St. Louis Art Capsules

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the St. Louis arts scene.

All Systems Go and Meditations on Limitations/One-Hour Sculptures White Flag Projects exhibits two young artists from out of town. In the main gallery is All Systems Go, a suite of meticulously rendered paintings and drawings by Kansas City artist Linnea Spransy. Spransy's quarry is theological, and her paintings, which involve organic, line-based systems brought to their not-so-logical conclusion, explore the inherent tension in belief systems that seek to ward off chaos while at the same time producing it. Upstairs, Meditations on Limitations/One-Hour Sculptures is a collection of whimsical pieces by Los Angeles-area artist Zach Kleyn. Originally conceived as a one-hour creative warm-up in which Kleyn cannibalized earlier failed works, the show is a mash-up of everyday elements tossed uncomfortably together: a mossy rock wearing a Beatles wig, a plastic revolver exploding with insulating foam. Through February 16 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-3442 or Hours: noon-7 p.m. Wed., noon-5 p.m Sat. and by appointment. — Malcolm Gay

Annual Faculty Exhibition Webster University's May Gallery kicks off 2008 with its annual faculty show. Featuring the landscape photography of fifteen photographers, the exhibition is a study in contrasts, with some photographers cranking down their apertures to take in sweeping panoramas while others narrow their depth of field, concentrating on a single environmental element set against an abstract background. Standouts include Curt von Diest's very pretty landscape with horses amid Utah's sandstone formations, and a dynamic close-up of prairie grasses that Dan Dreyfus caught swaying. Through February 29 at the May Gallery, 8300 Big Bend Boulevard (on the second floor of the Sverdrup Building), Webster Groves; 314-246-7673 ( Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (MG)

Black Line Fever! St. Louis' master of pop art, Philip Slein, opens the year with a show that features two artists whose shared interest in legend prompts them to create wildly different pictures. Bill Kreplin commands the front of the house. His cycle of restrained, black line paintings — reproduced from earlier drawings and highlighted with planes of temperate solid color — are heavy on symbolism as they reinterpret the legend of the Holy Grail in an antiseptic world of 1950s America. The rear of the gallery holds the large-scale wall drawings and attendant paintings of Cameron Fuller. A recent graduate of Washington University's M.F.A. program, Fuller uses a grab bag of media — black masking tape, India ink, acrylics — often applied directly to a wall, in order to reinterpret the phantasmagoric world of "The Willow-Wren and the Bear," a Brothers Grimm fairy tale in which the animals of the air battle the animals of the ground. Through February 23 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; or 314-621-4634. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (MG)

The Embedded Image and Close Work Webster University professor and art department chair Tom Lang fills dual roles this season at Craft Alliance. Working first as a curator, Lang has compiled The Embedded Image, an international group show of contemporary papermaking. While their styles vary considerably — the show features everything from handmade books to a marvelous still-life photograph of fruit constructed from toilet paper — the artists share an interest in paper's pulpy physicality and its ability to make fleeting thoughts and ideas permanent. In the rear gallery, Lang, who teaches both printmaking and papermaking, exhibits his own work in the aptly titled Close Work. Using thickly layered pulp, Lang has created a series of paper bas-reliefs that seek to return the material to its original arboreal state. The result is a series of highly textured details — bark, branches — that Lang has highlighted with iridescent colors. Through February 24 at the Craft Alliance Gallery, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-1177 or Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Thu. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. (MG)

Dan Flavin: Constructed Light Limiting his palette to mass-produced fluorescent tubes of varying lengths and colors, Dan Flavin, who died in 1996, made a career distilling these ubiquitous artifacts of bureaucratic life into their purest form. The result: a body of reserved, minimalist work that at once extracts these relics from their workaday commercial context and reformulates the sites they inhabit with their refulgent glow. As installations, many of Flavin's works are site specific, leaving the stewards of his estate with the thorny question of whether in re-creating his works they are, in effect, creating new works of art. For this show, Tiffany Bell, director of the Dan Flavin catalogue raisonné project, and Steve Morse, who worked as Flavin's chief technician for many years, have chosen several works that rely more on architectural situations than on specific sites. The result is a meditative show that both accentuates and quarrels with the natural grace of their setting. Through October 4 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. (MG)

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. Through March 8 at Bruno David Gallery, 3721 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-3030 ( Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. and by appointment. (MG)

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