St. Louis Art Capsules

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the St. Louis art scene.

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 (www.webster.edu/maygallery). Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (MG)

Deborah Aschheim: Reconsider In earlier projects Los Angeles-area sculptor Deborah Aschheim has explored the relationship between the cyborg and the surveillance state, most notably in her critically acclaimed multi-part installment Neural Architecture. More recently the artist has been exploring the nature of memory. Alzheimer's disease runs in Aschheim's family, and initially the artist embarked on her current project as a defense against forgetting. She submitted a list of her 25 favorite words to Bay Area musician Lisa Mezzacappa, who (along with other musicians) created songs for each word. Aschheim, in turn, created sculptures designed to play the songs. The idea: Our linguistic and auditory memories use separate neural pathways. By creating new sensory associations for these words, Aschheim might be able to protect them from the ravages of memory loss. The result is a series of boldly colored hanging sculptures — made of plastic tubing, LEDs, monitors and funnels — that resemble in circuitry of the human nervous system. Through May 11 at Laumeier Sculpture Park Museum Galleries, 12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-821-1209 (www.laumeiersculpturepark.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-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; www.philipsleingallery.com 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 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. (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 (www.pulitzerarts.org). Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. (MG)

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