Philip Slein runs a nifty art gallery on Washington that exhibits work by the most intriguing of contemporary artists, both national and local. But long before he dirtied his hands with commerce, Slein was an artist. And so for his first exhibition in seven years, Slein addresses the world he knows from both sides of the canvas. The Art Crowd is a collection of satirical portraits starring the people who make, facilitate and report upon the St. Louis art scene. Matthew Strauss, Great Rivers Biennial winning artist and fellow-gallery owner, is depicted as Napoleon. Printmaker (and Philip Slein Gallery representee) Tom Huck appears as a white-suited and string-tied Kentucky Colonel. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Director Paul Ha is garbed in Tony Manero's Saturday Night Fever whites. But recognizing faces is only half the fun; closer examination of each painting reveals references both veiled and overt to the great portrait artists of the ages, and offers further commentary on the character of his subjects. The Art Crowd is a witty and well-painted tribute to the politics, friendships and personalities of the St. Louis art community — and it proves in unique fashion just how vibrant that community is. The Art Crowd opens with a free public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, October 23, at Schmidt Contemporary Art (615 North Grand Boulevard; 314-575-2648 or www.schmidtcontemporaryart.com) — expect to see some of the portrait subjects in person. The show remains up through Saturday, November 28.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 23. Continues through Nov. 28, 2009