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Robert Duffy encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Leslie Laskey: LiliumAnother thing about the work of Leslie Laskey, whose floral retrospective is reviewed above: Although paintings, prints and drawings have been particularly important media for expressions of his ideas, he enthusiastically embraces other media (such as photography), should they serve his purposes. Ellen Curlee has brought together a garden of photographs of lilies of various descriptions and in various conditions (including shattered). These are digital prints; the eye is drawn to the exquisite grain on the paper as well as the central images. All are bold, luscious, exotic, saturated with color and sexuality. Through October 21 at the Ellen Curlee Gallery, 1308A Washington Avenue; 314-231-1299 (www.ellencurlee.com). Call for hours.
(RD)

Bill Smith: Structures and Systems One's tempted to say words fail him, but we're not here to demonstrate creative uses of white space, no matter how tempting that may be. Still, the unfailingly rewarding and confounding energy of Bill Smith's wizardly constructions and their ethereal beauty challenge a writer to bear witness properly. Smith was trained as a scientist first, then as an artist, then as a diesel mechanic. Juggling all of those capabilities, he makes art that draws inspiration from everyone from Leonardo to Jean Tinguely to Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell. He assembles — no, involves, makes marriages of — skulls and artificial flowers, light, magnets, sounds (including the voice of Carl Sandburg), maple-tree helicopter seeds, mathematics, and yards and yards of wire. Like a spider's web, the intricacy of the construction and the glitter of shiny stuff draw you in first. Once seduced, you are transfixed, trapped and sentenced to sit or stand and attend carefully to Smith's visual music. Whirring, moving, constantly in motion, surprising, at once fragile and structurally vigorous, Smith' s art speaks credibly and hypnotically of genius. His sculptures are installed to great effect, with room to breathe and to operate, in Matthew Strauss' noble venture in the Grove. (The artist will discuss his work and demonstrations of its magic on Thursday, October 12, at 8 p.m.) Through October 21 at White Flag, 4568 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-3442. Hours: noon-7 p.m. Wed., noon-5 p.m. Sat. and by appointment.
(RD)

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