St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis arts scene

Bill Smith: Loop Web In the small corner gallery that houses SLAM's "New Media Series," Belleville artist Smith contributes a video and sculptural installation that defies easy description but rewards the most fundamental instinct for wonderment. Between two projections — one of a simulated millennium-length journey through the universe, the other of apes in their native habitat — dangles a 3-D evocation of a single cell made from "blackberry bush limbs, waste plastic, and soy wax." To the booming sound of Harlem Renaissance writer James Weldon Johnson reciting his oracular poem The Creation, the hovering sculpture flickers with the saturated colors of the simulated cosmos, the spiked and twisted branches catching the fine beams of the video projection in such a way that they appear miraculously lit from within. The intersection of larger-than-life conceptual agenda and classic trick-of-light effect makes for something undeniably awesome of the ilk of Charlton Heston's Moses parting the Red Sea in DeMille's classic Ten Commandments. Through January 1, 2009, at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive (in Forest Park); 314-721-0072 or www.slam.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.)

You're Invited Filling a small sliver of a gallery space, B.J. Vogt piles together his life's history-to-date of birthdays and Halloweens in an installation of celebratory artifacts. As the aftermath of an opening-night performance of repeated birthday/Halloween parties, the show appropriately reeks of the dilapidated elation of a post-sugar high. Cards are taped over other cards, drooping crepe paper twists obscure banner-size well-wishes, reprints of childhood photographs of a child marveling over digitally deleted birthday cakes punctuate over-festive walls. As bewildering as the little show's dense, decorative zeal is its way of underscoring Vogt's meticulous and early instinct for self-mythology; this fellow's been keeping stock of himself since day one. The biggest surprise lies in realizing that this piece is thoroughly devoted to the giddier side of experience. Art about happiness — how strange. Through December 12 at PSTL Window Gallery at Pace Framing, 632 North Grand Boulevard; 314-531-4304 or www.paceframing.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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