St. Louis Art Capsules

Malcolm Gay encapsulates the St. Louis arts scene

FastX2 Take your time here, bro: If a baboon and a crocodile were to meet in a death match on the beach, which would win? Need more information? Well, you won't find out who prevails in this epic battle of beasts, but you'll get an addled sense of the fight in the work of Fontbonne University painting student Brian DePauli. DePauli, whose oeuvre includes such works as Ninja Goose (goose battling fox) and Throw, Bite, Throw (a triptych of intergenerational bovine struggle), is part of White Flag Project's second annual FastX2, a juried exhibition of undergrads and grad students at St. Louis area colleges and universities. The show also features photographs by SIU-Carbondale's John David Corson and Webster's Mandie Steiling. Washington University's Jake Cruzen, an installation artist, and Ian Weaver, a painter, also made the cut. Through June 21 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; or 314-531-3442. Hours: noon-7 p.m. Wed., noon-5 p.m. Sat. and by appointment.

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 or Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.

Hello Masterpiece Like some garden gnome swiped from Ladue and taken on a whirlwind European tour, Hello Kitty seems to be everywhere in this exhibit of postcard-size paintings by Leslie Holt. But unlike a gnome-napper whose abductees turn up in snapshots beside the Eiffel Tower or Buckingham Palace, Holt interpolates Hello Kitty into miniature reproductions of some of the most iconic images in the history of Western art. Here Kitty nabs Heraclitus' seat in Raphael's School of Athens. There she's standing en pointe in Degas' Dance Class. It's a clever little show that's a mash-up of highbrow and popular culture and that directs our attention, yet again, toward the idea of art as a commodity. The operative word here, though, is little: At four by six inches apiece, Holt's paintings refuse to take themselves too seriously. Through June 21 at phd Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun.

Journeys Traveling in the United States, Europe and North Africa, for most of his life St. Louisan Peter Shank has been interpreting his journeys in oil paint. The title, then, of his current exhibition, which draws on more than four decades of painting experience, is fitting. Spanning from his days as a student at Yale to a stint in Paris and the Arab-dominated regions of North Africa, Shank's paintings show a remarkable consistency of technique. Consistency, however, does not translate into uniformity. Many of the paintings are reminiscent of the pre-surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, incorporating such disparate images as a fish over a house topped by a mountain range. Many incorporate collage, while still others present simplified landscapes or nude portraits. Shank's range as an artist is hardly surprising. As the son of modernist architect Isadore Shank and famed illustrator Ilse Shank, he's one of three brothers, all of whom are artists. What is surprising is the scope of the show (more than 40 works) and the unmistakable impression it gives that an artist's vision, no matter the time and place, can remain intact while, simultaneously, it matures. Through June 20 at the Millstone Gallery at COCA, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City; 314-725-6555 or Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Landscape Exhibition Pop. Contemporary. Edgy. Many words come to mind when describing the bill of fare at the Philip Slein Gallery. One term that rarely enters the gallery's lexicon, however, is landscape painting. Until now. This month Philip Slein mounts a landscape exhibition comprising works by ten painters. The artists, who hail from various parts of the Midwest, approach their subjects in a wide range of styles. Some, such as the painterly works of Yinxue Zuo, hew to a strict realism, while others, such as Michael Noland's fantastically psychedelic Blue Glory, give the genre a more narcotic edge. The show includes more straightforward paintings by Frank Stack, Jeff Aeling, Bonnie Murray and Dan Barton, as well as less traditional works by Douglass Freed, Michael Noland, Rosalyn Schwartz, Helene Slavin and Amy Enkleman-Reed. Through July 5 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634 ( Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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