St. Louis Art Caps

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the local art scene.


The Annual Juried Photography Exhibit Each year Webster University presents a juried show featuring the work of its photography students in the School of Communications. As with any juried show, the subject matter here varies dramatically. Some students concentrate on more artistic portraits, while others focus on architectural details or photojournalistic images that document the fleeting moments in a city's life. Standouts include Krista Rose Breece, who shows a good eye for detail in a black-and-white shot of an Asian street scene, and Samantha Britton, who provides a bit of visual humor in Wolf Mother, a portrait that captures the intersection of avian culture and lupine sculpture. April 4 (reception 5-7 p.m.) through May 2 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. — Malcolm Gay

Chuck Close: 10 Years in Print In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Chuck Close has developed an instantly recognizable style. Often working from photographs of family and friends, Close applies a grid to the image before meticulously re-creating the photograph, grid cell by grid cell, on a grand-size canvas. From a distance Close's paintings appear almost as photographic reproductions. Step closer, though, and the image quickly disintegrates, revealing itself to be a seemingly pell-mell construction whose logic is only apparent when the painting is viewed as a whole. This is the stuff of museums, but here in St. Louis the William Shearburn Gallery is presenting a partial retrospective. One standout: A new 187-color screen print published by Pace Editions, the publishing arm of the famed Pace/Wildenstein Gallery in New York. April 4 (reception 6-8 p.m.) through May 10 at William Shearburn Gallery, 4735 McPherson Avenue; 314-367-8020 ( Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

Long Day from Common Concerns
Barry Sullivan
Long Day from Common Concerns
Mindflower from Working Hard at Playing With Yourself
Mark Winter
Mindflower from Working Hard at Playing With Yourself


Common Concern After more than 30 years of work and friendship, painters David Ottinger and Barry Sullivan mount a joint show at the Regional Arts Commission. Former classmates, Ottinger and Sullivan even shared a studio before heading in separate directions. For Sullivan that meant stints in Paris and Iran, where he explored the world of abstract painting. Ottinger, meanwhile, remained in his native St. Louis, where he honed his skill as a representational painter who relies heavily on the observed world. For Common Concern, Ottinger presents a crop of formal paintings concerned with line, form and shadow, while Sullivan offers a moody series of expressive paintings. April 4 (reception 5:30-7:30 p.m.) through May 11 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-5811 ( Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (MG)

Fiesta de la Libertad: Celebrating Passover in Havana In 2001, taking a break from her documentary photography project about the Bible Fellowship Apostolic Church in East St. Louis, Deborah Weinstein traveled to Cuba with the Maine Photographic Workshops. What she found there was remarkable: a group of Orthodox Jews who had worshiped in an Old Havana synagogue without interruption throughout Fidel Castro's rule. Latching on to a friendly interpreter, Weinstein gained remarkable access to this little-known community, visiting private homes, a kosher butcher and, of course, the synagogue itself. Shot on black-and-white film, Weinstein's photos act as a window to a world few of us have ever imagined, much less seen. April 7 through May 16 at the Art Space at Provisions Market, 11615 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur; 314-989-0020. Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat. (MG)

Love, Kisses, Tears (and heartache)! Inspired by a topsy-turvy dreamworld of ubiquitous eroticism, Phyllis Bramson fills her exotic landscapes with images of elves, insects, cats and flowers. These opulent paintings are pretty, yes, but viewers must quickly reevaluate their superficial beauty when they view, for instance, an enormous pussycat spreading the legs of a partially clad Lilliputian woman who appears to be performing fellatio on an elf. Lurid, transgressive, and ultimately melancholic, these paintings are suffused with eroticism, enticing viewers with the promise of childish fancy, only to invert that expectation with an exhibition of complicated sexuality. Also showing: A show of small-scale works by 40 of Philip Slein's favorite talents. April 4 (reception 6-8 p.m.) through May 3 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634 ( Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (MG)

Working Hard at Playing With Yourself It might sound like masturbation, but Mad Art Gallery has staged a group show that features the works of Gabe Lanza, Beth Bojarski, Chris Miller and Mark Winter, four whimsical artists whose cartoony work draws heavily from pop culture. Lanza, a painter and sculptor living in Chicago, takes his inspiration from the "flat world" — TV, cereal boxes, etc. — and creates mash-ups that combine pop-cultural reference points with a folk-art sensibility. Bojarski paints on a variety of surfaces — doors, cabinets, tree stumps — relying on the play between her painted images and snippets of text to deliver her meaning. Miller, another painter, concentrates on capturing life's moments, which he then subjects to his moody analysis. Rounding out the quartet is Mark Winter, whose career in auto-body repair has informed his work as a sculptor of welded scrap metals. April 4 (reception 7-11 p.m.) through April 24 at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 South 12th Street; 314-771-8230. Hours: by appointment 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. (MG)

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