St. Louis Art Capsules

Malcom Gay encapsulates the St. Louis arts scene

Great Rivers Biennial The city's most important juried exhibition awards three promising young artists with a joint show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and a cash prize worth $20,000 (up $5,000 from previous exhibitions). Whereas in years past the competition has featured everything from multimedia installations to oil painting, this year's winners are all firmly rooted in draftsmanship. Though each may incorporate drawing, their works are quite different: Recent Washington University grad Corey Escoto presents drawings and sculptures featuring the "Global Repair Service," a satirical global relief agency the artist has modeled on the United Nations; Michelle Oosterbaan, a visiting professor of art at Wash. U., contributes a fanciful series of drawings and installations that explores the ever-shifting landscape of memory; and Juan William Chavez, director of Boots Contemporary Art Space, brings a series of multimedia drawings inspired by Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Through April 20 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; www.contemporarystl.org or 314-535-4660. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.- Wed., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thu., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. (MG)

Honor Awards 2008 and Varsity Art XII For Honor Awards 2008, Art Saint Louis has chosen works by a selection of the 22 artists who received Awards of Excellence from the organization last year. It's a diverse bunch that features everything from photography to copper etching by artists Bradley E. Bauer, Sharon Bean, Jason Hoeing, David Lancaster, Shelley Muellhaupt, Libby Reuter, Cherie Sampson, Jo Stealey, Justin Visnesky and Bill Yates. Showing concurrently in the Annex Gallery (on the seventh floor) is Varsity Art XII, works by undergraduate and graduate art students from fourteen area colleges and universities. Through April 24 at Art Saint Louis, 917 Locust Street, Suite 300; 314-241-4810 or www.artstlouis.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. (MG)

The Interview A former TV journalist, Turkish artist Isil Egrikavuk's work concentrates on the distinction between reality and the presentation of reality. For The Interview, a seven-minute video featuring KETC-TV (Channel 9) reporter Anne-Marie Berger and Anmaar Abdul-Nabi, an Iraqi physician living in St. Louis, Egrikavuk presents two competing narratives: one in which Berger interviews Abdul-Nabi about the cure he has ostensibly discovered for avian influenza, and another in which Egrikavuk coaches Abdul-Nabi on how best to answer Berger's questions. As the two narratives dovetail, bird flu emerges as a metaphor for immigration, and the effect is to humanize Iraqis in light of the current political situation. In conjunction with the project, Egrikavuk and Berger interviewed visitors to the gallery on opening night; a video of those interviews runs alongside the Abdul-Nabi interview. Through March 30 at Boots Contemporary Art Space, 2307 Cherokee Street; 314-772-2668 or www.bootsart.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (MG)

Leslie Laskey: Work Now in his eighties, Laskey was among the troops to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-day in 1944. He later studied with Bauhaus practitioner Laszlo Moholy-Nagy before taking a position at Washington University's School of Architecture, where he trained several generations of architects. Laskey's vigorous studio regimen is evidenced by his current show. For one portion the artist has plucked decaying doll heads from area trash heaps. Placed on pedestals and photographed against indefinite backgrounds, the damaged heads recall the marble busts of antiquity — only here Laskey presents latter-day relics of a machined world. The show also presents a collection of recent prints. Working in a familiar medium, the artist exhibits his enduring fascination with the utilitarian elegance of everyday objects, accentuating their simple genius and frank sensuality. As though to underscore Laskey's importance in the art world, the gallery will also screen a segment of a documentary about the artist's life and work by filmmakers David and Lulu Wild. Through April 19 at Bruno David Gallery, 3721 Washington Boulevard; www.brunodavidgallery.com or 314-531-3030. 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. Through May 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, 3700 West Pine Boulevard (on the Saint Louis University campus); 314-977-7170 or http://mocra.slu.edu. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (MG)

Obscure Postcards and Cary Horton: Structures and Cells Concentrating on cities such as Montreal, Bangkok and Chicago, hometown photographers Brett Beckemeyer and Alan Palmer shoot from a variety of vantage points as they focus their lenses on how cities are formed and how they disintegrate. Across the street at Snowflake/City Stock, photographer Cary Horton exhibits Structures and Cells, a series of images that explore the sometimes quaint, sometimes violent intersection of the natural world with urban life. By printing images via inkjet printer directly onto film negatives, Horton creates a layered effect in which plants and animals appear as ill-placed ghostly reminders of the natural world. Be sure to check out Mike Schuh's Who are you talking to?, a series of drawings created specifically for Snowflake's new Drive-By gallery, a window exhibition space at the southeast corner of Cherokee Street and Compton Avenue. Obscure Postcards runs through March 31 at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street; 314-772-3628 (www.fortgondo.com). Hours: by appointment. Who are you talking to? runs through March 31, Structures and Cells through April 25 at Snowflake/City Stock, 3156 Cherokee Street (www.snowflakecitystock.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. (MG)

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