St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis arts scene

Sift, Measure, Cultivate Using elements of fiber-based craft, three St. Louis artists create discrete but consuming installations in this exhibition of new work. Doilies burst into coral-like profusions — on oak shelves, on an accent table — in Erin Cork's Cultivating Doilies. In Sift, Gina Alvarez pins to the wall an assortment of handmade specimens — carved wood, stuffed objects spouting fabric tufts, fibrous paper cut in cell-like shapes — in a manner that suggests the aftermath of some unseen process of meticulous refinement. The end result of a live, interactive process that took place on the exhibition's opening night, Courtney Henson's Get Out Your Measuring Cups displays piles of paper cups, emptied of soil that was publicly distributed for planting and instead adorned with pen drawings of growth-motivating proclamations and other natural imagery. All of the work mines the tension between organic shapes and methods and the deliberately manufactured. While the three pieces work in concert to create an integrated conversation, Alvarez displays the most material, chromatic and compositional finesse — with a particular sensitivity to the weight of things, or, more accurately, their capacity to appear nearly weightless. Through September 27 at Fontbonne University Gallery of Fine Art, 6800 Wydown Boulevard (in the Fine Arts Building), Clayton; 314-889-1431 or Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (open till 7 p.m. Tue. and till 2:30 p.m. Fri.); noon-4 p.m. Sat.

Thomas Struth In a masterfully resonant gesture, two large-format photographs by the notable German photographer Thomas Struth have replaced the collection of old-master drawings in the Pulitzer Foundation's lower gallery. The images, Pantheon, Rome and The Restorers at San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples, immediately predate his seminally elegant "Museum" series (which depicted people viewing canonical works of art in the world's canonical museums), but share that series' concern with the phenomenon of viewership and space. One photograph shows a cluster of minute-seeming tourists gaping skyward at the enormity of the ancient Roman sacred space; the other captures a small group of employees in the museum's rear quarters, gazing directly at the camera while rows of historical paintings lean almost casually against a wall behind them. As a pair, the photographs perform a rich exercise in perception and scale, in which you, the viewer, contemplate other viewers' contemplations of represented space, while simultaneously enacting the same action. Furthering this effect, when ascending the stairs from the lower gallery, the severe modernity of the museum suddenly resonates with Struth's ornate grand halls and coffered rotundas — making the contemporary world, for a miraculous moment, the logical conclusion of history. Through October 3 at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 or Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

When We Build, Let Us Think That We Build Forever Home, or a sense of place, seems to be an ever-elusive but primary concern for the creative set, as this group show by local artists confirms. B.j. Vogt piles strata of Styrofoam and tufts of green twist ties to create a mountainous, occasionally green-sprouting form based on the shape of his arm. Christine D'Epiro consumes a discrete gallery space with a floor-to-ceiling patchwork of paper bags painted black and punctured with small holes that reveal bits of luminous color. The body, here, becomes a kind of location; and what seems like the density of night becomes a dense, all-consuming place. Also participating are Jessica Kiel-Wornson, Brea McAnally and Peter Marcus, who explore the spirit of the habitable environment from the stock form — or shards of form — of a house. Through September 30 at the Luminary Center for the Arts, 4900 Reber Place; 314-807-5984 or Hours: 2-7 p.m. Tue.-Wed. and noon-5 p.m. Sat.

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