St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St Louis arts scene

Time Well Spent As curator Tom Reed states in his exhibition preface, the focus of this show is on the time spent creating the artwork on view rather than the work itself. In organizing collaborations between five St. Louis-based artists (Lisa Bulawski, Cameron Fuller, Steve Kelly, Belinda Lee and Amy Thompson) and five students from St. Louis-area schools (Amity Faith Herrera, Charlotte Reed, Jacob Torres, Lauren Fields and Celeste Gardner), Reed dismantles the traditional curatorial procedures of using art to evidence an idea, survey a career or exemplify a trend; instead he treats the exhibit as a motive to coordinate a suite of new experiences. The results of these collaborations — small handbound books of poetry, a paper-clip-and-mop-head fort hidden under handpainted stars, a mural of the universe exploding with telephones and remote controls — compel a viewing experience akin to perusing a fresh set of snapshots, wherein memory is weighed against fact, and further the idea that art is the steward of discovery and process rather than merely a means to an end product. Through July 19 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-6932 (www.art-stl.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri, Noon-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Rirkrit Tiravanija: Chew the Fat Friendship, we're reminded, is as much an art as it is a political act, in this documentary/installation by internationally renowned artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Here, the viewer is invited to take his shoes off, assume a floor-cushion seat and watch a film screened on floor-mounted TV monitors, depicting casual discussions with the artist's well-established artist friends. The artist-on-artist approach is somewhat misleading — the piece feels less about insights into the creative practice than a study of the informal behaviors that signify intimacy. But a sense of removed formality is hard to ignore — no amount of casualness can dissuade a gallerygoer from wanting to judge the mythical inner life of successful artists, and the knowing edits in the film itself do little to suspend this disbelief. Equal parts sit-back-and-relax and rigid self-consciousness, the piece presents the uninnocent conundrum of treating life as art and heeding that familiar wisdom about choosing one's friends carefully. Also showing: 2009 MFA Thesis Exhibition, featuring work from Washington University School of Art graduate students. Through July 27 at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Forsyth and Skinker boulevards (on the campus of Washington University); 314-935-4523 or www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (closed Tue., open till 8 p.m. Fri.).

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