St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Ongoing
American Framing In the three photographic series that make up Jessika Miekeley's first solo exhibition in St. Louis, images appear less as landscapes, portraits or objects captured than as subtle evocations of ideas and the emotive mind. In Jacket various coats — made of fur, quilted cotton, bright red wool — are pictured in empty repose on a chair and assume qualities of the body without a body to fill them. In American Framing an imposing male figure, his back turned to the viewer, contemplates assorted nightscapes, but neither the specifics of his character nor the peculiar import of the vaguely suburban and industrial scenery are the points of focus. Rather, this work has a wholly conceptual presence, wherein the slightest misalignments of folded cloth, torn fur or night's saturated darkness describe nuances of absence, isolation and the unutterable vicissitudes of thought. Here, in these crisp and mysterious images, objects or scenes are recognizable not by their common name and purpose, but by the ineffable messages they imply. Through January 9 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.thesheldon.org. Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Chris Kahler: Hybrid Dynamic Working at the unlikely intersection of tie-dye and TV static, painter Chris Kahler produces large-scale pieces that alternately buzz and wilt at the phosphorescent end of the abstract spectrum. Fields of organic tones saturate the image surface with the plotless design of an accidental inkdrop, while neon-hued grids meticulously weave through the looser marks with confident, if mysterious, purpose. Nature and technology blithely intertwine here in high resolution, making for a vivid platform upon which to project your favorite oppositional tension. Also showing: Heather Woofter & Sung Ho Kim: Per.For.Mance, a small survey of proposals for architectural surfaces that activate existing spaces with contemporary media and a fresh invitation for pedestrian interaction. Through January 9 at Bruno David Gallery, 3721 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-3030 or www.brunodavidgallery.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. and by appointment.

The Language of Objects: New Works by Jane Birdsall-Lander and Jo Stealey In Jane Birdsall-Lander's Bound Alphabet, salvaged wooden canes and scythe handles are bent into smoothly undulating pieces that recall the curves of the body or the bodies of musical instruments; the forms branch out into hands, repurposed from wooden drawing models or join to create, say, an eyelike shape with cello-peg lashes. Each piece in the series was crafted to correspond with a letter and to the physical symbols from which that letter was derived, evoking a primitive communicative sense somewhere between music and poetry. In Jo Stealey's Forest, parched and leafless tree trunks and massive blanched stones cluster in outsize proportions and appear like a dark children's-book illustration made surreally three-dimensional. The work is crafted out of paper pulp, and while it looks leaden, it is in fact nearly weightless. There's something essentially elemental about these works, which repurpose nature in order to plumb nature, and which, simultaneously, reveal themselves as wholes to be comprehensively marveled upon and as collections of meticulous acts and essential elements to be read for intricate meaning. Through January 16 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.thesheldon.org. Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Mi-Kyoung Lee: Bound Lines Cotton string, human hair and other basic materials are meticulously knotted into complex and delicate forms in this solo exhibition by Philadelphia-based fiber artist Lee. These supple sculptures and meticulous works on paper, made specifically for this exhibit, explore the theme of interconnectivity — particularly the variety inspired by childbearing. A pile of beeswax-dipped paper towels appears punctured through with tiny needle holes that bloom into a tree-like shape; red pipe cleaners intertwine to create a dangling cellular shape that suggests a womblike cage. The connective potential of materials appears, here, as an allegory for all salutary relationships: They're the product of many small but patient and nurturing acts. Through January 17 at the Craft Alliance Gallery (Grand Center), 501 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-7528 or www.craftalliance.org. Hours: noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.

Pulled This selection of prints from St. Louis-area fine-art presses reveals a largely unsung, local dedication to the art of printmaking and a select but comprehensive history of the phenomenon. Privileging the non-craft and commercial products of this labor-intensive medium, the pieces in Pulled celebrate the multivalent and near-painterly qualities of these paper-based images and their essentially collaborative spirit. Highlights include the deceptively crude but lushly imaginative work of T.L. Solien; a portfolio, organized by Jana Harper in collaboration with the food writer Michael Pollan, of small pieces inspired by the latter's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto; a print that becomes a three-dimensional mask by Cameron Fuller (aptly titled Be the Wolfman); and a diptych by Brandon Anschultz that exemplifies the delicate depth of color that can be built from innumerable printed layers. Curator Gina Alvarez worked with Wildwood Press, Island Press, Nancy Kranzberg Illustrated Book Studio, Pele Prints, Dubbledutch Press and All Along Press to determine which prints to include in the exhibit, and a brief and informative narrative of each press is presented alongside each piece. Through January 8 at the St. Louis Artists' Guild and Galleries, 2 Oak Knoll Park, Clayton; 314-727-6266 or www.stlouisartistsguild.org. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

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