The built environment is a touchy topic in St. Louis. Old buildings are coming down while construction crews build new ones not very far away; entire neighborhoods are on the cusp of being remade while other neighborhoods crumble inexorably. We can't help but become attached to the architecture of the city in which we live — we identify with buildings or neighborhoods for sentimental or aesthetic reasons. Who has the right to tear something down because of a change in style? Why build something new when there's plenty of old structures sitting fallow? These are the questions addressed in When We Build, Let Us Think that We Build Forever, the new exhibition at The Luminary Center for the Arts (4900 Reber Place; www.theluminaryarts.com or 314-807-5984). A series of installations examine the way we inhabit our urban environment, and the ways our city lives inside of us. Christine D'Epiro's installation Night is a room-filling construction of brown paper grocery sacks painted black and backlit to mimic the city at night, slyly drawing attention to the ephemeral qualities hidden in a skyline. Those buildings exist at the whim of a developer, or politician, or civic-minded grassroots group who could have them torn down and their materials recycled for any number of reasons. Seemingly stolid and eternal, no building is created with a lifespan of forever — some of them live longer than we do, and some don't. When We Build opens with a free public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, August 8. The work remains on display Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday through Wednesday, September 30.
Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays. Starts: Aug. 8. Continues through Sept. 30, 2009