemporary art. French artist Parreno has produced a video piece that's meditative, mysterious and somehow otherworldly. A billowing, tentlike structure, glowing gold from within, stands peacefully in a swampy, verdant setting among water buffalo. As evening descends, strange lights rise in the sky. The film reads like the documentation of an advanced culture on another planet, or Earth in an enlightened future. This is not far off the mark, for the site is an artists' community in rural Thailand, where a host of artists have come to work and contribute to the self-sustaining system that supports the place. Along with architect François Roche, Parreno designed the building, a central gathering place within the community and the mute protagonist of this film. It's strange and enigmatic, while staking a clear claim for the possibility of communities this beautiful, this harmonious, here on this planet. Through February 12 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park; 314-721-0072 ( Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.)

Peter Pranschke: My Disaster Box Most of us familiar with Pranschke's sparkling, funny-sad autobiographical illustrations are convinced he can do no wrong. Now, here's proof: more than a thousand dashed-off sketches retrieved from the artist's "disaster box" (just this side of the trash can), covering the gallery walls. Each one is labeled and numbered; some are pinned so close to the ceiling that binoculars are supplied for closer inspection. These wonderful works illustrate Pranschke's drawing and decision-making processes and contain all the savvy charm of more finished works. Plus, they're for sale. Admit it, you've been meaning to start a Pranschke collection; here is the place to start. While you're in the neighborhood, check out Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts' newest gallery additions: Beverly Gallery (3155 Cherokee), featuring artwork by Sara Arnold, Amanda Baker, Julie Hayes, Jessi Kelley and Nicole Northway; and Typo Café (3159 Cherokee), showing drawings by Mike Cook, Chris Deckard, Peter Monahan, Dana Smith and Jason Vargas. These shows and Pranschke's work at Fort Gondo, 3151 Cherokee Street, are up through January 29. Call 314-772-3628 for information.

Max rada dada: Sideshow! Rada dada is the real deal: a kinder, gentler Dada artist for the 21st century. Where some of the Dadaists of the early twentieth century made work that was cutting, politically subversive and anticapitalist, rada dada's work is delightfully strange, utterly apolitical and imminently commodified and consumable. Which is not to say it's not worth a look; in fact, it's outlandish and fun. Rada dada is skilled with the large-format Polaroid camera, as evidenced by a few "double pull," two-part images of hybrid figures such as Grecian Beauty and Mystical Boy (both 2004). Other large Polaroid works feature tableaux of taxidermied animals dressed up and acting like people. Two extraordinary hand-painted banners, Monopoly and Flying Bad Taxidermy, evince rada dada's fine sense for archaic imagery and the absurd. Also featured are more affordably priced handpainted and printed shirts. Through February 4 at Ellen Curlee Gallery, 1308A Washington Avenue; 314-241-1299. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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