St. Louis Art Caps

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the local art scene.

Openings

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 (www.webster.edu/maygallery). 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 (www.shearburngallery.com). 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

(MG)

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 (www.art-stl.com). 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 (www.philipsleingallery.com). 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)

Works by Ronald Christ and Ken Anderson Duane Reed Gallery presents the works of two Midwestern artists whose styles are quite different. Christ, an art professor at Wichita State University, paints imagined scenes that he insists are "possible but not probable." His gorgeous, calming, dreamlike canvases call to mind the work of Giorgio de Chirico and the early Renaissance painters who, having freshly discovered the technique of perspectival painting, imagined pristine cityscapes of impossible symmetry. Anderson concerns himself with earthier issues in his mixed-media series of low-relief abstract wood assemblages. Drawing heavily on the world of textiles, Anderson, an art professor at UMSL, uses a muted, earth-toned palette as he arranges strips of painted wood into abstract patterns that begin to resemble woven rugs. April 4 through May 3 at Duane Reed Gallery, 7513 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-2333 (www.duanereedgallery.com). Hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Fri., noon-4 p.m. Sat. and by appointment. (MG)

Ongoing

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 the 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)

Discerning Palette: Jerry O. Wilkerson Retrospective Like many of his contemporaries in the pop art movement, Jerry Wilkerson, who died of cancer in 2007, took his inspiration from the world of consumer goods. Painting in a neo-pointillist style that was more influenced by the technological world of printing than the wispy ghost of George Seurat, Wilkerson tackled consumer culture in the most literal way. He painted that thing we consume directly: food. Boiled lobsters, hot dogs, beer cans, potato chips. Wilkerson did not confine himself strictly to painting. He was also sculptor whose three-dimensional creations tackled similar themes. Like the best pop art, the relationship of Wilkerson's work to the material consumer world is ambiguous: It celebrates the riot of product variety while simultaneously highlighting its disposable nature. Through August 15 at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, 3663 Lindell Boulevard; 314-977-2666 (www.slu.edu/x16374.xml). Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun. (MG)

Didi Dunphy: Playscape A sculpture exhibition that brings the playground into the gallery. An instructor at the University of Georgia, Dunphy calls her colorful creations — skateboards topped with colorful padding reminiscent of candy sticks, an orange seesaw, a set of bright tasseled swings — "friendly monuments." In inviting viewers to play with the work, and, in essence, become a part of the exhibit itself, Dunphy gives gallery-goers a shared and slightly goofy experience, stripping away the pomp and making the experience more accessible. Through April 20 at the Millstone Gallery at COCA, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City; 314-725-6555 (www.cocastl.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. (MG)

Every Man For Himself/God Against All An ambitious show featuring works by Marco Boggio Sella, Tim Hyde, Jill Magid, Lilly McElroy, Zachariah Rockhill and Eric von Robertson (who will also be the gallery's artist-in-residence). Curated by Hesse McGraw, the show takes its name from Werner Herzog's 1974 film, which details the true story of Kaspar Hauser, a wild child who appeared seemingly out of nowhere in 19th-century Nuremberg. Like the film that inspired it — which will be shown as part of a mini-festival that runs the length of the exhibition — McGraw's show seeks to explore the nature of the "other." Many of the works — a video project by Boggio Sella featuring a man in a space suit wandering among the villagers of Burkina Faso, Magid's LOVE project, which seeks to upend the impersonal relationship between people and the systems that monitor them — address the relationship between trespassing and belonging, between strangers and guests, between self and other. Through April 19 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; www.whiteflagprojects.org or 314-531-3442. Hours: noon-7 p.m. Wed, noon-5 p.m. Sat. and by appointment. For film schedule, click here. (MG)

Exchange: Prints from Nagoya Japan A group exhibit featuring prints by Terou Isomi and Seiichiro Miida. Showcasing traditional printmaking methods as well as emerging techniques only recently made available through technological advances, this show is something of a primer on modern Japanese printmaking. Clearly rooted in a serene Japanese aesthetic, many of the prints are richly (if at times a bit frantically) layered, as though the serenity of an earlier age were being encroached upon by a harried modern world. Through April 18 at Webster University's Cecille R. Hunt Gallery, 8342 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-968-7171 (www.webster.edu/depts/finearts/art). Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (open till 8 p.m. Tue.-Wed.) and by appointment. (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.-5 p.m. Sat. (MG)

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)

Cary Horton: 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. Through April 25 at Snowflake/City Stock, 3156 Cherokee Street (www.snowflakecitystock.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. (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)

Quilts in a Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection Bedding, you say. Yes, bedding. But these quilts, dating from the 1700s to 1850 and on loan from Delaware's Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, are historical artifacts. Not only are they examples of the materials and technologies that were available to their makers, they also bear witness to the evolving cultural lives of women. One, for instance, represents "The Deserted Village," a poem by Oliver Goldsmith celebrating rural life. Others were status symbols whose imagery reflected their makers' worldliness or whose content more blatantly referenced their well-placed acquaintances by simply listing their names. Also showing: A Stitch in Time: Images of Needleworking, 1850-1920, images of women engaged in knitting, sewing, embroidering, etc. Quilts shows through May 26 in the main exhibition gallery, Stitch through June 8 in Gallery 321 of the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive; 314-721-0072 (www.slam.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.). (MG)

John Sarra: Sad Smiles and Tears of Joy What elevates these traditional still life paintings isn't so much Sarra's fine sensitivity to form and light; it's the artist's sense of place. Sarra's subjects arise as unintentional compositions of tools, toys and other domestic objects that have coalesced and dispersed during the nearly ten years he has been renovating his St. Louis home. The paintings feature smaller spaces that temporarily exist in the space of his house. While the bulk of the show is devoted to still lifes, Sarra also is exhibiting an orienting painting: a landscape near his family's property. To accentuate the singularity of space, Sarra has also constructed a walkway to enter the minute Window Gallery, making viewers aware of the distance and height at which they are seeing the paintings. Through April 19 at PSTL Window Gallery at Pace Framing, 632 North Grand Boulevard; 314-531-4304 (www.paceframing.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (MG)

Thaddeus Strode: Absolutes and Nothings In this show at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Strode, who grew up surfing and skating in southern California, takes the pop-cultural iconography of comics — the obese, hooded executioner, the jug-sipping moonshiner — and juxtaposes it against a multicolored and ambiguous field that could be a seascape, or maybe it's a valley; then again, it could just as easily the graffito-ed wall. It's this sort of deliberate ambiguity that lies at the heart of Strode's dynamic mash-ups. Filled with dripping paint and spray-painted designs, these mixed-media paintings defy a unified interpretation. Instead, they pull together a mish-mash of non sequitur imagery and allow the viewer full imaginative range for the composition. Also at the Kemper: On the Margins, an engaging series of mixed-media work that concentrates on the role of art in a world defined by military conflict. Through April 21 at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Forsyth & Skinker boulevards (on the campus of Washington University); 314-935-4523 (www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu). Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (closed Tue., open till 8 p.m. Fri.). (MG)

Talk to Me: Voices of Kiln-Formed Glass Curator Susan Taylor Glasgow gives us an international roster of glass artists whose deeply personal work evokes the passage of time and its mutation of meaning. Kiln-formed glass is well suited to the task. Says Glasgow: "Unlike blown glass or glass work directly from the furnace, kiln forming is an indirect method of shaping, allowing for delicate details and complex imagery." The result is a collection that challenges our everyday understanding of glass and its rigidity. Here glass is formed to look like sheets of paper curling away from one another, or a group of cubes whose interchangeable sides have been inscribed with images of soldiers, dancing girls or leafless trees. Showing concurrently in the rear gallery is Eden Found, featuring the work of metalsmith John Baltrushunas. Through April 20 at the Craft Alliance Gallery, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-1177 (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)

Urban Fossil: Cast Paper Artifacts by John Tuccillo Tuccillo takes the region's rust belt legacy as his jumping-off point. After taking urethane molds of the manhole covers, metal grates and crumbling concrete around his home in Peoria, Illinois, Tuccillo reconstitutes these urban relics in a thick paper pulp, which he then paints to resemble the original object. In the gallery's rear is Ensemble, a group show featuring ceramics, painting, photography and sculpture by artists Joe Chesla, Rebecca Eilering, Leslie Holt, Ken Konchel, David Lancaster, Metra Mitchell, Jeff Palmer, Stan Trampe, David Wallace, Rebecca Trawick and Lin Xu. Standouts include Mitchell's figurative paintings, which turn the brush on the artist in a series of psychologically revealing self-portraits, and Chesla's prints, which incorporate the process of oxidizing metals. Through May 3 at phd Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 (www.phdstl.com). Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun. (MG)

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