On the Wall

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the St. Louis art scene.

Four Aces: Large-Scale Prints from Four Universities The title just about says it all. This touring exhibition, which has made stops at universities around the nation, features works from graduate students and faculty members at Washington University, Louisiana State University, the University of Texas and the University of Wisconsin. Though the schools have presented joint touring shows for a few years now, this is the first year that printmakers from Wash. U. have been included. That's due in no small part to the presence of Carmon Colangelo, the prolific dean of the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art. Colangelo's deeply biographical prints are included in the show, as are the works of more than 40 other artists. Opens February 1 (reception 6-9 p.m.) and runs through March 8 at Bruno David Gallery, 3721 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-3030 (www.brunodavidgallery.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. and by appointment. (MG)

Miao Xiaochun: The Last Judgment in Cyberspace What do the subjects in a painting see? That question lies at the heart of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art's first exhibition of 2008. Working from Michelangelo's Last Judgment, Chinese digital artist Miao Xiaochun has re-imagined the towering fresco in which Christ separates the blessed from the damned, from the internal perspectives of some of the fresco's subjects. This allows the viewer to, say, view the scene from the angst-ridden point of view of a cowering man awaiting judgment. Moreover, whereas the original work features muscular male and female figures, Miao's work, rendered in black-and-white digital photographs, features the same computer-generated nude in each role: Miao himself. The exhibition includes a short animation, allowing viewers to explore the entire three-dimensional work. The effect is as mesmerizing as it is vertiginous. Opens February 3 (reception 3-5 p.m.) and runs through May 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, 3700 West Pine Boulevard (on the Saint Louis University campus); 314-977-7170 (http://mocra.slu.edu). Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (MG)

My Psychological Activities to the Environment Using an expressive brush, painter Dongfeng Li, a professor of art at Morehead State University in Kentucky, renders his human subjects front and center. Many, placed in indeterminable surroundings, stare frankly out from the canvas as though they've been interrupted, or have only just noticed the painter. But though the human subjects clearly command the artist's attention, it is the incidentals — the errant sheep, the paint that's allowed to drip haphazardly across an otherwise self-contained portrait — that prove most compelling. Also, Li's treatment of light: cool, verging on clinical, in stark contrast to these otherwise intimate portraits. Opens February 1 (reception 6-8 p.m.) and runs through February 29 at Fontbonne University Gallery of Art, 6800 Wydown Boulevard (in the Fine Arts Building), Clayton; 314-889-1431 (www.fontbonne.edu). Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (open till 7 p.m. Tue. and till 2:30 p.m. Fri.); noon-4 p.m. Sat. (MG)

Outside the Box For its first show of 2008, phd gallery features 40 paintings from New Jersey artist Eric Gibbons' "Box Series." Confining himself to a monochromatic palette of grays, Gibbons gives us nearly life-size neoclassical nudes crouching, sitting and kneeling in uniform three-by-three-foot boxes. Many of the paintings, deftly rendered with fluid, muscular strokes, tackle mythological subjects. In Hera the wife of Zeus joins sword to chalice; in Bacchus, a tribute to Caravaggio (whose natural figures rendered in dramatic chiaroscuro clearly made an impression on Gibbons), a heavy-lidded youth seductively engages the viewer while offering a goblet of wine. Each work can certainly stand alone, but viewed together they permit viewers to create their own associations, allowing the paintings to grow in expressive strength. Through March 8 at phd Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 (www.phdstl.com). Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun. (MG)

Pedestrian Project Each January Boots Contemporary Art Space goes into hibernation as owner Juan Chavez turns his attention to publishing Boot Print, an international journal devoted to emerging contemporary art. (A copy can be downloaded at www.bootsart.com/html/bootsbootprint.html.) Though his small gallery is closed, Chavez converts its picture window into the Pedestrian Project, for which he invites an installation artist to create a work for passersby. This year that artist is Brett Williams, who, except for a small circular opening, has painted over the entire window. The circle of clear glass invites you to view Future Hole, a four-foot tube at the end of which Williams has placed a video monitor that displays four short video animations. The videos, which range from a retro-futuristic composition of erratically patterned lines to a cascade of stars, are accompanied by a lulling soundtrack that emanates from a speaker above. Plays continuously through February 3 at Boots Contemporary Art Space, 2307 Cherokee Street; 314-772-2668 (www.bootsart.com). (MG)

Ann Pibal and John Dilg: Recent Work Ann Pibal, a New York artist who works in a meticulous geometric style, paints fine repeating lines on a monochromatic background. Often working on small sheets of Dibond, a thin aluminum composite, her paintings — clean, cool and reserved — hug the wall, allowing viewers to project the works' internal geometric logic across the entire room. John Dilg, an artist from Iowa City, also works with solid-color backgrounds. Dilg, though, uses solid colors and lines to create organic pictures of misleading simplicity — the keys to which are often contained in a single element: a lion with glasses and a prominently featured penis; an abstracted female form whose only recognizable feature is a vagina; an abstract landscape made recognizable only by a tree. Through February 16 at Schmidt Contemporary Art, 615 North Grand Boulevard; www.schmidtcontemporaryart.com or 314-575-2648. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. (MG)

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