Current Shows

Ivy Cooper encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Ernestine Betsberg and Arthur Osver: Selected Work The prospect of Slein's gallery showing paintings by this definitive old-school couple was initially surprising. As accomplished as they are, they belong to another era, when modernism reigned supreme; what was Slein doing, showing them off in a gallery that aspires to the cutting edge? The joke's on me, though: Modernism is evidently back "in"; and regardless, these paintings just couldn't look better. Betsberg's candy-color confections, which range from 1946 to 1994, still generate the shimmer and ease of Modigliani and Bonnard. For his part, Osver continues work in a vein similar to the collaged, fragmented scenes that have served him well over the last 50-plus years (the earliest works here are studies for Fortune magazine covers from 1950; the latest is a gorgeous 2005 oil painting titled Blue Hour). The show should serve as a reality check for fans of contemporary art: They don't make paintings like they used to, but thank goodness Betsberg and Osver still do. Through February 25 at the Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634 (www.philipsleingallery.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

James Brooks: Small Paintings and Works on Paper Brooks was born in St. Louis, so we can proudly call him our own. And while this small retrospective comes to us from its debut at Greenberg Van Doren New York, it's no worse for the wear. As a matter of fact, it nicely complements a handful of other modernist shows on view in St. Louis at the moment and will no doubt spark a wistful longing for the days when arguments about the flatness of the canvas might come to blows, followed by apologetic rounds of "drinks on me." These works date from the 1940s to the 1980s, but like Arthur Osver, Brooks steadily maintained a commitment to modernist color and abstraction, and he remains one of the handful of lesser-known Abstract Expressionists worth pondering. Through March 18 at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, 3540 Washington Boulevard; 314-361-7600 (www.greenbergvandoren.com). Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

The Curious Teapot Every city large enough to support one or two craft centers gets treated to an annual teapot show. It's the craft-center moneymaker, the sure thing that will bring out everyone from the collectors to the curious to the people convinced they don't like "art." St. Louis is no different, and Craft Alliance puts on a teapot show every year, and there's nothing curious about it, except for the fact that it remains perennially popular. The teapots this year are fun, amusing, nonfunctional and functional, "wacky" and "wild" — in other words, just what you'd expect. (As Marge Simpson might exclaim: "A teapot with Scrabble letters stuck to it? Whatever!") The standouts here are the twisted takes on the classic objet d'art, such as Annette Corcoran's faux Fabergé eggs and Rain Harris' absurdly baroque fetish pots. Through March 5 at the Craft Alliance Gallery, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-1177 (www.craftalliance.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.

Currents 96: Tim EitelThe paintings of German artist Eitel draw on historical and contemporary artworks to generate scenes of extreme enigma. The four large canvases in this show isolate figures in spare environments described only by somber gray and black fields. Helicopter (2005) has the aircraft hovering motionless just above the ground in a seemingly airless environment; Lying Figure transports Edouard Manet's Dead Toreador of 1864 to a similarly empty, vaguely interior setting. The maximum scale of the large works combines with their minimal elements to make for intriguing scenes of surreal isolation. A series of small, square oil-and-egg-tempera works on linen lines the gallery's fourth wall; these scenes are more populated but just as tight-lipped in terms of what they say to the viewer. Eitel's works are simultaneously cold and oddly irresistible. Through March 5 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park; 314-721-0072 (www.slam.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.)

Great Rivers Biennial 2006This second Biennial is exuberant, owing largely to the scale of the works. It's thrilling to see three emerging St. Louis artists let loose and work BIG. Moses has worked big for some time but rarely had the chance to show big; he's usually represented in group shows by thoughtful, smallish assemblages that yearn to grow larger. Here his walls of turntables and stereo receivers are in their proper milieu, allowing viewers to revel in their sheer size or focus in tightly on their fetishized technology — all those sleek buttons, knobs and dials, shiny like money. The Chevy Blazer outfitted with 300 speakers may be the coolest thing anyone's ever made. While Moses explores hip-hop culture, Jason Wallace Triefenbach camps out in white-trash territory with a multifaceted performance/installation whose devil is in the details: the ATM, Zebra Cakes and beer cans, the vinyl John F. Kennedy album, the framed photograph of a dog and meat. Comparisons to Cady Nolan are too facile; Triefenbach is carving out his own territory — and getting it pitch-perfect. Matthew Strauss' canvases make references to high art only to tear it apart; they're smart but wither slightly in the noisy company of his companions. Be that as it may, this is a very, very good show. Through March 26 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 (www.contemporarystl.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (open till 8 p.m. Thu.), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

1
 
2
 
3
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...